By Alan Bean
Mitt Romney just made a birther joke. It’s a real knee-slapper.
After telling a hometown audience that he and his wife were born in local hospitals he added, “nobody has ever asked to see my birth certificate.”
This wasn’t an inadvertent slip; it was a carefully considered attempt to ingratiate himself with people who think Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim who pals around with terrorists. Writing in Mother Jones, Adam Serwer put it this way:
This is a necessary device for a Republican politician who wants to rile up the base without seeming like a lunatic, because the belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States is still held by nearly half of self-identified Republicans even after the very public release of the president’s birth certificate. Birtherism remains the most frank and widespread evidence of racial animus among some of the president’s critics. As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes inThe Atlantic this month, the birthers, strapped in their waxen wings, aim for nothing less than the sun: “If Obama is not truly American, then America has still never had a black president.”
And here’s the beauty of it all. If a leftist or a representative of the lamestream media accuses you of questioning the authenticity of the president’s birth certificate you can issue a simple denial. I didn’t mean nothing by it. I was just telling the crowd where I was born.
If they press the issue, you tell them that you have never questioned the president’s Born in the USA claim.
Will journalists accept this explanation?
Not necessarily. Moderate reporters, fearful of having the L-word branded into their foreheads, may give the Republican presidential candidate a pass. They will ask the question, “Did he just make a birther joke?” But they won’t commit to an answer.
Conservatives, not wishing to discredit a still-useful birther movement, will try to shift the discussion to more “substantial” matters, like the deficit.
Nothing is more substantial than character. By pandering to the ignorance and bigotry of the most fearful segment of the electorate, Governor Romney has raised the character issue.
There is a simple reason why no one has ever questioned Governor Romney’s birth certificate–he’s a white Republican male.
If Romney was a black Democrat (hard to picture, I know) he would be derided on the Right as a Mexican national who wears funny underwear and worships a guy with magic glasses.
Everyone is vulnerable to urban legends and racist myths if people are inclined to invent and propagate them . . . except those of the Caucasian persuasion.
Membership has its privileges.