An “unapologetic birther” is now Majority Leader in the Missuori House of Representatives
State Rep. Timothy W. Jones (R-Eureka) of the Missouri House of Representatives was unanimously elected by the new Republican caucus to be the next Majority Floor Leader. Why is that newsworthy? Because (Jones) was represented by “Birther Queen” Orly Taitz in a federal case alleging that President Barack Obama was secretly an Indonesian named Barry Soetoro and ineligible to be President of the United States
A CNN poll in August of this year found that 41% of Republicans are either outright birthers or have “birther sympathies”. Because this topic is discussed endlessly at Free Republic, I have become quite knowledgeable about birtherism. There are actually two distinct schools to this ideology. One is the “place of birth” faction, which believes Barack Obama was not born in the United States. This theory requires substantial “willing suspension of disbelief,” since one must accept the proposal that a penniless 18-year-old Hawaiian college student somehow made her way to Kenya during her 9th month of pregnancy, gave birth to a child in a mud hut, got his birth immediately registered in a Honolulu newspaper, obtained a fraudulent birth certificate and got herself back home from Africa in time to be seen less than two weeks later, with her baby, at a friend’s home in Seattle. There is also the pesky detail of an eyewitness, Eleanor Nordyke, a demographic scientist who gave birth to her twin daughters in the same maternity ward as Obama’s mother and has described the experience to various journalists. (Place-of-birthers dismiss Nordyke’s testimony as “senile lies”).
Because of obvious difficulties with this scenario there is a back-up theory known as the “natural-born citizen” argument which has become more widely accepted, largely because it doesn’t rely so much on a far-fetched physical narrative as on a creative parsing of the law, which is a game anybody can play. This faction distinguishes between “naturalized” and “natural-born” citizenship and argues (based on nothing substantive according to various courts that have heard the case) that it is impossible for a child to be “natural-born” if both his parents are not either natural-born or naturalized. Barack Obama’s father was not a naturalized American citizen so his son cannot be “natural-born”… a requirement for anybody who wishes to serve as president (Incidentally, this bizarre theory, which is argued passionately in Republican circles, is now creating some collateral damage for rising conservative stars Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal, since for both men there are serious questions about the “naturalized” status of their parents when they were born).
What interests me more is the difficulty so many conservatives have in accepting that Barack Obama is in fact a real American and not some exotic “other”… a “not-one-of-us” kind of person. I often wonder what would have happened if President Obama’s entire narrative had been identical except for one detail. Imagine that his father was not a black “Barack Obama” but a white “Barry O’Brien,” the son of Irish-Kenyan coffee-growers who came to the United States to get his college education.
In that scenario, would there still be a birther movement?