The birthers eat their own
By Dana Milbank
October 21, 2011
Say what you will about the birthers, but don’t call them partisan.
The people who brought you the Barack Obama birth-certificate hullabaloo now have a new target: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a man often speculated to be the next Republican vice presidential nominee. While they’re at it, they also have Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana and perhaps a future presidential candidate, in their sights.
Each man, the birthers say, is ineligible to be president because he runs afoul of the constitutional requirement that a president must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States. Rubio’s parents were Cuban nationals at the time of his birth, and Jindal’s parents were citizens of India.
The good news for the birthers is that this suggests they were going after Obama, whose father was a Kenyan national, not because of the president’s political party. The bad news is that this supports the suspicion that they were going after Obama because of his race.
When I heard of the birthers’ latest targets, from a participant in my online chat, I figured it was a joke. But, sure enough, Alex Leary of the St. Petersburg Times reported that various bright lights of the birther community – Mario Apuzzo, Charles Kerchner and Orly Taitz – were casting doubt on Rubio’s eligibility.
“Senator Marco Rubio is not a natural born citizen of the United States to constitutional standards,” Kerchner writes on his blog. “He was born a dual citizen of both Cuba and the USA. He is thus not eligible to serve as the president or vice president.” A few months ago, Kerchner used the same logic to proclaim, “Jindal is NOT a natural-born citizen of the United States. His parents were not U.S. citizens when he was born.”
This relies on a rather expansive interpretation of “natural born.” At this rate, it is surely only a matter of time before birthers begin to pronounce candidates ineligible if they were born by C-section, or if their mothers were given pain medications during childbirth. Will Donald Trump demand to see their medical records?
The absurd accusations of the birthers by themselves won’t stop Jindal or Rubio from becoming president. There are far more serious impediments in their way — most recently a devastating report by The Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia proving false the central narrative of Rubio’s political rise: that he is the son of exiles who fled Cuba under Castro. In fact, his parents left the island, apparently for economic reasons, 21 / 2 years before Castro came to power.
But the wild new turn the birthers have taken should serve as a timely reminder to Republican leaders that they need to push back more forcefully against the angry and the unstable in their ranks. Too often, they have done the opposite. Jindal, for example, encouraged the birthers this year when he announced his support for legislation that would require candidates for federal office to show proof of their U.S. birth before being allowed on the ballot in Louisiana. It was, as many pointed out, a sad gesture for a man born Piyush Jindal...