Opinion » Bill Cope

Blues of the Birth

The effort to drag Obama to Bush depths


Let us talk about what this "birther" thing is really about.

But first, in case you've been vacationing all summer at the bottom of a lead-lined cave, let me explain what a birther is. A birther is one of an unknown number of disgruntled losers who cling like drowning rats on a water-logged coconut to a premise that Pres. Barack Obama wasn't born on American soil, therefore he is ineligible to be president of the United States. The true birthers--and by "true" I mean the ones who actually believe their own gibberish--are invariably conservative, invariably white and invariably stupid, as Obama's credentials as an authentically born U.S. citizen have been established repeatedly since the question was first raised during the campaign. We cannot be certain what the birthers would have the nation do, even if it were proven that Obama had been born offshore. If he were forced to step down by some Constitutional/Supreme Court mandate, would they be content with Joe Biden as president? Or would they insist that John McCain take the reins because he was so unfairly thumped by, in their fevered imaginations, a foreigner?

Those are questions we cannot expect to be answered by "true" birthers, as anyone capable of believing such doodle-squat would obviously be incapable of any sort of long-term or even medium-term thinking. It would be like expecting a batshit-crazy dog to project what might be Step Two, should he ever actually catch that tail he's always chasing.

But frankly, we need not overly concern ourselves with the "true" birthers. Theirs is the sort of outrage than can be born only in perpetually troubled minds--minds in which facts and evidence are overwhelmed by the need to be, and stay, noticed. Don't look for any sense in what they say. That's not how they operate. Besides, have you seen their leaders speak? They could start foaming at the mouth at any moment, eh?

The birthers worth keeping a close eye on are those--many of whom were elected to Congress from such hotbeds of intellectual activity as Missouri and Oklahoma--who still refuse to say one way or another whether they believe Pres. Obama was born American. They go about belching things like, "Well, there certainly are some unanswered questions about this matter," or, "At present, I have no evidence Obama was not born in Hawaii like he claims he was. And until that evidence turns up, we must suppose he is telling the truth." We might call them "enablers," as they lend just enough credence to the frothing turnips in the birther stewpot to keep the issue in the news.

But what do those enablers hope to gain? Some have hinted that, as so many of these birther-symps are from the South, there is an inescapable element of racism to their attitude--that they simply cannot adjust to the reality of not only having a black man as leader of the nation, but also that he is so superior to their sorry asses in intellect, achievement, morality or any other measure we might take, that they all look like cousin-humping, Tobacco Road trailer trash in comparison.

Yeah ... well ... that, too. There is no reason to think Bible-Belt Bubbas like Rep. Roy Blunt and Sen. James Inhofe will ever not consider a man's color first and foremost, and anything else if he absolutely has to.

Yet I don't consider pure racism to be their primary motive in not decisively quashing this birther bull. These Congressional enablers are not stupid--not compared to the people who voted them into office, at any rate--and they must realize they have lost the Culture Wars of Race Relations just as decisively as they lost what many of them still refer to as the War of Northern Aggression. But while they may have given up on ever turning the calendar back on civil rights (if you don't count voter disenfranchisement in key precincts), it may not be too late to reverse the tides that threaten to swamp their floundering political party.

And how does one go about improving the image of an organization that has spent almost a decade demonstrating that it is incapable of managing anything more complicated than a flush toilet? How could they retool themselves for general consumption when the last tool they sold us was George Bush? What might they do to make themselves look better?

It's obvious, isn't it? The only way they could possibly look better is to make everything around them look worse. And we, the Democrats, have spent the last eight years providing them with an operator's manual on how to do just that.

It starts with insisting that there is a lingering doubt in the legitimacy of the subject's presidency. We had the motivation that Bush couldn't honestly win his way to the office, so he used lawyers and screaming thugs to install him. They have nothing so convincing as Florida 2000, so they had to conjured up a substitute. Hence ... the birther controversy.

It goes on. We had the fact that George Bush couldn't deliver a line without mutilating it so thoroughly that if a child talked that poorly, concerned parents would send him to speech therapy. They must have been deeply disappointed when they learned that Obama could not only pronounce words correctly, but he could organize them into coherent sentences, too. So they started grumbling about the president using a Teleprompter.

We had Bush flying over New Orleans, without a hint on his blank face that he might be troubled so many African-Americans were dying below. They have the affair of Henry Gates Jr. and the Cambridge cop to prove that Obama is a racist.

On foreign shores, we had Bush starting unnecessary wars and getting American servicemen killed for no good reason. They have Obama apologizing to the world for the destructive brat who preceded him.

On budgetary matters, we had Bush underestimating the true price tag of his hobby war--by a factor of 20 multiples. They have Obama underestimating the success of "Cash for Clunkers."

You see the pattern. For every stupid, thoughtless, costly, immoral and/or criminal episode from the last administration, they will scramble their brains to find an equivalent in this administration--to howl hysterically about an Obama tit for every Bush tat.

And we, the outraged opposition from 2001 to 2009, handed them the script. Why, before the year is out, I won't be a bit surprised to hear how Pres. Obama is the "worst president in U.S. history."

And remember ... don't look for any sense to all this. That's not how they operate.