Monday, July 27, 2009

Birthers, Birthers Everywhere!

I posted an entry last week about the resurgence of the "birther" movement and Jon Stewart's insightful and hilarious take on the topic.

Despite being repeatedly debunked, there are still a group of people in this country that insist on advancing the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is illegally occupying the office of the Presidency. CNN host Lou Dobbs was one of the most visible members of the so-called mainstream media to raise questions surrounding President Obama's birth certificate:

Then, when Dobbs was criticized for advancing this argument even in lieu of evidence to the contrary, he lashed out at the "Limp-minded lily-livered lefties" who were "attacking" him:

CNN's President, Jonathan Klein, tried to reign in Dobbs:

"Since the show's mission is for Lou to be the explainer and enlightener, he should be sure to cite this during your segment tonite. And then it seems this story is dead - because anyone who still is not convinced doesn't really have a legitimate beef."

but apparently, in an interview with Greg Sargent, Klein appears to be backing off strong criticisms of Dobbs:

“Look, Lou’s his own show, and CNN in general has repeatedly and thoroughly reported on the facts behind this situation,” Klein said to me, adding that Lou had merely hosted “a few conversations with people representing a wide range of opinions.”

Klein said that Dobbs has repeatedly stated that he believes that Obama was born in Hawaii, and has simply been examining the “phenomenon that for some people this won’t go away.”

Hmmm, I wonder why this is a "phenomenon that for some people...won't go away", maybe because people like Lou Dobbs continue to host guests who raise these questions? By pretending that there is some sort of debate on this issue and continually hosting guests who baselessly give these claims, Dobbs only gives a kind of legitimacy to these arguments - regardless of whether he personally believes the claims or not. In the clip from Media Matters, Dobbs is even proud that he had the "temerity" to "actually raise a question of this great president."

Dobbs is not alone either. There are actually some members of Congress who either endorse the claims of the birther movement outright or will give you a vague statement like "I understand that some people are concerned about this issue and I will leave it to them to get to the bottom of it." Statements like these are nothing more than a wink and a nudge to a part of the conservative base of the Republican Party. Take a look at Politico's coverage of a statement made by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) (emphasis mine):

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has also tried to find the elusive middle ground.

"They have a point," he said of the birthers last week. "I don't discourage it. ... But I'm going to pursue defeating [Obama] on things that I think are very destructive to America."

Inhofe put out a statement Monday clarifying his comment:

"The point that they make is the Constitutional mandate that the U.S. president be a natural born citizen, and the White House has not done a very good job of dispelling the concerns of these citizens," he said. "My focus is on issues where I can make a difference to stop the liberal agenda being pushed by President Obama."

Two noteworthy items about the quote. The first is the obvious, that Sen. Inhofe doesn't discourage the birther movement from raising these questions. The second is the wording of Politico's coverage - "Sen. Inhofe has also tried to find the elusive middle ground...". What "middle ground" is there to find? How is there a middle ground between something that is true and something that is not?

Mike Stark has been making the rounds in Washington in recent days to speak with members of Congress on the issue of health care on behalf of Firedoglake. In his spare time he has been asking Republican members of Congress if they believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Watch the varied responses he gets (including one Congressman taking off in a sprint):

and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' take on the issue today:

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