Okay, Dave Reichert officially has to go. I mean like, really, really has to go.

In this recent feature from Huffington Post, Reichert is confronted, like many other Republican members of Congress, as to whether he believes that President Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States. Rather than answer the fairly simple question, Reichert plays patriot, opining that everyone in America has a right to make up facts and present them as truth! After all, isn’t misrepresenting specious accusations as fact at the very core of the First Amendment? Shouldn’t we give the wild-eyed, pistol waving opinions of say, this guy on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign the same weight and respect as newspaper records and birth certificates?

At about 1:16 into the video below, Reichert proposes that we should.

“If we’re in America and we are free, and we allow people to say – I mean, people stand on the sidewalk, and this gentleman… gets to stand for what he believes in in the way he decides to, because we’re in America.”

That’s right – when Dave Reichert thinks he might have a constitutional crisis on his hands, who does he consult? Joe Homeless Guy. Now I’m not saying this chap isn’t a nice fellow. I’m not even saying he’s not a smart guy. But I am saying that the chances are good that he’s not a constitutional law expert, because most constitutional law experts don’t look like they rolled out of the gutter this morning.

And for future reference, the First Amendment does not depend on us protecting opinion as fact. It protects our right to hold a dumbass, uninformed opinion, but it doesn’t require that other people respect it, much to my frequent chagrin.

But this is the base of the Republican party now, and there are not many Republican members of Congress who are going to be able to say “I believe Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States of America,” and get re-elected. The right wing base is not interested in debating ideas anymore, as their recent performances at town halls across the country attest. This isn’t about ideas, or civil debate, or disagreements over policy or even facts. This is about who’s going to yell the loudest. It’s about making up the craziest lies you can and hoping people stay distracted by them until 2012. It’s not even about winning – it’s about making the other guy lose. And as much as liberals would like to stay above that fight, to some extent, we’re going to have to get our hands dirty and go after this stuff.

Reichert represents a wide open district – WA 8th – Darcy Burner came within a couple of percentage points of winning in the last two elections. It’s a district in a thoroughly blue state and a democratic leaning region that has sent Reichert to the hill as a centrist for the last six years. If he has to bow to his base and do things like question whether or not the president is a natural born citizen, those centrist credentials are going to go right out the door. And that’s the sort of hit to Reichert’s campaign that Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene could make good use of.

Here’s hoping someone makes him answer the question.

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