So Apparently Birtherism Is Still A Thing

Disturbingly large percentages of Republicans still don't think the President was born here.

In the wake of Sheriff Joe Arapio’s bizarre press conference last week about his “investigation” in to the President’s birth certificate, Public Policy Polling decided to throw a question about the topic into its weekend polls:

-In Tennessee only 33% of GOP primary voters think Barack Obama was born in the United States, while 45% do not.

-In Georgia 40% of Republican primary voters think Obama was born in the United States, while 38% do not.

-In Ohio 42% of Republican primary voters think Obama was born in the United States, while 37% do not.

What explains this idiocy? After all it was four years ago now that the President provided proof of his birth in Hawaii in August 1961 and nearly a year since he took the extraordinary step of sending his lawyer to Hawaii to get a certified copy of the actual birth record on file with the State of Hawaii. Obviously there are always going to be a small amount of people in the world who believe crazy things — whether it’s that the U.S. Government is covering up the truth about UFOs, or that Elvis is alive and well and working at an IHOP in East Memphis — but these are usually a pretty small part of the population and easily identifiable by the fact that they generally tend to be just plain nuts. Certainly you wouldn’t find numbers like this for any other crazy conspiracy theory, especially one that has been so thoroughly debunked.

So, what explains this?

I’m sure most people who comment on this post will point to racism as the explanation and I’m sure that’s a factor for some segment of this group. But, all of them are racists? I find that hard to believe. I would argue that a great deal of it is simply another manifestation of the “Obama is evil” meme that I’ve written about here before. Certainly, if one spends most of their time watching Fox News an listening to talk radio, one will walk away with the conclusion that Barack Obama isn’t just wrong, he’s something un-American and he has in min to fundamentally transform America into something resembling Europe. When that’s all you’re exposed to on a regular basis, it’s not surprising that you’ll come to believe even the most insane conspiracy theory about the President, no matter how much evidence is presented to counter it.

There really isn’t a “cure” for birtherism then, it’s a feature of the political culture that Rush Limbaugh and those who have followed him have created.

H/T: Balloon Juice

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Fox News has bigger audience so it should get the lion’s share of the blame.

  2. mantis says:

    What explains this idiocy?

    A plurality, if not a majority, of Republicans are idiots.

  3. Eric says:

    It makes me wonder how a sheriff who’s job is to enforce the law in his county just decides to have an investigation team crack open a (debunked) federal case. Is he the Jim Garrison for this era?

  4. Nikki says:

    Hey Doug, remember when you and I got into a minor debate about WND and Arpaio bringing back the birther nonsense? Do I get to say “I told you so” right about now?

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Mantis beat me to it. Stupid people believe stupid things. The Republican party is the stupid people party.

  6. Nikki says:

    I’m sure most people who comment on this post will point to racism as the explanation and I’m sure that’s a factor for some segment of this group. But, all of them are racists? I find that hard to believe.

    May I ask why? From my own life experience, I don’t find it that hard to believe that 35% of this country holds racist views.

  7. JohnMcC says:

    Did you think the Repub ‘base” had somehow gained in IQ? Or learned from experience? Two quotes spring to mind. “Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives”. And: “you can’t fix stupid”.

  8. Franklin says:

    My father was not racist (he routinely hired, mentored, and worked well with all shades of people), and he was certainly smart (particularly in engineering). But even he had this feeling that something was “not quite right” about Obama, even though he didn’t subscribe to this birther nonsense. What was it? Is it the way Obama talks? I just don’t know. Maybe it’s his family history; he didn’t grow up in a “Leave It To Beaver” home. Therefore he must be “messed up”. But I agree with Doug, this delusion is not 100% borne of racism.

  9. Vast Variety says:

    I thought Elvis was living on Titan, what’s he doing at an Ihop?

  10. David M says:

    I used to think race had something to do with it, but not anymore. The racism angle seems promising because it kind of makes sense, and there really aren’t any other good explanations for the birthers. My new theory is that they are morons, and stupid morons at that. They will believe anything negative about Obama, no matter how little sense it makes. Hence the overlap with the Tea Party / GOP, who believe all kinds of silly nonsense. Why should it surprise us this is any difference?

  11. the Q says:

    Why did the Germans think that Jews were parasitical traitors who should be quarantined?

    I am sure they ALL weren’t racists either. Tell a lie enough and it becomes fact. No doubt, like Franklin’s dad above, not all birthers are racists. Just as there were many Oscar Shindlers.But they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

    The problem is the dreck these folks are exposed to ad nauseum, without any rebuttal to mitigate the craziness, and when this rebuttal comes, it is met with glazed stares.

