Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The White House this morning released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate. This raises two questions for me.

1. Why did he bother? There is an old adage that you should never interrupt your opponent when he’s making a fool of himself. And the whole birther issue is a solid gold winner for him politically. The more the loonies ranted about it, the worse they looked and the further and further the rational middle withdrew from them. Why let them off the hook now?

2. What will the reaction of the birthers be? Because this is going to change rather few minds, I think. And when you’ve got so much invested in an issue, especially with the kind of emotional attachment that the birthers have for this conspiracy theory, you don’t let it go merely because it’s been disproved. Anyone who knows anything about cognitive dissonance theory knows that the norm, instead, is to double down and become even more adamant in asserting that one’s delusion simply must be true.

For that small percentage of people who will actually change their minds now, the reaction is obvious: “Well what took him so long? If he’d done this two years ago, this whole thing could have been avoided.” But for the majority, who will only be more convinced than ever that Obama is a Martian or a Kenyan or whatever, here are the potential reactions:

A. It’s photoshopped!

B. It doesn’t matter! When he went to Indonesia to go to a madrassah, he gave up his American citizenship!

C. It doesn’t matter! His father was a British citizen so he can’t be an American!

I’m sure there will be others. This is going to be kind of fun to watch.