Birthers have been labeled cranks (and worse) from the start and I know that must get old. Over the years, Birthers have tried to take on the trappings of respectability in various ways.
One of the first, and most effective attempts at putting on respectability was in court. “Look Ma, I got a federal lawsuit.” It worked wonders for Phil Berg at least until he lost all of those lawsuits. However, even today after 99 failures, lawsuit are still being litigated. The latest incarnation of the lawsuit is the ballot challenge, which is going even worse than the previous lawsuits because they are being dismissed on the merits rather than on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Another early example is the web site. Once upon a time, having a web site was a big deal, and having a nice-looking web site cost a lot of money. Now, to quote myself, “any fool can have a web site” and software tools make a nice site within the range of anyone. Birther web sites assume fancy titles like “The American Thinker” and display patriotic symbols to obscure the essential nonsense underneath.
A number of Birthers who are former military officers are referred to by their former ranks, again to make them sound more important and more respectable. Commander Charles Kerchner, Captain Pamela Barnett and General Paul Vallely are examples.
Then the Birthers went through a whole phase of pseudo-governmental titles such as “The American Grand Jury,” “People’s Grand Jury” and “the people’s prosecutor” (Andy Martin). Thankfully, that seems to be behind us.
Birthers (specifically Charles Kerchner) placed half-page ads in a national newspaper, the conservative Washington Times. (The actual circulation of the Washington Times is about half that of my local Greenville News; however, “Washington” gives it a ring of respectability.)
Next, they tried to be respectable by passing legislation, what we called the “birther bills.” One almost succeeded in Arizona, but for the veto of Governor Brewer.
One more attempt to gain respect is to use an elevated title such as “leading jurist” for Mario Apuzzo, “noted constitutional expert” for Herb Titus and “civil rights attorney” for Orly Taitz. And don’t get me started about self-appointed forensic document experts who appeared by the busload at WorldNetDaily after Obama’s long form was released (and we should not forget Dr. Ron Polland who was there from the beginning with his crank analysis).
And now, the Birthers’ newest toy is the Super PAC. Super PAC’s are all in the news these days and the birthers have one too. It’s the Article II Super PAC and we saw it in the context of providing streaming coverage of the Georgia ballot challenge hearing last month. Others are just discovering the PAC. One article appeared today at the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights site titled, “Tea Partiers Launch Birther Super PAC”. The Article II Super PAC is also taking out ads in the Washington Times.
Just to give you an idea of the cast of characters and ambitions of the Article II PAC, I’ll give you this excerpt from a recent fundraising email from PAC treasurer Gary Wilmott:
We at Article II Super Pac and the Article II legal Defense Fund will continue to work tirelessly to educate the American public about what it means to be a constitutional president. Our focus right now are the Ballot Challenges in three key states: Florida, California (headed by Capt. Pamela Barnett) and Pennsylvania (headed up by Cdr. Kerchner). We are also negotiating with a very well-known attorney to help represent us in the Florida and California challenges. We need to raise a minimum of $18,500 in the next week to 10 days for the CA and FL efforts.
Try as they might to be respectable, the collection of cranks we call the Birthers are just, as we say in the business, “turd polishing.”
> One of the first, and most effective attempts at putting on respectability was in court.
You forgot one important aspect of early birtherism: impressive-sounding military ranks.
Just remember “General” Vallely and those who followed.
The next step came when they actually found someone within *active* military to turn into a birtherism poster child. Ultimately Lakin, who was an LTC, active military and a doctor to boot.
So it wasn’t just the lawyers where they tried to impress with fancy bylines.
(From what I’ve read, their latest delusion is that they could get Alan Dershowitz to represent future lawsuits. Yeah right. And probably Johnny Cochran, too, if he were still alive.)
When you wrote, “even today after 99 failures, lawsuits are still being litigated” I was reminded of that great Jay-Z song from 2004. You know–“If you’re a birther, I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but the Taitz ain’t one.”
I’m not sure birthers want respect. They mostly want attention. They are aggrieved because, outside of the brief flurry back in April with Trump, they get very little. The Georgia kerfuffle got almost no coverage other than the AJC, which only covered it because it was local. Even on the political sites, there was almost nothing. Even CNN, which is in Atlanta didn’t bother.
The truth is they picked an issue that is not just a loser in facts and law, it’s a loser politically because no one really cares. As James Carville said, “It’s the economy stupid,” and the current track of the economy, assuming it continues over the next 6 months, will re-elect the President.
I wonder why you describe the Washington Times as a “national newspaper.” According to this Washington Times article the paid circulation in Sep. 2009 was 67,148. That is smaller than a great many small-city newspapers you never heard of.
For comparison, the paid circulation of USA Today is around 1.9 million.
Even the Greenville (SC) News, for example, claims a readership of 135,921.
What I love is how half of them get insulted if you call them a birther, while using the term themselves when they think we’re not looking. And the DeVattelists who say they’re not birthers, because they don’t care where he was born.
Two points. First, if you believe the circumstances of Pres Obama’s birth make him ineligible, that makes you a birther.
Second, if you think we’re using the term to insult, belittle and/or demean you and your movement, you’re right for once.
That’s an excellent point. In normal society, a person no longer on active duty, is not addressed by their Military rank in a non-military context. Mr. Kirchner is always called Cmdr by the Birthers.
For some reason the phrase “Imperial Knights of the Ku Klux klan” came to mind.
However, it exceeds the circulation of the Spartanburg Herald Tribune by about 20,000.
You would pick my former home town newspaper. 😉
That’s a term borrowed from the article I cited. You make a very good point that it’s circulation is quite small.
birfers most definitely demand our respect with our attention. as far as they’re concerned, the two are one. lack of attention means lack of respect, for what else is respect but deferential attention? it’s the acknowledgment of the rightful status or power of one’s betters, and that boy in the “white hut” better start showing it — now — or else:
Certain sites are still heavily into dragging out the “Doctor/Colonel/Esquire” thing.
Mr Lakin seems to almost always be afforded a promotion to full Colonel, when in fact, he has no military rank at all, much less the rank of Lt. Colonel.
I see a lot of “Dr. So-and-so, where the person in question is a PhD. In general, people with PhDs usually don’t use the title outside of their field. Unless they are birthers. None of them seem to be operating inside their fields of study as birther “experts”, yet all of them seem to demand whatever validation can be derived from being called “Doctor”.
And then we have “Esquire”. Apart from the few times it may have to be used as part of a form or letterhead, attorneys generally don’t use it, unless they’re birther attorneys. Unless they’re birthers.
What are you trying to say here?
They also have a habit of using their military service (such as it was) to justify their stances, and as an attempted appeal to authority. It isn’t all that impressive.
“In general, people with PhDs usually don’t use the title outside of their field.”
That is if they actually have a legitimate one at all, as one loudmouth in particular comes to mind who refers to himself as “Dr.” who is anything but.
Are you talking about Dr. Science? He has a masters degree . . . in science!
In fact, the fictional character Dr. Conspiracy has two fictional doctorates from two fully-accredited fictional universities. The guy who plays Dr. Conspiracy on the Internet is only called “Doctor” by the pizza guy, who calls everybody that.
My grandfather was called “Doc” by everyone, although he had no such academic credential. I am told it involved a fraternity, a cadaver, a faculty symposium, and a great deal of daring (or derring-do). No one would ever give me more specifics.