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Posted at 08:31 AM ET, 04/28/2011

Obama birth certificate controversy: Made in America

Here’s my story on the Obama birth certificate. Hard to elevate much on deadline, but I did crowbar into the piece some broader notions of why people continue to believe stuff that isn’t true even when they’ve been handed overwhelming evidence that they’re barking up the wrong tree:

“These theories do not always find a purchase on one distinct portion of the ideological spectrum. What they have in common is the emotional investment of the believers: The theory becomes not merely a hunch or a notion, but rather a core belief that is part of the believer’s identity. The person isn’t going to abandon the faith simply because a piece of paper surfaces that would seem — to others who are not so invested in the theory — to refute the central notion.”

I had a brief chat with Rev. Jesse Jackson, who sees birtherism as part of a broader attempt to stir up racial fears (“He’s not one of us”). But I seem to recall that the attacks on Clinton from the fringe were pretty vicious, too — no one called him a Muslim, but he was accused of being a rapist, murderer, etc.

I don’t thnk this episode has burnished Donald Trump’s credentials as a potential leader of the free world.

The guy who is all over this is Dave Weigel at Slate. See also John Dickerson’s musings.

By  |  08:31 AM ET, 04/28/2011

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