The Corner

Birth Certificate: Where Are the Indignant Questions to Obama?

I certainly get why National Review, among others, is pressing Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, and others who’ve been aggressively pushing the matter of President Obama’s birth certificate and, derivatively, questioning his constitutional qualifications to be president. And though I’ve never taken Donald Trump seriously as a presidential candidate, I also appreciate why the Republican Beltway insiders are gleefully joining the mainstream media in ridiculing him as a buffoon. But what I don’t get is why there is not more anger at Obama and that selfsame mainstream media.

One of the things Obama said yesterday was unintentionally striking. He contended that no one should ever have questioned his birth certificate because credible people who had seen it had described it in affidavits. Naturally, he didn’t mention why they were in the position of having to describe it in affidavits: namely, because Obama had refused to authorize production of the actual birth certificate, which he could have done at any moment over the last three years. Look how easy it would have been.

When I read in Dan’s post yesterday about how the White House was also releasing the relevant correspondence between Obama’s lawyers and the Hawaii health department regarding the certificate, I said to myself: “Okay, we are finally going to learn that there’s been some bureaucratic complication beneath all this intrigue.” But no: The request for certified copies of the birth certificate was (finally) made last week, on a Friday, in two short letters — including a four-sentence letter signed by the president that obviously took him considerably less time to review than it takes to stretch before teeing off at the first hole. The birth certificate was produced the following business day (Monday) — with the health department expressing hope that its production “will end the numerous inquiries” it had gotten over the years, which “have been disruptive to staff operations and have strained State resources.” And Obama was able to do his dog-and-pony show yesterday morning, only five days after asking the health department to produce the document. 

If George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, or even a Republican the media likes (say, John McCain) had taken purposeful steps to block examination of so basic a document, the media would surely have turned such obstinacy into a scandal. The public might not have leapt to extravagant conclusions about whether they’d really been born in Kenya, or on Mars, or wherever. But they’d have thought it was intolerably strange that campaigns were retaining lawyers and amassing affidavits rather than just producing a seemingly innocuous, readily producible document. The story would never have been about the people asking for the birth certificate; it would have been about the candidate who was moving heaven and earth to prevent people from seeing it.

And let’s not ignore that Obama did move heaven and earth. This is not just a matter of him thumbing his nose at a fringe collection of nutty “birthers.” There have been several court cases. It is flat out bizarre that one should have to be sued to compel conformance with a routine that millions of Americans comply with every day. Many of these court cases, if not all, could have been short-circuited (indeed, many of the later ones would not have been filed at all) if Obama had just produced the birth certificate. Instead, he not only refused to produce it; he and his campaign paid thousands of dollars in legal fees (in some places it is reported to be well over a million dollars) to fight the lawsuits — and Obama’s lawyers even threatened to seek disciplinary sanctions against lawyers for daring to file the lawsuits. Since Obama has been president, moreover, not just the time of courts and private lawyers has been tied up; government lawyers have had to spend their time — on the public’s dime — on this nonsense.

There appears to be nothing remarkable about the president’s long-form birth certificate. As I’ve said before, the vast majority of people have long rightly accepted the fact that he was born in Hawaii and is an American citizen, no meaningful evidence to the contrary every having been produced to rebut the short-form certificate and the contemporaneous birth announcements in local newspapers. The constitutional question material to the matter of Obama’s eligibility — and one that is unlikely ever to get serious consideration — is whether Obama is a “natural born” citizen. That question centers on the ramifications, if any, of the fact that Obama’s father was not an American, and of Obama’s status as a dual citizen (of Kenya for a time, and possibly of Indonesia). Obama had to know that he had nothing to fear from production of the long-form certificate on this score — it doesn’t provide any relevant information that wasn’t already known.

So, assuming as we should the legitimacy of the long-form birth certificate produced yesterday, the only thing that makes sense is that Obama knows the mainstream media is in his hip pocket. That is, he knew that he would not be held to the same standard as other politicians, and that if he acted in an unreasonable manner by withholding basic, easily available information that any other person seeking the presidency would be expected — be compelled — to produce, the media would portray as weirdos those demanding the information, not Obama and his stonewalling accomplices. And he also knows that, having now finally produced the document only because the game was starting to hurt him politically, the media will not focus on how easy it would have been to produce the birth certificate three years ago, or on how much time and money has been wasted by his gamesmanship; they’ll instead portray him as beleaguered and the people who have been seeking the basic information (i.e., doing the media’s job) as discredited whackos.

It’s hard to say what’s more depressing, Obama’s cynicism or the zeal with which the media does his bidding.


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