This morning I noted that Obama’s release of his long form birth certificate gives leading conservatives and Republicans an opportunity to show a bit of leadership. They could, if they so chose, take this moment to declare, forcefully and unequivocally, that it’s time the birthers among them dropped this talk once and for all.

They could, if they so chose, place the blame for this situation — which is a profound embarrassment to the country — where it belongs: Not on Obama, but on those who continue to traffic in the slander that the President wasn’t born in the United States. With state legislatures currently advancing birther bills, and with others still insisting that Obama’s long form certificate doesn’t settle the issue, they could state clearly that it’s time for the country to move past this debate once and for all — that it’s simply unacceptable to continue trying to humiliate and delegitimize the President in this manner.

The early returns are not encouraging.

Sarah Palin:

Media: admit it, Trump forced the issue. Now, don’t let the WH distract you w/the birth crt from what Bernanke says today. Stay focused, eh?

The Republican National Committee:

Obama’s release of his birth cert. is a nice, but temporary distraction for him from high gas prices & a terrible economy

Mitt Romney:

What President Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan

Newt Gingrich:

“All I would say is, why did it take so long?” Gingrich said. “The whole thing is strange.”

Meanwhile, a number of leading Republican figures who have either endorsed birtherism or flirted with it are either refusing to say anything about today’s developments or are still insisting that Obama took too long to come clean.

John Boehner, by contrast, did suggest that it’s time to move on. His spokesman said today that this has “long been a settled issue.”

Until these good people step up and call out birtherism for what it is, we can only conclude that they are either too cowardly to challenge or alienate voters who remain wedded to their birther fantasies, or are hoping to continue capi­tal­izing politically from the out-of-control hatred and paranoia that will continue to be directed at America’s first black president.