The Romney Birthers

Who wants popcorn?

When Mitt Romney released his birth certificate last week, it prompted a slew of sarcastic headlines mocking the move as unnecessary at best, at worst as a nod in the direction of conspiracy theorists who believe President Obama was born outside the country.

But, as it turns out, Romney has his set of detractors questioning his American citizenship — an Internet subculture that embodies the sort of rubber-and-glue politics that’s helped define this election, and one that reflects the way fringe voters translate suspicion of a candidate in the Obama era.

The Romney birthers’ predominant theory is that because George Romney was born in Mexico, his candidate son is not a naturalized citizen, and therefore Constitutionally ineligible to occupy the Oval Office. (This theory has the unfortunate side-effect of disqualifying President Chester Arthur, the son of an immigrant from Ireland.)

Others believe the younger Romney was, himself, born in Mexico; others point to supposed evidence that his birth certificate is a fraud — and a few even contend that he was raised up by Mormon polygamists to be a presidential plant. But the bottom line for all of them is that Mitt just isn’t American enough to be president.