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Obama's birther response will settle little

Posted by Jesse Singal  April 27, 2011 01:50 PM

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Earlier today, after years of enduring conspiracy theories claiming he wasn't actually born in Hawaii and therefore wasn't eligible to be president, President Obama released his official, long-form birth certificate, arguing that "We do not have time for this kind of silliness" amidst the nation's real problems.

The reactions to this, unsurprisingly, have been split along ideological (and sanity) lines. Donald Trump responded by saying that Obama should have done this long ago (despite the fact that Obama did release the so-called "certificate of live birth" — also an official birth record — in 2008) and lavishing praise on himself for precipitating this event, while rabid birther Orly Tatiz seems surprisingly mollified, though she still has profound doubts about Obama's background. Some on the left, meanwhile, are unhappy that the White House is stooping to the level of responding to hare-brained conspiracy theories.

I suppose its noteworthy that folks like Taitz (who truly earned her "queen of the birthers" nickname) are taking the birth certificate at face value. But overall, if you made a Venn diagram of "Americans who are sympathetic to birther rumors" and "Americans whose views on Obama's birth will be altered by further documentation," how many Americans, total, sit in the middle? Six?

In the darker, more conspiracy-addled rumors of the Internet — the true source of birtherism's power — expect the White House announcement to settle absolutely nothing. As Dave Weigel writes, "Surely more forgery gurus will tumble out of the woodwork and quibble with the kerning. This document includes the name of Obama's hospital and attending physician, but it doesn't include a footprint, and even though no Hawaii birth certificates like this included that, it'll be a reed for birthers to hang on to."

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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