Friday, May 18, 2012
Nothing to Speak of
ALL THE SMART PEOPLE ARE CERTAIN . Nobody intelligent is a Birther. Let's get that out there right away. Breitbart broke the story of an Obama bio produced by his literary agent that claimed he was born in Kenya. But even before they got to their own lede, they announced -- actually proclaimed -- that Obama was born in Hawaii. At the local level, Philly talk show host Dom Giordano regretted the Breitbart scoop and proclaimed -- actually ridiculed -- Birthers as people who live in their mothers' basements. Several times. In the first 10 minutes of his show.
Well, nobody here is a Birther either. I just wanted to say that so you all know. Born. In. Hawaii. (Damn. I think there's something wrong with the carriage return on my keyboard. Bear with me. I'll try to get it fixed ASAP.)
But doesn't the Breitbart story change the status of Birthers just a little? One of the big questions about Birthers was why and how they got this bit in their teeth in the first place. A few ambiguities in Hawaiian newspapers almost fifty years ago. Which leads easily to the suspicion that they started with a political inference -- that Obama seems not quite American -- and followed the history back through such facts as that Obama's father was Kenyan and sought to nail down their antipathy with a contrived and definitive prime cause: he wasn't even born here. Even the kindest interpretation of this kind of backward logic can't help but suggest some level of racism as a motive.
Why every argument put forward by the Birthers was a priori dismissible as the "fruit of the poisoned tree." Whatever started their conspiratorial quest was illegitimate; therefore, nothing that comes from it can be legitimate. Not his mother's odd history. Not the curious lack of cooperation in supplying basic records by the State of Hawaii. Not the contradictory recollections of family in the U.S. and Africa. Not the confusing name changes associated with the absent father and the mother's second, muslim husband. It's all decades in the past, they didn't keep good records in the ancient pre-technological long ago of the early 1960s, and it's hardly the biggest Obama mystery anyway, because what smart people are concerned about is the missing college applications, test scores, transcripts, and Obama legal writings. If the Birthers had any brains, that's what they'd be fired up about.
Unless the initial suspicion was somehow indirectly caused by Obama himself. If the first confusion about where Obama was born was initiated by the man himself, then the prime cause of Birtherism might not be a manifestation of overt or subliminal racism and invented chains of conspiracy theory but derived from the subject of their suspicion himself. The Breitbart story's most notable fact is that the bio printed in the literary agent's catalogue of writers persisted from 1991 to 2007, through multiple updates involving the titles of books he actually did publish. Sixteen years of one signal error repeated without correction. The agency dutifully fell on the sword when it belatedly responded to Breitbart inquiries, uh, after the story had already been published. Their fault. Lack of fact-checking. For sixteen years. Obama had nothing to do with it. But where did they get the idea initially that Obama had been born in Kenya? From the promising author fairy who helps them write all such bios?
The truth is, this changes everything. It drives the story away from the question of why Birthers have been so monomaniacally obsessed and toward Obama himself. In some way he contributed to the ambiguity about his place of birth, at minimum by not doing anything to correct an error he must have seen. Don't tell me he didn't read and reread a literary agent's brochure touting him, an ambitious would-be published writer, as an author of a book he hadn't even written yet (and subsequently didn't write at all). If he didn't provide the false information, he didn't do anything to correct it either. He may have seen it as a positive that would enhance his career.
What of the Birthers now? Did they stumble onto the real reason why all of Obama's academic records are sealed? Is there a possibility that he claimed, falsely or not, that he was a foreign national in his applications to Occidental College, Columbia, and Harvard Law School? Was he committing the same kind of fraud that landed Cherokee princess Elizabeth Warren at Harvard? Is that why we can't see any of the academic records of a man whose so-called friends and colleagues describe him as an excellent student?
Alternatively, it's (unthinkably, to be sure) possible that the Birthers are right. I've followed, because I'm relentless in this way, the continuing arguments put forward by Birthers about the Hawaiian birth certificate that was ultimately released. If you dispense with the "fruit of the poisoned tree" dismissal, they have some powerful objections. The certificate is not a reproduction of a physical 1960s record. It's a digital file, akin to a PhotoShop, with layers and suspect grafted content, and almost certainly not any faithful representation of an authentic document.
Meaning, there is also the possibility that Obama was foreign born, used it to obtain entrance to the best schools in the United States, then buried the truth when it became an obstacle to becoming president of the United States.
One more thing. Most conspiracy theories collapse of their own weight. Too many people have to be involved and in the know to make them plausible. This one doesn't. All it requires is a whole bunch of people who just didn't want to know the truth and were willing to go along with all the lies of omission needed to make the questions go away.
None of this will come up. Nobody -- not even Breitbart -- has the guts to bring up all the salient questions. I understand why. When the libs turn the truth into a lie, we're checkmated. Why we couldn't nominate Sarah Palin. I do understand. My only point? It's time to let the Birthers off the hook. Maybe not all of them live in their mothers' basements. Is that too much to concede?
I'm sorry if you were hoping for something more insightful today. But it's Friday and the weekend's coming. Only a real conspiracy nut would search this post for something more than the simple CYA statement it is. Good luck with that, you basement trolls.
Enjoy your weekend.