Mitt Romney has gone to such lengths to lock up New Hampshire that the first in the nation primary is looking to be something of a snooze-fest this year, unless Jon Huntsman gets his father to open up the family vault wider or Newt Gingrich's call for 9-year-olds to become paid school janitors strikes a surprising chord with the good people of Peterborough and Londonderry. But just because Romney is getting the state GOP establishment to line up behind him -- Kelly Ayotte! Charlie Bass! -- don't think that means that the state is lacking in the ferment that in years past produced big upsets for the likes of Pat Buchanan. The ferment's out there, it just hasn't managed to find its champion. Well, that is, until Orly Taitz came to town.
Yes, believe it or not, New Hampshire is going through a bit of a birther moment right now. Taitz -- the Soviet Union-born lawyer/dentist/state senate candidate from California and self-anointed birther standard-bearer -- came to Concord on Friday to argue before the state's Ballot Law Commission that Barack Obama should be barred from the state's primary ballot because he is in fact not a U.S. citizen. And she had some seemingly well-credentialed local supporters at her side, several Republican members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who are firmly of the birther persuasion. As I explained in this recent piece, though, outlandish behavior by New Hampshire lawmakers should be always placed in proper context: when you have a legislative body with 400 people representing barely more than 3,000 people each, you're going to end up with some real winners. Thus we have this report from the Concord Monitor of the Ballot Law Commission's hearing:
As state election officials yesterday rejected California lawyer Orly Taitz's argument to keep President Obama's name off the New Hampshire presidential ballot, supporters lining the hearing room in the Legislative Office Building cried out in protest.
"Traitors!" shouted one woman. "Spineless traitors!"
"Saying a treasonous liar can go on our ballot?" yelled State Rep. Harry Accornero, a Republican from Laconia. "You're going to have to face the citizens of Laconia. You better wear a mask."
[Commission Chairman Bradford Cook] then addressed the several dozen other people in the room, a number of whom were videotaping the hearing: "Does anybody have factual evidence - not opinions, not rumors, not thoughts?"
"It's the Constitution, sir," said Dick Marple, a former state representative. "It states we must respect the law of nations." He went on to say that the British Nationality Act makes Obama a British citizen, since Obama's father was born in Kenya, which was still a British colony when Obama was born.
And so on. And while New Hampshire is unique in putting "Rep." in front of so many clear-thinking individuals, the response to the hearing suggests that birtherism remains strong across the land: After the Drudge Report linked to the Monitor's story, its Web site crashed from the rush of traffic. The commission's rejection of Taitz's demand has done nothing to quell matters. Taitz today posted a response on her Web site to what she says was an email she received yesterday from House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, a Romney supporter, rejecting Taitz's demand that New Hampshire's longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner be removed for failing to address Obama's fraudulence. In his email, Bettencourt declared that "Bill Gardner is a New Hampshire treasure who has worked tirelessly for Granite Staters and the preservative (sic) of our special political culture. The fact that he has drawn this ire establishes his good judgment. Were Secretary Gardner to even entertain your request he would be putting New Hampshire’s 'First in the Nation' Primary in grave danger. Please, Dr. Taitz, go away and leave New Hampshire alone."
Taitz's response to Bettencourt was typically understated:
Mr. Betancourt (sic), my appearance before the committee was not an outburst, but a testimony with an undeniable proof of Barack Obama using a stolen Social Security number, forged birth certificate, committing elections fraud and treason. Your answer shows that you are another corrupt and dirty politician, who is maliciously disregarding the truth and the Constitution of this nation, who needs to be removed from the position of the Republican majority leader and who should be and will be tried for treason against this nation together with other corrupt politicians who put a complete fraud and a criminal wthout any valid US identification papers in the White House.
Too bad Rick Perry isn't making more of a push in the Granite State. On this issue, at least, he might be able to find some purchase!