Palin Mainstreams the Birthers

I didn't want to write about Sarah Palin anymore.

Really, I didn’t want to. God, I didn’t want to. But every time I think I’m out, she pulls me back in.

Face it, my friends. If Sarah Palin’s nugatory understanding of everything from foreign affairs to economic matters doesn't cause you concern, if her predilection to expand, exaggerate, or fudge the truth about herself and her past statements hasn’t yet convinced you that she is a lightweight prevaricator and doesn’t deserve your support, then this exchange with conservative talker Rusty Humphries should change your mind:

Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?

I think the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know if I would have to bother to make it an issue ’cause I think there are enough members of the electorate who still want answers.

Do you think it’s a fair question to be looking at?

I think it’s a fair question, just like I think past associations and past voting record -- all of that is fair game. You know, I’ve got to tell you, too: I think our campaign, the McCain/Palin campaign didn’t do a good enough job in that area. We didn’t call out Obama and some of his associates on their records and what their beliefs were and perhaps what their future plans were. And I don’t think that that was fair to voters to not have done our jobs as candidates and as a campaign to bring to light a lot of the things that now we’re seeing made manifest in the administration.

I mean, truly, if your past is fair game and your kids are fair game, certainly Obama’s past should be. I mean, we want to treat men and women equally, right?

Hey, you know, that’s a great point, in that weird conspiracy-theory freaky thing that people talk about that Trig isn’t my real son. And a lot of people say, “Well you need to produce his birth certificate! You need to prove that he’s your kid!” Which we have done. But yeah, so maybe we could reverse that and use the same [unintelligible]-type thinking on them.

Those who live on the fringes of American politics usually don’t realize how wacky they truly are. For the last time: The state of Hawaii issued a statement confirming that Obama was born there, thus making him a U.S. citizen. Why is that so hard to accept? There are no “questions” left to answer except in the minds of simpletons and paranoid conspiracy freaks.

No, it is not a “fair question.” It is a silly, stupid, ignorant question. No, “the public” is not making this an issue -- only looney tune numbskulls are pursuing it. No, there aren’t “enough (whatever that means) members of the electorate who still want answers.” Only a small subset of the entire electorate cares.

And her whining declaration that she didn’t go after Obama hard enough on his radical associations fails to mention that the reason McCain dropped it was because nearly 2/3 of voters couldn't have cared less. It was a losing strategy, period.

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.