September 16th, 2009

Birthers and truthers are not equal

I’ve already weighed in on the birthers, and let’s just say I’m not particularly simpatico. But the following sentence from this piece by Mark Salter caught my eye:

Today’s “birthers,” are no more offensive or weird than those who believe the Bush Administration was complicit in planning the attacks of September 11 or invaded Iraq to increase the profits of defense companies.

It’s become commonplace to roughly equate the birthers with the truthers. And although, as Salter says, birthers are no more offensive or weird than truthers, he fails to point out that birthers are actually less offensive and weird than truthers.

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look for a moment at what each group is actually alleging, rather than the fact that each group is marginal or weird or paranoid or offensive.

Birthers believe that Obama is lying about a certain fact. Truthers believe that many people within the Bush administration were engaged in a large conspiracy. So the first difference is one involving the number of perpetrators.

Another difference between birthers and truthers is subject matter. Birthers believe that the current President has covered up facts about his birthplace and his parents’ status that would mean he is actually not eligible to be president (and basing this at least in part on his bona fide secrecy about a great many facts of his early life). Truthers believe that President Bush and Vice President Cheney, as well as unspecified other members of their administration, either conspired to murder three thousand innocent Americans or at the very least had enough advance information to stop their murders and instead chose to let the murders proceed in order to increase their own power and to advance their geopolitical interests.

Thus we see that the magnitude and degree of the offenses involved are not even remotely comparable. The birthers are alleging Obama committed an offense that is a technicality; a serious transgression to be sure, but one mainly involving the fudging (or hiding) of some papers in order to advance his political career. Such an act would be duplicitous, illegal, and profoundly wrong. But, to use a criminal analogy, it would be something in the nature of a white-collar crime.

The truthers are alleging that Bush, Cheney, and an unspecified number of people in their administration either committed or knowingly allowed the mass murder of their own country’s citizens on an enormous scale, the greatest act of terrorism in our history. Not only would that be a crime against humanity, it would be a crime perpetrated against Americans by their own leaders. Such an act would be in the nature of the darkest evil of which the human soul is capable, worthy of a Nuremberg-type trial and execution for war crimes.

The two sets of allegations are hardly equivalent, and speaking of them as though they balance each other out on some sort of scale of paranoid fringe beliefs is a nothing less than a moral outrage.

21 Responses to “Birthers and truthers are not equal”

  1. dicentra Says:

    In other words:

    Birthers = Obama is a liar and a cheat

    Truthers = Bush is a monster

    So yeah. ’bout the same.

  2. Vieux Charles Says:

    This article is a sad example of the current state of journalism. Mr. Salters actually tried to write an article somewhat sympathetic to anti-Obama demonstrators, but apparently felt obliged to create a moral equivalency between Rep Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame’s husband Joe Wilson and between ‘birthers’ and ‘truthers’ in order to maintain credibility.

  3. rickl Says:

    Good summation, Neo. I don’t consider myself a birther, in that I find Obama’s Communist and Muslim ties infinitely more worrisome than the comparatively minor question of his birthplace. And personally, I’m more interested in his college records. Why are they also sealed?

    At the time of the election, the American people probably knew less about Obama than any other presidential candidate I can remember. The media considered it a non-story. Does anyone believe they would have shown the same lack of interest if the Republican candidate had been so secretive?

    In addition, the Constitution also requires that the President be 35 years of age. Would the same people who sneer at the ‘birthers’ think it would be acceptable for a candidate to refuse to provide proof of age?

  4. kcom Says:

    The two sets of allegations are hardly equivalent, and speaking of them as though they balance each other out on some sort of scale…

    Not much of a surprise. Democrats, despite being the self-proclaimed masters of nuance, have a pretty strong record of not being able to tell things apart. They’re forever trying to sell the proposition that Obama’s deficits are balanced out by Bush’s deficits, that one excuses the other, even though the most cursory of glances at a deficit chart would show that’s an inane proposition.

  5. Scottie Says:

    Anyone who suspects that Obama is not a natural born citizen need only believe that he (a politician) is lying.

    Politicians of all stripes lie all the time, and do so for personal gain and advancement, so it’s not a stretch to believe such a thing.

    The theory itself originated when his own relatives commented on his being born overseas. When questioned about it, apparently multiple Hawaiian hospitals were named by family members as the place where he was born.

    It could be simple confusion.

    The theory gained traction directly because of Obama’s lack of transparency on the matter, especially in light of other issues surrounding his early years.

    Given the lack of documentation that followed the lack of transparency, that followed the confusing circumstances of his birth, combined with how easy it is for Obama to simply request that Hawaii release the pertinent documents, it’s not that much of a stretch for a reasonable person to consider that he is, at worst lying, or at best simply hiding some embarrassing issue when he is faced with the question.

