A recent poll indicates that a majority of registered Republican primary voters (51%) thought that Obama was not born in the United States. This is a significant shift from a similar poll taken in August of 2009 that found 44% of Republicans believed Obama was not a natural born citizen. This is a simple case of “appealing to the majority” for Trump. He decided simply to speak to 51% of Republican primary voters and use the “birther” issue as a sticking point, basically to curry their favor. It’s a fairly transparent strategy.But this week there was a new development. A recent bill making its way through the Arizona state legislature, if signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, would have made it a requirement for any Presidential candidate to (per the linked article above):
“…have their national political party send the secretary of state an affidavit from the candidate saying that they are natural-born citizens, have lived in the U.S. for 14 years and are at least 35 years old. The party must include documents proving that information, preferably a long-form birth certificate. If that document is not available, the candidate can provide at least two of the following: early baptismal or circumcision certificate, hospital birth record, postpartum medical record signed by the person who delivered the child, or an early census record.” (azcentral.com, by Alia Beard Rau)
Obviously this bill, as written, is ludicrous, and is indicative of how far to the insane right Arizona Republicans have gone. This is the same state that produced the “show your papers if you look/sound foreign in front of a cop” law, as you may remember. So you would think, given all that has happened under Jan Brewer’s tenure as Governor of Arizona, this bill should be a shoo-in to become law, right?
Not so fast. Brewer shot the law down, saying it "creates significant new problems while failing to do anything constructive for Arizona." Wow. Here is the lady that found it politically advantageous to persecute immigrants and subjugate them to de facto second-class citizen status saying it “creates significant new problems” to have Obama submit his baptismal certificate and hospital birth record so he could appear on the ballot in Arizona? It would seem incongruous, at first glance, that she could hold both of these opinions at the same time, but that’s only at first glance.
Simply put, the “birther” issue is political poison. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, from the beginning even. Want proof? Michele Bachmann, another loony favorite of mine, has also now distanced herself from the issue. So have Karl Rove, Tim Pawlenty snd House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Essentially, the “birther” issue is rapidly becoming a wedge issue within the Republican Party, with the true die-hard wingnuts on one side and the more politically savvy, more serious contenders on the other. Much as I hate putting Michele Bachmann in any group labeled “politically savvy,” I must call them as I see them. Besides, it’s likely a campaign aide or other handler has guided Ms. Bachmann’s opinion on the issue at least somewhat.
The main reason the “birther” issue is absurd to me, mostly is its blatant, but implied, racism. Here we have a guy who has sort of an “international” upbringing, was born to a non-American father, has spent significant time abroad, and generally has lead a life most Americans who were born, live and will die in the same city or town, consider strange and alien. Oh, and by the way, he’s black too. And he has a Muslim-sounding name. Simply put, adding this up does not produce someone the ignorant, uneducated, white, mostly rural people that make up the majority of these “birther” Republicans and Tea Partiers think is very "American." To them, each of the details I described above about Obama’s life are evidence that he is really a secret Muslim who was born outside of this country, and no amount of logical, reasoned and evidence-laden counter-argument will change their mind. It’s real because Glenn Beck said it’s real, and that’s that.
So, where does that leave the Republican candidate pool, you might ask? In a game of choosing sides. Do they play to the simpletons out there who believe Obama was somehow constructed by al-Qaeda almost 50 years ago to take over America and secretly place a Muslim in charge? Or do they play to the upper middle class and rich business interests the GOP has usually played to? Basically, does a Republican candidate fully embrace the wingnut Tea Party element, or not? A similar rift has been present ever since the latest Congress has convened, with John Boehner having to somehow appease both of these sides at the same time as Speaker of the House. It’s made policymaking a bit complicated, to say the least. Democrats definitely wasted no time in exploiting that, and they nearly succeeded in wiping out the Paul Ryan budget proposal.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike Obama as President. He is a terrible leader and a terrible negotiator. What we have right now is a “Committee Chair-in-Chief,” who is always looking to have everyone “come together” and “compromise,” even on issues where there are two distinct and radically opposing sides. It makes for complete chaos, and middle-of-the-road, milquetoast policy decisions that end up satisfying neither side of a given issue and making people on both sides of the political spectrum dislike him a little more each time. Obama is a college professor in President’s clothing, simply put. Dislike him for the right reasons. He should be replaced with a better leader, but not because he’s black, or Muslim, or any other silly thing he’s been accused of. He should be replaced just because he’s a shitty President.
UPDATE: There is actually now a birther bill making its way through the Louisiana state legislature, with language very similar to the Arizona bill. Governor Bobby Jindal, another GOP grandstanding wunderkind, has promised to sign it into law if it passes. I guess we know where he stands on the issue.