Thursday, February 17, 2011

Karl Rove blames 'Birthers' on a 'White House strategy' to ensnare unwitting Republicans in 'Birch Society' trap

-- by Dave

We're already accustomed to Bill O'Reilly's standard MO when it comes to polls: If it makes Democrats and/or President Obama look bad, he shouts it to the skies. If it makes Republicans look bad, he simply doesn't believe it and declares the poll methodologically faulty.

And so it was no surprise when, given the recent polling demonstrating that a majority of Republican primary voters are suckers for the Birther conspiracy theories, O'Reilly last night flatly declared the polls wrong:

O'REILLY: And in the "Impact" segment tonight, new poll by a Democratic organization says 51 percent of Republican primary voters believe President Obama was not born in the USA. I do not believe that poll. And here's the reason. The sample is so minuscule, very few people vote in Republican primaries. And to isolate them would be a challenge even for Gallup, much less a political polling center.

So, here is a better poll. According to CBS news, 58 percent of Americans believe the President was born in America, just 20 percent say he was born in another country. The rest don't seem to care. There is no question that some Democrats are trying to marginalize Republican opposition in 2012 by painting them as nuts, thus the birther polling.

Right -- because a a poll surveying all Americans is going to be just like a poll surveying Republican primary voters, eh?

Er, not exactly. Indeed, O'Reilly just unintentionally highlighted the stark differences between your average Tea Partying-Obama-hating-liberal-smacking Republican voter and the average sane, normal, decent American.

And then he brought on Karl Rove, who then declared that this whole Birther conspiracy theory was concocted by the Obama White House as a way to ensnare poor unwitting wingnuts in the "trap" of John Birth Society-esque conspiracy theories.

No, really, that's what he said:

O'REILLY: OK, so, there is no doubt in my mind after watching Gregory on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, grilling Speaker Boehner about the birth certificate and all of that that the liberal and Gregory is a liberal man, right? I'm not being unfair to him, am I?


O'REILLY: OK. He may not acknowledge it but he is. So, it's divide -- let's divide the Republican Party.

ROVE: This is a White House strategy. They love this.

O'REILLY: How do you know it's the White House strategy?

ROVE: Look, the President could come out and say, 'Here are the documents.' They are happy to have this controversy continue because every moment the conservatives talk about this they marginalize themselves and diminish themselves in the minds of independent voters. And every moment we spend talking about this controversy is a moment we can't spend talking about the failed stimulus bill, the reckless spending, Obamacare, his failures in foreign policy and his failure to live up to the promises that he made in the 2008 election.

Look, he was born in Hawaii. If he was born in Kenya, then there must have been some massive conspiracy that said this guy being born in Kenya --

O'REILLY: The Factor already did the investigation and we --


ROVE: You know, birth notices in both Honolulu newspapers.

Got that? Even though the White House has produced a real birth certificate, the kind every person born in Hawaii uses to prove their citizenship, Rove thinks that somehow the "complete" certificate on file somewhere in Hawaii will change the Birthers' minds and convince them Obama was born in the USA. Right.

And that furthermore, the refusal to produce said certificate is actually a plot by the White House to make Republicans look like wacky conspiracy theorists of the John Birch Society mold:

O'REILLY: Ok. Now, there is though and you saw it at CPAC last week in Washington, D.C. -- there is an element of the Republican Party that's far right and that really loves this kind of discourse.

ROVE: The campaign for liberty types who are there for Ron Paul.

O'REILLY: Right. They love Ron Paul. They love Christine O'Donnell. They love that kind of stuff.

ROVE: Let's be clear about it. There is a healthy dose, an unhealthy amount of people in the -- in that movement who are 9/11 deniers. I keep running into them. They protest me. Ron Paul -- big Ron Paul stickers and so forth. They are birthers.

Look, we had people stand up and boo Dick Cheney and --

O'REILLY: They called him a war criminal.

ROVE: And because again, you have a very thin fringe.

O'REILLY: But how big is that?

ROVE: It's not big at all. Remember, Ron Paul who had a lot of very -- you know, sort of mainstream issues regarding, say, the Federal Reserve and hard money.

O'REILLY: Put a percentage of --

ROVE: It's a fraction -- tiny, insignificant.

O'REILLY: So this poll it says 51 percent of -- I know this poll is flawed.

ROVE: This poll is flawed. But I do say this; Republicans had better be clear about this. This we had a problem in the 1950's with the John Birch Society and it took Bill Buckley standing up as a strong conservative and taking them on.

And within our party we have to be very careful about allowing these people who are the birthers and the 9/11 deniers to get too high a profile and say too much without setting the record straight.

O'REILLY: But what percentage of Republican voters -- five percent; 10 percent?

ROVE: I don't know. But whatever it is, it ought to be less because we need the leaders of our party to say look, stop falling into the trap of the White House. Focus on the real issues.

Actually, this isn't the first time we've heard this theory on The O'Reilly Factor. And as we observed back then:

Now, if Goldberg and O'Reilly are so concerned that the public might conclude that mainstream conservatives are prone to far-right conspiracy theories and various other forms of wingnuttery, they might look in the mirror. It's the virtual definition of wingnuttery to even be asking why Obama won't release his birth certificate when he has in fact done so.

There's no Obama conspiracy keeping this garbage alive and tying it around the necks of mainstream conservatives. They're doing a very fine job of that themselves.

And in the case of Karl Rove, you simply can't defend John Boehner's manifest failure of leadership in refusing to denounce the Birthers and then turn around in the same breath and declare that Republican need to separate themselves from their nutty Bircher faction.

Fact is, these guys are caught, as they have been for awhile, in the toxic embrace of their increasingly extremist base, embodied by a Tea Party movement in which Birtherism is a supermajority belief.

What Rove won't admit (and Boehner's abject failure to lead on the issue implicitly concedes) is that Republicans would never win any elections without that same nutty element that has always helped elect them -- but which they want to write off as the product of an evil Obama plot. Like that's going to help them deal with it.

Full transcript here.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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