Smart politics, both for her own sake and for the party’s sake, from today’s Q&A on Long Island. Even lefties like Jonathan Capehart are praising her for her answer. The reason you’re seeing so many prominent Republicans pressed on Birtherism the past few days is because of this PPP poll from Tuesday claiming that a clear majority of the party’s primary voters (51 percent) don’t think Obama was born in the U.S. Weigel’s read on that is correct, I think: To some extent the issue’s become a proxy for ideology, with more conservative voters who are already deeply suspicious of The One’s intentions more likely to believe that he was born abroad. The peril for Palin in that poll is that her favorables were unusually high among Birthers at 83 percent (almost 20 points more than Huckabee), which stands to reason under Weigel’s theory since she’s perceived as the most conservative candidate in the race. Hence the need today to set the record straight about her own views and to steer Birthers among the base away from this issue. She did a nice job, much clearer than she was when she addressed this subject once before. And she’s quite right, needless to say, about the issue being a distraction. Even if you’re inclined to believe that there’s funny business surrounding The One’s long-form birth certificate, there’s virtually no way to prove it. His file will stay closed as long as he wants it closed, so absent a confession from the Hawaii records department that it’s all a big conspiracy, you’re pumping a dry well. Like Palin says, better to focus on the economy (and, if you’re feeling bold, Obama’s inexcusable gutlessness on entitlements) than to keep barking up this tree.

Two clips for you, one of her and the other (via GOP12) of Rove scoffing at the PPP poll but desperately trying to warn Republicans away from this issue lest it continue to provide a distraction into the campaign. Even grassroots hero Jeff Flake, while also questioning the poll, is politely urging adherents to “get off this kick.” Hopefully Palin’s example will do some good.