Quite a reaction in the post asking whether Sarah Palin is a Birther. Ace thinks Birtherism is stupid but has no problem with Palin’s “empty” answer; Allah thinks she should have repudiated Birtherism more clearly.
Here’s my take: Obama was born in the U.S. There is a legally valid birth certificate that is real and has been released to the media for inspection, coupled with a contemporaneous birth announcement.
At the same time, it appears clear that the state of Hawaii has a “long form birth certificate” that could be inspected by the media if Obama requested it. Not only has he failed to request it, but he has also spent a good deal of money fighting court battles instead of releasing it. This is what makes people suspicious.
Why is he fighting it? It seems to me that there are three possible reasons: 1) He really was born outside the U.S.; 2) there is something else about the long-form certificate that is potentially embarrassing; or 3) he finds it politically useful to keep the issue alive to argue that there is a fringe element that opposes him.
I find option #1 vanishingly improbable, based on the evidence cited above.
Whether the real answer is #2 or #3 — or something else entirely — I have no idea. I think it would be fair to point out the possibility that he is hiding something embarrassing — without endorsing, even implicitly, the ridiculous suggestion that he was born outside this country.
But that’s not what Sarah Palin did. She pandered to the crazy conspiracy theorists in the Birther movement.
If Sarah Palin didn’t mean to pander to the Truthers, then she misspoke. Because, despite the incredibly charitable reading many of you gave to her words, she called Trutherism questions “fair game” and an issue that was being “rightfully” raised. There is a difference between saying that someone has the right to raise an issue, and saying that the issue is “rightfully” raised. As Allah says:
The key point isn’t whether voters have the right to ask questions but whether a question is fair after a certain amount of evidence has been provided. That’s where Palin got in trouble last night, I think. Of course Truthers have the right to be skeptical about 9/11, but does anyone think it’s fair that they still are? Where you come down on the Birtherism debate depends on whether you think that level of evidence has been reached yet, and Palin’s initial comments to Humphreys — it’s a “fair question,” it’s “fair game,” potentially something worth raising in a debate — made it sound like she didn’t. Calling it a “stupid conspiracy” later on Facebook clarified that she did.
If I said that the question of whether Bush orchestrated 9/11 is “fair game” and is “rightfully” raised, any rational person would say I’m a moron.
Yes, 9/11 Truthers have the right to make stupid arguments about how fire does not melt steel. But they are idiots. The issue is not “fair game” but rather bullshit. It is not “rightfully” raised because it’s bullshit. And when you go around saying that a bullshit issue is “fair game” that is “rightfully” raised, without saying you think it’s bullshit, then you’re pandering. Pure and simple.
Like Allah, I’m glad Palin clarified her comments, and suggested (through the title of her Facebook entry) that Birtherism is a “stupid conspiracy.” But I also would have respected her more if she had said so more clearly in the radio show.
UPDATE: Naturally, Andrew Sullivan is using her statements to justify his investigations of her birth canal.