Birther Movement: The Arkansas Project of 2011

Reasonable people will hope that the President's release of his long-form birth certificate will put an end to the antics of the bizarro-Quixotic birthers.

But those hopes will be dashed, because the birther movement is the Arkansas Project of 2011.

The intent of both is the same: paint a false portrait of a Democratic President on a canvas of lies. Birthers claim that Barack Obama was not born in America and is therefore not legitimately serving as President. A simple, however faulty, assertion.

But it is merely a gateway to a larger, misleading construct about President Obama - that he is not "one of us." His values are alien to ours. He's not fully American. He might be a Muslim, not a Christian. He has a radical agenda that will take our country down a path of socialism.

The birthers don't have to prove their point to make a point. In their scheme, the mere repetition of the question about where the President is from serves to raise questions about where the President is taking us.

The Arkansas Project was created to fuel investigations of Bill (and Hillary) Clinton across a wide-ranging field of false and misleading stories, from Whitewater to Troopergate to the death of Vince Foster. Funded by Richard Mellon Scaife and perpetuated by magazines like the American Spectator and right wing organizations like the Western Journalism Center, the Arkansas Project spent years trying to put the President and the First Lady in a negative light by alleging a series of unethical and illegal acts.

None of those charges proved true, but the Arkansas Project was never intended to be a search for the truth. It was a shiny, metal object designed to lead the media on a wild goose chase and mislead the public about the values of the Clintons. Like the birther movement, the Arkansas Project represented the marriage of lies and right-wing political agendas.

There are some differences between the two, chief among them being this: the Arkansas Project did succeed in generating reams of mainstream media coverage and launching years of extremely costly official investigations. Rather than question the veracity and agenda of those who created the allegations against the Clintons, many journalists and nearly all Republicans simply took the bait and went off and running in search of misdeeds that did not exist.

There are fewer media allies for the birthers, and even some noteworthy Republicans are distancing themselves from their cause. Yet their mission will continue, abetted by the likes of Donald Trump. No doubt they will create some excuse to question the new birth certificate, just as some continue to claim Vince Foster was murdered. A long-form won't dissuade those who are in it for the long haul.

For the goal of the birthers is not to reach a conclusion about the birthplace of a President based on facts. The goal is to encourage the public to reach a conclusion about the values of a President based on lies.

So, reasonable people, do not hope that the birthers will be satisfied by seeing the President's long-form birth certificate. Even if a Super 8 film of Barack Obama's birth were found, with Hawaiian palm trees and beaches in evidence out the window of the hospital room, the birther movement would continue.

What we can hope for is what happened in the case of the Clintons: the truth, in the end, will triumph. And our faith in the rule of reason will be reborn.