Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why I'm After the Birthers

Why the Birthers?

I have any number of other things I could talk about.

I could go on about how I'm starting to get disappointed - but not dismayed - by Obama. I could also go on about Republican stupidity, the Arizona immigration bill, our latest nominee for the Supreme Court (and Newty G's reaction to her), the BP oil spill, infuriating 9/11 truthers... lots of things.

But time and again I keep coming back to the Birthers. Why is that?

I think it's because it's probably the ultimate human interest story of our times.

We have a historic moment. For the first time in our country's history, a non-White has been elected President. The dream has been realized for many Americans on all sides of the color line. We should be celebrating that moment for the opportunity it provides.

But some people out there aren't celebrating. Instead they're doing everything they can to get him thrown out of office because *gasp* they don't think he's eligible.

This isn't the first time a President's eligibility was ever questioned, of course. It might not be the last, either.

But the subtext of the questions is what's of interest.

If you look at the history of Birtherism, you quickly discover that it has its genesis in the last, dying, and spiteful gasp of a Hillary Clinton campaign worker who, rather than swallow her pride and work to get a Democrat in office, called up Phil Berg - not exactly the most reputable fellow out there - and said "hey! How do you know Obama's eligible?" To which he replied "I smell a lawsuit!" (or words to that effect)

As we all know, that lawsuit went nowhere, other than down in flames. Berg's still out there, gearing up for another go, but he's not having any real luck. But he's got bonifides. He's a long-time Democratic operative. He's a decent guy, or so they say. He even sued George W. Bush et. al. for causing 9/11!

(Well, okay, let's not say too much about that last one...)

And then, some time later, like a zoonotic disease, the Birther plague jumps parties. Suddenly a seemingly-unhinged dentist-turned-lawyer named Orly Taitz is storming the courts and demanding to see evidence that the President is eligible.

Her inbuilt noise machine quickly takes her to the head of the pack - something Berg doesn't seem to have forgiven her for. And her willingness to trust known forgers, fake birth certificates, and any kind of crazy evidence she can get her hands on quickly makes her a laughing stock. "Let me finish!" has become a new punchline.

Of course, we're laughing. But we're kind of wincing on the inside, too. We're looking at poker players turned lawyers trying to tell us about Obama's parentage, and how our understanding of how the law works has been wroGn for the last century or so. We're wondering who the hell this de Vattel fellow is, and why people are clinging to him like a life vest in a tidal wave.

(And we're getting one heck of an education on citizenship along the way, too. But that happens any time some issue comes up. Someone says something that doesn't pass your smell test, and you check it out, and thus begins the argument of the Gods. Round and round 'till Ragnarok.)

Finally, we're getting a sad tally. Out of all the Birther cases brought so far, not a one has gone anywhere. Even this latest one - with LTC Lakin willing to destroy his career just to try and get discovery, and see that mythical Long Form (which doesn't exist, anymore) and prove he was right all along - is just going to be another massive disappointment to the Birthers.

And then? They will doubtlessly claim it's the result of pressure from up above. Political strings were pulled by evil, invisible hands. The Legion of Lies has struck again, and the Usurper is in the White House, laughing as he brings communist islamic fascism to the masses, while his Obot minions cheer his every misstep along the way...

"The horror! THE HORROR!"

So yes, this has everything. It has human credulity, stretched thin as taffy pulled by overeager youths. It has hope of doing the seemingly impossible by flinging oneself at the barricades enough times to break them down. It has wrong thinking, warped ethics, questionable rationales, and occasional - we hope - threads of racism, islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-communism, and the occasional Judeophobe claiming that AIPAC is pulling the strings on this one, too.

On a more person note, it has me along for the ride - knowing full well the train wreck can only go down one way, but unable to turn my head and look at something else. It's spellbinding, watching these people tilt at windmills. If only we could harness their energy and use it to power homes!

Why me? I think, all the above aside, it comes down to one moment in time. It comes down to a blog post I made to my live journal, celebrating the fact that Obama had won. Not more than 24 hours later, some anonymous jackass had posted the following (without asterisks)


And I wondered "who did that?" Was it one of my friends or family? Was it just some troll who went around spamming LJ posts? Was it a bot?

And I wondered "why did that happen to me?" What sort of stupid hate makes a person post racist crap like that on a complete stranger's personal LJ?

And then, some time later, as I realized that this sentiment - or perhaps more noble, less racist echoes of it - was being acted out by sore losers in courtrooms across the country, I realized that we may have come a long way, baby, but we still have a long, long way to go.

So yeah, I'm the anti-birther boi. I'm the watcher of the strange. I'm the one who scours the news and the blogs watching to see what Orly, Manning, Berg, Donofrio, Lakin, Keyes, and their hangers-on and cheering squads are up to, and then reports on it. "I am the one you warned me of."

And we'll all be here for some time to come, I fear. Just you, me, and the them.


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