    Shirer mentions this in his classic book….circa 1938 he noticed that it was not possible anymore to debate politics in Berlin with the common man in the pub since any hint of criticism of Hitler was met “with a blank stare, as if the person standing right in front of you was looking right through you and would suddenly disengage from the discourse, his mind drifting further away with every challenge to the Reich’s rationality…”

    Juxtapose that quote with any conversation with a tea partier about how Obama has actually lowered taxes, deported more aliens, increased the defense budget and you get that same blank stare of befuddled bewilderment that this could possibly be true since it flies in the face of everything he/she has heard, read or been told by the wingnut media.

  12. Herb says:

    So, what explains this?

    At this late stage….stupidity. If you’re still a birther in March of ’12, you’re just not that intelligent.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    They know Obama is different from them. Recognizing that the difference is that he’s a lot smarter and more pragmatic than they are is not on the table, so he must be a furriner.

  14. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: Plus there’s a question whether the birthers would get so much attention if they didn’t have a crazy pseudo-sex-kitten leading them….

    (The reason I think lawyers follow the whole affair is morbid curiosity. Probably the main reason that the California Bar hasn’t disbarred Orly yet is they figure they need more examples of “batsh*t things not to do when you’re a lawyer. Has anyone tried to READ one of her filings?)

  15. I think most of them know he is really American but not finding anything else to say bad about him, keeps this ridiculous birther thing going.

  16. anjin-san says:

    I think most of them know he is really American

    There is more too it though. If he was white, he would basically be a Norman Rockwell portrait come to life. Yet I constantly hear comments like “nothing he has done shows he embraces American values.”

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Obviously there are always going to be a small amount of people in the world who believe crazy things —

    But Doug, this is no small part of the population…

    easily identifiable by the fact that they generally tend to be just plain nuts.

    Doug, they are STILL easily identifiable as just plain nuts….

    I’m sure most people who comment on this post will point to racism as the explanation and I’m sure that’s a factor for some segment of this group. But, all of them are racists?

    DING DING DING…We have a WINNER!!!

    I find that hard to believe.

    Doug, not even you are that naive. I mean…

    I would argue that a great deal of it is simply another manifestation of the “Obama is evil” meme that I’ve written about here before.

    JUST EXACTLY WHY IS OBAMA EVIL????? For starters, he is not near as liberal as John Kerry or Al Gore. But they were not evil, why is Obama? HELLS BELLS… He is no more liberal then Bob Dole. Was Bob Dole evil? No. Was Bob Dole black? No. Was Barack Obama black?

    Well, their efforts to make him “half white” tells the tale, does it not?

    Doug, racism is a river that runs deep and wide in the GOP. Your inability to see that strikes me as will full blindness.

  18. de stijl says:

    Xenophobia

    Certain folks need an outsider to hate (pick one: gay, black, brown, foreign, academic, green, feminist) as a signifier that they are part of the in-group. Declaring sides in an in-group political war is problematic and very scary – you’re going to be the outsider if your side loses. Hating the outsider is the safe play.

    Birtherism is way more popular than the facts would warrant because it is the classic safe play: I hate the same people that you hate so we’re in the same tribe – please don’t banish me.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The fact that the PDF file was not flattened and contained a digital record of edits, plus an artificial background fueled the debate. I don’t have an opinion one way or another, but the image file was altered prior to release.

    That was just stupid even if it was innocent.

  20. Andyman says:

    I don’t think nearly that many people really believe any of the nonsense. They just can’t or won’t say anything nice about Obama to a pollster. It’s the “total war” version of job disapproval.

  21. Rob in CT says:

    I think it’s partly racism, but mostly just partisan stupidity.

    The GOP “base” believed all sorts of wacky sh*t about Clinton too, if I recall correctly.

    Anything that delegitimizes a Democratic POTUS.

  22. Rob in CT says:

    I should add, by the way, that racism itself requires a certain amount of stupidity. So there’s overlap.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Anonymous: and you know this information from whom? The other birfers?

    (The number of people who don’t understand how scans-to-PDFs work is amazing. Even more amazing is that they will open their mouths and show that they have absolutely no knowledge.)

    Dude, anyone who tells you he can tell you the validity of the original document by looking at a PDF of it posted on line is smokin’ something. Particularly if he then claims he can go in to a law court anywhere in the US, testify, and have his statements taken as evidence from an expert witness.

  24. New_Jersey_Buckeye says:

    Birtherism out polls Romney in GOP in TN & GA, and nearly equal in OH.

    TN: Birtherism 45% Romney 28%
    GA: Birtherism 38% Romney 26%
    OH: Birtherism 37% Romney 38%

    So Birtherism has more support in GOP than Romney. I picked the wrong weak to stop sniffing glue.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    Does anyone remember the people who posted here who claimed that “if Obama would just post his long form birth certificate, he could resolve this once and for all”? I think many of us responded that there was simply nothing that could be done to convince a birther they were wrong. So the next time someone insists that “all someone has to do” to convince a bunch of crazies about the truth is X, I maintain that we are allowed to wave this example around as a free pass.

