Birthers vs. Truthers

Jonah Goldberg lands some solid blows against the Left’s knee-jerk defense of Van Jones here, but contrasting the travails of our dearly-departed green jobs czar with the conservative establishment’s response to the “Birther” movement is not a flattering comparison. Goldberg’s own magazine published this error-filled, birther-inspired screed that cites, among other things, the guy who circulated the Michelle Obama “whitey tape” rumors last fall. Several prominent Republican lawmakers also seem to have bought into the “Birther” fantasy, and the party’s major organs continue to cynically use sites like World Net Daily for fundraising instead of straightforwardly disavowing this nonsense. Nuts like Joseph Farah are, of course, kept well out of sight around the cameras, but when it comes to shaking down donors, the “Birthers” are fair game.

Look: we can play “gotcha” every time some high-ranking guy on the other team is exposed as a closet nutcase or another poll reveals that about a third of each party believes some seriously crazy stuff. Alternatively, both political establishments can take some responsibility for policing their own crazies and disavow conspiracist nuts on both sides of aisle. If this means enduring cries of “elitism” from the likes of The Other McCain, so be it; I can think of few other mutually-agreed upon cease-fires that would have a similarly uplifting effect on the public discourse.

On a more trivial note, Goldberg argues that “Birther” beliefs are inherently more plausible the any 9/11 conspiracy theory. I think I’d agree with this if not for the number public smack-downs the Birthers have managed to ignore. I mean, how many forged Kenyan birth certificates do we have to debunk before the World Net Daily crowd gives up and goes home?

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8 thoughts on “Birthers vs. Truthers

  1. Not to say there isn’t some level of insanity on all sides, but I think it’s a stretch to say that “about a third of each party believes some seriously crazy stuff.”

    The Economist blog post you cited doesn’t prove craziness parity. The poll in question asked Democrats “Did Bush Know About the 9/11 Attacks in Advance?”

    Now is it really all that crazy to say yes, when there verifiable are stories like this?: Bush briefed on hijacking threat before September 11

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  2. This has got to be the silliest effort lately — scoring the birthers and truthers to see who’s worse. I wonder if rational adults could just denigrate irrationality, praise reason, logic and facts, drink a few beers and get on past this stuff.

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  3. There are two categories of conspiracies that nuts latch onto and won’t let go–those that are provably false, and those that are impossible to prove false.
    1. Provably false: Obama was not born in Hawaii, WTC brought down by controlled explosion/no plane ever hit the Pentagon
    2. Impossible to prove false: Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand, JFK was killed by whomever, aliens are running around Area 51, everything revolves around the earth in incredibly eccentric orbits (not provably false at one time)

    The second category is more plausible than the first even if the actual conspiracies alleged are more fantastic. Those in the first category are simply not plausible. There’s a subset of 9/11 truthers (apparently Van Jones at one point) who allege that Bush knew more than he says he did. This is ridiculous but it’s infinitely more plausible than saying Obama was not born in Hawaii.

    There’s also a subset of birthers who agree that Obama was born in Hawaii but say that he’s still not allowed to be President. These folks either don’t understand the law or pretend they don’t. They aren’t really conspiracy theorists, though. They accept the same set of facts that actually exist (even if it took them awhile to do that) and are just idiots.

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