Sarah Palin: Going Birther

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

One of the few legitimate grievances Sarah Palin had regarding the way she was treated during the 2008 presidential campaign centered on the ludicrous questions about her son Trig's birth. There was never any real reason to question whether she was, indeed, Trig's mother, and the few online media types who flogged the bogus story line certainly didn't do themselves any credit.

That said, you'd think Palin would be particularly sensitive and careful regarding questions of birth and parentage. Alas, no ...

As Salon's Alex Koppelman detailed, the former Alaska governor appeared on a conservative radio program on Thursday and was asked if she would "make [Obama's] birth certificate an issue" should she run for president. Palin said that "the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue," and that "it's a fair question" to wonder whether the president was born in the United States. She went on to denounce, once again, the "weird conspiracy theory freaky thing that people talk about, that Trig isn't my real son," but then counseled that "maybe we should reverse that and use the same type of thinking on [Obama]."

There are lots of things to unpack here, so let's get to it.

Lying: President Obama's birthplace and nationality have been established beyond any credible doubt -- he was born in Hawaii, in 1961, and is and always has been an American citizen. It is not a "fair question" to suggest otherwise.

Hypocrisy: What little credibility her attacks on the media had were based largely on the poor treatment she received from isolated quarters of the blogosphere regarding the birth of her son. For her to continue to complain about that while simultaneously questioning the president's birth, and suggesting that she would be justified in doing so, is hypocritical and disgusting beyond anything I thought Palin capable of. And let's not forget that when Palin's family first became an issue in the press shortly after McCain tapped her, Obama came to her defense: "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president."

Political stupidity: If Palin does, indeed, have political ambitions, then she's doing everything she possibly can to scuttle them by embracing Birtherism. There's a reason that national-level elected Republicans don't (for the most part) wade into the Birther swamp -- because the issue is so radioactively crazy that it would be political suicide to do so. If news reports are to be believed, Lou Dobbs was dropped by CNN because he indulged his Birther curiosities. It was hardly the first crazy thing Dobbs did while at CNN, but it was that special kind of crazy that made CNN say "enough." In short, anyone who has the Birther stain is not going to be a success in the political mainstream.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that the only reason we're talking about this at all is because John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be the next vice president of the United States. Perhaps David Gregory can ask the Arizona senator his thoughts on Palin's Birther tendencies on this Sunday's Meet the Press.

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Sarah Palin
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