Ken Bennett's "Birther" Request Shows the Insanity of Arizona's GOP

If you need an explanation as to why birtherism is alive and well in Arizona, just spend a little time with the alter kocker kooks who regularly attend meetings of Mesa's Red Mountain Tea Party, the epicenter of far-right extremism in the Valley of the Sun.

Each week in the auditorium of a Mesa charter school, hundreds of geezer Teabaggers with one leg in the tomb meet for extended bitch sessions and speeches from local politicos presided over by founder Randy Hatch, whose pale countenance and coal-black hair lends him a mortician-like vibe.

Not everyone there looks like they could pass for a World War II vet (or the wife of one), but let's just say that only a tiny minority need not worry about losing their choppers when biting into a hunk of sirloin.

That's not to knock old people. I mean, I aspire to be a senior citizen one day. But these geriatrics are so far to the right that they would make Ronald Reagan seem a flaming lefty, were he still above ground.

Their articles of faith hold that Sheriff Joe Arpaio could walk on Tempe Town Lake if he wanted, that all Mexican immigrants are "dirty" (just like Sheriff Joe says), and that President Barack Obama was, without a doubt, born in Kenya and, therefore, is ineligible to be the nation's chief executive.

The big problem is, these crazy old 'baggers actually have power. Nearly every GOPer running for office eventually goes before them to prove his or her conservative bona fides.

Sadly, these fossils are the activist base of Arizona's GOP, and woe be it to any Republican who does not cater to their whims, like the fantasy that President Obama's birth certificate is a forgery.

That's why I almost felt an ounce of sympathy for Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett as I watched him address the Red Mountain Tea Party this past Monday, with Hatch moderating.

Bennett recently put himself front and center of the birther madness by asking the state of Hawaii to verify that it has in its possession Obama's original birth certificate, which shows he was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961, making him a natural-born citizen of the United States and eligible to be president.

Never mind that Obama's "certification of live birth" was made public four years ago or that in 2011, Hawaii's Department of Health issued a waiver to its own rules and produced two certified copies of Obama's so-called "long form" birth certificate, one of which the White House posted to its website for all the world to see.

Loretta Fuddy, current director of Hawaii's Department of Health, granted that waiver and signed a letter to the president stating, "I have witnessed the copying of the certificate and attest to the authenticity of these copies."

Fuddy serves at the pleasure of Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, but the verification of Obama's birth certificate is bipartisan and stretches back to 2008, when Dr. Chiyome Fukino, health-director appointee of then-Republican Governor Linda Lingle, issued a statement saying that she had "personally seen and verified" Obama's birth certificate, which is in her department's possession.

In 2009, Fukino issued another statement, insisting that she had "seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying that Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen."

Fuddy's letter and Fukino's statements all are available via Hawaii government websites, by the way.

Keep in mind that the electronically generated "certification of live birth" made public in 2008 has legal validity and is what any native son or daughter of Hawaii would receive upon request of a copy of his or her birth certificate.

But tinfoil-hat wearers, like those in the RMTP, never die (until, one by one, they actually do), because they hate Obama. They're also suspicious of the fact that his dad was from Kenya and that he's the product of a mixed-race marriage, and — let's be honest — that he's the nation's first African-American president.

After all, does the birth certificate or place of birth of über-Caucasian and Pat Boone wanna-be Mitt Romney ever get questioned? Of course not, because to an entire class of Republican doofuses, being white is equivalent to being American.

It's no mistake, for instance, that the one characteristic RMTPers have in common — other than their decrepitude — is a general lack of melanin.

To some degree, the bigoted idgits of the RMTP are reflective not only of Sand Land's GOP but of this place in general, as a recent Morrison Institute poll showed that a whopping 60 percent of Arizona voters support the concept behind a "birther bill," with 76 percent of GOPers supporting it and 58 percent of Democrats opposing it.