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Palin Mainstreams the Birthers

And no, not “a lot of people say” that we need to see Trig’s birth certificate. What planet is she on? Who, besides Andrew Sullivan and the same kind of fringe kooks on the left who mirror the righty loons wondering if Obama is eligible to be president, is concerned one whit about Trig’s parentage?

After realizing the damage, Palin tried a little walkback last night on her Facebook page:

Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I’ve pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child. Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask … which they have repeatedly. But at no point -- not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews -- have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States.

For the record, Palin’s critics are not taking her to task for “asking” or “suggesting” that Obama was not born in the U.S. It is disingenuous of her to make that claim, and it is a ploy to distract from her real transgression. People are rightly skewering her for giving aid and comfort to the birther movement by endorsing the idea of its legitimacy. This is an incredible disaster for the GOP, if not for Palin.

If she doesn’t understand that she has just mainstreamed the paranoid right then she has no business running for president.

I note that some Palin fans are trying to spin the fact that she never called on the president to produce his birth certificate or questioned his citizenship. They are missing the point. Sarah Palin has said that these questions are legitimate, that voters have a right to know, and that “a lot” of citizens are concerned about it.

She didn’t say what any rational person on the right or left believes: that questions about the president’s birth have been settled by the state of Hawaii, that only a very small group of citizens are even concerned about the issue, and that an equally small number of people were even aware of the ridiculous controversy over Trig’s origins.

Those who are tempted to say that Sarah Palin’s attempt to legitimize the birther movement will destroy her campaign should forget it. It will never happen. She is immunized against such career-ending gaffes by her loyal followers who don’t want to listen to anyone when they criticize, laugh, or beat their heads against a wall over the latest evidence that as presidential material Palin would make a good candidate for the mayor of Wasilla.

The problem is, unless the GOP -- and that includes Rush Limbaugh and the other cotton candy conservatives who wield a lot of influence -- stand up and denounce her in no uncertain terms, birtherism will have gone completely mainstream in the Republican Party. If that happens, you might want to forget about any significant gains at the polls for the GOP in 2010.

By her stupidity, she is now going to force every GOP candidate for the House and Senate to come out and declare whether they are birther nuts or not. Even if they’re not, being forced to answer in the first place makes the party look even kookier than it has to this point in time. You can bet Democratic opponents of Republican candidates will be asking whether they agree with Palin or not -- and they will do it every chance they get. The press will gleefully repeat the question, no matter how many times the GOP candidate answers it.

What a sad, tragic, maddening turn of events.