I never really worried about the so called controversy of th birth of President Obama because I am no fan of conspiracy theories. In order to believe that President Obama wasn't born in Hawaii, you not only have to believe that a conspiracy is being created involving an entire state's bureaucratic apparatus, but you also have to believe that President Obama has been lying, or lied to, since he was a child. After all, he's maintained he was born in Hawaii since he was a kid. Either he was claiming this lie long before he wanted to be president, or his entire family lied to him about his place of birth.
I haven't followed the dispute closely however there is a birth certificate on file that was released. Birthers claim that the one released isn't the official birth certificate and claim there is a longer form that is supposed to be on file. The state of Hawaii says that the form in question is no longer available because the state went paperless about seven years ago and that form is no longer on file.
The so called controversy is not the issue. If you believe in conspiracy theories, this one is one you will enjoy. The problem is the conspracists are a cancer to anyone around them. If birthers gain any sort of mainstream attention they will decrease the legitimate criticism of President Obama. That's because any criticism will be tied to the conspiracists and dismissed as illegitimate.
The question is why the controversy is gaining attention again. Lou Dobbs started it last week by doing an entire show on the controversy. Of course, Dobbs is watched by about four people so his broadcast on its own didn't cause new media attention. His show lead to Politico doing a series of stories on the issue. Since then, O'Reilly covered it once and plans on covering the issue again. Politico claims that birthers are an issue that Republican law makers have to prepare for. They create a political conundrum for politicians who have to straddle between signing onto a conspiracy theory and alienating part of their base. Politico also claims that a birther leader has stated that Republican leaders are supporting them.
I haven't attended enough Republican townhall meetings to know if birthers are becoming a mainstay. Though, this particular confrontation has become a viral sensation.
It's very possible for a small group of people to look larger by simply being noisy. I doubt that "truthers" account for any more than a handful of the public at large and the Republican party. They can certainly appear more mainstream by showing up at townhall meetings like the video and speaking up.
What is clear is that the whole movement is nothing more than a corrosive cancer to the Republican party and conservatism in general. The more actual power and influence it gains the worse it is for the Republican party. Any mention of this conspiracy theory only goes to the perception that Republicans are unfairly attacking the president. Right now, the president is ready to implode all on his own.
The only thing that will save him is the implosion of his opponents. Being attached to this conspiracy theory is one way for the Republicans to implode. So, while I don't believe the movement is anything as large as the perception being created by Politico, the perception that they are infiltrating the party is something for leaders to be concerned about.
Party leaders are caught in a difficult position if media attention continues. Coming out forcefully against the conspiracy only gives it legitimacy. Saying nothing raises questions that they believe it as well. The best thing is for this movement to back under the same rock it was under until about a week ago. It's unlikely that current media attention will be anymore than a passing fad. So, the best thing to do is for everyone to ignore the current media attention and wait for it to go away. Hopefully, no one encourages these folks as that's the only thing that will keep them active.