Birthers Persist, But Is the GOP Really Frustrated By This?
CNN has an above-the-fold story this afternoon about the ongoing struggles of the GOP to deal with birtherism. They relate the supposedly sad tale of woe of how the GOP strategists are frustrated by all the ongoing talk of birtherism:
With the general-election fight between Obama and Romney now under way, and with both campaigns fighting for an increasingly tiny share of undecided and moderate voters, Republicans are expressing frustration and downright embarrassment that the issue won’t just fade away.
“Birtherism is a fringe issue that’s way out of the mainstream, and it’s disturbing when you see people you … have some level of respect for, whether it’s members of Congress or even Donald Trump, falling into that category,” said Steve Schmidt, one of Sen. John McCain’s senior advisers in 2008. “In the middle of the electorate, people think it’s bats—t crazy. The side that’s seen flirting with it doesn’t do themselves any favors.”
GOP strategist Rob Johnson, a political adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, called the ongoing questions about Obama’s background “an unnecessary and unfortunate distraction.”
It’s not only unnecessary and unfortunate, but it’s an outgrowth of the racist ideologies among the far right and hits upon right wing beliefs that the President isn’t who he says he is. And far from being confined to the fringes, it’s increasingly being merged into standard GOP rhetoric and ideology.
The Romney campaign would clearly prefer to focus on the economy and banish birth certificate talk to the “fever swamps” of the Internet, as Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith recently labeled the sinister corners of the Web where conspiracy theories thrive.
Instead, birtherism is creeping more and more into the domain of GOP officialdom.
Fresh examples appear on a near-weekly basis, often in key battleground states, much to the delight of Democrats eager to distract voters from the troubled economy and tie Republican candidates to the extreme elements of their party.
Republican members of Congress in swing states such as Florida (Rep. Cliff Stearns), Colorado (Rep. Mike Coffman) and Missouri (Rep. Vicky Hartzler) have publicly raised questions about Obama’s citizenship in recent weeks.
In North Carolina, the state GOP convention will be headlined next week by Donald Trump, whose 2011 crusade to unearth details about Obama’s origins drew global attention and prompted the White House to release the president’s long-form birth certificate.
The Romney campaign has since leveraged Trump as a campaign surrogate and fund-raiser.
When you get numerous members of Congress peddling this nonsense, presidential candidates (Donald Trump) pushing this nonsense, and the current presumptive nominee Mitt Romney is using birthers in key campaign positions around the nation, you have to say that this is a party that’s gone off the rails. Not only that, but Romney isn’t doing enough to distance himself from the craziness.
It’s hatred, fueled with racism. And it makes for a volatile mix.