Beyond the fringe

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All right, we might as well state our position up front, so that anyone who disagrees with us can throw the paper down in disgust right now: It is the official position of the Odd Dominion that President Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii, the 50th star on the United States flag, on August 4, 1961. We accept the word of Hawaii’s current Republican governor, Linda Lingle, that Obama’s much-discussed birth certificate is indeed genuine, and find the weight of supporting evidence (including two separate 48-year-old birth announcements in local papers) so convincing that we seriously doubt the sanity of anyone who would believe otherwise.

Which means that, if the results of a recent Public Policy Polling survey are to be believed, nearly half of our fair commonwealth’s citizens are ready for the loony bin. Incredibly, in a telephone survey of 579 Virginia voters, a stunning 48 percent of respondents answered either “no” or “not sure” when asked if President Obama was born in the U.S.

Now, we’re used to seeing all sorts of insanity in the dog days of summer (political pontificators call August the “silly season” for a reason), but this one truly takes the cake. Hell, even U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte—one of Virginia’s staunchest conservatives, and the co-sponsor of a bill that would require presidential candidates to present their birth certificates—voted for a resolution recognizing Hawaii as President Obama’s birthplace.

So what the heck is going on here? Well, our gut instinct tells us that most of these negative responders don’t really believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya (or Mumbai, or on the moon), but are claiming they do out of pure cussedness (as my grandma would say). After all, 47.3 percent of Virginia’s electorate voted against Obama last November, and there’s no doubt that most of those folks sure wish they could magically repossess his key to the White House.

But believe us when we tell you: Down that path madness lies. Once you start convincing yourself that the president is illegitimate, or that the government is planning to create a “death panel,” and then send jack-booted goons to push your disabled grandmother down a flight of stairs, things can get real ugly, real quick. Which would explain why once-sedate “town halls” held across the nation have recently sported more red-faced screaming and Nazi-themed paraphernalia than a Leni Riefenstahl film.

Still, there are a few positive signs out there. After a flurry of attention-grabbing disruptions, Virginia’s anti-Obama brigades seem to have cooled off a little (in fact, Rep. Tom Perriello’s recent town hall in Charlottesville was downright civil, unlike the previous week’s shout-fest in Roanoke), and the fact that August is more than halfway over gives us some hope that the worst is behind us.

Then again, there’s always Rep. Jim Moran’s healthcare forum next Tuesday. Not only does the event feature right-wing boogeyman Howard Dean, but Moran has upped the ante by saying he’s “looking forward” to doing battle with a hostile crowd that is motivated by “ignorance, anger or whatever.”

Be careful what you wish for, Congressman—apparently there are some serious whack jobs around here. And whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your birth certificate.

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