By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
The Washington Post's reliably liberal E.J. Dionne Jr. makes it a habit to offer advice to conservatives and to the Republican Party on the strategic and tactical levels. One could almost call his penchant for doing this a fetish. Rather than use his column to explore what may be right—or wrong—with the positions taken by those inside his ideological bailiwick, Dionne spends an awful lot of time telling the GOP what it must do to avoid electoral disasters and policy defeats.
As a general rule, it is the foolish man who takes to heart the counsel of his adversary. And Dionne's advice usually boils down to "be less conservative." But, as it is when a blind squirrel stumbles across an acorn, he gets it right every once in a while—or at least nearly right—as he did on Monday when he wrote that the GOP was "being defined by extremist voices who have faced little push-back from its leaders."
"The extremists include the 'birthers' who, against all evidence, insist that Obama was not born in the United States and thus is ineligible to be president," Dionne writes before defeating his own argument by allowing "These guys are so out there that party leaders and conservative commentators have started to disown them."
He's right that the GOP has little to gain from making an issue out of Obama's birth certificate. But the Republicans have not been the ones pushing this as an issue.
Up until recently, when the White House signaled, through press secretary Robert Gibbs, that a pushback would be helpful, the Obama birth certificate issue was a hot topic only in the shadowlands where folks who think the Republican Party too liberal and captive of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations dwell. It was with a wink and a nod that the debate was joined, knowing that it would help push independents and moderates away from the GOP—but only if it could be labeled a "GOP issue."
Failing that, the alternative was to demand party leaders disavow the idea that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen of the United States, hoping to open a wedge that would force the GOP leadership to tamp down the unrest rather than fight the White House and Congressional Democrats on issues like healthcare, the cap-and-trade energy tax and the stimulus where, as most national polls indicate, the Republicans have been gaining ground.
But if national GOP national leaders need to disavow the "nut burgers," the fringe loonies within their own coalition—and this may be a fair deal—then Dionne and others need to start throwing some of their own coalition partners over the side. They can start with the 35 percent of Democrats who, in 2007, believed George W. Bush had advanced knowledge of 9/11. And they can say goodbye to the folks from "Code Pink," who seem to have little reason for existence other than to disrupt public events like congressional hearings, party conventions and presidential inaugurations. Most importantly, they can toss over the side the folks who still giggle every time Sarah Palin talks about her son Trig, because, as they know all too well, the former Alaska governor isn't really the little boy's mother.
As this post from the Immoral Minority blog indicates—"Wherever Trig came from he has proved to be a very valuable asset to Sarah Palin indeed. But just where did Trig Palin come from? As of today, as of this minute, and after over a month of searching I cannot tell you. I simply do not know for certain. I do know however where he did not come from. He did not issue forth from Sarah Palin"—the liberals have "birther" issues of their own. If the Democrats want to avoid being placed in the same pigeonhole being built for the GOP, the White House has some disavowing of its own to do.