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Friday, April 8, 2011

Rush Limbaugh: Portrait of a Birther

On Friday's show, Rush Limbaugh finally came out publicly and admitted that he's a birther. He declared about Obama, “he's got a grandmother or aunt in Kenya who said she saw him born there.” Rush was so confident of this lie that he repeated it: “one of Obama's relatives, aunt or grandmother, swears that he was born in Kenya. She saw it. She was there at the birth.”

It's a complete lie, and was proven to be a lie more than two years ago. The truth is that Obama's Kenyan grandmother explicitly declared that Obama was born in Hawaii. However, a mistake by a translator earlier in the conversation with a birther gave the misimpression that the grandmother said something different. The mistake was revealed and clarified later in the tape, but birthers edited out the truth.

It takes a stunning level of stupidity to make these insane birther claims. And Rush Limbaugh has finally reached that level of stupidty.

As I note in my book about Rush, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, Limbaugh has always been an ally of the birthers. While he often made birther jokes (some are used as bumper stickers by birthers), Limbaugh also discussed Obama's birth certificate many times, with great seriousness. In the middle of a discussion of Mark Sanford in June 2009, Limbaugh suddenly brought up the birth certificate again: “A friend of mine said, 'Where was Obama born?' And I don't know. He's not a native Hawaiian. Where was he born? I don't know. Supposedly Hawaii, but we don't have independent confirmation of it.” In July 2009, Limbaugh was still endorsing the birther movement by referring to Obama as having “no birth certificate.” Limbaugh was leery of announcing that Obama had been born in Kenya, but his tacit endorsement of the birthers was still clear.

WorldNetDaily editor-in-chief Joseph Farah (ghostwriter of Limbaugh's second book, and leader of a campaign to put up “Where's the Birth Certificate?” billboards around the country) noted the importance of Limbaugh’s stand with the birthers: "What that did is beyond Rush's impact. It also gives other talk show hosts license to talk about this issue.…Rush is kind of the standard of talk show hosts. A lot of people emulate what he does. He crossed the Rubicon on that show, and I'm very proud of him for doing it."

Now, Limbaugh has finally taken the further step to confess openly that he's a birther, something that he probably was all along but simply was too cowardly to admit. The man who gave Limbaugh the courage to come out of the birther closet was Donald Trump. Rush spoke with great admiration of his fellow birther: “Donald Trump is providing a lesson on how to beat Barack Obama. Donald Trump is showing that the way to do that is you go after these people.”

Limbaugh's willingness to admit his birther beliefs reflects the radical transformation of the Republican Party that Limbaugh himself led. Limbaugh has spawned a new generation of conspiracy nuts who have been so dumbed down by years of being Dittoheads that even plainly idiotic ideas like those of the birthers have become the mainstream of the conservative movement. And now Rush Limbaugh feels the need to lurch even further to the right in order to maintain his status as the leader of the lunatics.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

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