Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WaPo updates birther list, but still neglects to ID the birthers’ momma

Back in August, The Washington Post’s Crack Investigative team has published a list of GOP lawmakers and operatives who have, according to this Post 44 piece, perpetuated the birther myth:

A recent poll shows that of the approximately 20 percent of Americans who wrongly believe that President Obama is a Muslim, a majority said they learned this from the media. But the media are not alone when it comes to promoting or insinuating falsehoods about the president's religion and, by extension, his birthplace.

We've collected a list of lawmakers past and present and high-profile political operatives whose comments have helped fuel the debate. Most either said outright that the president is a Muslim, that he is not a U.S. citizen or appeared to leave open the possibility that either falsehood could be true. Several of the officials later issued statements saying that they don't doubt the president's citizenship.

The left likes to flash on the meme that the so-called birther movement is nothing but a bunch of rabid, racist, nativist Tea Party wingnuts barking up another conspiracy tree.  But the inconvenient truth of the matter is, the lunatic fringe has a left flank. 

The birther movement’s mommy is none other than…  Hillary Clinton.

A Clinton supporter from Texas known as Linda Starr was particularly fired up by what she later told me was "the daily misogynistic hate speech against Hillary" during the primaries. As a Democratic precinct captain in Medina County, Starr had volunteered for the Clinton campaign during the hotly contested June Lone Star State primary and served as a Clinton delegate at the state convention. But Starr's real talent was as an amateur opposition researcher—she'd dug up dirt against Republican congressional leaders like Dan Burton and Bob Livingston during the Clinton impeachment hearings in the late 1990s. She was also cited as a key source for CBS' discredited election year investigation into George W. Bush's National Guard records that led to Dan Rather's replacement after 24 years as the evening news anchor.

After Clinton's concession, Starr turned her attention to Obama. "I determined that I was going to start digging up every bit of dirt that I could find on him," she told me after I hunted her down in late 2009, "and that hopefully that I would find something against him that would convince the Democratic Party to dump him and make Hillary the nominee."

In the first week of August 2008, as the Democrats were getting ready for their convention in Denver, Starr called Philadelphia attorney Philip Berg and offered a challenge. Berg recalled the conversation for me: "She called me up and said, 'Have you heard about Obama not being national born?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Well, now it's for real, and you're the only attorney in the country with brass balls enough to sue Obama.'"

Berg also had been a Clinton supporter, but he was best-known as a former deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania and a serial unsuccessful Democratic campaigner for statewide office. He also had a reputation as an enthusiastic litigant: In 2004, he filed a 9/11 Truther lawsuit against Bush, alleging that the government allowed the terrorist attacks to happen and that the World Trade Center was destroyed from within. Now he had a new conspiracy to push.

Linda Starr is about as certifiable a nutcase as you can get.  She was one of the key sources on the Bush National Guard scandal that led to Dan Rather’s downfall at CBS.  She’s no right-wing lunatic.  She was a PUMA from the first growl.

And Berg?  A truther and a birther, all rolled up in a Democrat activist lawyer.