A birther by any other name

Wayne Allyn Root is upset.

Root, scheduled this weekend to be an “honored guest” with the No. 3 man in the House, Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck, has demanded I retract the “libelous” claim that he is a birther. I raised the issue in advance of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s trip to Las Vegas on Saturday to appear at a major GOP event.

Root, through his lawyer, who has an interesting history of his own (I’ll get to that), says he is not a birther, even has declared himself not to be one, so I must correct the record. Or else, I suppose.

Well, I don’t like being called an obnoxious jerk, but some people may think so and they have every right to say so. Root and his lawyer may not understand the concept of the First Amendment, commentary on public figures and protected political speech, but I do.

Besides, I think someone who claims the president of the United States was a foreign-exchange student is a birther. If Root and his lawyer need a dictionary to define what “foreign” means, let me be of service.

My guess is Root doesn’t like the birther label because he believes it might hurt his future failed political ambitions. (He has already run for vice president on the Libertarian ticket. That went well.)

But, in my opinion, if you say the president was a foreign-exchange student, call him a “Manchurian candidate,” raise questions about how he got into Columbia despite having no evidence and use the national stage to make such allegations, then I say you are a birther.

Root has been asking people to swallow this swill since last year, and he wrote just last month: “Did he attend Columbia as a foreign student? That was the educated guess I made in my appearance on “Hannity” on Fox News a year ago. The only photo of Obama from his Columbia days was in his off-campus apartment with a roommate described by USA Today as a Pakistani national, pot smoker, and cocaine abuser. If you’re a foreign student, you live in housing off-campus with other foreign students.”

Root questions how Obama could have gotten into Columbia and even calls him Indonesian: “Only if he was an exotic Indonesian foreign student transferring into a college that desperately wanted to claim an ethnically and globally diverse student body.”

Birtherism by any other name….

Root also doesn’t seem to realize that birthers have various conspiracy theories, not just that Barack Obama might be a natural-born Kenyan but that he somehow became an Indonesian citizen as a boy, thereby losing his U.S. citizenship. The latter apparently is the theory – or some variant thereof -- that Root now espouses, which makes him a….birther.

In one of his nasty, bizarre missives demanding a retraction, Root attorney Lee Sacks wrote: “….please note that President Obama referenced in his autobiography that he lived and went to school in Indonesia.  Mr. Root merely suggested that it was possible that President Obama used his years while in Indonesia to find a more accessible route for admission to Columbia.”

Obama was, of course, in Indonesia as a young boy. I’m not sure what Root is suggesting -- that Obama was such an ambitious and skilled fourth-grader that he thought of this scheme? -- but no matter. If the man being honored this weekend by Nevada Republicans does not like the label “birther,” I have others that are just as fitting:

►Donald Trump mini-me: Like the country’s most famous birther, Root is a blowhard who blusters about the president’s college days and demands transcripts.

►Narcissist extraordinaire: Root will do almost anything for attention and loves to talk about himself (can you imagine bragging on national TV that you were your high school’s valedictorian?).

►Conspiracy theorist: Root, like most who attack Obama on this stuff, has no real evidence for anything he says, claims that just that nobody he knows ever saw Obama at Columbia and that the only reasonable conclusion is he was a foreign-exchange student.

►Shameless opportunist: I think Root actually believed his Libertarian career would catapult him to some kind of national prominence. Now he is back as a Republican, saying he may run for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Sacks, a California attorney who has had his own problems through the years, both in 1999 and 2003, apparently thought he was helping his client when he quoted to me from a Root post: “I am not a birther, but I do believe there might be something damaging hidden in his college, if not his birth records. Why do I think that? Because Obama acts suspiciously. Because he hires armies of lawyers to keep his records sealed. I also believe all Americans have a right to ask the question of the man who commands our army and our economy. Ironically, the more Obama refuses to produce the proof, and the more millions of dollars he spends on legal maneuvering to hide that proof, the more concerned Americans become. Obama is the one stoking the fire, not Trump. . . .”

If not his birth records? Americans are concerned about this? Really? You know what Root sounds like? What is the word? Oh, yes: A birther.

Sacks also took issue with my headline: “Even the title of the Article “McCarthy Headlines Event with ‘Prominent Birther’” is pejorative and an example of biased journalism intended to attack and discredit Conservative politicians like Mr. Root.”

Beyond the strange capitalization tendencies, Sacks’s attempt to assert this has anything with Root supposedly being conservative is just silly. And I would think a solipsist such as Root would love being called “prominent.”

Nothing has changed: I still think it is foolish for Nevada Republicans to honor such a person, who spews his hateful garbage to get attention. And the House majority whip, Heller and Heck are, by appearing with him, only giving him what he wants, which is legitimacy.

So, Mr. Root, I retract nothing. Perhaps you are the one who should do some retracting. It’s never too late to repent.