The birther movement--the class of right-wingers who suspect President Obama was born abroad and is thus ineligible to be president--has drawn lots of attention in political media in the past few weeks, and a prime reason for this is the notion that establishment Republicans might actually heed the conspiracy cries. Rush Limbaugh fashioned himself as a birther, as Marc pointed out; Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE), of moderate policies and mild-mannered demeanor, was hectored by birthers at a town-hall meeting. The Castle video makes birthers look like a vocal, terrifying segment of the GOP base, able to shout down an elected moderate and potentially to rile other conservatives and turn out votes on election day.
Should the GOP take the birthers seriously? Do they already? It's the source from which the birther movement draws its import.
Well, last night most House Republicans voted "yea" to a resolution honoring the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood, which included language recognizing Hawaii as Obama's place of birth.
As Greg Sargent noted, Rep. Neil Abbercrombie's (D-HI) office seemed to take impish glee in the potential jam this created for birther-fearing Republicans; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) objected to the measure on procedural grounds, requesting a quorum, which spawned many suspicions of her birther inclinations on ThinkProgress's comment board.
The resolution passed 378-0, with 55 members not voting. Prime suspects of birtherism voted in favor of it.
Of the 55 who didn't vote, 20 were Republicans and 35 were Democrats. Given that so many Dems didn't vote, it's likely that most of the 20 Republicans sat it out not because they're birthers, but because the vote happened at 6:56 p.m., and, as a congratulatory resolution, it wasn't the most urgent piece of legislation in Congress.
Three possible birthers didn't vote: Reps. John Campbell (R-CA), John Carter (R-TX), and Kenny Marchant (R-TX). They were the only suspected House birthers listed today by Salon who didn't support the resolution.
All three are cosponsors of a bill to require future presidential candidates to submit birth certificates to the FEC, sponsored by freshman Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL).
Here are the Republicans who didn't vote. At least some of them, without having looked too far into it, aren't the birther types: Reps. Todd Akin (MO), Gresham Barrett (SC), Kevin Brady (TX), Henry Brown (SC), Dave Camp (MI), John Campbell (CA), John Carter (TX), Ander Crenshaw (FL), Nathan Deal (GA), Sam Graves (MO), Pete Hoekstra (MI), Timothy Johnson (IL), Kenny Marchant (TX), Pete Olson (TX), Ron Paul (TX), Todd Platts (PA), George Radanovich (CA), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Patrick Tiberi (OH), and Zach Wamp (TN).
Campbell was the only one verifiably at the Capitol last night, after the time of the vote, from yesterday's records; seven minutes after the Hawaii vote was recorded, Campbell voted "no" on a bill to establish a Waco National Monument in Texas. He was the only of those Republicans to vote on it, or the next bill to come up a few minutes after that (to exchange and acquire land for a parkway in North Carolina). No word from Campbell's office on whether or not the congressman was on or near the floor for the 6:56 vote.
Campbell debated the merits of the birth certificate bill with Chris Matthews recently, arguing that questions of birth and eligibility are legitimate to ask of any presidential candidate.
"Wouldn't you like to put all this to rest? That's what this proposal is about," Campbell said, citing similar questions during the 2008 campaign over John McCain's eligibility (he was born outside the U.S. on a military base, the argument went).
Posey, along with the bill's seven other cosponsors, voted "yea" on the Hawaii resolution, as did Bachmann and members of the House GOP leadership.
Could this mean the birther movement won't catch hold with established figures in the party? Is it the death of establishment-heeded birtherism, or at least its prospects? We'll have to wait to find ou