The Donald's take-no-prisoners crusade to unearth President Obama's long-form birth certificate received some high profile rhetorical support -- though not a full endorsement -- over the weekend. The source of said support? Sarah Palin, who, in case you've forgetten, was the Republican Party's Vice Presidential nominee in 2008:
Palin hastens to affirm that she believes the president was born in Hawaii, but applauds Trump for spending the requisite resources to "get to the bottom of" an issue that "perplexes" many Americans. I've already explained why the evidence suggests this "issue" is at best a waste of time. I'll take it a step further: It's also a counterproductive distraction that plays directly into the hands of Obama's political operation -- which may explain why Obama & Co. have cagily disclosed signficiant, but incomplete, evidence of the president's status as a natural born US citizen. In short, by paying undue attention to this birther scavenger hunt, Obama's critics deprive themselves of the time, energy, and credibility to focus the public's attention on defeating the president and his disastrous policies.
Public confidence in Obama is flagging on virtually every major issue, and the White House is grappling with dreadful polling data in key swing states. By rewarding an unserious candidate for his self-serving carnival act, far too many Republicans risk handing Team Obama a convenient cudgel with which to beat back serious criticisms. The Obama campaign and its supporters cynically conflated legitimate opposition with racism in 2008, so it's fantastical to presume they won't eagerly apply the same template in 2012. Conservatives ought not assist in their own marginalization.
Riddle me this: When all the bluster and hype is stripped away, whom does this birther discussion truly benefit? My stab at an answer: (1) Donald Trump -- who is basking in the publicity he's managed to generate, just as he did during his vitriolic public spat with Rosie O'Donnell in 2007 -- and (2) Team Obama, for reasons mentioned above.
Conversely, who is imperiled by the sideshow? Answer: Respectable presidential candidates who seek a serious examination of Obama's record as a means to defeat him next fall (and the tens of millions of Americans who support that end). Defeating this incumbent president -- a skilled campaigner with a $1 Billion campaign war chest -- will require strict discipline and unflinching focus. Lobbing this rogue, loaded grenade into the mix seriously jeopardizes that task.
Today's "birtherism" brouhaha benefits two men with gargantuan egos: Donald Trump and Barack Obama. Unless conservatives are keen on lending assistance to either's career, they should heed Sen. Marco Rubio's advice: Get serious and move on. Much is at stake.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography