Birthers’ originals – Aug 6, 2009

from the Lincoln Journal Star

barack obama birth certificate

Some friends pointed out to me that the Daily Show made a similar joke. I was leaning toward pulling the cartoon because of that, but after viewing the video the folks at the LJS decided the cartoon was different enough to still be worth running. Maybe this incident will help keep me off my high horse the next time another big cartoonist groupthink moment happens.

But speaking of groupthink, Nebraska publisher David Hahn decided to enter the birtharena yesterday. Just a word of warning to potential birthers — offering a defensive disclaimer that you’ll probably get labeled a birther doesn’t make your birtherism any less birtherrific.

You know you’re in for a treat when a column includes a line like “We have not checked sources, but there are reports that some witnessed his birth in Kenya.” On its own, a line like that seems lazy and irresponsible. It’s downright jaw-dropping when you consider that kind of recklessness is part of a column about getting the facts out and setting the record straight.

Hahn offers up what I like to call Sensible Birtherism™ — you distance yourself from the actual birthers, even perhaps suggesting you’re above the fray, yet you still legitimize and advance their claims by acting as if there is still a legitimate issue. The most popular version of this is “Obama should be doing more to respond to these critics.” You get to pretend as if you’re detached and objective, yet you — like the birthers — still choose to ignore the most significant facts — that Obama has provided proof, he has allowed reputable third parties to see the proof and he already has responded to the conspiracy theorists (see, the website he set up during the campaign in an attempt to set the record straight regarding various baseless conspiracy theories) — and none of that is good enough.

And even if he were to release his original birth certificate and send it around the country to each individual birther to inspect, that would still be insufficient. Alex Koppelman at Salon points out that birthers have come up with an 18-point list of proof demands beyond the original, and prominent birthers like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage started casting preemptive doubts on the original document starting back in October 2008.

UPDATE: David Hahn responded to Kyle Michaelis’s post on the topic at

6 Responses to Birthers’ originals – Aug 6, 2009

  1. Jim says:

    One time Hahn took a story of mine and published it on State Paper without Attribution. Once I notified him he apologized and gave attribution and everything was good. That was the first stupid thing I’ve seen him do.

    This is the second. Newsflash – Obama is president of the country. He has nothing to prove to these delusional people and the accusations are beneath the dignity of the office. If he bows to every assault on his legitimacy, he will quickly watch his ability to lead errode, and the last thing this country needs is another poor leader.

    Instead of saying “Obama needs to do this or that” regarding his birth certificate, how about good old journalistic fact checking before printing baseless claims.

  2. Jim says:

    My Favorite comment from the link:

    WHAT THE F$#@ are you doing writing a “State Paper” with this in your article, “We have not checked sources, but there are reports that some witnessed his birth in Kenya.” We have NOT CHECKED SOURCES?????? I haven’t checked my sources either, but you evidently are a CRACKHEAD…

    Ken Mum

  3. Mindless Robot says:

    “Sensible Birtherism”

    It’s more of a Good Cop, Bad Cop thing.
    Bill O’Reilly is the master of it.
    On one hand, he says he doesn’t believe in the Birther nonsense, yet he keeps inviting Birthers on the show to spout their nonsense unchallenged. He even helps their cause by playing fake Devil’s advocate when he states things like, “So what if he was born in Kenya? He was still elected President. What’s the big deal?”

    There’s a good quote by Michael Shermer on this very thing in a Salon article,

    “There’s no amount of evidence or data that will change somebody’s mind,” says Michael Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a columnist for Scientific American, and who holds an undergraduate and a master’s degree in psychology. “The more data you present a person, the more they doubt it … Once you’re committed, especially behaviorally committed or financially committed, the more impossible it becomes to change your mind.”

  4. Mindless Robot says:

    Well I’ll be a SOB, you have the same article in your post.
    I have a little egg on my face.

  5. neal says:

    Hey MR, nice to see you in these parts.

    Mindless Robot replied:

    Since I can’t find you on the new and improved JournalStar, thought I’d mosey on over here.
    Keep up the good work.

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