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Bipartisan “Birtherism” Emerges

It got lost in the shuffle on Tuesday night as most of us were focused on Mitt Romney’s big Florida win and Newt Gingrich’s graceless and weird non-concession speech, but conservative personality Joseph Farah said something on Sean Hannity’s “Fox News” program that is a reminder of just how crazy contemporary politics can get. Farah was on a panel with Bob Beckel and Gretchen Hamel when the question of possible Republican vice presidential candidates came up:

“[Sen. Marco] Rubio’s not eligible,” Farah said.

“What do you mean?” host Sean Hannity asked.

“You’re going to lose 10% of the Republican vote because he is not a natural born citizen. We’ve been through this with Obama now for four years,” Farah explained.

“I don’t believe that. I don’t think that’s going to work,” Hannity said.

Hannity is, of course, right. This bizarre attack on Rubio won’t work because Rubio was born in Miami and therefore is a natural born citizen of the United States and ten percent of Republican voters aren’t nuts. But this exchange illustrates just how deep-seated the virus of conspiracy mongering is in our political culture. After eight years of crackpot lies about George W. Bush and 9/11 that was followed by three plus years of Obama birth certificate lunacy, we have now arrived at a point where “birtherism” is a bipartisan form of insanity.

Farah ought to know. He’s spent much of the last few years promoting myths about Barack Obama not being an American citizen though there was never any rational reason to doubt he was born in Hawaii. Even after the Obama birth certificate was produced, Farah stuck to his wacko guns and predictably claimed it was a forgery.

But though Farah is a conservative of a sort, his “birtherism” is bipartisan as he is now backing the notion that both Rubio and fellow Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal are not eligible for the presidency or vice presidency.

As far as Rubio and Jindal are concerned, Farah knows there is no way he can cast doubt on their birth on American soil. So what he has done now is to promote the fraudulent claim that in order to be a natural born citizen as required by the Constitution, not only must the individual be born in the United States but the parents must also be American citizens at the time of the birth. Rubio’s parents were Cuban immigrants who became citizens a few years after their child was born. The same was true for Jindal. But this makes no sense as U.S. citizenship has always been automatic in the case of any child born in the country. Nor has the law ever been interpreted as referring to anyone’s citizenship but the child’s.

After years of ranting about Obama’s eligibility, I suppose it was only natural for the universe of conspiracy theorists to want to latch onto a new absurdity. But anyone who thinks this will prevent Rubio from being nominated or elected to the vice presidency needs to emerge from their survivalist bunkers and get some fresh air.

Farah’s attempt to cast doubt on Rubio ought to be a warning to responsible media figures to be wary of inviting him or any other birther onto their shows. Along with the 9/11 truthers, the birthers need to be quarantined and confined to the fever swamps of political insanity, where they belong.



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