    Note that I provide two possibilities to choose from, and that one step in the thought process can naturally flow from the previous step until one is considering various conclusions that can be drawn.

    There is, whether one agrees it’s a valid issue or not, a certain logic at work.

    Simply questioning the matter doesn’t mean one believes either possible conclusion, it’s simply an acknowledgement that circumstances exist for which cause the question has been raised.

    For anyone considering this a *non-issue*, it should be pointed out that the same issue was likewise raised regarding McCain’s birth as well, and McCain provided the relevant documentation.

    Think about that for a moment.

    A sitting US Senator felt the issue was important enough to address it directly, provide the documentation, and put it to rest.

    For some reason, this is not something Obama has ever seen fit to do, even though he was no more free to ignore the question than McCain was.

    On the other hand, anyone who thinks Bush/Cheney conspired to murder almost 3,000 people has to buy into massive delusions – most of which you pointed out.

    Where is the step by step logic from which such a conclusion can be drawn?

    People died = Bush’s fault!

    Not really a series of thought processes that lead to a logical conclusion there.

    They would also have to believe that any such conspiracy had been kept under wraps for 8 years.

    When was the last time ANYTHING in Washington, DC was kept under wraps that long – aside from certain democrat politician indescretions…..

    Then there is the small matter that they were only in office some 8 months before the attacks occurred.

    Exactly how smoothly has Obama’s Administration’s assumption of power gone in an equal time period?

    Would Bush/Cheney even have been able to pull off such a thing if they had tried????

    So I would not consider the issues the same at all.

  6. Fat Man Says:

    The biggest problem the birthers have is that if they win, Joe Biden is President and Nancy Pelosi is next in line. I think they would serve us better by shutting up.

  7. Perfected democrat Says:

    “It could be simple confusion.”

    Funniest line I’ve read all day….

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    Birthers are basically saying “Rules are Rules” and why have them if you arent going to follow them, determine if they are met, and do something when not.

    after that its just a question of which rules we decide to follow and which rules we just ignore in state.

    integrity is integrity, violating it even a little diminishes the whole.

    its ignoring termites cause each thing isnt so big in and of itself.

    it parallels what happened in the autoindustry with the breaking of contract law in changing who gets paid first.

    just a rule, ignore it if its inconvenient or messy
    enforce it rigidly if it favors you..

    why not? no one cares they pick and choose too, so its worth the shot to see by pulling the stunt.

    and before the election it was an issue pointing to his lack of character and how he would consider rules to be fungible at will.

    why bother having a law that says no foriegner can be president if you dont check if they are or not?

    oh… cause if you actually tried to remove it people would wake up to its actual meaning. skirting it the people supress its importance themselves.

    but in EVERY part of their lives if they lost something through such rule violation, they wouldnt thing it right or that they were having a good day.

    the main point is what happens to a republic (rule by law equal to everyone), when you dont follow its rules or they are not applied the same to all?

  9. james williams Says:

    Obama may not know where he was born. Like all the rest of us, he only knows what he has been told by his family. It sounds like his family has conflicting stories, so even he may not know the truth.

  10. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Truthers have the right hairdos. Birthers don’t.

  11. Perfected democrat Says:

    You know james williams, that’s an angle I hadn’t thought of, clever thinking on your part; if you ignore auntie and granny, but who were no doubt misquoted by the racists at WND about claiming to have witnessed B.O.’s birth in Kenya. Anyway, what’s a little white collar crime, or simple improprieties like serial plagiarism, cheating on taxes (they’re only for the wealthy anyway), or skirting an inconsequential technicality to usurp the office of the POTUS; no need to abide by term limits when your cause is so much greater than an irrelevant relic constitution supporting the criminally wealthy, when your cause is redistribution, righting the wrongs, avenging the racist decades; when you’re Robin Hood you don’t have to live by the rules, when you’re Mao, Fidel or Hugo, you get to make them…

  12. Tom Says:

    When something of public interest, readily releasable, is locked up instead, one’s suspicions about the motive should be deemed upheld.

  13. Beverly Says:

    I have to say, it’s more than a technicality. We have the requirement because the president is supposed to be on our side, not covertly serving the interests of other nations. Of course, the Founders knew this wasn’t sufficient to insure loyalty (look at Benedict Arnold, e.g.), but they dang sure thought it was necessary.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he were born in HI. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were born in Kenya. He behaves like he was born in Kenya and trained at the side of his cousin Raile Odinga.

  14. Doom Says:

    Ah but you cut me so deeply. Indeed, you are quite incorrect. As a “birther”, I do not contend that Obama is not a U.S. citizen, due to birth. I merely say that I have seen no credible evidence that he IS a U.S. citizen.

    The gap between birthers and truthers is far wider than most let on. You are offering worst case scenarios for us and standard scenarios for them. Then again, that is almost what the “msm” does, so it goes.

