Now that the president has released his “long form birth certificate,” many have hoped that this would put the so-called “birther” controversy behind us. Sadly, I don’t believe that will happen.
Why? The “birther” construct, that the President of the US is not native-born, has never been about Barack Obama’s country of birth. It’s been about finding a way to de-legitimize the Commander in Chief.
After all, 25% of Republicans believe that Obama may be the Antichrist. No birth certificate’s going to clear that up, long form or otherwise!
We know from survey after survey that Republicans are more instinctually authoritarian than the public as a whole. Republicans tend to be more supportive of torture, tend to believe that daddy knows best, that sort of thing. They’re also patriotic folks who, in their minds, should always respect the Commander-in-Chief.
So what happens when there’s a Commander in Chief they disagree with? Cognitive dissonance occurs: How to support him and at the same time oppose him? It’s treason to go against the president! Well, the easiest way to resolve this is to find a reason that he can’t legitimately be the president. Then opposing him is no longer treason, it’s patriotism!
The same thing happened to Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. Remember how Republican conspiracists convinced themselves that Clinton had murdered Vince Foster? Same idea: de-legitimize the man first, and it makes it easier to hate him.
This has all happened before, folks, and it will all happen again.
Following up on my own post from yesterday, here’re my quick thoughts on the President’s State of the Union address last night.
- In general, I thought the speech was solid — rhetorically, not a masterpiece, but it accomplished what it needed to. I was most impressed by the President’s solid instinct to generally avoid the rhetorical cliches that too frequently pepper our political discourse; early in the address, I thought to myself “he’s giving someone else’s speech”, but then he moved past it. Good job.
- I was disappointed by the lack of focus on infrastructure investment. $8bb for trains in Florida and California is great, but that will about pay for the environmental studies, and not much else.
- Likewise, I was disappointed by the promise to cut spending starting in 2011 (with the exception of defense spending, of course — I mean, how could we POSSIBLY feel safe with fewer F-22s?). I’ll do Paul Krugman’s work for him and say again that SPENDING CUTS IN A RECESSION ARE THE WRONG ANSWER!!! [There, I used 3 “!”s, so you know I mean it.]
- Last, I though the “guilt-trip-them-into-submission” approach to dealing with health care and the loss of the Senate supermajority was novel, but, yeah, when pigs fly. it’s sad how deeply cynical the GOP has become, but there it is.
As a special bonus, I’d like to offer a shiny new Sacajawea dollar to anyone who cares to produce a MST3K-style voiceover to Bob McDonnell’s GOP response. I pretty much tuned this out after the “Sportscenter” reference. Matski’s official fiance didn’t appreciate me, in my best North Carolina accent, trying my own soundtrack, so I need some help. Here’s the line I started with: “He watches Sportscenter too! He must be a good man jus’ like me!” Really, Republicans? Really? America desperately needs a functioning opposition party that, you know, like, has ideas and stuff. If you must have a sports reference, the GOPs current approach is something like “let’s show up at the field and just not play – that way, it won’t really be a forfeit, but we can’t lose the game either!”
So, all in all, a good speech, although I’m concerned at some of the specifics. Probably most of them are throwaways anyway, so I won’t worry about it too much.
Okay, so maybe I’m the last one to hear about this (and it wouldn’t be the first time), but I caught some of Rachel Maddow’s show last night and found myself terrified by a video of a “birther” hijacking a GOP town hall meeting. (Not the same video, ’cause I’m lazy, but here’s an earlier story by Maddow on the same topic.)
These people scare me in the way a single rat scares me – there’s always more than one. And aren’t these the same wingnuts who thought they saw black helicopters over America c. 1994?
Seriously … what in particular creates the kind of low-grade schizophrenia that seems to afflict so many on the right?
When we four humble bloggers are on the verge of retirement* in 30-40 years, will the conventional wisdom regarding national elections be “well, Governor Smith has a lot of neat ideas, but we must keep in mind that the American electorate hasn’t elected a governor to the presidency since George W. Bush in 2000?”
*Yeah, I know. We’ll also be asking one another “What was retirement again?”
On the occasion of Norm Coleman’s concession and Al Franken’s election:
Can you imagine what this would be like if breaking a filibuster still required 67 votes? Jiminy Christmas!
I had dinner at Dick’s on the way to the post office.
That’s right, folks. Instant service. 100% beef.
I could go on, but I got drunk and need to go to bed.
On Inauguration Day in 2005, I had pretty much the same thought as this TPM reader is having now:
[Had Kerry won], we would not have had eight years of experimenting with the extreme ideology that the Bush administration has inflicted on the United States of America. And, it is this experiment that has provided cold hard empirical evidence that the blind obeisance to free unregulated markets that is the hallmark of contemporary conservatism, coupled with the unilateral, muscular, “shoot first and ask questions afterwards” foreign policy that is at the core of neoconservatism, is as bankrupt a governing paradigm as the centrally planned economy of socialism.
It’s 8 years of Bush that makes Obama possible. We needed to see Katrina, the financial meltdown, and all the rest.