Rick Hertzberg makes a rare, puzzling misstep here:
The dismaying truth is that birtherism is part of a larger pattern of rejection of reality that has taken hold of intimidating segments of one of the two political parties that alternate in power in our governing institutions. It is akin to the view that global warming is a hoax, or that the budget can be balanced through spending cuts alone, or that contraception causes abortion, or that evolution is just another theory, on a par with the theory that the earth is six thousand years old.
Well, of course the budget can be balanced through spending cuts alone. If you passed a law ending Medicare, you could do it very quickly.
Now, maybe Hertzberg means that it's not politically realistic to balance the budget through spending cuts alone, and I'd agree with him on that. But advocating a politically unrealistic course of action does not belong in the same category as the other notions he describes. Otherwise, entirely worthy quixotic campaigns would be tantamount to the worst kinds of quackery. What does belong on that list is the closely-related supply-side mythology about tax cuts and revenue, of which Hertzberg is well aware.