Hit & Run

Stay Classy, Constitution Party

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I've covered the various baseless conspiracy theories about Barack Obama as much as they probably should be covered. Last week and this week, I wrote for Slate about the apogee of the theory that Obama, for whetever reason, is not a "natural born citizen." But it seems like the problems of Rod Blagojevich, and the Obama's campaigns strangely muted and incomplete explanations of what-they-knew-when-they-knew-it, have taken the gas out of the Birthers' engines.

Exhibit A: World Net Daily, which had been the de facto control room for Birtherism, has rushed right along to the Blagojevich scandal. I count seven articles about Blagojevich on the web mag's front page compared to five about the birth conspiracy, and the ratio was much higher on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Exhibit B: Roger Bredow, who organized a tiny vigil outside the Supreme Court to pray that they'd disqualify Obama, immediately jumped onto the Blagojevich story.

These are good things, as no small number of conservatives were fretting about the rise of something like the old Vince Foster and Ron Brown and "Clinton Chronicles" conspiracies of the 1990s—freakish stuff that whipped up talk radio but made the opposition to Democrats look crazy.

One problem: if this conspiracy is losing steam, it's still popular with the Constitution Party and with elements of the Ron Paul r3VOLution. Last week, staffers for Paul told me that they were inundated with calls about the birth conspiracy, egged on by talk radio hosts who helpfully informed listeners that "Dr. Paul cares about the Constitution." This week I see that the Constitution Party (whose candidate for president this year was endorsed by Paul) is "challenging Barack Obama to release his birth certificate." Take it, national chairman Jim Clymer!

If a non-citizen can be given a free pass to the presidency than what's to say someone with no allegiance and who harbors ill will toward the country won't someday assume office?

What, indeed?

Maybe Ron Paul doesn't have to worry about this stuff. After all, what's the danger in people who associate themselves with his name and causes engaging in ethnically-charged wingnuttery?