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Since you asked

[ 0 ] July 29, 2009 |

I admire the work Andrew Sullivan has done keeping the torture scandal in the public eye, and I like some of his other work too. So I don’t particularly enjoy pointing out that this is a ridiculous question.

But since he asked, I suppose it may be worth pointing out that people who believe that it’s possible Obama wasn’t really born in Hawai’i aren’t the sort of people who will change their minds because they’re shown a photograph of a piece of paper. Such people have a certain cognitive style, which is a polite way of saying they’re prone to delusional bouts of hyper-rational craziness. By “hyper-rational” I mean their nuttiness is manifested in their belief that every little random piece of information can be assembled into a complex theoretical web — that it all “makes sense” if you just look for the hidden meanings that are everywhere, but remain invisible to the naive observer.

There are always plenty of such people around, and it should be fairly obvious why it’s not a good idea for the president of the United States to try to placate them. That commentators like Sullivan lend, however unwittingly, any legitimacy to their delusions is unfortunate.

(Unlike Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh, who I assume are merely running a scam when they ask similar questions, I’m assuming Sullivan is perfectly sincere. Perhaps he feels impelled to give credence to the birther lunacy because of his strange ongoing obsession with Trig Palin’s parentage).

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