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Why Birtherism Won’t Die

Posted on April 22 2010 8:07 pm
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Born AgainWhy the “birther” myth refuses to die.

By Christopher Beam

The “birther” myth is the political equivalent of a horror-movie villain: Not only does it refuse to die, but every time someone tries to kill it, it only comes back stronger.

The latest incarnation: a bill approved 31-22 by the Arizona House of Representatives on Monday that would require 2012 presidential candidates to offer proof of citizenship in order to qualify for the ballot. The proposal has little chance of becoming law. For that to happen, the state Senate would have to pass it and the governor would have to sign it. But it’s still the closest birtherism has come to being codified.

Democrats have dutifully condemned the bill. One Phoenix legislator said it’s turning Arizona into “the laughing stock of the nation.” White House spokesman Bill Burton dismissed the measure and others like it on CNN as “fringe right-wing radio conspiracy theories.” Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly wrote, “The fact that fringe lunacy is being taken seriously at this level suggests a strain of contemporary Republican thought that’s gone stark raving mad.” Even some Republicans are rushing to distance themselves from the bill, particularly senatorial candidate J. D. Hayworth, whom John McCain has tried to tie to the fringiest elements of the Tea Party movement.

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