Birthers Are Back In a Big WayS

We've missed the Birthers. They put the "crazy" in "Democrazy". Without them, we've had to confront the actually scary lunacy of the gun nuts and the Tea Party. But now birthers back with new wacky schemes and characters. Woooo!

Move aside, Orly Taitz, for there is a new Grand Ubermensch Birther coursing crazily through the airwaves: His name is Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, and he must be right because he is in the military. He also gets anti-establishment cred for spreading his gospel via janky YouTube videos. Lakin is currently being court-martialed for refusing to redeploy to Afghanistan until Obama releases his birth certificate. (Presumably Obama is going to send his birth certificate to Lakin's house, along with a self-addressed envelope so Lakin can send it back when he's done.) There is a very excellent chance for this man to go to jail and, someday, write the Birther version of"Letters from a Birmingham Jail". Exciting!

Also exciting: The much awaited push for Birther legislation has begun! The Arizona "Birther Bill" requires "presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate before they can make the ballot in Arizona." The bill was introduced by Republican Judy Burges who represents Skull Valley, Arizona. (Burges won the Skull Valley seat in 2008 from Sauron.) It was co-sponsored by 40 Arizona Republicans and today passed the house thanks to strong Republican support. But this does not necessarily mean all these Republicans are actually Birthers! See, for Republicans, hanging out with Birthers offers the same vicarious thrill that we liberals get from spending time with Hells Angels. (Just ask J.D. Hayworth!) Luckily, the bill will never clear the Senate.

Incidentally, there is also an anti-Birther bill wending its way through Hawaii's legislature now. Yes, we have gotten to the point where Hawaii actually has to pass a law allowing the state's health department to ignore requests from Birthers for Obama's birth certificate. ("The Health Department testified it still gets between 10 and 20 e-mails seeking verification of Obama's birth each week, most of them from outside Hawaii," according to the Star-Bulletin.)

If you were hoping all this was the work of crazy Lt. Colonels or the hollow-eyed denizens of some Cormac McCarthesque Arizona hamlet, sorry. A new New York Times poll shows that just 58% of Americans believe that Obama was born in the U.S. 20% believe he was born in another country, and 23% percent "don't know."

Slate's Christopher Beam thinks Birtherism has become shorthand for any kind of anxiety over the Obama administration—politicians on the right pay lip service to the cause because it shows they "understand the concerns of the far right, even if they don't plan on joining it." But, really, we ought to be looking at those twenty-three percent of normal, everyday Americans who "don't know" about this whole Obama birth certificate thing. These people—who mistake never making a decision with being super savvy—are the ones who let things like Creationism and Global Warming skepticism and Birtherism boil constantly under the surface of reasonable political debate.

We should give this twenty-three percent with the stink eye and draw a line in the bright Arizona sand and say, finally, "Our side or theirs." This will be in Skull Valley, and even Cormac McCarthy will be hard-pressed to convey the horror of the battle that will ensue.