In blog one David Frum race baits and suggests the GOP should have ignored this issue, which they did, in the second blog the next day Frum blames the GOP for not getting involved in this sooner. What a poor excuse for a CONservative because Frum has the CON game on and he’s a joke and not a serious conservative. When conservatives succumb to race baiting we lose legitimacy on important issues, save till a true racial issue arrises. Small issues like the birther stuff only hurt Obama not the GOP which avoided the birther crowd for the most part.
The media are at fault for not investigating the birther stuff in more detail in 2007, instead most shrugged it off and we all know the liberal media fanned the birther flames after the inauguration and they ran polls as did Pew Research’s poll in August 2010 just in time for the elections.
Now the more haunting question: How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party?
I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt the president’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”
Yet even now, the racialist aspect of the anti-Obama movement has not subsided. Trump has moved from the birth certificate to questioning the president’s academic qualifications for the Harvard Law School. Trump himself was a troubled student (at one point he attended a military school) who nonetheless gained admission to Wharton. His father’s wealth and business success cannot have hurt with that application. Yet he feels himself qualified to pronounce on who is and who is not smart enough to attend Harvard Law. Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude. (And to anticipate a new line of attack – yes, Harvard Law School exams were blind-graded.) He was elected editor of the law review. And his classmates, left and right, universally admired his abilities.
I wish it were otherwise, but it does seem that these racialized attacks on Obama have exacted a toll on him. But they also have exacted a toll on the opposition to Obama. The too-faint repudiation of birtherism by regular Republicans has shaped not only the Obama brand, but also the Republican brand. It was not only white people who heard the implied message about who counts and who does not count as a “real American.”
I write as an opponent of virtually every major and minor action of this administration. Republicans should be fighting this president on policy, not winking at those who use race as a weapon. It’s worth recalling the generous words of John McCain on election night 2008:
Abe Greenwald suggests at the Commentary blog that President Obama deliberately exploited the birth certificate pseudo-controversy.
Greenwald suggests that the president cunningly baited a trap with the conscious intent of portraying his opponents as racist lunatics.
Greenwald may very well be correct about this. Question: Faced with such a devilish ploy, how might Republicans and conservatives have avoided being victimized? Here’s a thought. What about: not walk into it?
Instead, with rare exceptions, leading Republicans from the Speaker of the House downward played games with the birther issue. Maybe they played those games unhappily, but they played the games even so. That was a choice, not a compulsion. And some Republicans – Sarah Palin inevitably, but others too – did much more than play games. That was a choice too.
What else could Republicans have done? They might have answered as Bill Clinton answered when confronted by 9/11 conspiracy theorist hecklers. He heard them out. He recapitulated the facts. He restated the truth. And he told people who continued to defy reality that they “looked like idiots.” He added for good measure: “We heard from you. You go away.”