Truthers vs. Birthers: Not All Conspiracy Theories Are Created Equal

Every party has got its base. And every party has got its basement. It’s a place where the party keeps under the lock and key, or at least tries to, some of the more eccentric sections of its base. Kind of like what you do to your crazy uncle who insists on wearing his underwear on his head and what the non-magical folks do to Harry Potter in between the academic years at Hogwarts.

That’s the theory. In practice we know that you can’t keep a crazy man (and woman) down. Moonbats keep pirouetting through the night sky, fighting duels with wingnuts, and the more moderate and saner sections of the respective bases -- us -- thank God for all the political paranoia and madness out there that provides us with a fodder to blog and pontificate about.

Recently, much attention has been bestowed by the mainstream media and the left-wing blogosphere on the phenomenon of “birtherism.” In case you fell asleep from a compassionate conservatism fatigue sometime midway through George W.’s second term and have thus missed the last few years of political excitement, the birthers are people who believe that the current occupant of the White House is un-American because, quite literally, he is un-American. Or to be more precise, non-American.

Various conspiracy theories abound and are percolating through blogs and discussion boards on how Barack Obama, Hawaii’s favorite baby, was really born in Kenya (the undisputed birthplace of his father, dreams of whom have inspired one bestseller already and will no doubt in time be turned into a Hollywood movie starring Will Smith). Kenya, not being one of the 57 states of Obama’s union according to the U.S. Constitution (at least the parts of it not shredded and chewed up by Dick Cheney and the rest of the Bush junta), does not qualify the non-aborted fetuses delivered there to aspire to the leadership of the free world.

Opinion polls suggest every third Republican can be described as a birther. For example, 39 percent in this poll want more coverage of the issue. Curiously, so do 14 percent of Democrats. In another one, 28 percent think Obama was born overseas, and 30 percent do not know. Does that make them birther agnostics?

Needless to say, everyone from Jon Stewart to the New York Times and Huffington Post to Ben Smith have had a ball deriding the stupidity and the extremism of a large section of the conservative movement.

Many on the conservative side have responded to this by suggesting that the Democrats should not throw stones in glass madhouses because the party of hope, change, and audacity has got its own crazy uncle in the basement in the form of 42.6 percent of Democratic voters who do not believe in the official version of events connected with 9/11. These people have become known as “truthers."