Obama's rebirth

By exposing his haters, the president has forced the GOP into a corner
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  May 5, 2011


Over the course of a few days, Barack Obama made three attention-grabbing appearances in front of the cameras: to announce the release of his long-form birth certificate; to belittle a fuming Donald Trump in his White House Correspondents' Association Dinner monologue; and to announce that Navy Seals, on his orders, had found and killed Osama bin Laden.

It was a good weekend for the president.

Any bump in Obama's public polling, in the aftermath of the bin Laden news, will likely be temporary, if history is a guide — the Gulf War bloom faded from George H.W. Bush's rose before his midterm election, to take one example.

But those three appearances may prove to have a lasting effect — for the Republican Party.

Until a week ago, Republican leaders — including those running for president, who will be the public faces of the party in the coming months — openly played with the fire of its crazy base, by signaling approval of, if not fully endorsing, their views.

House Speaker John Boehner said, "It's not up to me" to tell "birthers" — including those in his own caucus — what to think. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney titled his book No Apology in reference to charges that Obama has subjugated America to foreign powers. Romney's fellow presidential challenger, Newt Gingrich, claimed that Obama holds a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview.

Other party leaders said even worse — and they all silently nodded along as federal and state GOP legislators proposed conspiratorially driven laws to demand presidential candidates' birth certificates and outlaw the imposition of hypothetical Shariah law.

And, of course, blowhard Donald Trump raced to the top of Republican presidential-nomination polling by loudly repeating any crazy allegation against Obama he heard.

A week ago, the general public could apparently forgive the party for holding hands with these haters — because there was just enough question in their own minds about Obama's trustworthiness, competence, or intentions to make it seem acceptable.

No longer. From the day he released the "long form," only crazed Obamaphobes could continue to question the president's birth. After Obama (and Correspondents' Dinner host Seth Meyers) exposed Trump's idiocy, only crazed Obamaphobes could continue to treat Trump and his ilk as legitimate candidates.

And certainly, after bringing home the metaphorical head of bin Laden, only crazed Obamaphobes could continue to accuse Obama of anti-Americanism, or of surrendering in the war on terror.

The problem for the GOP is that their base will not stop saying, and believing, these things. They and the rabble-rousers they listen to are far too committed to turn back now. And the GOP is stuck holding hands with them; they have to dance with the birthers they brought.


If anybody thought birtherism would go away, they were mistaken. WorldNetDaily, the biggest driver of the theory that Obama was not born in the US — and whose online traffic has soared since the long-form certificate was released, according to Internet-analysis site Alexa — claims the document was altered. Oklahoma's House of Representative passed its "birther bill" hours after the birth-certificate announcement. Pre-sales are climbing for Jerome Corsi's upcoming book, Where's the Birth Certificate?

1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Getting the Ron-around, Living la vida Republican, Elephant in the Room, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Mitt Romney, Osama bin Laden, Rick Santorum,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MRS. WARREN GOES TO WASHINGTON  |  March 21, 2013
    Elizabeth Warren was the only senator on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, aside from the chair and ranking minority, to show up at last Thursday's hearing on indexing the minimum wage to inflation.
  •   MARCH MADNESS  |  March 12, 2013
    It's no surprise that the coming weekend's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have become politically charged, given the extraordinary convergence of electoral events visiting South Boston.
  •   LABOR'S LOVE LOST  |  March 08, 2013
    Steve Lynch is winning back much of the union support that left him in 2009.
  •   AFTER MARKEY, GET SET, GO  |  February 20, 2013
    It's a matter of political decorum: when an officeholder is running for higher office, you wait until the election has been won before publicly coveting the resulting vacancy.
    It wasn't just that Scott Brown announced he was not running in the special US Senate election — it was that it quickly became evident that he was not handing the job off to another Republican.

 See all articles by: DAVID S. BERNSTEIN