President Obama could not have asked for a better birthday gift this week than the full-fledged arrival of The Birthers, best embodied by a raving, bleached-blonde, Soviet Jewish expat lawyer/realtor/dentist named Orly Taitz. (She's a lot like Don King, but without all that credibility.) Her meltdown Monday on MSNBC -- in which she compared the mainstream media to the Nazis for covering up "the truth" about Obama's birthplace -- catapulted her to instant Web stardom, and promised to put her in high demand on the tin foil hat dinner circuit this fall.
At a time when Obama's inaugural glow is fading, Taitz is the straw woman sent from heaven. The more she purports to speak for anything resembling the mainstream right, the more liberals benefit, and they know it.
In fact, the level of press attention devoted to the birthers -- far more than left wing crackpots ever get -- seems to be a sign of liberal media bias. The left is so eager to capitalize on the birthers that it's even possible it was a liberal who created the phony Kenyan birth certificate that surfaced this week.
Of course this is speculative, but the birth certificate is just so bad. The hospital name is wrong. The city name is wrong. The region name is wrong. The country name is wrong. It's such a poorly executed forgery, one almost has to believe that whoever created it wanted it to be exposed. They gave it the number 47,044. Obama was 47 when he took office. He's the 44th president. And that zero appears to be a capital "O." Maybe I'm giving the birthers too much credit, but it seems even a person of especially modest intelligence would be smart enough to assign a random number to the thing.
Perhaps then it was made by a liberal trying to nudge the birthers towards self-destruction, and get some apt revenge for Rathergate in the process. Indeed, even far right sites like World Net Daily have hesitated to fully champion the form. But many garden variety birthers have latched on to it just the same, and the movement itself keeps right on chugging.
Now the DNC is using this political manna in a new ad that seeks to tar the entire GOP with the birther brush. As you might expect, most non-delusional right wingers can't get far enough away. Even Ann Coulter calls the birthers "cranks," with good reason. They have a combination of desperation, fervor and raw crazy that's so pure, they expose her as the ersatz crackpot she is.
But at their core, the birthers are no different from most other workaday wing nuts, with one exception: press. Conspiracy theorists of all stripes love to cite the ever-present "media cover-up," but the truth is, the mainstream media has done anything but silence the birthers. In fact, this group seems to have gotten more attention than any equally-discredited wing nuts in recent memory.
The accusation of liberal media bias is pretty worn, but this is one instance where it actually seems apt.
Both parties have some red-headed stepchildren they keep locked away in the attic. Why does the media only take a flashlight over to the right wing's house? During the Bush administration, the press steered clear of the left's myriad 9/11 conspiracy theories, which credited the attacks to everyone from George W. to Barney the White House dog. What makes the birthers and their claims so much more newsworthy?
At this point it's hard to tell whether the media is using the birthers or whether it's the other way around. Probably some of both. After all, this is way better for ratings than the healthcare debate. And the first item on Orly Taitz's website offers you an opportunity to donate money to her cause. (I'd guess she's had such a good week, she may soon be able to give up her career in real estate and/or dentistry.) In fact, maybe Obama should send her a few bucks. He owes her.