Birth of a Straight Jacket

There’s a part of me that hesitates to even bring up the Birther movement, afraid that doing so bestows on its insane adherents some kind of legitimacy.  Nonetheless, Liz Cheney’s decision to wade into the debate makes it sort of hard to ignore what the cold-blooded members of the Republican Party’s national-security death squad are planning to do with the Birthers.  Here’s the key part of Cheney’s statements on the subject:

“I think that the Democrats have got more crazies than the Republicans do. But setting that aside, I think that — you know, one of the reasons I think you see people so concerned about this, I think that, you know, this issue is people are uncomfortable with having, for the first time ever, I think, a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas. […]

“I’m saying that people are fundamentally uncomfortable, I think, increasingly uncomfortable with an American president who seems to be afraid to defend America.”

There’s no way Liz Cheney really believes Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen.  But she’ll play upon the conspiracy theorists’ fear to make the point she’s been on cable news to make all along: “Obama isn’t to be trusted with our national security – whether he was born in the United States or not, he doesn’t have the same ‘American’ loyalties that you and I have.  It’s likely that he’ll undermine or defenses and we’ll be attacked again.  And when we are, I’ll sit here and say ‘I told you so.'”

I’ve long said that Dick Cheney wasn’t the scariest person in America; that honor belonged to his wife, Lynn.  But perhaps I was wrong.  At this point, Liz is showing herself to be far more lethal than either of her parents: she appears to have some credibility with cable news, which the elder Cheney’s have for the most part lost (that doesn’t stop television-journalists from getting all excited when Dick Cheney criticizes the president, but there tends to be couched in how unpopular he was at the end of his time in office).

Marc Ambinder had a post up yesterday which mused that the Birther movement will ultimately hurt the GOP:

Republicans have to be extra careful. If they give credence to the birthers, they’re (not only advancing ignorance but also) betraying the narrowness of their base. If they dismiss this growing movement, they might drive birthers to find more extreme candidates, which will fragment a Republican political coalition.

I think they’re on the path to a fragmented Republican political coalition, the birther issues notwithstanding.  This is simply the latest reason why “moderate” Republicans are going to have to decide what to do with the crazy folks, the grassroots, they give cover to.

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