The Right Isn't to Blame for the Birthers Making Headway

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Jul 31, 2009 12:30 PM
On Wednesday, I reported on the widely-hailed Mike Stark video, which falsely claimed that the "birther" conspiracy movement is influencing Republican members of Congress. I'd also point readers to the witty editorial by David Freddoso on liberal bloggers getting their knickers in a bunch over the now-disproven Michele Bachmann-birther ballyhoo. Now, Daily Kos releases a poll showing that  nearly a third of Republicans have questions about Obama's citizenship. That's significant, and really surprises me.

"Once again, Republicans find themselves outside the American mainstream. And reality," writes Kos. Ben Stein even jumps on the bandwagon: "you can see why Republican politicians are inclined to treat it with some respect."

Poll numbers are poll numbers, but given the record, wouldn’t it be worth taking a second glance before assuming that even a fraction of the Republican political establishment pays deference to these cats? I wish I could travel back in time and see how many Democratic politicians would hesitate when asked how much attention they paid to the conspiracy theorists pushing the "Bush caused 9/11" junk. I doubt any would say they paid attention; none come to mind that actually did. And as The Economist points out, despite 39% of Democrats believing that 9/11 was a conspiracy in 2007, “there wasn't a corresponding rise in tolerance for 9/11 conspiracy theorists." Lo – I also don’t recall a massive right-wing blogger orgy claiming that all Dems were convinced Bush was the one blowing everything up.  

You’ll always have people on both sides of the aisle who grab on to the craziest thing they can find and then milk it for all it’s worth. As the Kos poll proves, those numbers are even higher than some of us would expect. But with due respect to Stein (who is certainly one of my Gods in the politico-blogger world), you’re only going to get burned by perpetuating the belief that these crazies are making headway. And at least the birthers are only disputing one man's citizenship, rather than questioning the motive behind the slaughter of over 2,000 Americans.