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July 29, 2009


Brendan, doesn't one need to actually be ON the birther bandwagon to exit it? That headline makes it appear as though these are people who believed it at one time and are coming to their senses rather than people who have dismissed it from the beginning.

That's a fair point -- thanks. Changed the title accordingly.


I understand that some Republicans would want to disown their own or the party's ties to the birthers. I think conservative media commentators, especially, would be interested in keeping some credibility outside partisan circles, so I'm not shocked that Medved has taken up his position, for whatever reason.

But Steele's position seems to me closer to the rhetorical strategy of the Posey bill, which is supposed on the one hand to "quell unnecessary controversies" (while on the other hand prolonging the controversies by continuing to discuss them and conjure them up in people's heads). See, for example, this report:


In other words, what you are depicting as a peeling away of Republican elite opinion might simply be part of a strategy to keep a more acceptable "official" position visible to the media, even while encouraging a very different attitude among the base. Since this seems to have been the (none too successful) strategy of the McCain campaign during the Palin rallies, I don't think this is an unreasonable question.

So to what extent could this practice of Republican "denunciation" be yet another strategy not to correct but to prolong the misperception, as you discuss in your earlier posts about the difficulty of correcting such misperceptions? How do we distinguish the bad-faith from good-faith efforts, if we wish to pursue your "shame the elites" response?



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