This whole “birther” movement may be getting old (not to mention discredited), but as far as Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is concerned, it’s still ripe for picking up points with his constituents. The Associated Press reports that in a town-hall event on Sunday, Vitter stated that he supports lawsuits from “conservative legal organizations” challenging President Barack Obama‘s citizenship. So Sen. Vitter is a birther now?
Maybe. The structure of his answer hints at a more uncomfortable notion. Vitter admits that his knowledge of the issue is limited, “filtered” as it is through the mainstream media (which has, um, not been terribly friendly to Vitter of late). He then says that even though he doesn’t have the standing to bring litigation on the issue, he would support anyone who did. Immediately after this, however, he cautions that it would be a “big mistake” to “focus on that issue and let our eye off the ball.” So really, his answer reads more like, “I don’t know much about this, I can’t do anything about it myself, and I don’t really think it’s all that important, but you all applauded when the question was asked, so sure why not?”
What’s difficult to understand here isn’t why the birther conspiracy is still around. (Conspiracy theories are exciting, politically charged ones doubly so.) What’s puzzling is why an elected official can’t simply acknowledge that it’s time to move on. Rather than entertaining his constituents’ fondness for conspiracy, the correct response here would have been for Sen. Vitter to politely skate over his actual views and focus his answer on how distracting issues like these are to national political debate. Perhaps he’s hoping to deflect attention from some other distractions that have been plaguing him of late.
Video below (via TPM):
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