Inside the Beltway: Persistent birthers

Yes, President Obama’s birth certificate was made public two years ago and even emblazoned upon a Democratic fundraiser coffee mug during the 2012 presidential campaign. But the “birther” issue which so intrigued Donald Trump has yet to disappear.

“Since before he was elected, President Obama has been dogged by rumors that he was born outside of the United States and, therefore, ineligible to serve as president. Despite releasing his long-form birth certificate in 2011, these rumors have persisted. In particular, between 40 and 70 percent of Republicans still believe that President Obama may have been born outside of the U.S.,” says a wide-ranging poll released Tuesday by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College.

“Most of those who question President Obama’s place of birth are not just expressing negative views toward him without considering the implications. When asked in a follow-up question about whether they thought being born outside of the U.S. would make Barack Obama ‘ineligible under the U.S. Constitution to be president,’ 72 percent of those who thought the president might have been born outside of the U.S. believed that he would be ineligible to be president,” the research states.

“These results suggest that a substantial portion of Republicans is inclined to accept the worst about President Obama, regardless of facts, and believe that he is not a legitimate president, making it extremely difficult for him to overcome partisan polarization.”

Ironically, White House press secretary Jay Carney made a passing quip about the president’s birth certificate Tuesday, as an example of Republican attempts to “politicize matters.” Mr. Obama himself made a comedic reference to his birthplace at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month, and the topic still surfaces on talk radio.

“It seems like the birth certificate issue was dropped immediately as far as major media went. My gut tells me if it had been a different president, like say George W. Bush, they’d have been digging into that like there was no tomorrow,” noted Michigan state Sen. Tom Casperson, a Republican, during a February appearance on a Lansing-based show hosted by Michael Patrick Shiels.

MUST-SEE TV

Four hours of intrigue? Well, maybe, at least for concerned citizens and policy wonks who ponder IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Here’s a chance to see some possible factoids emerge. At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, C-SPAN broadcasts a live, four-hour hearing titled “Targeting Americans for Their Political Beliefs,” this showcasing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa.

The California Republican will be joined by Neal S. Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury; plus J. Russell George, U.S. Treasury inspector general for tax administration, former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, and Lois Lerner, the former IRS director of exempt organizations who now oversees health care reform law.

Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, engaged many of the same officials in a similar hearing Monday; now it’s the GOP’s turn. See the bout on C-SPAN 3, C-SPAN Radio, or here: C-SPAN.org.

BUMPER PATROL

“Audit the IRS!”

New bumper sticker available for a $5 contribution to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, at AuditTheirs.com.

MOMENT OF REMEMBRANCE

It is a solemn memorial wall with no names on it, only stars to designate the fallen. And such is the nature of the CIA.

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