By JAKE TAPPER (@jaketapper) , SUNLEN MILLER and DEVIN DWYER (@devindwyer)
April 27, 2011
The White House released copies of President Obama's original birth certificate today to try to put to rest conspiracy theories surrounding the circumstances of his birth and eligibility for office.
The extraordinary move, more than two years into the Obama presidency, followed weeks of mounting frustration inside the White House over what Obama described as a "distraction" and a "sideshow" that was drawing attention away from more pressing issues. "We've got some enormous challenges out there," the president told reporters at the White House. "There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices. We're going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt." But, he said, the American people are not going to be able to rise to these challenges "if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."
Among the documents distributed by White House Counsel Bob Bauer are the president's "long form" birth certificate and correspondence between Bauer and the state of Hawaii, where the president was born. The president's personal attorney, Judith Corley, flew to Hawaii to pick up the original, certified copies and carry them back to the White House, where she arrived around 5 p.m. Tuesday, officials said.
Unlike the Hawaii certification of live birth, which the Obama campaign released in 2008, the certificate of live birth includes the original, handwritten signatures of Obama's mother Ann Dunham Obama, the attending doctor, and the local registrar. The document also reveals the location of Obama's birth to be Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu as well as the age, birthplace and occupation of both his father, Barack Obama, Sr., and mother. His father's birthplace in Kenya was the basis of many unfounded claims that President Obama was born in Kenya, not the U.S. The Constitution stipulates only natural born citizens can be eligible for the presidency....
I will confess, at some level, I do not understand this at all.
Oh, I get wanting to finally put this to rest, to just have it dealt with and over. I get that. What I do not understand is this: both Obama and the Hawaii secretary of state have consistently been saying that the long form birth certificate is not normally issued, that the short certificate of live birth is what Hawaii traditionally uses as a birth certificate for identification, passports, citizenship purposes, all that stuff. All well and good. But ... this issue first came up during the campaign, three years ago and change. If all it takes to get a copy of the long form birth certificate is a simple request for a copy of the long form birth certificate ... then why the hell didn't he do this four damn years ago? Or even two years ago, when those ridiculously annoying court cases started popping up? If he could have done this at any time, why didn't he just do this and be done with it?
Should he have had to do this? No, of course not. There's more than a tiny tinge of racism and religious bigotry involved. (The Donald notably said, a few weeks ago, that perhaps the birth certificate would have revealed that Obama was a secret Muslim. Of course, the correct answers to that are  even if his mother and father were both Muslim -- and they weren't -- Obama himself clearly is not;  most state birth certificates don't record religion, because the state is officially not allowed to care what religion you are, which, if the Donald actually cared about politics and the political process -- as opposed to the political theater -- he would know.) The original certificate of live birth should have been enough. But given that it wasn't, and that it clearly has not been, then Obama could have laid part of this -- if only part of it -- to rest by simply requesting the long form. Let's face facts, as the man himself would say: as a seriously overachieving black man in today's America, people will demand things of him that they would not demand of a white person. Sometimes -- most times -- you simply point out the hypocrisy and move on. Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to respond. And given that this issue was clearly not going away, and the response was easy ... perhaps he should have taken care of this early on and then let it go.
Only 33 percent of Republicans said that the president was born in the U.S., with 45% sure he was born outside the U.S., and 22 percent unsure where he was born, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll from earlier this month reported. Nineteen percent of Democrats said the president was born outside the U.S. or weren't sure where he was born. Forty-eight percent of independents were either sure he was born outside the U.S. or weren't clear either way.
That just makes me weep for my fellow citizens. Because apparently, as the years go by, we're just getting more and more stupid and credulous. I expect that by the time people young enough to be my grandchildren are voting, the population at large will be total idiots.
The fact is, even releasing the long form won't be enough for the hard core birthers. They'll say that it's a forgery, or that he got to the Hawaii secretary of state somehow. There's always going to be some conspiracy theory, based on nothing more than the fact that they don't like the man, that they'll use to prop up that structure of hate. Because, for whatever reason, that's what they need.
An interesting side note to all these follies: Donald Trump also said that once Obama released his real birth certificate, “Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate…I’d love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate,” Trump said. Note the words "maybe" and "May". Somehow, I do not expect to see the Donald's tax returns released in public anytime soon.Posted by iain at April 27, 2011 11:36 AM