President Barack Obama broad-brushes his opposition as a bunch of mean-spirited ideologues who are so divorced from reality that they won’t be swayed by indisputable facts. Nothing has helped him more in painting this picture than the unfortunate proliferation of self-taught experts in 1960s Hawaiian vital records.
Beginning in June 2008, when Obama released his short-form birth certificate in order to quell spurious rumors about his “real” middle name, the people who call themselves “birthers” decided they knew better than their own eyes.
Perhaps emboldened by the blogosphere’s successful debunking in 2004 of Dan Rather’s fake documents questioning President George W. Bush’s National Guard service, the birthers sought to re-create this achievement — except this time the facts were not on their side.
Obama’s short-form birth certificate — the one released in 2008 — was and is valid for all legal purposes under Hawaiian law. It proved Obama’s birthplace and citizenship just as well as any other American’s birth certificate.
But over a three-year period, birthers cast doubt in some quarters about the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship, ignoring that the burden of proof was and always has been on them, not on the president. They brought forth no proof to dispute Obama, but they did bring multiple frivolous lawsuits. Even a few members of the Armed Forces bought into the birther con and refused to obey orders. Some publications irresponsibly championed their cause.
The fatuity reached a boiling point in recent weeks because of a shameless, publicity-seeking celebrity named Donald Trump. A longtime New York media hound and Democratic campaign contributor, Trump is trying to remake himself as a force in the Republican presidential primary. He’s received lots of attention mostly because he was the only person in a crowded field of potential GOP candidates willing to broach the birthplace topic. Trump’s otherwise-interesting critique of Obama’s leadership could have been a plus for the public debate heading into the 2012 presidential race, but not as long as he relied on the birther gimmick to gain attention.
Ultimately, Trump’s gambit has subtracted from the public debate rather than added to it.
The White House’s release Wednesday of Obama’s long-form birth certificate — the archived document with the signature of the physician who attended at his birth — should settle this matter for good. This country has no time for debating false conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth. Trump is robbed of his introductory campaign gimmick, so now he can go back to what he does best — using the courts to take people’s homes through eminent domain to clear the way to build bigger hotels and casinos, and promoting “The Apprentice.”
And the rest of us can get back to figuring out how to pay for a tank of gas.