  26. mannning says:

    Apparently this You Tube post is the source of the recent analyses of Obama’s birth certificate.
    There is no way that I can validate the methods used nor the conclusions reached, but it does add fuel to the dying fire for those who believe the certificate is fake.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=-Wel3mXkL_8&feature=endscreen

  27. Deborah says:

    I guess you guys think you are smarter than the lawyers who investigated this for 6 months, and smarter than the forensic doument experts.
    And really you guys are still screaming rascism, haven’t you gotten the message that that is passe.
    Reports of intimidation of FCC investigations, media being threatened for their lives and the lives of their family, and Obama saying he will start a race war if this is persued. Something really smells here.
    When the WH and Obama produce their own document expert than I might stop questioning.
    I guess in some way you might have a point.
    The fact that obama can kill or detain Americans w/o due process, or the fact that Obama/Panetta can go to war w/o Congressional approval, or the little known information about the bill passed last week which negates our right to peaceful assembly, just shows the the question of eligibility is really minor compared to all the other crap that is happening.
    And, another news flash, most conservative patriots question both parties, and realize that our politicians are corrupt.
    I have been in America for 70 years and never been so afraid for my country.
    Breitbart is here WAR

  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Deborah:

    Deb,

    Please provide citation for “… Obama saying he will start a race war”.

    I would like to hear more about this world you live in.

  29. Deborah says:

    Okay, Obama saying he would start a race war, if eligibility issues were persued, is something I came across on the blogosphere from a supposed wa insider.
    And the threats of FCC investigations and physical threats against media is an allegation of Zullos, attorney for Arapio, No proof. But Arapio did say persons of interest would be coming forward. But I do not think Mike Zullo would put his neck that far out unless he had some information to this effect.
    I feel that the renewed attention to the eligibility issues is due to the fact that a majority of Americans still don’t think they have all the information we need to determine who Obama is and how he thinks. I don’t know who Obama is and what makes him tick. If he would produce his senior thesis, and clarify his association with Bell and his current beliefs on CRT, if he would clarify the questions about SS #, if the WH would come out and explain why there are layers to the bc, this would go along way towards answering the questions that some of us have. We need to know who is the person that holds the highest office in this land.
    The fact that Obama sealed his records the first day he took office and uses tax payer money for the attorneys to challenge any court cases is concerning for me.
    I would love to be a fly on the wall and she what all these politicians say and what they really believe. Unfortunately we have a media that does not report the facts. Pravda covered the Arapio investigations more thoroughly than the American news media, including Fox. Unfortunately for the last few years I have resorted to getting my news on the net. My bad.
    I do embrace the abuse in my world.

  30. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Deborah:

    Okay, Obama saying he would start a race war, if eligibility issues were persued, is something I came across on the blogosphere from a supposed wa insider.

    Oh… Can we have a source for this? Something that would lend legitimacy to the bloggers apparitions?

    Anything AT ALL that the president ACTUALLY said?

    Or, should we just accept all that we read on the internet as fact?

    (… if you DO believe the latter, then for the love of Pete, do not go to http://theflatearthsociety.org )

    However, it IS true that the President DID give a speech on race in America: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/18/obama-race-speech-read-th_n_92077.html

    “This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

    But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union. “

    You may enjoy reading the full speech.

    You may, however, be saddened to find that it is not prompting a race war.

    .
    .

    And the threats of FCC investigations and physical threats against media is an allegation of Zullos, attorney for Arapio, No proof. But Arapio did say persons of interest would be coming forward. But I do not think Mike Zullo would put his neck that far out unless he had some information to this effect.

    So, you say that there is no proof… but you choose to accept this anyway?

    Why would you do that?

    People say things all the time, based on whatever internal fears may force them to lie.

    Arapio had a press conference on Birther issues just the other week, saying that the Birth Certificate was a fraud because it has “9 layers”. Clearly, his ignorance on the difference between the functions of a scanner / PDF vs a mechanical (old style “Xerox”) copier works is evident.

    Still, should we believe him because (to paraphrase you) why “would put his neck that far out unless he had some information”

    Saying something is not proof.

    Having a certified copy, the word of the Republican Governor of the state of Hawaii, and also the folks of Media Matters debunking the Birther arguments is proof.

    Source: http://www.factcheck.org/2008/08/born-in-the-usa/
    .
    .

    I feel that the renewed attention to the eligibility issues is due to the fact that a majority of Americans still don’t think they have all the information we need to determine who Obama is and how he thinks. I don’t know who Obama is and what makes him tick. If he would produce his senior thesis, and clarify his association with Bell and his current beliefs on CRT, if he would clarify the questions about SS #, if the WH would come out and explain why there are layers to the bc, this would go along way towards answering the questions that some of us have. We need to know who is the person that holds the highest office in this land.

