In the course of my inquiries into many of history's more recent controversies -- JFK, Waco, Vince Foster, Oklahoma City, Ron Brown, TWA Flight 800, 9/11, Obama's birth, the authorship of Obama's books -- I have come to see that when there are actual conspiracies afoot, they fall into two general categories, conspiracies of execution and conspiracies of concealment.
Conspiracies of execution, at least on any kind of scale, are rare in American history. The nature of our national character and the openness of our political culture war against them.
Conspiracies of concealment are another matter. When officials fail in their duties and let, say, a president get shot, a plane get blown out of the sky, or a hijacker fly into a building, their first impulse is to conceal their mistakes. Such is human nature.
To me, a "conspiracy theorist" is one who sees a conspiracy of execution where none could logically exist or who confuses a conspiracy of concealment with one of execution despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Given this understanding, it is the rare "birther" who qualifies as a conspiracy theorist. Few have conjured elaborate, impossible conspiracies on the scale Oliver Stone did in JFK or the French leftist Theirry Meyssan and others did with 9/11.
Most birthers simply want to know where and when their president was born, a not unreasonable aspiration. Few insist that they know the answer. Despite my ample research, I do not know.
All I do know is that the official story -- the one Barack Obama trotted out in his memoir and both his convention speeches -- is false. In my forthcoming book, Deconstructing Obama, I show in detail why this is so and what the alternatives might be.
If there are conspiracy theorists involved in the birther issue, it is those cynical souls -- and they are many, left and right -- who insist that Obama and his operatives have purposefully dragged the birth certificate in front of the baying hounds of the excitable right like a red herring. In its simplest form, this theory at least sounds plausible.
14th century philosopher William of Occam had a keen eye for plausibility. We know his approach to problem solving by the label "Occam's Razor," an axiom often stated in shorthand as, "The simplest explanation is usually the best." The original Latin -- "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" -- adds some nuance. This translates roughly, "One ought not posit multiple variables unnecessarily."
The cynics' case weakens the more variables they posit. In December, for instance, Hawaii's Democrat governor Neil Abercrombie went public with his desire to silence dissenters by proving Obama's citizenship. When the governor failed to find it, the cynics insisted that he too had been enlisted in Obama's conspiracy to discredit the birthers.
Andrew Walden made this very case in American Thinker last week. Wrote Walden,
"Abercrombie may act like a dopey doofus, but it is just an act. He has spent a lifetime in politics manipulating conservatives to unwittingly serve his agenda -- and he's proud of it."
As Walden sees it, Abercrombie likely conspired with Obama to keep this story in the news, all the better to embarrass the right. When Abercrombie pal, celebrity journalist Mike Evans, claimed on air that Abercrombie had told him there was no birth certificate -- and then later retracted -- Walden and others imagined him in the plot as well.
"The progressives know they can get the birthers to do anything they want," concluded Waden. "They are having a ball, and they are discrediting Obama's opponents in the run-up to 2012."
In other words, Abercrombie's failure to find the promised records and Evan's recantation of a story he breathlessly told on more than thirty radio stations were part of a clever and increasingly intricate plot to enhance Obama's electoral chances in 2012. Never mind that Abercrombie made himself look foolish and Evans lost his credibility in the process. The plot demanded sacrifice.
This, my friends, is conspiracy theorizing at its purest, and it makes little sense for two obvious reasons. First, there is no political advantage in attacking birthers. After two years of "having a ball" with them, the Democrats lost 63 seats in the House this past November.
The second is that Obama does indeed have much to hide. Whether he was born in Hawaii or in Washington State -- or wherever -- we know that he did not spend the first two years of his life in a happy, little multicultural home in Hawaii as advertised. He ascended to the presidency on a fully fabricated origins story.
The more these alleged conspirators talk about Obama's origins the more attention they focus on that story. This attention is inspiring state legislatures to demand proof of natural born citizenship before it puts candidates on the ballot. Even if Obama does eventually produce a birth certificate that squares with his origins story, critics can credibly ask why did he not produce it years earlier.
That is, if he can produce a birth certificate that squares with his origins story.Jack Cashill is author of Deconstructing Obama, to be published next week.