Birtherism was almost in the grave, but only three weeks into his term, Hawaii’s newly elected Democrat governor Neil Abercrombie is scheming to resurrect it. Birthers, who claim Barack Obama was not born in the US and is therefore ineligible to be president, work entirely to President Obama’s benefit, diverting his opponents into dead-end conspiracy mongering. While publicly distancing himself from Abercrombie’s efforts, President Obama can only be thrilled at the opportunity to portray his opponents as tin foil hat-wearing lunatics.
As Obama’s hero Saul Alinsky once wrote: “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.” And Abercrombie’s Alinskyite maneuver is already working: popular Internet site Mediaite cheers, “When Hawaiian governor Neil Abercrombie rekindled the dying embers of the birther fire today, the media leapt up like starved piranhas to nip at the scrap.”
Governor Abercrombie was part of the same early 1960s University of Hawaii Marxist student clique as Obama’s parents, Barack Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann Dunham. As he likes to say, “I was here when that baby was born.“ Abercrombie’s wife, UH Prof. Nancie Caraway, was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America National Feminist Commission in the mid-1980s. Caraway’s 1991 book, Segregated Sisterhood, is dedicated to Abercrombie and to former Communist Party member Bettina Aptheker, among others. Abercrombie denies ever having been a member of the DSA, but several editions of the DSA organ, the Democratic Left, describe Abercrombie as a “DSAer Democrat.” Former Abercrombie aide George “Skip” Roberts is the long-time DSA representative to the Socialist International. In Congress, Abercrombie was for 20 years an ineffectual backbench member of the DSA-allied Congressional Progressive Caucus. For much of his career, he co-chaired the House Gym Committee. Now he is the Governor of Hawaii.
Perhaps hoping, Abercrombie implies Birtherism could be the end of America, telling one reporter: “More than demonization — this is self-evisceration of politics. Empires fall and countries fall when that takes the place of discourse.”
But contrary to appearances, Abercrombie is a birther’s dream come true. With Hawaii governed by Abercrombie–someone who is cast in a key role in their conspiracy theory–birthers no longer have to explain how it is the previous Republican Lingle/Aiona administration insists that Obama’s birth certificate is accurate. The loop is closed and now Abercrombie is portrayed as covering up his UH-Manoa comrades’ 50-year conspiracy to hide Obama’s “true origins.”
And, as if on cue, birthers are already weaving Abercrombie’s announcement into their conspiracy theory. The UK Guardian December 26 quoted Orly Taitz, a leading birther lawyer (and dentist), as saying:
To me this sounds like a very co-ordinated effort. As soon as a friend of the Obama family gets into the governor’s office he has access to all the documents. I would put nothing past this establishment.
Orly Taitz is a $1000 donor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign committee. Her website has prominently featured the rants of 9-11 truther Devvy Kidd. Another leading birther lawyer, Phil Berg is a prominent 9-11 truther who sued the Bush administration several times in an effort to prove that al-Qaeda was innocent. “Wingnuts” author John Avalon rarely misses an opportunity to marginalize conservatives, but was forced to admit last February that “the Birthers began on the left.“ Avalon traces the original August 21, 2008 Phil Berg birther lawsuit to the efforts of Texas Hillary Clinton supporter Linda Starr, described by Avalon as also being “a key source for CBS’ discredited election year investigation into George W. Bush’s National Guard records that led to Dan Rather’s replacement after 24 years as the evening news anchor.”
When New Zealand-based researcher Trevor Loudon exposed Abercrombie’s DSA ties last July 12, the uber-birthers at World Net Daily were quick to pick up the story. Recognizing their value as a foil, Abercrombie placed them front-and-center in the response posted on his Obama-style campaign website: “Neil has never been part of any socialist or communist organization. These rumors are being spread by Neil’s political opponents and conspiracy theorists including those behind the so-called ‘birther’ movement who continually claim that President Obama was not born in the U.S.”
But that was just a warm-up exercise. The LA Times notes: “in the view of the White House, the Democratic governor’s comments are reviving an issue that most people see as resolved.”
Of course this is exactly why Abercrombie is doing it—to revive a red herring from which Obama long ago squeezed all the juice trying to discredit Tea Party activists.
But some people may have difficulty sorting out the double game. USA Today described Abercrombie as the “friend [Obama doesn’t] need.“ One perplexed Maui News opinion writer asked: “If I were a Democrat – which I am not – I’d be at least content if not actually pleased to have these nuts loose in the other party.”
That is exactly the point. Abercrombie’s game plan is designed to revitalize the “nuts loose in the other party.” Hawaii News Now Dec 24 pointed out: “for those who have a political agenda, Abercrombie said they will probably never change their mind.”
And fortunately for Obama, Neil Abercrombie is going to make sure they never lose their energy.
Andrew Walden edits HawaiiFreePress.com