“We need the leaders of our party to say, ‘Look, stop falling into the trap of the White House and focus on the real issues,’” Rove told Bill O’Reilly last night. And then he says that polling the number of birthers in the Republican Party is somehow an Obama trick, because talking about birthers “fits into the White House theme-line.”
That is patent nonsense, but it’s clever nonsense. This way, Republicans who denounce birtherism don’t have to take responsibility for the fact that Republicans allowed it to spread far and wide.
O’Reilly decided to rebut the PPP poll by showing the results of a CBS survey taken last year. According to this poll, 20% of Americans think Obama was born abroad and 58% think he was born in this country (the rest didn’t know). Both O’Reilly and Rove seemed sanguine about this poll because, apparently, the idea that only one in five Americans is completely uninformed and another one in five cannot answer a simple question is somehow reassuring.
But as Isaac Chotiner points out, the polls do not actually contradict each other, because one is a poll of likely GOP primary voters and the other is a poll of everyone.
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene