The Huffington Post has a nice piece on the ways that Missouri House speaker, Republican Tim Jones, is trying to have his cake and eat it too when it comes to his past ties to looneytunes birther Orly Taitz. On the one hand, he rather ambiguously implies that he disavows his past birther activism, the result, he declares, of being importuned by a “very personal constituent of mine.” (Huh? What could he be trying to tell us – a “very personal” constituent?) On the other hand, he’s currently trying to raise money off the fact that his past stupidity has been roundly mocked in various, putatively liberal venues. The telling passage:
George Connor, a political science professor at Missouri State University, said he does not believe that Jones’s involvement in the birther movement will cause the lawmaker long-term harm, at least in state Republican circles. Connor said as Republican primaries become increasingly conservative, Jones’s ties to birtherism could in fact help his electoral chances.
“If Tim Jones would have any political trouble from this issue, it would be distancing himself from it,” Connor said of the birther movement. “The challenge to Republicans in Missouri is from the right. I don’t see the birther issue or his stance on it becoming an issue. For the most part, everyone is past that.”
On the topic of the Republican party’s current effort to paint itself out of the “crazy, old, white dudes” corner it now seems to occupy, one commentator, I can’t remember who, noted that while national level GOPers were at least trying to be more circumspect in their self-presentation, if not in actual policies, there are still plenty of “wild things” at large at the state level. This particular Tim Jones dilemma, to be a birther or not to be, might just offer a heaping serving of the pudding that proves that particular observation.
Addenda: Steve Benen weighs in on the GOP dilemma mirrored in Tim Jone’s effort to find a comfortable equilibrium between the respectable and The Crazy:
We talked last week about the new Republican effort to “marginalize” the “cranks, haters, and bigots,” but as we’re reminded regularly, it’s extremely difficult for a political party to ostracize such a significant chunk of its own membership.
[…] the problem isn’t that Republicans have some “cranks, haters, and bigots”; the problem is that Republicans are a radicalized party in which “cranks, haters, and bigots” routinely dominate.
If the GOP intends to stop being, in Bobby Jindal’s words, the “stupid party,” they have a long way to go.