Sarah Sands: Elvis is alive and well, and Obama is not President

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The Independent Online

The reason that President Obama stumbled over the word "faithfully" in his oath of office is obvious. As a Muslim terrorist, schooled by the Wahhabist jihadists in Indonesia, he could not commit himself to the service of the American people. He didn't have any trouble pronouncing his second name, Hussein, did he?

No wonder he claimed to have later taken the oath "privately", without the use of a Bible and only in the presence of selected media terrorist sympathisers. By the way, did you get a close enough look at Lincoln's Bible first time round? Abe's Koran, more like. Let us take a closer look at the "President" who was so reluctant to produce a photocopy of his original birth certificate. Born in Honolulu? Let's call that Kenya or Indonesia.

Within minutes of the oath of office, the Fox News presenter Chris Wallace cheerfully questioned the legitimacy of the whole enterprise. "I am not sure Barack Obama is really President of the United States," he said.

On the other hand, what a stitch-up by the embittered Republicans. Chief Justice John Roberts misleads the trusting Barack Obama by reshuffling the opening sentence of the oath. Why? Because Roberts was a Bush appointee, opposed by Obama. Did you see Dick Cheney suppressing a smirk from his wheelchair?

The conspiracy theories that erupted over the internet last week were classics of their kind. They centred on a charismatic, disturbing figure, on whom the hopes and terrors of mankind fasten. It was Obama's most ardent supporters who kept mentioning the threat of assassination during the election campaign. As with John F Kennedy and Princess Diana and, of course, Jesus, a violent, untimely death goes with the territory. JFK, Diana and Jesus are also burdened to eternity by mad conspiracy theories. JFK has his Oliver Stone; Diana has Al Fayed; and Jesus, oh the pity of it, has Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code.

Sometimes the facts are so shocking and wounding that we will do anything, blame anyone, in order to avoid them. The US's fundamentalist right wing flinches from left-wing ascendancy. The Democrats were the same. It was not just a matter of hanging chads. They could not accept George Bush's legitimacy on any level. Hillary Clinton certainly did not believe in democratic opinion. She blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy" for paralysing her husband's presidency.

As H L Mencken said, mercilessly: "The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world... to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street or some other den of infamy." Thus nobody could believe that Bernard Madoff was unassisted by wider, more sinister forces. Greed and credulity were not a good enough explanation.

The key to conspiracies is they tend to complicate rather than enlighten. It is odd to hold Mossad responsible for 9/11 when Osama bin Laden had already claimed responsibility. Why not the obvious explanation that Diana was killed by bad driving or that JFK was shot by a mad man or that the Evening Standard was sold for business reasons rather than as part of a gigantic Rupert Murdoch plot?

Conspiracies travel the world online, while logical analysis struggles to put its boots on. But for every Watergate, there are a thousand innocent cock-ups. There is almost always less to human affairs than meets the eye.

Sarah Sands is editor in chief of British 'Reader's Digest'