U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany is no birther, but the craziness won’t go away. Say it ain’t so Chuck. No, don’t say it ain’t so. No need. You’ve been my congressman going on five years; you’ve been a stand-up guy as best I can tell — more pragmatic than enigmatic, more lucid than loopy, willing and able to bring home the bacon. (It’s bacon when it’s in Louisiana’s 7th Congressional District; pork when it’s elsewhere.) I’m certain your hasty answer to a question about President Obama’s place of birth from a longing-for-socialism, left-wing, free-range-chicken-loving, freedom-fry-hating, wishing-he-were-born-in-Denmark-or-some-other-limp-wristed-European-country dilettante was born of haste as you rushed between Capitol and car; members of Congress get no Secret Service goons but are entitled nonetheless to both secrets and service. Just ask Vitter.
But I know deep down you’re not a birther — that testimonials from Hawaii’s Republican governor, from the state’s secretary of health and other officials, plus a contemporary announcement in The Honolulu Advertiser verifying Obama’s birth in August of 1961 in Honolulu are adequate proof: Obama’s legit. I hear tell you even repudiated the birther conspiracy theory — that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Kenya or some other exotic locale and therefore cannot, under the U.S. Constitution, hold the office of the president, or something like that — on a local radio program. I missed it, but I want to believe it. I don’t know where you stand on Vince Foster’s death, but that was before your time in Congress.
Last week your answer — “I think there are questions. We’ll have to see.” — to the Huffington Post staffer’s Obama-birth question was troubling. You were among nearly a dozen GOP lawmakers accosted by HuffPo, a majority of whom gave this birther madness credence, legitimacy, mainstream respectability. So I blogged it for the INDsider and I found out just how pervasive the madness is, so pervasive it had me wondering whether the idea hadn’t crossed that invisible threshold into mainstream currency.
Within 48 hours of the post, the comment section attached to the story was brimming over, mostly with bile. “I want to see a legitimate copy of a birth certificate, issued by Hawaii, listing the physician, and the hospital of birth,” wrote one of the more polite readers, dubious to the bitter, birther end. The wild-eyed theories don’t end there; birther is just the beginning. It is apparently a cottage industry that flourishes when Democrats occupy the White House.
But I’m willing, eager in fact, to believe that my congressman’s opposition to the White House is born of principle, not of where the principal was born. I know you oppose Obama’s health care reform — although we should acknowledge being a retired surgeon no more makes you a specialist in health care reform than being a bus driver makes you a specialist in internal combustion engines — and many other initiatives of the administration. And that’s fine. That’s what we elected you to do: to rep the peeps.
And while the GOP is currently the opposition party, and despite evidence that Louisiana may be leaning Democrat — if Gallup is to be believed — you can hardly do wrong in the 7th. A discombobulated state Democratic Party helps. But what a luxury being Republican in Louisiana. It’s like being gay in Haight-Ashbury or balding in the Hair Club for Men. You’re in like Flynn.
Just one request from this constituent: Could you talk the birthers down from their limb? They’re really giving me the willies.