To believe otherwise, it's necessary to explain that birth announcements heralding the arrival of baby boy Barack Obama ran in two Honolulu newspapers in August 1961. So to be a card-carrying "birther," you have to believe not only that Hawaiian officials conspired to fabricate records but also that "they" -- not state officials, necessarily, but the generic malevolent "they" who inevitably lurk behind the deepest, darkest conspiracies -- somehow managed to alter or replace clippings in yellowing newspaper archives.
That's what the less crazy birthers have to contend. The alternative scenario -- for those who really ought to put their tinfoil hats back on -- is that somehow this was all planned back in 1961: "They" diabolically planted these birth announcements 48 years ago, establishing a false record, so that a chosen infant who was actually born in some foreign land -- Kenya? Indonesia? Manchuria? -- could be groomed, perhaps programmed, and someday installed in the Oval Office. Cue evil-genius laughter.
An astonishing and perturbing 58% of Republicans either disbelieve the evidence or “aren’t sure”. Not only do they disbelieve the evidence of the actual birth certificate, they also disbelieve the newspaper archives (not electronic, but actual in-print paper archives). They are so determined to discredit Obama in any possible fashion they can that they will gullibly and readily buy the most outlandish and fabricated stories possible, so long as “Obama” is mentioned in them. Every conspiracy theory ever dreamed of in all of human history is now focused on Obama. The Kennedy Assassination? Obama did it. Alien abductions? Obama’s behind it. The Iraqi War? Obama started it. New World Order banking conspiracy? Obama is leading it. 1993 WTC bomb? Obama planned it. 1968 Chicago conspiracy trial? Obama. Princess DI’s fatal car crash? Obama was the driver. The Phoebus Cartel of 1924 was created by Obama. Voting machine fraud? How else did Obama win? Global warming? Obama. Peak oil? Obama. Apparently, Obama can do absolutely no right.
And Palin can do no wrong. If Palin had won (never mind that it was actually McCain running!), America would be debt-free, our soldiers would be out of the Middle East, everyone would have a brand new shiny car sitting in the drive of their 4 bedroom/2 bath brick home in a crime-free neighborhood, the prisons would hold only real criminals, the foreign nations would all praise their fortune in being led by such a marvelous and wonderful world leader, and America would hold the whole world in a tight and oppressive Christian fist. Life would be wonderful for everyone but those commie lefties and anyone not of the Republican Right.
I am very sad that my former spouse is one of these narrow-minded, bigoted, blinkered people. Sometimes I wonder if I’d stayed married to him if he would be more open-minded, and then I remember he was already this narrow-minded and bigoted when we were married. It took me a few years to see it because it was still in its fledgling stages and he hid it well. A clenched fist or jaw, a rapid exit from the room, silence – it started out so subtle but as he became more relaxed around me, he hid it less. That or his feelings grew stronger and harder to hide or control. I toughed it out for years, hoping to alter things to a more moderate and open-minded level, but it didn’t work. There were many reasons to leave him, and this was but one and perhaps it was the linchpin of all the other reasons.
Perhaps the saddest part of these narrow-minded, bigoted, blinkered people is that most of them are good people. They’ll help you chop up tree limbs from storm damage. They’ll be there handing out coffee and blankets in a disaster. They’ll stop to help you change a flat. They are Good People. Who just happen to be the most insanely tinfoil hatted people I’ve ever encountered. And nothing, absolutely nothing will change their minds, certainly not facts, proof, or the truth. They have bought so thoroughly and deeply into their fantasy that they can see nothing else. It’s like the natives on the atoll who were visited for the first time by Caucasians, and they had no experience of the great, masted ships, so they just couldn’t see them.
I can talk to my ex and other “birthers” (as some are calling them, but it goes deeper and far beyond that – still, it’s a short and simple term) about the kids, about the grass, about the gardens, about house repairs, about pets, about the weather (mostly, as long as I stay away from sunspots and global warming – which are totally Obama’s creation), and about his health (but not mine or anyone else’s), but I can’t mention locavorism, environmentalism, health care (even though, astonishingly, we agree on that, we still can’t talk about it because he gets into anger mode over it), government, war (kind of hard to not talk about since half our kids are in the military, but I manage), Obama, banks, cars, insurance, disaster relief, international trade, all things French, most things German or British, and a whole host of other taboo topics – taboo if I don’t want to listen to them mindlessly spew practically word-for-word something Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or Michelle Malkin or Lou Dobbs said. There is nothing but programmed reaction from them and not thoughtful discourse and debate. I can’t talk to people like that. How do you talk to people like that? I talk about the “safe subjects, and those keep shrinking. There are fewer and fewer things we can safely talk about in a friendly fashion. Kids, lawncare, home care, their health, sometimes pets – that’s it. There are no other safe topics because everything else has been skewed into some dreadful Obama conspiracy theory – food and weather included!