This birther video was going around yesterday; you’ve probably already seen it, but here it is, if not. I can’t decide if it’s hilarious or frightening. The screechy speaker with her sense of wounded entitlement, the masculine YEAHS from the crowd, the hysterical Pledge of Allegiance — scary and funny. “I don’t want this flag to change, I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK.” You want to know who the bitter gun-clingers are? Exhibit A.
Sometimes you wish people could just summon the character to be overtly racist. At least it would be a position with a little risk attached, like Bruce Willis standing in his sandwich board at the beginning of “Die Hard: The One Where They Steal All the Money in the World.” This birth-certificate stuff is just chickenshit. Some of the analysis is so baroque it makes Andrew Sullivan’s obsession with Sarah Palin’s amniotic fluid look practically sane. I urge you to read Timothy Egan’s NYT piece of earlier this week, in which he notes:
When candidate Barack Obama made that comment about bitter people in small towns clinging to guns and religion, he was criticized as a clueless elite from the big city. No one paid attention to the first part of what he said:
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration.”
Every president said he would do something about it, Obama continued, but never did.
Well, exactly. I can’t help but think that if everyone was making a living, we wouldn’t all want our country “back.” Back from what? But then, one should never underestimate the power of a good conspiracy theory. From my earliest days in talk radio, I remember Federal Reserve Frank, who called regularly to alert the world to the vast conspiracy of European bankers — gee, who would those folks be? — who were manipulating world currencies and business and I forget all what. Sometimes he would bring up Ezra Pound, which before this I had only known as a fairly impenetrable poet. Pound was “a very smart man,” F.R. Frank would say, so if he thought the Fed was a problem, why couldn’t I? I should have made him explain “The Cantos” to me.
Anyway, Birthers. Some of the comments at this LGM post get into the so-called nuances of the argument, if it can be called that.
Maybe it’s not the conspiracy, but the lost cause that’s the lure. Suppose, through some miracle, it was somehow found that yes, these people are right, and Obama isn’t qualified to be president, setting off a Constitutional crisis and probably widespread civil unrest. They’d be like the dog that caught the truck. They’re much happier chasing and whining.
Which brings us to another video, which I watched on Slate’s V site with a mounting sense of astonishment. It’s about a woman who describes seeking out the hardest-case shelter dog in L.A.’s hard-case shelter, only to discover, after a brief honeymoon period, that her abused pit bull/dalmatian mix (which she couldn’t keep, by the way — this adoption was only about “saving” it until it could be raised by someone else) was so unstable it wasn’t fit to live among humans. I had to watch it twice to absorb both the amazing quotes (“He had been everything to me in the two weeks I had him”) and the thread of her story, which boiled down to: Insane, abused dog saved from shelter death, attacks people, sent at great expense to “dog sanctuary” in Texas, where it continues to absorb her money at the rate of $50 a month until it dies. Happy ending! “It’s the best thing I could have done.”
No. No, it’s not. The best thing would be for the dog to have been humanely destroyed while still at the hard-case shelter, and for you to be sending $50 a month to a children’s charity. When I used to ride, every so often a girl (always a girl) would get attached to a hard-case horse, a bucker or bolter or biter or spooker or whateverer. Most horses are sweet or at least tractable on the ground, and the rider/owner would anthropomorphize that the animal was fixable, kind of like an abusive husband who only punches when he’s drinking. The cycle of misbehavior would continue until the rider became permanently fearful, which fed the misbehavior, and never mind the idea of taking this beast to a show, ostensibly what everyone was working toward. Finally, it would be time for the trainer to make the Speech, which boiled down to: With no shortage of good horses in the world, why waste time on the bad ones? Put out the For Sale sign, get it done and move on. Some people responded to this, others clung to the lost cause.
Some people like being on the losing side. It explains the romance of the Confederacy. In the case of the Birthers, maybe it all comes from the same root of racism. Or maybe it’s unconscious: I’m a loser, and I deserve to be in accord with other losers. If you spend your days paging through websites that reflect your opinions, or poring over documents with a magnifying glass, it reinforces and distracts you from reality.
Meanwhile, why won’t Sarah Palin offer a sample of her amniotic fluid for DNA testing? What is she trying to hide?
Man, I’m late today. Bloggage? Not bloody much:
Wow. Video link.
I want this garage door. The one with the crocodile.
And Detroitblog features a poor man’s bank, i.e., a pawn shop.
Step away from the keyboard, Nance. I have errands to run.