Respect The Crazy!

In still more inspired silliness, but with more serious implications, we have the announcement by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who did yeoman duty for Mitt Romney during the primaries as a token of his campaign’s determination not to be out-demagogued on the immigration issue, that the state needs more evidence of Barack Obama’s birth status before ruling on an objection to his presence on the November 6 ballot. Per TPM, the State Objections Board that deals with ballot qualifications in Kansas (and on which Kobach sits) has to do some deep studying of this difficult issue:

The board will send records requests to Hawaii, Arizona and Mississippi for more documentation of Obama’s birth. They plan to meet again on Monday to discuss the matter. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett questioned Obama’s birth certificate earlier this year and also briefly considered removing him from the ballot.

Now I doubt very seriously Kobach and company will actually try to disqualify Obama. But the incident shows that even as Romney had to pay respect to nativists by snuggling up to Kobach, Kansas elected officials have to pay respect to birthers by pretending there’s some doubt about Obama’s citizenship. Kansas, after all, was the recent site of a reasonably bloody purge of “moderate” legislators in GOP primaries. It is not a place where Republican officeholders can afford to get to the left of anybody. So birthers will get a chance to look respectable, and the GOP’s habit of letting itself be intimidated by “true conservative” zealots will get another self-reinforcing fix.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.