Mike Volin is a birther with a plan. He has assembled a collection of material that he calls the Sheriff’s Kit, and he has been giving it to sheriffs and to members of Congress. While I reject the conclusions Mike has come to, I respect his approach. He has the constitutional right to petition Congress and he is exercising that right.
I contrast what Mike is doing with what I consider the abuse of the legal process by birthers seeking relief in the courts for things outside their jurisdiction (the cases that were dismissed for lack of standing—a jurisdictional requirement). And don’t get me started on the “citizen grand juries.”
Under the Constitution, birthers had exactly two options: convince the voters not to elect Obama or convince Congress to remove Obama from office. The first option (which is no longer available) involved moving public opinion, and it made some sense to put up web sites, send chain email letters, show up at rallies with signs and write letters to the editor. It didn’t work. Now Congress is the only option.
I think the problem is that Volin is taking a shotgun approach to Congress, sort of a “throw it out there and see if it takes root.” That’s not been very effective and I don’t know of anyone in Congress convinced by a Sheriff’s Kit—and if there is, they aren’t admitting it. And if someone in Congress were convinced by a Sheriff’s Kit, there is no political cover for them. Birthers are considered crazy nut-job conspiracy theorists by enough people to decide just about any election against a birther candidate. Any congressman who went birther would become a laughingstock and the subject of embarrassing newspaper political cartoons. And of course, it takes more than one congressman to impeach the President.
What the birthers need is one respectable birther whose personal gravitas legitimizes the movement. They need to focus all their energies on that individual and convince him with their evidence. So far, the best they have is Sheriff Arpaio, and Arpaio didn’t even investigate the birth certificate. He wasn’t willing to commit his own department resources, but shunted the investigation to some volunteers with no qualifications and no resources. And of course Sheriff Joe himself is a hugely controversial figure, costing the County tens of millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements for wrongful deaths in his jail, and for his personal abuse of power in trumped-up charges against political enemies. He is damaged goods not to mention his well-publicized axe to grind against the President over immigration. Arpaio is trivially dismissed with the Obama saying against the right-wing nut jobs: “we all know what that’s about.”
No, what the birthers need is a supporter with credentials, either political, legal or scientific. I don’t mean some obscure document examiner who won’t even release his report or a celebrity. I mean someone that everyone has heard of and is widely respected, someone who doesn’t have an axe to grind and can be seen as an honest broker. A bunch of nobodies and political partisans are not going to create the tipping point necessary to change the status quo. Volin’s dilemma, however, is that the kind of person I described wouldn’t buy the birther nonsense in the first place.