I understand that Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign was flailing and floundering. I understand that he was trying to do or say something, anything, that would lift him back to the frontrunner status that he'd so quickly fallen from.
But to rehash the so-thoroughly-debunked "birther" theories about President Obama, and then to couch it as a joke, is not only mean-spirited, unfounded and wrong. To do so was so fundamentally irresponsible as to call into question the candidate's basic judgement so profoundly as to render him essentially unfit for the high office which he seeks.
Perry not once, but twice, tried in recent days to raise fresh questions about whether the president was indeed born in the United States and therefore legally entitled to hold the office. He should have picked up the phone and called Donald Trump on that one. It may seem an age away, but just six months ago Trump was building what appeared to be a surging White House bid precisely and entirely on the birther issue.
The president responded by releasing his "long-form birth certificate" — the exact document which birther conspiracy theorists had been demanding for years. Doing so popped immediately Trump's presidential aspirations like the trial balloon that it was, and we fortunately have heard nary a presidential squeak from The Donald ever since.
Releasing the long-form certificate also presumably would put the whole stupid issue to rest permanently. Except that Perry resurrected the controversy for naked political gain, and then tried to spin it as just a little harmless fun: “It’s a good issue to keep alive. . . It’s fun to poke [Obama] a little bit and say, ‘Hey, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.’ I don’t have a clue about where the president — and what this birth certificate says.”