Damage Control: GOP Bosses Coming Down Hard On Birthers

July 29, 2009 8:26 a.m.

It’s now looking like a lot of prominent Republicans, ranging from party leaders to big-name pundits that we usually expect to make outrageous partisan attacks, are doing something they’d been previously neglecting: Definitively cracking down on the Birthers, rather than playing to the conspiracy theorists allowing this stuff to continue festering among their activist base.

Until recently, this wasn’t the situation at all. Indeed, prominent Congressional Republicans were openly entertaining this stuff. A bill to require birth certificates from presidential candidates has picked up 11 total co-sponsors; Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) declared that the Birthers “have a point,” and that he doesn’t discourage it. Even House GOP Vice-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), a member of the leadership, was saying she wanted to see the documents.

But now there’s a pattern from on high — in both the punditocracy and from the party leadership — of Republicans backing away from this:

• Of course, all House Republicans who were present voted Monday night in favor of the resolution to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood, which included language recognizing the state has Obama’s birthplace. This included Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), the lead sponsor of a bill to require presidential candidates to present birth certificates, and House GOP Vice-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). Only 20 GOPers missed the vote, which can happen for any number of reasons on a non-binding resolution.• Last night on his TV show, Bill O’Reilly comprehensively debunked the Birthers:

O’Reilly said to a letter-writer who declared himself not convinced that Obama is an American: “That is because you don’t want to be convinced, Larry.” That’s as good a summary of the Birthers’ motivations as any other.

• Even Ann Coulter, who normally can’t resist the opportunity to attack Democrats as evil and un-American, calls the Birthers “cranks.”

• After Birther leader Orly Taitz made the peculiar claim that the GOP leadership was on board, claiming as evidence that multiple high-ranking GOPers had accepted her Facebook requests, they all prominently said no way.

• Greg Sargent asked RNC chairman Michael Steele’s office about his views of Birtherism — and they unambiguously shot it down:

“Chairman Steele believes that this is an unnecessary distraction and believes that the president is a U.S. citizen. Chairman Steele wants to move beyond this conversation and continue discussing the real and immediate concerns that face American families like the economy and health care. Americans are concerned with President Obama’s health care plan, a failed stimulus package and a ballooning deficit. Chairman Steele has many other issues to take up with the president that have to do with policy, not a birth certificate.”

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