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02.06.10

Joe Farah Goes the Full Birther

The founder of WorldNet aired his conspiracy theories on the first full night of the Tea Party convention, asking Americans to demand Barack Obama show them a birth certificate as the crowd cheered.

The founder of WorldNet aired his conspiracy theories on the first full night of the Tea Party convention, asking Americans to demand Barack Obama show them a birth certificate as the crowd cheered. Avlon is the author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America

Joe Farah demands Obama produce a birth certificate……And the audience applauds. The Tea Party National Convention might just have jumped the shark on its first full night.

Giving WorldNet Daily Founder Joseph Farah a prime time speaking role after dinner the first full night of the convention was always a gamble. His Web site is a clearing house of conspiracy theories–but convention host/owner Judson Phillips announced it to be his favorite destination when he fires up the Internet in the morning.

I interviewed Farah for my book, Wingnuts, and he can put on a convincing front as a hardboiled newspaperman who plays crazy like a Fox as he fans the flames of conspiracy theories and then sells related merchandise to devoted dupes. But the gray-haired and black-mustachioed Farah dedicated his speech tonight to the Birthers.

“I have a dream,” he said. “And my dream is that If Barack Obama even seeks re-election as president in 2012 that he won’t be able to go to any city, any town, any hamlet in America without seeing signs that ask ‘Where’s the Birth Certificate?’”

Farah’s invested in the vision – he’s shelled out his own money and raised online donations to fund those self-same billboards along a few highways. Farah bristles at the deniers in politics and media, taking a specific swipe at Bill O’Reilly for dismissing the Birther claims. Like a moth to the flame of stupid, Farah couldn’t resist repeated approaches to the issue: comparisons to the genealogies spelled out in the Bible, repeated asides, and two set piece jokes—the punchline of one “we took a guy without a birth certificate and a brain, put him in the White House, and now half the country’s looking for work.”

book-cover---wingnuts
Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America. By John Avlon. 304 Pages. Beast Books. $15.95. ()

To those who accuse him of being obsessed with the issue, Farah has a crowd-pleasing reply ready: “I admit it. I’m obsessed with the Constitution.”

At this, the audience roared with approval, a rebel yell chorus of approval as men in revolutionary garb waved their tri-corner hats.

Farah’s vision of Obama’s plans are very dark indeed – appropriate for a man whose largest online advertiser appears to be survival seeds: “the purpose of [Obama’s] policies is to increase misery and create crisis.”

After a lengthy profession of his faith in God, Farah proclaimed to cheers, “We need to take over the press, the media and the universities…It is our duty for that those of us who believe in God and liberty and responsibility… Are you ready to engage in a culture war after we take back congress in November?”

The crowd yelled back–“Yes!”

“It’s not a time for defensiveness or conciliation,” Farah roared. “It’s time for us to take the offense!”

As the cheering continued it became clearer than ever that this Tea Party is in danger of drinking the Kool-Aid.

But the night ends on a high note with Generation Zero.

The Tea Parties erupted last spring in reaction to unprecedented deficit spending amid bailout backlash. The protesters felt that both parties had abandoned their claim to represent fiscal responsibility. They understood that the spending was unsustainable and represented generational theft. They were not wrong.

Obama Derangement Syndrome has dominated too much of the Tea Party movement since. I’ve heard the Constitution referenced more than budget deficits the first day of the national convention. But the night ended back where the focus began.

The reminder came in the form of a special screening of the movie Generation Zero—a new documentary about the roots of the fiscal crisis and the reckoning still to come. Written and directed by Stephen K. Bannon ( Titus) and produced by the now infamous Citizens United, it is not primarily a partisan polemic—instead it is a smart and comprehensible look at the wages of fiscal irresponsibility, featuring commentary from Amity Shlaes, Shelby Steele, Victor Davis Hanson and Newt Gingrich, among others. It can be difficult to capture the outrage of overspending or to humanize the long-term costs—but Generation Zero succeeds in doing it. And that's a gift to our civic debate.

John Avlon’s new book Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America is available now by Beast Books both on the Web and in paperback. Advance orders can be placed here. He is also the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.