First, happy birthday. I do hope Aug. 4 is an enjoyable day for you and your family. Coincidentally, I also will be celebrating this week the birth of someone dear to me, my beloved wife, Gena, whose birthday is on Aug. 9.
Speaking of birthdays, I couldn’t help but hear and read all over the news last week about the fresh attention to your constitutional eligibility and natural born citizen status. I can hardly believe that individuals are now offering bounty – one for $100,000 – for any personal witness or sufficient evidence to your American birth.
For nearly two years, this debate continues to grow despite all your administration’s attempts to diffuse it. And those who are raising concerns aren’t just those on the right, but moderate law-abiding citizens like a retired CIA officer who commissioned an investigator to look into the issue.
Still, your press secretary, Robert Gibbs, continues to glibly brush aside the issue by calling it “fictional nonsense.” But, in so doing, he devalues the grievance passage of the First Amendment and insults those who are genuinely concerned and inquisitive by categorizing them all as political quacks. He needs to learn that you can’t model tolerance for certain minorities while belittling and quarantining those who don’t blindly follow your lead.
Believe it or not, I’m not writing you to challenge whether you were born in America, though I see nothing wrong with the American public voicing that constitutionally based grievance with someone in your esteemed position. As one blogger wrote, after all, “We aren’t talking about a 12-year-old qualifying to play Little League here.” Or as Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust but verify.”
Personally, I must admit that I find it a bit of a groundless stretch not to believe in the birth announcements in two major Hawaiian newspapers in August of 1961, in which the Hawaiian Health Department would have been required to post information they received directly from hospitals: “Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4.” Nevertheless, that proof still doesn’t answer why you refuse to reveal your original birth certificate and end the growing tides of controversy.
I’m writing you because this is no longer a matter merely about proving a presidential prerequisite in the Constitution. Refusing to post a copy of your original birth certificate is an unwise political and leadership decision that is enabling the birther controversy. The nation you are called to lead is experiencing a growing swell of conspirators who are convinced that you are covering up something. So why not just prove them wrong and shut them up?
If the birther movement is truly full of a bunch of conspiracy-fringed kooks or “zombies,” as the Los Angeles Times proclaims, then prove once and for all that you are a naturally born citizen by posting your original birth certificate. And all the controversy will fade away like the pains of childbirth.
I agree with CNN’s Lou Dobbs, who was chastised by his own media outlet for demanding the release of your original birth certificate. So why is that such a bad request? We certainly know why CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein thought it was a bad idea: because he previously declared that CNN researchers determined that Obama’s 1961 birth certificate no longer existed.
But Hawaii’s officials confirmed again last week that they indeed have your original birth certificate on file. Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaiian State Department of Health, repeated her October 2008 statement that she had personally seen with her own eyes the “original vital records.”
Some claim that even you cannot see or request your own personal birth certificate, because Hawai’i's disclosure law (Hawai’i Revised Statutes 338-18) states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital statistics records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part on any such record … ”
But the law further states that the Health Department “shall not permit inspection of public health statistics records, or issue a certified copy of any such record or part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record.” (Italics mine)
Isn’t categorically satisfying constitutional requirements for a president, or answering the First Amendment grievances of hundreds of thousands of Americans, or ending a national debate or healing a country’s divisions enough “direct and tangible interest”?
Mr. President, as more and more people realize that you are refusing to release your original birth certificate, further questions will fuel the fires of debate or at least hinder the embers from ever being snuffed out. Questions like, “Does it really contain the Hawaiian physician’s name?” Or “Does it disclose something other than his birth place that he wishes others not to see?”
In fact, last week copies of the 1961 birth certificates from twin girls, who were born a day after you in the same Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital, give examples of those typical of the time. They include much more information than certificates today, like the baby’s parents’ ages, occupations, birthplaces, race, etc., as well as specifics of the medical personnel presiding over the baby’s birth and the hospital in which he or she was born.
Of course not every U.S. citizen has access to their original birth certificate, but you do, and that’s the only one under debate. As valuable as copies can be, textual critics know that nothing outweighs an original, especially when only it contains the information under question.
So again I ask, why don’t you simply request, release and give permission to make public your original birth certificate?
Mr. President, you promised the American people that you are “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” In fact, on July 23 in your prime time press conference, you said that your administration was more transparent than those of previous presidencies: “I think that we have provided much greater transparency than existed prior to our administration coming in.”
So again I ask, why not live out that transparency promise by posting your original birth certificate and end the division and debate?
Well, I have a birthday to plan, so I better get going.