At his Atlantic Correspondents blog, Erik Tarloff poses the birther movement--the small sect of GOP backers who believe President Obama's U.S. birth certificate to be inauthentic--as a danger to the country. The GOP will take back control of Washington at some point, Tarloff says, and if they're listening to the birthers when they do, it'll mean trouble:

The respectable, responsible wing of the Republican Party, the wing that for decades thought it could use its crazies but still control them, has been unhorsed. The crazies are in the saddle...
So why should Democrats do anything other than celebrate?  The Republicans, after all, seem to be in total disarray.  Isn't that good news for the party in power?  It isn't.  For one thing, in a democracy, a skilled and plausible opposition keeps a government on its toes.  It keeps it honest.  It forces it to examine policy decisions with more rigor.  But more important, someday --- and if President Obama's economic recovery program isn't successful, it could be as soon as 2012 --- the Republicans are going to win back the presidency.  They could regain control of Congress sooner than that.  When the party in power is perceived as having failed, voters in democracies have historically shown themselves willing to take a chance on the opposition even if they feel deep misgivings about it.  The results can be relatively benign, or even better than benign.  It's the sentiment that elected Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and Margaret Thatcher in 1979, and Ronald Reagan in 1980, all figures of mistrust prior to their elevation.  The election of a well-born and genial cipher to the premiership in Britain next year doesn't promise to be catastrophic.  But the results in Italy in 1922 and Germany in 1932 weren't nearly so innocuous...

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