It's time for GOP candidates to stop flirting with Birthers

Several of these candidates have later corrected their initial hesitation, but it is precisely that initial hesitation that contains so much information about what Republican candidates fear right now. No doubt that Portman and Marco Rubio know that Birtherism is bullshit. The gap between their private beliefs and how they articulate them publicly is fairly wide. I’m not a fan of stories that begin with X “refuses to denounce” Y — I usually skip them. I make an exception here because the accusation is so reckless, so tied to race and culture, and so stupid that those who try to Wink at the Birthers are adding potency to a poison that everyone is forced to gulp…

In Florida, Marco Rubio tried the trivial tack, but didn’t give a firm answer at first and said he didn’t want to “diminish” people who ask the question. Why not? It’s a fact — if people are asking questions based on factually wrong premises — or are doing so to delegitimize the president of the United States — it’s incumbent on a politician to indeed diminish those who ask the question.