The right bails on Birthers

O'Reilly, Coulter and others call it bunk -- with one, big notable exception

Topics: Ann Coulter, Barack Obama, Birthers, War Room, Mike Huckabee, Bill O'Reilly,

The right bails on Birthers

What has the world come to when Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly represent the rational side of the Republican Party?

Though the House just voted unanimously to affirm that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, conservative members of the U.S. Congress have played a significant role in making sure the allegations about President Obama’s birth certificate remain in the news. But it’s been pundits like CNN’s Lou Dobbs who have done the most to fan doubts about Obama’s citizenship by giving airtime to proponents of easily debunked myths.

However, some of the conservative movement’s most notorious and recognizable media personalities haven’t jumped on the Birther crazy train. On Monday, Bill O’Reilly joined those media conservatives — like Ann Coulter, who dissed them on Friday — who’ve bailed on the Birthers. Here’s a list of notables who have either spoken out against the Birthers or who at least have kept quiet about the issue recently:

  • Bill O’Reilly — Shocking as it may seem to those who watch the Fox News commentator’s show on a regular basis, Monday night O’Reilly not only called the Birthers’ claims “bogus” but criticized Dobbs for supporting the movement on CNN. Now, as the video below shows, O’Reilly won’t be replacing Robert Gibbs as press secretary just yet: O’Reilly went on to defend Dobbs’ right to stay on the air and talk about anything he wants, even if it is a ratings ploy.



  • Ann Coulter & Mike Huckabee — There’s no love lost between Coulter and Obama, but when it comes to the Birther issue, the right-wing pundit has shown more restraint than she has when discussing liberal politicians in the past. Recently, on Fox News, Coulter said Lou Dobbs was wrong about the Birthers, called the movement’s members “cranks” and compared them to participants in the Ku Klux Klan. In the same Fox segment, Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, also discredited the Birthers, arguing that if there was any legitimacy to the story, Hillary Clinton’s team would have uncovered the truth during the campaign.

  • Joe Scarborough — While the MSNBC host has made some ponderous arguments against Obama’s policies in the past, and continues to believe that Obama’s Washington is stealing money from U.S. citizens, he has criticized Birthers as “conspiracy theorists.”

  • Michelle Malkin — Hardly a fan of Obama, Malkin has shown little tolerance for the Birthers’ allegations. In a December 2008 column, Malkin covered the growing influence of conspiracy theorists in politics, writing, “I believe Trig was born to Sarah Palin. I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on U.S. soil. I believe fire can melt steel and that bin Laden’s jihadi crew — not Bush and Cheney — perpetrated mass murder on 9/11. What kind of kooky conspiracist does that make me?”
  • Rush Limbaugh — It’s not so much what Limbaugh’s said about the Birther movement lately than what he hasn’t. As recently as July 20, Limbaugh said that “Barack Obama has yet to have to prove he’s a citizen. All he’d have to do is show a birth certificate.” But since the time, as Media Matters points out, all during the hubbub surrounding Dobbs’ comments, Limbaugh has been remarkably silent on the issue.

UPDATE:

The National Review Online has also gotten into the Birther-denunciation act. In an editorial today, the conservative publication’s editorial board comes out staunchly on the side that Obama is an American citizen — though the piece heavily condemns Obama’s policies:

Much foolishness has become attached to the question of President Obama’s place of birth, and a few misguided souls among the Right have indulged it. The myth that Barack Obama is ineligible to be president represents the hunt for a magic bullet that will make all the unpleasant complications of his election and presidency disappear …

One of the unfortunate consequences of this red-herring discussion is that there are plenty of questions about Obama’s background and history that we would like to have answered. In spite of two books of memoirs, there remain murky areas in his biography. And when it comes to those college transcripts, count us among those who’d love to know whether Dr. Bailout ever took an advanced economics class and how he performed in it.

Barack Obama may prefer European-style socialized health care. He may consider himself a citizen of the Earth and sometimes address his audiences as “people of the world,” as though he were born not in another country but on another planet. Like Bruce Springsteen, he has a lot of bad political ideas; but he was born in the U.S.A.

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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