One reason it hasn't been too dificult to cut back on my news consumption (see my previous post), is that some of my once favorite right-wing news sites have stopped running any news stories at all other than articles calling into question Obama's status as a natural born citizen. Some of my favorite left wing sites are also having problems; sites like "buzzflash" are still running non-stop articles blaming all the world's problems on republicans, seemingly unaware that republicans have absolutely no governing power any more.
I enjoy a press that's confrontational in its relationship to government. I suppose it's not a shock that liberal sites have lost their edge. But it's the right wing sites that I feel most betrayed by. Barely a month ago, the house passed a sweeping climate bill, perhaps the most consequential legislation to come out of Washington in this year. At the time, the right wing sites made a big deal about the speed with which the legislation was passed; they complained that no one had time to read the bill and debate the details. But, there's now been a long pause between the passage of the bill in the house and the debate of the bill in the senate. It would seem like the right wing press would use this gap to go through the bill page by page and run an article each day discussing the details and talking about the ramifications. They complained about not getting to study the bill in advance, but apparently they really had no intent to talk about the specifics of the bill, ever.
Let's look at World Net Daily, a news source whose perspective on the world is usually in opposition to mine, but who I used to respect because they would, from time to time, actually report on an issue. For close to a year now, this site has been stuck on the "issue" of Obama's birth certificate. On the site today, the first twelve headlines deal with the issue in some degree. There are no articles about climate change, health care, Sotomayor, the Gates arrest, or any of our various wars. They've surrendered the field of debate entirely to focus on the "mystery" of why Obama won't release his long form birth certificate.
I honestly can't see how this matters in the least. The constitution doesn't require a candidate produce a birth certificate, only that the president be "naturally born" in the US. I don't know why Obama hasn't released his long form birth certificate. It may be that it no longer exists, or never existed. Paper records can have gaps; they can be lost or destroyed over the course of five decades. Hawaii has released a "certificate of live birth," it's a legally binding document good enough to issue Obama a passport. And, there are are birth announcements in Hawaii newspapers announcing Obama's birth. This seems to me to be the most devestating blow to the birthers. It just seems unlikely that Obama's parents were thinking ahead to his presidential eligibility when they announced his birth in Hawaiian newspapers even though they were actually living abroad at the time, as WND contends. The birth announcements list a physical address where the parents live; World Net Daily actually sent reporters to this address to interview the neighbors. None of them remember Obama from almost fifty years ago! Further proof of the conspiracy!
The greatest mystery to me is what, exactly, the birthers are hoping to accomplish. The absense of a birth certificate won't disqualify Obama as president. What they need to produce is hard proof that Obama was born overseas. In the absense of this evidence, they really don't have a case. But, suppose they found a Kenyan birth certificate. Then what? Presumably, just as the right wingers denounce evidence of Obama's American birth as smoke and mirrors planted by Obama supporters, a real, solid, Kenyan birth certificate would almost certainly be attacked as a forgery. Paper documents just aren't that hard to fake. I don't think a single Obama supporter would change their mind if WND posted photos tomorrow of a Kenyan birth certificate. I'm certain that the house wouldn't draft articles of impeachment. The republican's will roll into the next election squawking "birth certificate... birth certificate!" Democrats will laugh at them and say that they are afraid to talk about the issues of the day. Rather than triggering some great constitutional crisis, the republican will just look increasingly crazy and conspiracy minded, lumped in the same camp as flat-earthers, gold-standard proponents, and deniers of evolution (oh, wait, they already have these last two among their ranks).
Here's my advice to right wing news sites: Stop focusing on an issue that only appeals to the most xenophobic members of your base, and start focusing on the actual problems this country faces, such as our national debt, our foreign entanglements, and some of the structural problems built into our economy, some of them government inflicted, some inflicted by plain old greed. Absent the creation of a time machine, Obama's Hawaiian birth will never be established to the satisfaction of the hard core right, and will never be disproven to the satisfaction of democrats, and will never be of any interest at all to most independents. You're obsession with this non-issue, and utter neglect of everything else happening in the world, has contributed to your loss of me as even an occasional reader.