The conspiracy of ridicule and raillery
It was a good week for Barack Obama. For America, not so much. The old adage that “what’s good for the president is good for America” no longer applies.
Last week included the economists’ declaration that the end of the “Age of America” is at hand, but the president was finally freed to make jokes about the birth certificate he kept to himself for all these years. It’s still not clear why he fed the mystery for so long. He could have released the long-form birth certificate at the nominating convention in Denver, when the buzz started, and spared himself and the rest of us the long harangue. The controversy may not be on its way to the graveyard yet, but it’s probably safe to laugh about it.
The president is on a let’s-get-serious kick about the other things he has botched and bungled (he doesn’t put it quite that way), so he will exhaust the birth-certificate jokes soon and we can get back to serious things — the imminent Chinese assumption of economic leadership and domination of the world, and what he and Congress can do about it, assuming he thinks something should be done about it. The International Monetary Fund says the “Age of America” goes onto the ash heap of history five years hence, in 2016, and the “Age of China” begins. That’s when the annual size of the Chinese economy will surpass $19 trillion, worth billions more than ours.
The skeptics of his American birth are undaunted, retooling and rearming to continue their campaign. They’re not persuaded by the “longform birth certificate,” or at least not persuaded they can’t any longer spin their conspiracy theories for a voracious market. And why not? Historians are still arguing about whether Mary Surratt was really complicit in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, simply because John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators conspired at her boarding house. Conspiracies are hard to give up.
Some of the new theories in the wake of the president’s disclosure, alleging that the birth certificate is a not-so-clever forgery, prove that the Internet detectives who were obsessed with unmasking Dan Rather’s documents alleging that George W. Bush was a draft-dodger in uniform, are back at work, this time with a new, bigger target. They cite smudges, “mysterious” checkmarks, the signature of a conveniently dead attending physician, a misspelled word, unusual language, and unexplained “wear marks” on the certificate as evidence that it was crudely “Photoshopped,” or created on a computer.
My own conspiracy theory is here offered not as necessarily valid, but credible and entertaining: President Obama himself conspired with the Donald to set up his disclosure to collapse the birthers’ theory in a burlesque of raillery and ridicule. Politics is, after all, only vaudeville redeemed. Mr. Trump has been a Democratic contributor for years, and his friendship with Oprah, an early and continuing enabler of Barack Obama, is well known. The Donald helps the president, and the controversy helps the Donald, setting up a boffo night for his network television shows. Oprah invites them both as guests to shore up her declining ratings. The birthers fall back to regroup. Nobody loses. It’s the American way.
Happily, there was a bit of lagniappe — “a little something extra” — to make the week go down. There’s a reason why there will always be an England, as millions of Americans discovered anew when they got up with the cows and chickens Friday morning to watch the royal wedding. There was pomp and circumstance aplenty, a nod to the formality that was once the grace note of public occasion, spoken in the glorious language of the King James Version of the Bible, and enough references to “God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost” to give atheists, Islamists, secularists, Hottentots, liberal churchmen and other irreligious folk severe heartburn. The London newspapers tried to make an incident of the fact that Kate didn’t promise to “obey” Prince William, though she did promise to be “faithful” to him and all he had to do was promise to “love and cherish” her. “Obey” hasn’t been in the traditional Christian marriage ceremony for decades. Prayers were said for Will and Kate beseeching the Lord to adorn their marriage with “the gift of children,” a reminder to Kate about her duty to God and country. There were no crumbs for the gay caballeros. Elton John was there but didn’t get to sing. This was a marriage of hope for glory, with tradition enthroned.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.