If Arizona’s Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, has his way, the President won’t win Arizona. He might not even have the chance, because he won’t be on the ballot.
In an interview with KFYI radio, Mike Broomhead prefaced the interview by saying that this sort of thing wasn’t typical for Bennett and asked about speculation that it was a purely political move, that Bennett was playing to the birther crowd to promote a future run for governor.
Bennett replied, “I’m not a birther. I believe the president was born in Hawaii — or at least I hope he was, but my responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking.”
“And so when Sheriff Arpaio’s posse released a press conference a few weeks ago or a month ago, or whenever it was that the birth certificate posted on the White House website might be fraudulent, I started getting, you might imagine, literally over 1200 emails from people saying ‘well that’s proof you should require the President to produce the original of his birth certificate in order to be on the ballot in Arizona.’ And to all of those people I wrote back saying, ‘that’s an impossible request. I can’t ask anyone to produce the original. I couldn’t get my own original birth certificate from the Arizona vital records department even if I wanted to. All I could get would be a certified copy.’ But I’m not even asking that. One of the people that emailed me pointed out that Hawaii has a special provision in their law that allows other government officials from other states to request what’s called a verification in lieu of a certified copy of a birth certificate.”
Bennett goes on to say that he sent the request and eight weeks later, has had no response other than a request by the State of Hawaii (which has spent the last four years being inundated with such requests) that Bennett prove that he has the authority to ask.
When asked what he will do if Hawaii refuses to comply, Bennett said he would consider removing the President from the ballot, “Or the other option would be I would ask all of candidates, including the president, maybe to submit a certified copy of their birth certificate. But I don’t want to do that.”
Here’s the audio:
Apparently, Bennett feels that 1200 emails gives him a mandate. Even if we assume that each of those emails came from a different person, in a state of over 6 million people, that’s hardly impressive, especially after Sheriff Arpaio nominated himself birther in chief, bringing the issue into the forefront in Arizona.
Perhaps there is a bigger and more insidious agenda than threatening to withhold the President from the ballot in Arizona. Even with his name on the ballot, it’s highly unlikely that Obama will win the Grand Canyon State. However, Obama will be far from the only Democrat running for office in Arizona. Blocking the top Democrat from appearing on the ticket may de-motivate enough Democrats from voting that it could sway some close congressional, state and local elections.
If you’re looking for the birther issue to die down, don’t hold your breath. On Thursday, Breitbart.com drudged (pun intended) an oldie but goodie, that Obama’s old editor mistakenly said the then Senator was born in Kenya. From the Atlantic:
On Thursday, Bretibart.com kick-started a Birther Renaissance by reporting that in a 1991 booklet promoting Obama’s memoir, his publisher erroneously described him as “Kenyan-born.” Like so many semi-mainstream conservative blogs, Breitbart.com said it didn’t buy into birtherism, only that it was asking tough questions the media neglected to ask in 2008. Then, as far as we can piece together, conservatives began forwarding around a link to a 2004 Associated Press that was headlined “Kenyan-Born Obama All Set for U.S. Senate.” This one is so old, though, that it was debunked way back in 2009 by the Internet’s leading email-forward debunker, Snopes.com, as some sloppy headline writing by a Kenyan web site. Still, bigtime bloggers like CNN’s Erick Erickson, the Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher, Human Events‘ John Hayward, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, all linked to the story, but with a new twist: they don’t believe Obama was really born in Kenya and thus an illegitimate president, but they do think he did something that led to the mistake meaning that he’s a liar.
Not surprisingly, the memoir conspiracy has been debunked, not that it will matter to birthers.
Why does the birther conspiracy live on? First off, Americans love conspiracies. Secondly, there are a lot of people who simply cannot accept that a darker than white person is President. Perhaps more importantly, birtherism is big money. Rachel Maddow did this expose:
But even more significantly, birtherism inflames passion, which inflames activism. Birther activism (like Secretary Bennett’s 1200 emails) provides just enough democratic cover to allow politicians to do decidedly undemocratic things. If these last couple of days are any indication, the right-wing media is doing their part to ensure that the birther flame remains ignited. As a sane person, you’ll be tempted to ignore or laugh at birthers. Debunking them will do very little, since they want to believe, they truly want to believe, that something just ain’t right in the “White” House. No evidence based facts will tell them otherwise. But the truth about birtherism is that it’s no laughing matter.
Perhaps my own theory about potential voter suppression in Arizona is just that, a conspiracy theory, but the more riled up they can keep their base about the issue, the more likely that even more states will remove Obama from the ticket and the better their odds of locking up a few more Republican seats.