  15. waltj Says:

    Typical of the Left is its complete ignorance of proportion. Neo gets the criminal analogy about right: birthers allege what is essentially misdemeanor fraud, based on a technical constitutional requirement; truthers, on the other hand, accuse the Bush administration of 3000 counts of capital murder. They could not be more different, but the Left and MSM lump in the birthers with the truthers.

    It may be a stretch, but I’m convinced this ignorance arises (where it is in good faith, not a deliberate obfuscation) out of a basic innumeracy on the part of many on the Left. They yawn at a trillion-dollar deficits and think nothing of them, but shriek like monkeys on crack over business executives getting “taxpayer-funded” million-dollar bonuses. In the U.S. economy writ large, trillions are significant, millions are rounding errors. Or to use an earlier adage, the Left is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Not grasping the difference here leads them to miss other proportional differences as well. Thoughts?

  16. Scottie Says:

    I want to point out that I did neglect the constitutionality issue in my earlier comment, and have to say I agree with Artfldgr on the matter.

    To provide yet another example of why this is important as a “technical” matter – of which the document is full of, the US Constitution likewise has specific requirements regarding the Amendment process, for instance.

    What if some future congress decides that *almost*, but not quite, 3/4 of the state legislatures are sufficient to pass an amendment, simply because they decide it’s popular at the moment but know they will not actually pass the magic 75% number in the end?

    How far do we allow them to fudge things?

  17. DerHahn Says:

    Scottie, I agree with your comments but I’d like to point out that John McCain did not face the same questions about his eligibility to be President that Barak Obama should.

    There has never been any question about the location of John McCain’s birth (Panama) or that his parents were adult citizens of the United States when he was born.

    The only question John McCain faced was whether ‘natural born citizen’ meant that a person had to be born in territory under US control, relative to the unusual legal status of Panama at the time of his birth.

    There are questions not only about the location of Obama’s birth but also if his mother was of sufficent age to overcome his father’s Kenyan citizenship according to statutory definitions used to determine when a child is a US citizen at birth in the case when one parent is definitely not a US citizen.

    It’s interesting to note that critics of ‘birthers’ often imply that the US citizenship of Obama’s mother should be sufficent to dispel any questions of his qualification but the unquestioned citizenship of John McCain’s parents is usually ignored.

  18. goy Says:

    The problem with the “Birther” trope is that it’s a brush that’s about three feet too wide.

    – Birthers believe that Obama is lying about a certain fact.

    I’m labeled a “Birther” all the time. Despite the fact that he’s openly lied about a vast array of things, I don’t necessarily believe BHO is lying about his birth – at least as he “remembers” it (i.e., as he was told by his parents/grandparents).

    The fact I DO recognize, however – and it is an undeniable fact, not mere conjecture – is that BHO has never been held to the same standard and precedent set by John McCain when his status was questioned.

    In McCain’s case, the very first court to get a petition joyfully pursued it without a moment’s thought. McCain quickly produced all documentation needed to satisfy a legal panel and the entire Senate – including BHO – voted on the matter. This went smoothly and practically unnoticed by anyone because McCain happens to be white.

    In BHO’s case, every court (except David Carter’s, so far) – terrified of the raaaaaaaaacist!!!! charge and thus stupefied into inaction – has sought some procedural escape from considering a case on its merits.

    BHO has never publicly released probative documentation affirming his Article II eligibility to be elected POTUS. This is the inconvenient truth the left and far too many conservatives dismiss with an appeal to ridicule / ad hominem fallacy whenever they write or utter “Birther”, full well knowing that BHO’s very first Executive Order upon inauguration was to shore up the protections that hide the details of his past.

    Even the State of Hawaii will not accept a printout of a jpeg image of a facsimile of an unnumbered, unsigned, sloppily composited reference to a Certificate of Live Birth – despite the fact that they have unabashedly edited their online information to protect BHO to make it appear as though they will. If you try to use something like this to contend native Hawaiian birth – for instance with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands – you’ll be required to produce a Certificate or the department will have to verify that one exists, and that the information on THAT document affirms native Hawaiian ancestry. By itself, a Certification document is not sufficient to verify the details of one’s Hawaiian birth. The notion that it should be sufficient to affirm natural born citizenship in the context of Article II is utterly and completely laughable.

    If recognizing these facts makes me a “Birther”, that’s fine with me. But the moral equivalence argument that places this recognition on par with the loony notions professed by the 9/11 Truth Squad is not only offensive and irrational, it’s demonstrably racist.

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    Birchers, birchers… oh birthers, nevermind – emilly latella

  20. » Daily Links III – 09/17/09 Where liberty dwells, there is my country… Says:

    […] Birthers and truthers are not equal […]

  21. Scottie Says:


    Been out of town for a couple of days, but goy pretty much covered the issues that were referenced regarding John McCain.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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