John Avalon in the Daily Beast, 2/7/2010:

…there’s an inconvenient truth liberals are going to have to confront: The Birthers began not on the right, but on the left.

Investigations for my new book, Wingnuts, revealed that the Birther conspiracy theory was first concocted by renegade members of the original Obama haters, Party Unity My Ass, known more commonly by their acronym, the PUMAs. They were a splinter group of hard-core Hillary Clinton supporters who did not want to give up the ghost after the bitter 50-state Bataan Death March to the 2008 Democratic nomination.

In the early summer of ’08, message boards on sites like PUMAParty.com began lighting up with the ultimate reversal-of-fortune fantasy—that their party’s nomination could be overturned on constitutional grounds. “Obama May Be Illegal to Be Elected President!” read one representative e-mail: “This came from a USNA [U.S. Naval Academy] alumnus. It’ll be interesting to see how the media handle this…WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL newspaper editors etc. Keep this out there everyday possible. Also write to the DNC too!”

That June, the Obama campaign released his certificate of live birth on its Web site as part of its “fight the smears” effort. Factcheck.org and other organizations examined the document in person and declared it genuine: “Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.” But posters at the PUMA sites were unimpressed: “Nobody believes it’s for real, except the Kool-Aid drinkers themselves.”

Except Obama did not always say that.