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The Death of a Movement?

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

It’s usually pretty difficult to kill off a movement. However, when an entire movement is based on the existence of one piece of paper, it becomes far easier. With one piece of paper, President Barack Obama seemingly killed the “birther” movement, which was based on the myth that Barack Obama was born outside the United States.

In the hustle and bustle of people taking credit for pushing Obama to finally show the certificate, (and with Donald Trump, it’s always a hustle) something important has been overlooked by most Republicans.

Not only did Donald Trump hijack the “birther” movement, but at least for a brief period, he hijacked Republican political momentum. The difficult news for the GOP is that as President Obama burst Trump’s bubble, he also exposed how shallow the Republican platform is right now.

Trump didn’t get any other high profile GOP leaders on his bandwagon, but those same high profile GOP leaders allowed him to carry on with his charade, thinking it would be embarrassing for Obama to have to handle this issue publicly.

It was certainly a distraction for Obama, and the fact that he had to take time from leading the free world to address this issue showed that this movement, however fringe it may have been, got under his skin.

But the embarrassment will last longer for the GOP because of the energy that Trump was able to muster around this issue among Republicans, and because of embarrassing polls showing 45% of Republicans questioned Obama’s nationality.

Even if Trump goes back to the reality TV universe soon and even if the poll was off by a considerable amount, it still shows how easy much of the GOP base is to distract on issues that will go nowhere with independent voters.

With a weak economy, potential inflation trending and our military involved in three wars, there are plenty of fronts on which to attack the Obama administration. However, even a weakened Obama will be a formidable force in 2012. If the GOP is to have any shot at defeating him in 2012, they will need to provide a focused platform with wide appeal.

That focused and appealing platform can have nothing to do with the “birther” movement, yet most of the media attention and apparent party rallying in the last two weeks has been surrounding just that.

If there is any question about how President Obama’s campaign feels about this, imagine how happy anyone working on former President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign would have been if Democrats were focusing on the 9/11 conspiracy movement rather than the Iraq war?

Since the 2012 election is still 18 months away, and no real nominee has risen to the top in the GOP, there is time to focus the platform and leave the “birther” movement to history. But the clock is still ticking and every moment focused on an expired conspiracy theory is a moment not focused on real issues.

That should be the real cue about how serious to take any potential Donald Trump candidacy. If you have supposedly made your money as a businessman, but the only topic you talk about to the media army following you is a conspiracy theory wiped away with a single piece of paper, how serious do you really expect to be considered?

In the end, while the “birther” movement maybe dead thanks to the spotlight it has been given, it may hinder the GOP’s hopes in 2012.

Winning the Presidency is one of the toughest tasks in the world. If you take your eyes of the ball for even a minute, it’s very easy to come in second place.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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