Sarah Palin's Smart Move

Good for Sarah Palin. As Karl Rove did the other day, she denounced birtherism--the belief, increasingly popular among Republicans according to this PPP poll (.pdf), that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. At an event in Long Island yesterday, she said, "It's distracting. It gets annoying. Let's stick with what really matters." Along with the fact that the charge simply isn't true, pushing back against it benefits Republicans generally and Palin specifically. Rove understands that the quickest way to marginalize Republicans in the eyes of independents is to propagate this sort of nonsense. Palin seems to understand this, too. But the risk/reward calculus for her is a little different. The PPP poll takes pains to link Palin to the birthers (headline: "Huckabee tops GOP field, 51% are birthers and love Palin"), and it's probably true that many of them are hardcore activists who support her. So taking a stand against birtherism could conceivably alienate them. But I still think it's a smart move for Palin. If she decides to seek the GOP nomination, she'll need to improve her flagging approval numbers with moderate Republicans and independents. Speaking out against birtherism is a good start and a clear signal that she doesn't want to be aligned with the far-right fringe.

Thumbnail image credit: Getty Images

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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