By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Sarah Palin scrambled away from the birther movement last night after giving them a wink and a nod on a conservative radio talk show yesterday. Posting on her Facebook page at 1:16am, Palin writes that, "at no point – not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews – have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States." She tries to dismiss her birther flirtation as just an acknowledgment of voters' right to know: "Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I’ve pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child."
Well ... three problems with her explanation.
First, here's what she said when asked if she would raise the birth certificate issue in a presidential campaign (emphasis mine):
I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue. I don't have a problem with that. I don't know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers.
The key word there is "rightfully," which in this context means that it is right--as in correct or proper--to ask the question. She didn't say that the public has the right to ask, she said that it's right for the public to ask. That's an Alaska-sized difference.
Second, while there may be a clamor in the electorate over the birth certificate issue, it's only in that small part of the electorate that Palin pals around with: the wound up Republican base. So her assertion says more about the tea party echo chambers in which Palin is spending her time than it does about the issues voters are raising.
Third, there's her self-perceived magnanimity in the face of questions about whether her son is in fact her son. "Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask... which they have repeatedly," she said. But let's keep in mind that Palin is (rightfully) famous for the wounds she still bears over the questions conspiracy-minded reporters and voters asked. Rather than simply writing those questions off as the public exercising their right to ask, she (rightfully) reacted to them with anger and indignation. Looking forward to her turn asking nutty questions--"Maybe we can reverse that," she told the talk show host--is hardly the best way to retain the moral high grounds regarding being the victim of, as she puts it, "the weird conspiracy theory freaky thing."