Nearly eight months after President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, the carnival barkers he hoped to quiet are again clamoring to get back into the center ring.
WorldNetDaily (WND), the right-wing conspiracy website that has led the charge to question the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship, has reported that the nation’s first law enforcement investigation into the president’s birth certificate is under way. Ostensibly leading the charge is none other than Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.”
But there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
Arpaio did ask five members of his five-year-old, all-volunteer “Cold Case Posse” to look into the birth certificate issue, but only after a Tea Party group in Surprise, Ariz., sent him a letter requesting as much. What prompted that request was an Aug. 17 presentation to the group by WND’s own columnist, birther extraordinaire Jerome Corsi. The author of the ill-timed book “Where’s the Birth Certificate,” released in May a few weeks after Obama’s birth certificate, presented what he felt was proof positive that the document released by the White House had been manipulated.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jesse Spurgin told Hatewatch that the department did ask the “posse” to review Corsi’s information, but he stressed that no tax dollars were being used, and he was careful about calling it anything more than an “inquiry.” Arpaio has made similar statements.
“I listen to all the residents of Maricopa County who come to my office with complaints, regardless of what their politics are,” Arpaio told WND.
That must have been a hard pill to swallow for the birthers at WND. Even after Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April, WND publisher Joseph Farah – who sponsored billboards with the text “Where’s the birth certificate?” – continued his obsession with Obama’s birth. To justify it, he claimed to be following the prompting of a “skeptical public” eager for someone to press Obama on his parentage.
While the rest of the country has moved on, the skeptics have been desperate for someone to take them seriously. This week, Corsi told the Sarasota Patriots in Sarasota, Fla., and that Arpaio’s involvement was a “beginning” – a beginning to a story that, for most, has already ended.
“Everyone should know that when Joe Arpaio made this decision, he made it knowing what he was doing, and intending to have it be a serious investigation,” Corsi said. “The White House is trying to minimize it, the left trying to attack it.”
Actually, the White House hasn’t said anything. And “the left” hasn’t said much either. Even the Tea Party group that first brought its concerns to Arpaio is surprisingly blasé. “Our group is now involved in other things,” said Jim Wise, coordinator of the Surprise Tea Party. “We’re not bugging [Arpaio] or asking for a follow up.”
It seems the only people concerned with carrying on the argument are predictably the same people who obsessed about it in the first place – and the tabloid company they keep.
This week the Globe newspaper, sold in grocery store checkout lines everywhere, had the WND story on its front page. The headline: “Cops Probe Obama! – Tough talking sheriff investigates PHONY birth certificate.” Next to that headline was a story that was just as believable: the transcripts of secret love letters between Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.