Over the course of a few days, Barack Obama made three attention-grabbing appearances in front of the cameras: to announce the release of his long-form birth certificate; to belittle a fuming Donald Trump in his White House Correspondents' Association Dinner monologue; and to announce that Navy Seals, on his orders, had found and killed Osama bin Laden.
It was a good weekend for the president.
Any bump in Obama's public polling, in the aftermath of the bin Laden news, will likely be temporary, if history is a guide — the Gulf War bloom faded from George H.W. Bush's rose before his midterm election, to take one example.
But those three appearances may prove to have a lasting effect — for the Republican Party.
Until a week ago, Republican leaders — including those running for president, who will be the public faces of the party in the coming months — openly played with the fire of its crazy base, by signaling approval of, if not fully endorsing, their views.
House Speaker John Boehner said, "It's not up to me" to tell "birthers" — including those in his own caucus — what to think. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney titled his book No Apology in reference to charges that Obama has subjugated America to foreign powers. Romney's fellow presidential challenger, Newt Gingrich, claimed that Obama holds a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview.
Other party leaders said even worse — and they all silently nodded along as federal and state GOP legislators proposed conspiratorially driven laws to demand presidential candidates' birth certificates and outlaw the imposition of hypothetical Shariah law.
And, of course, blowhard Donald Trump raced to the top of Republican presidential-nomination polling by loudly repeating any crazy allegation against Obama he heard.
A week ago, the general public could apparently forgive the party for holding hands with these haters — because there was just enough question in their own minds about Obama's trustworthiness, competence, or intentions to make it seem acceptable.
No longer. From the day he released the "long form," only crazed Obamaphobes could continue to question the president's birth. After Obama (and Correspondents' Dinner host Seth Meyers) exposed Trump's idiocy, only crazed Obamaphobes could continue to treat Trump and his ilk as legitimate candidates.
And certainly, after bringing home the metaphorical head of bin Laden, only crazed Obamaphobes could continue to accuse Obama of anti-Americanism, or of surrendering in the war on terror.
The problem for the GOP is that their base will not stop saying, and believing, these things. They and the rabble-rousers they listen to are far too committed to turn back now. And the GOP is stuck holding hands with them; they have to dance with the birthers they brought.
If anybody thought birtherism would go away, they were mistaken. WorldNetDaily, the biggest driver of the theory that Obama was not born in the US — and whose online traffic has soared since the long-form certificate was released, according to Internet-analysis site Alexa — claims the document was altered. Oklahoma's House of Representative passed its "birther bill" hours after the birth-certificate announcement. Pre-sales are climbing for Jerome Corsi's upcoming book, Where's the Birth Certificate?