Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obama's Birth Certificate and the Republican Trap

Barbara has a discussion at Mahablog about the latest in Right-wing smears:

We’ve been watching this happen for years now: Some juicy bit of disinformation appears on a far-right blog or forum, and within hours it goes up the rightie media infrastructure food chain — to NewsMax to Drudge to Limbaugh to the Washington Times to Bill O’Reilly — and then corporate media reports that “a story is circulating about. …”Other rumors are that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii; his middle name is really “Muhammad,” not “Hussein”; his parents weren’t really married...

One might argue the Obama campaign ought to just release the mystery birth certificate to put the rumors to rest. But you know that would just set off a new round of rumors. Some rightie blogger would question the authenticity of the birth certificate, and that very evening Sean Hannity would look into a Faux Nooz camera and intone, why did Barack Obama release a forged birth certificate? Questions are being asked, after all.

The hunger of the right-wing rumor beast can never be satisfied. However, I do strongly suggest the Obama campaign hire some hall monitors for their campaign web sites — no more unfiltered public comments allowed. Obama supporters will understand.
The fact is what we are looking at is trap...the same stupid one the Republican operatives been using for two decades. They create a dilemma:

If you don't answer their inane questions, it's an argument from ignorance based inference that something is being hidden. Gotcha.

If you do respond to debunk it, then (just like with Intelligent Design) they simply repeat, repeat, repeat the accusation while ignoring the evidence refuting it. The fact that there is now a "serious disagreement" involving a Presidential candidate shows that it is a serious topic to be reported on widely and the fair and balanced way to present the story is "some say this is true, but slimy politician worried about getting votes denies it." Gotcha.

Further, once you've shown you'll play their silly little game, they'll deluge you with made up accusations to tie you up and make sure you can't stay on message. They will work hard to use up all the oxygen in the room -- gotcha.

And should you try to stop playing it once you've started, the fact that you answered the previous questions, but not the next one is used as evidence that THIS LAST question really has something behind it because if the candidate wasn't hiding something, why wouldn't he answer it the way he did with the others? Hmmm? Gotcha.

One way to deal with it is to do what the Republicans do. Ignore it and slime the person who brought it up. This is why they never have to answer for anything.

The best way to deal with it, though, seems to be what Obama is best at -- going meta. The Wright nonsense? Give a serious talk about race. Show the scam from above the scam as opposed to trying to fight the scam from inside. Show that the problem isn't with the question,itself, but with the fact that we ask THAT inane question instead of the deep one beneath it that we've been ignoring.

The third option is to get a press that isn't so bad that it falls for it every time...never mind...