Birtherism as Rube Bait

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 18 2012 12:57 PM

Birtherism as Rube Bait

TPM's Arizona expert Nick Martin reports (with a perfect photo choice) on the incipient birtherism of the state's election boss, Ken Bennett. "I believe the president was born in Hawaii," he says, "or at least I hope he was." The classic birther out! He's spending time requesting more documents from Hawaii, because that's what Arizonans need their Secretary of State to do.

It looks like a real, moron-propelled danger for the Obama campaign (and maybe Romney's, too -- if two birth certificates don't prove your citizenship, what does?), until you read this:

Meanwhile, Bennett is hoping to take Brewer’s job when she becomes term limited in two years. The Arizona Capitol Times reported (paywall) earlier this week that he is already collecting signatures to get on the 2014 ballot for governor.

Move along, folks. This is a pander. It's a move pioneered by Nathan Deal, now the governor of Georgia. In late 2009, when he was trying to distinguish himself in the GOP primary, he started requesting proof of citizenship from the occupant of the White House. "I have looked at the documentation that is publicly available," he said, "and it leaves many things to be desired." He sounded awfully concerned! Then he won his primary (in a squeaker against the Palin-endorsed candidate), won the election (by a landslide), and had a GOP supermajority to work with in the legislature. What's he done on Obama's citizenship? Absolutely nothing. Georgia's birthers, who TRUSTED Deal, are left to fight out frivolous lawsuits.

It's possible that Bennett believes this stuff. It's equally possible that he's positioning himself on the right side of Joe Arpaio as he readies for a 2014 primary fight. After all, in 2015, Gov. Bennett would have nothing to do or say about the ballot status of Barack Obama. He'll have pandered and moved on, risk-free, with the birthers dispersed.

Unless one of the parties nominates another black person.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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