Birthers and Bainers and Returners, Oh My!
Birthers and Bainers and Returners -- oh my! In today's political Oz, we're warned to beware of crazy conspiracy theorists, described by creative names ending in "er."
Along the road to the 2012 election, birthers are probably the most notorious "ers." Although the mainstream media defines them as believing in an Obama Kenyan birthplace, many birthers might instead refer to themselves as "dualers," claiming Obama's dual citizenship a disqualification from "natural born" eligibility. But such arguments are certainly less exciting to read about than African nativity scenes.
The recent discovery of the literary agent's pamphlet that affirmed a Kenyan birth spawned "transcripters," who suggested that Obama's college records might reveal whether he intentionally benefited from some sort of foreign student status. (The fact that the agency biography was likely composed by Obama himself, or at the very least known by him over the sixteen years that it was revised and re-issued yet not "corrected" with Hawaii as his birthplace until two months after he announced his candidacy...um, er...distracts from the narrative. Shhh.)
Breitbart's Joel Pollak, who endeavored (although unsuccessfully) to distance his organization from the scary birthers with that pamphlet's discovery, still bravely noted ten other important things that Obama has not released. Our frustration over that lack of transparency should pale in comparison to our outrage that our supposedly free press hasn't attempted to uncover even one of those "things." If we hammered harder, we might be called something creative ending in "er," but more likely, we would be silenced with the racist label, which trumps even the most compelling "er" card.
In the past couple of weeks, "Bainers" and "returners" have been added to the mix of "er" outcasts. Bainers question Romney's claims of his management and ownership of Bain Capital, and returners demand more of Romney's tax returns.
At first glance, it might appear that whenever anyone asks tough questions -- outlandish or legitimate -- that either camp doesn't want to pursue or defend as a "winning issue," out come the "er" branding irons. Whether the branded are truly crazy conspiracy theorists, politically motivated opportunists, or intelligent skeptics, pundits on both sides of the aisle marginalize them into "er" oblivion.
Are all of these "ers" really detached from reality, or, if sane, are they just not focused on the particular issues the powers-that-be prefer? Obviously, they all at their core question the legitimacy of the candidate and his character -- with the birthers mostly Republicans, and Bainers and returners Democrats.
Some political writers contend that birthers, Bainers, and returners are related fanatics. RedState's Erick Erickson, in his recent post, "Meet Bainers, the New Birthers," writes: "The Bainers will not take any answer that does not show Romney to be a liar or felon in the same way Birthers will take no answer other than one that shows Barack Obama is not an American citizen."
The Blaze's Mytheos Holt made a similar argument, addressing the returners: "So how did the Left come up with this idea? Pretty much the same way critics charge that the birther movement first came up with the idea that President Obama isn't qualified to be President -- namely, by taking a candidate's refusal to release a particular document and extrapolating from that refusal the idea that the document includes some earth-shattering revelation."
It must be noted that the supporting link Holt supplied in that quote refers to an anti-birther website run by an anonymous blogger, which happens to be the same source referred to by FactCheck in a 2009 post refuting birther claims. Uh, er...the "experts" have spoken?
Conservative author and columnist Diana West noted a recent poll conducted by YouGov, concluding that 45% believe that Obama was not born in the U.S. Imagine the results if the polling question was something like: "Do you believe there are problems with Obama's posted birth certificate or his possible dual citizenship?" Regardless, the poll indicated that a whopping percentage of the population (hardly a fringe) wears a hat embroidered with the dreaded letters.
We're told that all of the "ers" distract us from the most important topic: economic policy. But could it be that the skeptics themselves, who like all of us can't help but be concerned about the economy, address the other issues because they sense said issues' impact on the character and ideology of the candidate? At least that's what leaders of both camps of "ers" tell us is their motivation.
Erickson claims: "The only difference is that the Bainers' insufferable stupidity is at the heart of the Obama campaign while the Romney campaign has worked hard to not be tied to Birthers." He's right about that. However, what Erickson and others fail to note are the important differences among the "ers." Further, the timing of the media coverage of the so-called conspiracies is worth a look.
The range of birther claims, from questions on the authenticity of the posted certificate to authorship of Obama's autobiographies, actually have both facts and credible authorities to back them up. The investigations by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Cold Case Posse and author Jack Cashill immediately come to mind.
Regarding the Bainers, however, Pollak noted: "[T]he Obama campaign is ... not doing their fact-checking, instead relying on their media buddies to carry their poisonous water. Every class warfare straw at which they grasp seems to be lying atop a factual landmine. And with every Obama narrative that collapses, the President seems less and less credible."
It doesn't help that narrative that Obama has paid millions of dollars to attorneys defending his eligibility in numerous court battles with arguments (when they bother to show up) that even Mickey Mouse needn't show anything to run for president. Would Bainers or returners actually risk going to court over their claims? Obama also stood by while a decorated officer was court-martialed for asking for assurances of Obama's constitutional eligibility, a year before the long-form's release. In addition, Romney quickly addressed Bainer concerns in several interviews, while Obama, after three years of delay, smugly presented a digital image of his certificate with name-calling and without any appearance of patriotic humility or servitude.
At Arpaio's March 1 press conference, he asserted "probable cause" that the image of the birth certificate is a digital forgery, but at the July 17 conference, Arpaio concluded that it is "undoubtedly fraudulent." And if his claims were legally challenged, then presumably Obama's documents could be entered into evidence and subjected to cross-examination.
The Washington Times's Jeffrey Kuhner asserts that Arpaio's conclusions, if true, point to a crisis that dwarfs Watergate. So far, no definitive response from the media or the Obama campaign has been issued. Instead, we hear: "Psst...Romney might be a felon." And because we're told birthers are stupid and racist anyway, all the Arpaio ruckus caused no harm to Obama, while Bainer sound bites marring Romney's reputation and framing him as a conniving one-percenter live on.
The problem for the Bainers, though, is that at its core, after peeling back their unattractive layers of class warfare, Romney's Bain story is the picture of success and fulfillment of the American dream, accurately and legally calculated to its after-tax value. The problem for the birthers is that their claims, no matter how legitimate, are easily manipulated by the mainstream media into the stuff of racism. And obviously, the biggest problem for Romney is that he, unlike Obama, does not have the media under his control.
All the "ers" are asking that the character and record of both candidates be closely examined. It's the matter of "trust, but verify," and the media is supposed to be the People's ally in that quest.
Romney's shown he's not afraid of any "ers." As he told the NAACP, here I am -- "You take a look." From any vantage point, his profile is squeaky-clean and admirable. But neither are the birthers' contentions mere distractions from Obama's abysmal economic record. They are the exclamation point at the end of it.
We can only wonder when someone will dare to pull back the curtain guarding the Democrat-Media Complex machinations of the Obama campaign. It'll take brains, heart, and a lot of courage.