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The 'Birther' Movement Wont Go Away, and for Good Reason

New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson Posted: Jul 30, 2009

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got it right. He bluntly said that those who are adamant that President Obama is an illegal alien and should be dumped from the White House will never go away.

Unfortunately not only wont the "birthers" go away, but in recent weeks theyve gained even more steam, ironically with the unintended help of birther opponents. Newspapers, magazines, and talk show hosts may ridicule them as a bunch of wacky, paranoid people but the birthers only stand to benefit from this attention.

Theres a calculated and politically cynical motive behind their Obama birth certificate agitation.

The clamor for Obama to produce his original birth document gained a noisy following long before the final presidential vote tally was in last November. It started the instant that he declared his presidential candidacy in February 2007. Take your pick: He was too black. He was not patriotic enough. He was too liberal, too effete, too untested. He was a Muslim, terrorist fellow traveler, and a closet black radical. The shock of an Obama in the White House was simply too much for many to bear. Obama defied the stereotypical textbook look and definition of what an American president was supposed to look like, and be like: namely a middle-aged white male.

Obama inadvertently gave ammunition to the incipient birthers during a campaign stop in late July 2007 when he quipped that he did not look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills. Obama got torched for saying the obvious and that was that his candidacy was different.

Obama later admitted that it was a racial reference. The off-the-cuff remark simply reinforced the point that he and his candidacy marked a turning point in U.S. presidential politics and, by extension, race relations.

The Obama birth certificate hounders kicked their rumor-mongering campaign against him into even higher gear when some mainstream papers found the birth certificate controversy good copy. The birthers spotted the opening and crudely cloaked themselves in the mantle of concerned citizens and legal experts who had no personal, political, let alone racial, ax to grind with Obama. Their sole goal, they claimed, was to insure electoral truth and accuracy, to make sure that all the legal requirements for holding a presidential office were met, and to head off a constitutional crisis.

They even promised that they would put the matter to rest if Obama simply produced the original birth certificate.

That was a lie. The birthers got an open boost from GOP ultra-conservatives, led by House Representative John Campbell, who are pushing for a bill that requires all future presidential candidates to produce their original birth certificates. That, of course, would apply to Obama as well when he presumably runs for reelection in 2012. The real value of the birther movement is that its a tailored backdoor movement that can be used to destabilize the Obama administration. At the very least, it keeps the president off balance on policy initiatives hes pushing on health care, the economy, and a softer foreign policy outreach -- all policies fiercely opposed by ultra-conservatives.

Since Obamas inauguration, dozens of YouTube clips have been produced on the controversy. While legions of Web sites continue to recycle the rumor line about his birth certificate, and whether the birth certificate that Hawaii produced is legitimate, more than two dozen lawsuits or petitions have been filed in various state courts contesting Obamas U.S. citizenship. (One of them was filed by political gadfly Alan Keyes.)

The Supreme Courts refusal to demand that Obama pony up his birth certificate has done absolutely nothing to take any steam out of the movement. If anything, it probably added some vapor to it, by convincing more people that the courts are in cahoots with the Obama White House to keep the real truth about his imagined foreign birth secret from the American people.

The worst thing about the controversy over Obamas birth certificate is not that CNNs Lou Dobbs has latched onto the issue for ratings and to make mischief against Obama. Or that others in the media have even dignified the controversy by treating it as if its a legitimate issue. The worst thing is that none have connected the dots and seen the birthers as the shock troops to torpedo Obamas political agenda.

Their hope is that by sowing enough conspiracy paranoia about him, they can do just that.


Related Articles:

What if Henry Louis Gates Were Not an Acclaimed Professor?

Why Some Black Leaders 'Hate' President Obama

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