The Enduring Power Of Conspiracy Theory: What it could mean for US President-elect Obama
A conspiracy theory is a hypothesis that alleges a coordinated group is, or was, secretly working to commit illegal or wrongful actions, including attempting to hide the existence of the group and its activities.
According to Mike Madden, salon.com, "...the enduring power of any conspiracy theory comes from its ability to adapt to any circumstances,..." and the matter of eligibility for the Office of United States President surrounding US president-elect, Barack Hussain Obama, is no exception.
At first it was a relief to see that the conspiracy theorists who believe Barack Obama isn't eligible to be president didn't shoot any pumpkins at their press conference Monday afternoon. After all, the proponents of this latest theory seem to be heading for levels of mania that even Dan Burton never dreamed up as he investigated outlandish claims about Bill Clinton. (If you need to brush up on your conspiracies, Burton resorted to blowing away squashes in his backyard to show how Clinton had a hand in the murder of White House counsel Vince Foster.) But considering the Supreme Court had refused Monday morning to hear a lawsuit about Obama's citizenship, there was reason to hope that maybe things at the afternoon press conference would stay reasonable.
Two and a half hours later, as dentist-slash-lawyer Orly Taitz harangued reporters for not investigating whether Obama's mother was actually dead, that hope had been obliterated. It was crushed by a torrent of half-baked legal theories, vague platitudes about the Constitution and sinister "facts" assembled by a collection of true believers so extreme that even Michelle Malkin wants nothing to do with them. (Let alone actual Republican operatives, who appear to realize that questioning Obama's citizenship isn't the best way to begin their journey out of the political wilderness.) Although the news conference wasn't quite over when Taitz began her harangue, it had been 15 minutes since a member of the audience compared Obama's alleged electoral fraud to how Hitler rose to power -- a sure sign it was well past time to leave.
The gist of the conspiracy theory is that Obama doesn't meet the Constitution's requirement that a president be a "natural born citizen." Somehow Obama is concealing the fact that he was either born in Kenya (or maybe Indonesia) or that he renounced his U.S. citizenship as a child. One of Taitz's fellow alarmists, Pennsylvania lawyer Phi Berg (a bipartisan conspiracist -- he believes George W. Bush was behind 9/11), said Obama is an undocumented immigrant. Most of this "evidence" is easily debunked, though it can get confusing as it gets more feverish.
At any rate, the theory goes, Obama's not fit to take office, and Taitz and Berg, along with a few followers and the main ringleader for Monday's show, anti-tax activist Bob Schultz, aim to stop him. Schultz feels so strongly about the threat Obama poses to the republic that he spent tens of thousands of dollars on full-page newspaper ads last week, and plans to hold a citizens' conference after Inauguration Day if the courts don't intervene -- just the first step, apparently, in a process that Schultz says is devoted to resisting a government that has turned lawless.
By Jan. 20, the courts -- which have, so far, uniformly refused to treat this matter as anything other than a nuisance -- will probably have left Schultz and his friends out in the cold. But the enduring power of any conspiracy theory comes from its ability to adapt to any circumstances, and this one is no exception. The only thing legal defeats teach the anti-Obama crowd is that the judges are in on it, too. Berg has another lawsuit up his sleeve if the ones he's involved in fail, though he said he couldn't talk about it because the proceedings have been sealed. For the foreseeable future, there could be "a new lawsuit for every action Obama takes" as president, Berg said. And to think Clinton had it bad.
Related coverage on NowPublic, "U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Obama Presidency" by NP Author Karen Hatter.