Tuesday, July 28, 2009

THE NEVER-ENDING STORY. It was strategically necessary for National Review to abjure the birthers. They have been giving their movement and the party to which it is attached some bad publicity, which Democrats had been exploiting. In its current, fragmented state, the conservative movement cannot be said to have leadership, but National Review at least has a historical place in it. Though Rush Limbaugh plays with birtherism and Lou Dobbs stumps for it, the magazine's demurrer allows critics like Alex Koppelman to say that "the right bails on Birthers."

You'd like to think so. But these ideas, if we can so dignify them, don't die, but merely hibernate. They were declaring FDR a socialist in the 1930s; after a blessedly long interval, during which this was only whispered in their salons, they have taken to declaring FDR a socialist again. As someone once said, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

You can see it burrowing even in the hour of birtherism's alleged defeat. National Review takes care to mention that, as far as they know, the birth certificate story "originated with a Hillary Clinton supporter." It's one of the many knocks on Democrats the authors use to help their readers take the pill, but it's also something they can come back to when they're reassessing the evidence. After all, it didn't come from their labs, so there might be something in it they've missed; and didn't Henry Waxman tip his hand once in an unguarded moment? There are no coincidences, people.

Their movement colleagues are less clever. Macsmind suggests that Clinton may be behind the present birther movement and "may very well be working somehow behind the scenes to sink Obama’s plans." He also mocks the validation of "Hawaii’s Health Director, and Barack Obama supporter" who "has 'certified' his birth certificate. 'It’s there I saw it!' Guess that settles that." Eventually he says, "who cares," which preserves his plausible deniability, and when it all comes back he can show off the quotes around "certified" as proof that he was never really taken in.

There remain plenty of folks out there -- including the esteemed Tom Maguire -- who have no need for such games, and will keep hope alive. They may not enjoy a full birther Restoration, but this will stay in their bag of dirt -- along with Kathleen Willey's cat, the Whitey tapes, and other such detritus -- to be sprinkled at the margins when the next big push comes around. Count on WHERE'S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE signs at the 2012 Republican Convention, at Palin revival meetings, at Tea Parties, and everywhere else the boobs may take the bait.

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