Obama’s “Birther” PR Mistake
Orly Taitz will earn a brief footnote in history as the “Birther” movement leader. She was at the forefront of a movement of Birthers who doubt that the president’s birth place was the United States. She famously took the issue to a California court to find out if Obama was U.S. citizen and to hold a special presidential election if he wasn’t. Since then the movement and the intensity of volume has increased. Donald Trump took up the issue and found yet another way to get the mainstream media to interview him.
This red herring would serve as the comic relief in a play. Trouble is that all of the players have taken it seriously and it went from a side note to a major plot point. It is understandable that those in the Obama camp would think enough is enough; they’re going to release the long-form of the birth certificate and put an end to this foolishness. The flaw in that logic is that there is absolutely no logic behind the Birther movement and it is not a movement in search of logic or facts.
If there was video that showed President Obama being born and that video was released to the media, it wouldn’t matter a bit. The Birther movement revolves around accusations and diversions and you do not (and more importantly you cannot) battle that type of attack, at least via the media, with facts. This is akin to a religious cult; you are not going to weaken their faith with something as cumbersome as reality. This is also a politically motivated buzz. It is a dangerous game. Push it too far and the American middle ground is going to tire of the noise and relegate Birthers to the status of reality stars. America loves to watch and listen to reality stars, but no one takes them seriously.
Obama’s strategic PR mistake was that he in fact did begin to take them too seriously. He then took them on with proof and details. A losing game: not unlike trying to put out fire with gasoline. He hurled the long-form birth certificate at them. He went at them with facts. Wrong move. It now looks as though he feels he needs to prove himself, or defend his voracity. It would get annoying as hell to hear those charges made day after day and listen to the silence of the Republican leadership, but that’s politics. Hey, the longer his rivals focus on his birth certificate the less the focus is on high gas prices and a struggling economy. My advice would be to hold course and let them wail. That’s not a bad trade off.