Media members and liberals are diving for their fainting couches over this joke from Mitt Romney in Michigan:
Mitt Romney began his stump speech in Michigan on Friday with a joke which raised a sensitive issue: birth certificates. "I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born," he said. "Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
May the faux outrage commence:
In a statement responding to Romney's comments, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt mentioned Trump and others who have raised the birth certificate issue previously. "Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," LaBolt said. "It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."
The Romney camp is going with a cheeky feigned ignorance -- who, us? -- defense:
Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said after the candidate's remarks, "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised."
I have taken a hard line with so-called "birthers" for years. Their claims are unfounded, debunked, and ridiculous. The president is a natural born US citizen, which Romney has affirmed repeatedly. So what was the point of this remark? In my mind, it is obviously a calculated move by Romney, who isn't a loose cannon or a risk taker. I suspect the Romney camp is aware that the bright-shiny-object media would pounce on this, and Democrats would stir up a bunch of fake indignation in response. It would move the outrage du jour past the insufferable Todd Akin, and shift the spotlight onto this "controversy" for a news cycle or so. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- understands that Romney was joking around and needling the president, Team Romney's deadpan reaction notwithstanding. The one-liner is his answer to Obama's numerous, frivolous and dopey 'Seamus' jokes on the campaign trail. If Obama wants to make a laugh line out of Romney's dog on the roof of a car in the 1980s, Romney can offer a self-aware crack that pokes fun at not only the president, but at the birthers, too. Remember, Obama himself has had a few public chuckles over this non-issue. It'll be amusing to watch O's campaign and supporters whip themselves into a lather of phony fury over an obvious joke. I don't expect to hear this line too often from Team Romney beyond today, but it was dropped -- with a smile -- for a reason. To our resident liberals, please share your authentic outrageous outrage in the comments section. Be sure to mention racism and dogwhistles, because that whole thing isn't played out at all. We'd love to hear from you. And to the few lurking birthers, please be sure to angrily explain why this isn't a laughing matter. This'll be fun.
UPDATE - The Washington Post recognizes Romney's quip to be what it was: "Clearly" a "light-hearted joke." Reuters notes that the comment also evokes a controversy Romney's father endured during his presidential run. Leftists are reacting predictable and hysterically. Perfect. To his credit, Obama tweeted out a jokey response, linking to the "song of the day," Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen. Obama seems to understand the silliness of this, even as his staff hyperventilates.
UPDATE II - In a far more important take-away from Romney's speech, the soon-to-be nominee test drove an effective new "four more years?" riff that he'll likely reprise all along the trail in the coming weeks:
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