Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Insidious Creep Of Birtherism

One of the more perverse by-products of the vitriol that too often passes for politics today is the birther movement, and even though President Obama has proven beyond a doubt that his was born in the U.S. and not a hut in Kenya or a madrasa in Indonesia, birthers are still casting their nets.

Their latest target is Senator Marco Rubio of Floria, a rising star in the Republican firmament.

On May 27 of this year, retired Navy commander Charles Kerchner, who runs a birther blog mostly aimed at Obama, posted a story that claimed that according to naturalization documents, Rubio’s parents had come to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, not after Fidel Castro took power in 1959, as Rubio's Senate biography claimed.

The story finally broke in the mainstream media earlier this month and could prove to be extremely damaging to Rubio, a favorite of many Republicans to be the 2012 vice presidential nominee. This, according to birthers, is because Rubio might not be eligible for higher office if his parents were not U.S. citizens when he was born in Miami in 1971.

The problem is, neither Kerchner nor a story earlier in the month in The Washington Post presented any evidence that Rubio's parents weren't citizens, which they may well not have been, but it is not in dispute that Rubio was born in Miami in 1971, which in any event would make him a citizen.

What is possible is that Rubio has embellished his family history since claiming that your parents fled Cuba in 1959 to escape Fidel Castro and Communism is far sexier than your parents emigrating to Florida from Cuba in 1956, which according to a story in The St. Peterburg Times happens to be the case.

There is a certain irony to the Rubio story because of on-again, off-again efforts by some of the very conservative Republicans who embrace Rubio to repeal the 14th Amendment, which grants automatic citizenship on anyone born in the U.S. regardless of whether their parents are non-citizen immigrants or spiders from Mars.

At least birthers don't seem to be partisan since some of them also are going after Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who is being talked about as a future Republican presidential candidate. Jindal was born Piyush Jindal.

Meanwhile, new comments by Rick Perry in Parade magazine have revived the issue of whether the Texas governor believes that Obama was born in the U.S.

Perry was asked in an interview with the magazine if the president was born in the U.S. He replied, "I have no reason to think otherwise," but in yet another instance of not knowing when shutting his pie hole might be a good thing, he added, "Well, I don’t have a definitive answer" when pressed.

The Texas governor plunged boldly ahead and noted that he recently had din-dins with Donald Trump, who who has beaten the birther drum hard in an effort to cast doubt on the authenticity of Obama’s citizenship, and that they they discussed the issue.

Then perhaps realizing that he had dug yet another hole for himself, Perry added that "It doesn’t matter. He’s the president of the United States. He’s elected. It’s a distractive issue.”

I'll say.

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