'Transcripters' Make Birthers Look Smart

Now the fringe right wants the president's university grades to prove he wasn't a good student.

Editorial Cartoon

Here's something I never thought I'd write: There's actually a dumber group of loopy, conservative, wing-nuts out there than birthers. The group is called "transcripters," and they are bound and determined to get a hold of President Obama's post-secondary grades in order to prove that—wait for it—he wasn't a good student.

Really? Has the lunatic right lost any sense of pride in its work? And does it come as any sort of surprise that Donald Trump is involved here?

According to a story in Monday's L.A. Times, transcripters are making a big push, offering a $20,000 reward for copies of Obama's transcripts from Occidental College (where he studied from 1979 to 1981), Columbia University (where he transferred from Occidental and completed his undergraduate studies), and Harvard University (where he went to law school).

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Of course Donald Trump, who is fast becoming the impresario of the political fringe is a follower of the movement. After Obama released his birth certificate last year, Trump quickly shifted gears to his educational records. "The word is, according to what I've read, that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental," Trump said then. "He then gets into Columbia; he then gets to Harvard ... How do you get into Harvard if you're not a good student? Now maybe that's right or maybe it's wrong, but I don't know why he doesn't release his records."

Well here's a notion: Maybe he didn't get into those elite universities as a bad student, but rather as one good enough to do things like graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law, which he did (after becoming president of the Law Review). Why doesn't he release his records? I'd guess that, beyond the fact that the whole line of inquiry is insulting and irrelevant, he knows that, as with his birth certificate, releasing records would settle nothing. They'd quickly be denounced as forgeries while another conspiracy would be plucked from the fevered imaginations of his deranged critics. Probably they'd start asking for presidential dental records to prove that he has cavities. Or that he's not a vampire. Or something.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Anyway, what exactly is the point of the demand for the grades? The Times's Robin Abcarian asked that very question:

"We're not convinced that Barack is as smart as you media elitists keep insisting he is," says The Trenches, the website that posted the reward. (The Daily Caller outed the responsible party as Brooks Bayne, a conservative blogger who admitted he was behind the reward.)

Ummm. Really? You want to spend $20,000 to prove the president’s not that smart? What’s next, SAT scores? Actually, yes: Breitbart News published an "exclusive" last week touting that it had "established that Obama's grades and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores may have been even lower than those of his supposedly less capable predecessor, George W. Bush." Well then.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The mind reels. At least birthers, as out there as they are, have a conspiracy which would have real gravitas if it had any basis in reality. Even if the transcripters are right—even if it comes out that Obama was a mediocre student in college and grad school—the sum total consequence would be, um, In your face media!

In terms of conspiracy theories, this is the annoying, tag-along kid brother of the one about how Obama can’t function without a teleprompter. It would surprise no one to find out that the whole thing was an elaborate gag by The Onion designed to prove how gullible the conspiracy right and the freak show-obsessed media have become.

[Read Schlesinger on the stupidity of the right's attacks on Obama's teleprompter.]

I wrote earlier today that the press should push Romney harder on Trump’s unrepentant birtherism. I might have to revise that. Instead of asking him why he won’t disavow Trump, they might have to start asking the former Massachusetts governor how he can keep a straight face around the guy.

  • Why the Media Is Giving Romney a Pass on Trump's Birtherism
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