Birtherism Ain't Dead

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 28 2011 9:08 AM

Birtherism Ain't Dead

I tried, really I tried, to wrap up the history of birtherism and bury it as deep as I could. That's the subject of my new, long piece today.

This was the first Era of Birtherism in which Obama's staff had to field regular questions about an issue they knew was baseless. And this was why it came to an end today. The next era of Obama conspiracies starts with the president in a much more exposed position. Now, conspiracy theorists know that all kinds of people will listen to them if they toss an idea out there—even if the idea is proved to be baseless. Now, Democrats are on the lookout for the next big fantasy, and Republicans think they've found an Obama weakness. Why, after all, would he climb down to the gutter and duel with Donald Trump if the issue wasn't hurting him? What else is bubbling up on the Internet ? What else can get under his skin?

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The new Survey USA poll definitely suggests that birtherism has evolved, not ended. Only 14 percent of people tell the pollsters that "they had doubts, but now are satisfied that the President was born in the USA." And 10 percent of people -- 18 percent of Republicans -- say the document is a forgery.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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