    Possibly we should also have the results of a colonoscopy as well to see if he is human?

    The initial question that generates your concerns was : “Is the president an American?”. Having been PROVED that he was (and from your writings apparent that you cannot accept the proof, as it is against what you “feel”), you switch to anything else.

    What other Presidents have provided any of the types of things that you ask?

    For President Bush, we accepted that he was a cheerleader, a member of the secretive “skull and bones” society, a person who had questionable service gaps in his national guard records, and a guy that we would like to have a beer with (although he no longer drank, being a recovering alcoholic, source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush_substance_abuse_controversy ).

    That seemed sufficient for most of the GOP at the time.

    As far as SS#: http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/ssn.asp

    Social Security #’s do not correspond to states.

    This is also supported by: http://www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/geocard.html

    “The applicant’s mailing address does not have to be the same as their place of residence. Thus, the Area Number does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant, either prior to 1972 or since.”

    “The fact that Obama sealed his records the first day he took office”

    No.

    Maybe it will help you if the answer comes from a Ron Paul website:

    http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?257662-Obama-did-NOT-seal-off-all-of-his-records-via-executive-order

    “So no. Obama did not “seal off his records via executive order”. Even if we assume the worst and that Obama wanted to hide his records in order to be “electable”, that would at best fall under “personal records” and not “presidential records”. Finally this executive order only applies to information under the control of the archivist. It doesn’t apply to school records because they are not under the national archivist’s control. ”

    Presidential executive records are often sealed. If you think about presidential archives many presidential records only become public years after.

    EXAMPLE: Nixon’s letters to his wife just became available. Visit San Clemente. It’s Very nice this time of year.
    .
    .

    …and uses tax payer money for the attorneys to challenge any court cases is concerning for me.

    So… You see a seated President of our country, responding to a job related question of his validity somehow wrong in using the same funding structure that pays his salary… somehow wrong?

    Let me ask you: If someone falsely accused you of something at work (say, a customer of your company), should your employer not help you defend yourself, including paying for an atty for you?

    Why would this be different?
    .
    .

    I would love to be a fly on the wall and she what all these politicians say and what they really believe. Unfortunately we have a media that does not report the facts.

    Sadly, news has become entertainment, it’s true.

    Are you a regular “Fox News” watcher?

    It has been shown that those who watch NO news programs are actually better (and more correctly) informed on events than those that watch FOX.

    Source: http://mediamatters.org/blog/201111210012

    If you “Feel” that there may be a problem, without choosing to base your argument in fact, you may just be a Fox News watcher.
    .
    .

    Pravda covered the Arapio investigations more thoroughly than the American news media, including Fox.

    I recognize Arapio as an attention whore and a buffoon. You may not.

    The foreign press may like this story as it shows how far America has fallen. He is an embarrassment as he gets older.

    Example: Did you know he is being sued for his tactics?

    Source: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2012/03/joe_arpaio_and_steven_seagal_s.php
    .
    .

    “Unfortunately for the last few years I have resorted to getting my news on the net. My bad.

    That’s a good start !

    As with many new folks on the net, you will need to develop a way to discern the difference between fact and fiction.

    (Tip: The emails saying that you won millions from a Nigerian Prince… Fiction.)

    Coming here and reading this website is a good start, as it is a well written moderate conservative website that attempts to keep its focus based on reality.

    You may however find that it differs greatly from what you may “feel”.

    Sice the internet is open to make a community, if reality colliding with feelings is a problem, I suggest that you stick with it.
    .
    .

    I do embrace the abuse in my world.

    I suggest that you visit http://www.fark.com. They embrace abuse.

    Here, not so much.

    We suffer fools gladly, and welcome inquiry.

  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    One last deatail…

    The “Pravda coverage” ?

    Pravda covered the Arapio investigations more thoroughly than the American news media, including Fox.

    No.

    Actually, it was not “Pravda”… but a submission to their commentary section:

    http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/07-03-2012/120708-arizona_sheriff_obama-0/

    If we look at the writer’s credentials:

    Dianna Cotter is a Senior at American Military University, a 4.0 Student, the recipient of the Outstanding Student Essay of 2009, a member of Delta Epsilon Tau and Epsilon Pi Phi Academic Fraternities and on the Dean’s and President’s Lists for academic achievement. She has published at Examiner.com, in American Thinker, Accuracy in Media, and Family Security Matters.

    “American Military University” (http://www.amu.apus.edu/ )is a virtual college, like Phoenix.edu

    Looking at LinkedIn, Diana lives in Portland Oregon

    (source: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dianna-cotter/10/876/97 )

    So, the story was written by an American student, and submitted as a commentary on the Pravda website, via email, as any of us would or could to our local papers.

    Maybe you could submit your race war idea there so that Drudge could warn of Pravda’s coverage of the American race riots?

    Would be about the same thing.