Barack Obama was born here. Get over it—or America may never get over a second Obama administration. The best thing the president has going for him are shiny-eyed adversaries.  

The economy does its best ’70s impersonation, debt approaches GDP, the Nobel-Peace-Prize-winner-in-chief launches another war—and the issue GOP presidential candidates run on is Obama’s birthplace? Somebody cue The Twilight Zone music.

Saying something outrageous used to ensure that people would stop listening. The opposite is now true. From the grassy knoll to WTC 7, the fringe encroaches upon the mainstream.

Birthers fail Geography 101 by confusing Kenya for Hawaii. Perhaps they can ace math by understanding that a majority of Americans disagreeing with a plurality of Republicans isn’t an equation for electoral success. A New York Times/CBS News poll taken a few days ago found that 25 percent of Americans, but 45 percent of Republicans, believe that the president of the United States was born outside of the United States. Beam me up, Scotty!

If the repugnant ethics of slandering the president doesn’t dissuade, then perhaps utility will. The Birther issue makes conservatives appear as cranks to the rest of America, which overwhelmingly, and rightfully, regards the theories of the Birthers as buncombe. It diverts conservative energy, money, and interest from the legitimate issues threatening the country’s well being to an idiotic conspiracy theory symptomatic of the ill-being of a few conservatives.

The tragic irony is that the people most repulsed by the people who maliciously accused George W. Bush of stealing the election, or allowing 9/11 to happen, have become those people. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster,” Nietzsche reminded. “And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

Conservatives weren’t the ones who wished away by a million conspiracy theories the fact that a Communist killed JFK. We don’t imagine Wall Street or an oil cabal behind every war. Why the need to tailor a presidential nativity story for our political comfort? We are better than this.

There are plenty of reasons why conservatives might want to believe that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States. There are few reasons to actually believe it.

Two local newspapers contemporaneously announced Obama’s birth. The president has produced a Hawaiian “certificate of live birth,” evidence for his American lineage that is strangely interpreted as evidence against it. Two governors of Hawaii, a Republican and a Democrat, affirm the president’s birth in their state. Atop the documentation is common sense: what pregnant American woman would travel to Africa in 1961 to deliver a baby?

If this were a Muslim nation, in which the paternal line generally confers citizenship, then the Birthers might have a point. But this is the United States of America, where parents, not geography, determine citizenship. Even if you buy the theory that the president was born in Kenya, Ann Dunham’s American citizenship makes her son a natural-born citizen. That John McCain, who was born outside of the United States, escaped the Birthers’ notice hasn’t escaped everybody else’s notice.

The Birther phenomenon confuses critics and believers alike into misinterpreting blind partisanship as philosophical purity. Birthers aren’t the most conservative Republicans. They are the most Republican Republicans.

Conservatism isn’t about our guys. It’s about our principles. If exposing the president’s “hidden” origins has anything to do with conservative political philosophy, it has yet to be explained.

In fact, harping on this cock-and-bull story will only detract from the pertinent reasons to reject the president: increased socialism in health care, adding instead of subtracting wars, spending us further into debt, the depressing stimulus, injudiciously appointing justices who aren’t blind, etc. Where will conservative credibility be on these issues after conservatives highlight a conspiracy theory about Obama’s African birth?  

It’s easier to go along than to think. Believing the president with an alien ideology is of an alien soil may be flattering. It may ingratiate you to comrades. It may seem to grant a sense of special enlightenment unknown to the benighted masses. The problem is that it isn’t true.

The conspiracy theory imagining the president’s foreign birth doesn’t advance any conservative principle. It just aims to discredit a political enemy.

Ultimately, it just discredits us.

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