Donald Trump’s delicious troll of the media last week, when he advertised a major speech on Birtherism and then proceeded to have military veterans praising him was so tasty, I actually laughed out loud, particularly when he gave this line, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”
It’s had some nice side effects as well, since the media was hoping to damage Trump with the taint of the Birther conspiracy and instead by Trump pointing out that the original birther might be Hillary herself, the media; in it’s attempt to clear the old gal of those scurrilous charges, finds the truth more complicated.
So now we’ve spent a couple of days on the media attempting to clear Clinton of the birther charges, while at the same time unwittingly associating birthers and Clinton in the public mind. One has to wonder if Trump just haplessly stumbled on this strategy or he planned it all along.
As for me, I’ve known since 2008 that it was an idea that originated with Democrats, Particularly the “PUMA’s” (Party Unity My Ass) who were fighting a last ditch effort for Hillary in the 2008 campaign. The very first time I heard the Birther conspiracy, it was from a Hillary supporting acquaintance. She dropped the idea as soon as Obama was nominated but it apparently had quite a roll in anti Obama Democratic circles for a while. The Daily Beast did a pretty good origin story of birtherism and how it originated in the Democratic Party in order to provide the basis of a lawsuit against the DNC to prevent the nomination of someone who, if he were actually born overseas, wouldn’t be eligible for the Presidency. And since Clinton lackey Sidney Blumenthal tried to stir up interest in the news media on investigating Obama’s birthplace during the 2008 race, it’s hard not to see the hand of Clinton pushing the story.
But despite PUMA expectations, the party really did unify after Obama’s nomination. All was forgiven and Birtherism was forgotten, at least it was forgotten by all but a small fringe until 2011 when Donald Trump suddenly made it an issue. Trump breathed life into a fringe idea and firmly shifted it to the right. Trump’s birther claims and “investigation” was one of the more difficult issues I had to overcome in order to endorse him, since as I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t like conspiracy theories and hate wasting time on them. As much as any one single person is to blame, Trump is to blame for making birtherism a right wing conspiracy, instead of leaving it on the left wing where it belonged.
But that’s the way of conspiracy theories isn’t? At least to my observation, they seem to start on the left, but eventually drift over to the right. Birtherism is a good example, but there are others.
The 9/11 Conspiracy theory was a pretty well established leftist conspiracy theory by 9/12. By 2006, over half of Democrats thought that George Bush was either responsible for the 9/11 attacks or knew of them ahead of time and let them go forward. Now CNN commenter Van Jones lost his job with the Obama administration for his 9/11 views (among other things). Democratic Congressman and general nutcase Alan Grayson believes that “Bush let it happen.” But now, with no Bush in the White House to torment, interest in 9/11 Conspiracies has faded too, although there are people on the right dipping their toes into it, something that was uncommon during the Bush Presidency.
Vaccines are a popular conspiracy. Bill Maher, official voice of “science” on the left didn’t believe in them, and Robert Kennedy Jr. has been the Congressional voice of the vaccines cause autism movement, an issue that both candidates Obama and Clinton had to dance gingerly around in 2008, but Trump was the one who was dancing around it in 2015.
Why the left will invent these wacky ideas, play with them, and then toss them aside for the right to pick up later I can’t quite grasp. If anyone has any ideas on why conspiracy theories start on the left and move right I would like to hear.
Unless of course, the answer is another conspiracy theory.