Wacko Birds and Birthers
If birds of a feather flock together, should the cuckoos be pushed out of the nest? Senator John McCain, still squawking about Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster, is now calling Tea Party-backed lawmakers "wacko birds" that don't represent the GOP mainstream flock.
Name-calling of any popular Republican who dares to rock the establishment henhouse is nothing new. Ask Donald Trump.
But Trump and Paul also have something else in common. They both asked President Obama for something important -- something that clearly exemplified the limitations of this president's authority. Their simple questions highlighted the fact that Obama reports to the American people, and that his position and power is limited by the Constitution. An idea that others in Washington and the press seem to lack the courage to even entertain. And for Trump's and Paul's bravery, they were ridiculed, shunned, and called names.
Yet both Trump and Paul got the thing from Obama they requested.
Trump was called a carnival barker birther for demanding that Obama produce his "long-form" birth certificate to establish his eligibility as a "natural born" citizen. And finally, on April 27, 2011, Obama released it. Whether we could trust the document as legitimate or not, Obama still released something.
Paul was called a grandstanding extremist wacko bird for holding the Senate floor in a thirteen-hour filibuster over the limitations of the president's power over drone assassinations. And the next day, on March 7, 2013, Obama had Attorney General Eric Holder issue a letter that answered Paul's inquiry. The document was short, and it was terse. But Obama still answered.
While Trump was being called "birther" for daring to question Obama's credentials, his popularity, outside the establishment nest and mainstream airwaves, soared.
And while Paul was holding the Senate floor in a phenomenal show of statesmanship, courage, and common sense, the establishment shunned him, the media mocked him, yet the twitter universe virtually exploded in supportive tweets.
Those of us paying attention could only imagine the feathers flying inside the White House aerie before Obama finally uttered, "uncle."
And now McCain is adding his voice to all the tsk-tsking over Paul's audacity, working alongside the mainstream media to drown out the chirp of Obama's stunning surrender.
But the henpecking going on inside the conservative CPAC coop this year is even more concerning. Pamela Geller is not allowed to speak at the event this year, after several years of popular presentations that focused on Sharia and threats to freedom of speech. Geller's take was that her rejection was due to her coverage of Grover Norquist's Islamist connections and influence over CPAC.
But at least one columnist isn't blaming the Norquist controversy. "CPAC turns away birther; some conservatives outraged." That was the title of a piece, not at a liberal site like Daily Kos, but at the Daily Caller. Writer Matt Lewis linked a video in which "Fox Business describes [Geller] as 'a leader in the birther movement for years.'" Lewis wrote: "So imagine the mainstream media headlines if Geller were to speak: 'CPAC bans gay group; ok's "birther" speaker.'"
The "birther" video Lewis linked was from 2011, the day after Obama's release of the long-form. In the video, Geller and the Fox panelists discussed some of the questions surrounding the document's legitimacy. But "birther-leader" Geller still went on to speak, to standing-room only audiences, about freedom of speech at CPAC in 2012. But in 2013, Geller wasn't invited because she's a "birther"?
Lewis, by creating then using the example of his own disappointment that he wasn't invited to speak at CPAC either, declared he was using the "absurd to illustrate absurdity." Lewis seems oblivious to the absurdity of his own... absurdity.
Another related 2013 CPAC controversy has developed over the People's Choice Blog Award won by Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch. The details of the debacle are outlined here, and CPAC's John Hawkins summed up his follow-up response with the remark: "I'm extremely disappointed that [Spencer] went so far as to falsely claim that he was barred from getting his award to drum up PR for himself."
That statement sounds remarkably similar to the all the fretting about Trump and Paul.
"It's always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone," McCain blasted. He failed, however, to acknowledge the megaphone in his own hand and the fact that the establishment and mainstream media logos appear on practically all of the major megaphones around.
In Ann Coulter's otherwise brilliant book, Demonic, she attempted to vindicate "birtherism" as the "one myth" that inexplicably caused otherwise and normally rational conservatives to become momentarily deranged. With her caustic pen, she dismissed, Alinsky-style, anyone who questioned any facet of Obama's eligibility, seeming to join the very mob that was the subject of her book.
Are Coulter, McCain, Lewis, Hawkins et al, right? Are conservatives who dare rock the establishment narrative simply suffering from temporary insanity or looking for personal publicity? Do they deserve the name-calling Alinsky-treatment from their own flock?
It seems to me that Paul, Geller and Spencer and other skeptics are anything but "wacko birds." Instead, their deeds appear to line up in the sort of "V" formation that some other birds are known to fly within. That "V for Victory" is an alignment the GOP establishment believes it controls, yet has been unable to achieve.
And that shift in political orbit is what all the clucking is really about.