About one thing you can be certain: Any time someone has the audacity to write a column proclaiming it is the “last word” about a subject, it’s sure to prompt rebuttals.
On July 30, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal tried his best to put the final nail in the coffin of the “birther” corpse. But rumors of the death of the Barack Obama eligibility story were, as Mark Twain would say, greatly exaggerated.
From his comfortable perch on the south side of Manhattan, Taranto apparently holds the view that so-called “birthers” – a name derisively slapped on all those who believe Obama should simply release his long-form birth certificate for the good of the country and to settle growing doubts about his status as a legal president – are part of a cohesive movement, a monolithic entity, some kind of organized conspiracy, if you will.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Birthers” are simply people demanding Obama release the only evidence that could possibly provide even a basis for determining whether he was a “natural born citizen” and thus constitutionally eligible to serve in the White House.
Taranto simply can’t see the forest for the trees – or, worse, refuses to do so in his desire to ridicule “birthers.” For instance, he ignores the fact that Hawaiian laws have permitted foreigners to obtain “certifications of live birth,” the document Obama has called his birth certificate. Of course, he must ignore that central fact because it is terribly inconvenient if you are attempting to make the case that the document somehow proves Obama is a legitimate president.
Hawaii’s shockingly poor record-keeping also made it possible for babies to be issued “certifications of live birth” with the wrong parents listed and the wrong date of birth. No hospital or physician would need to be listed. No independent witnesses needed to be involved. All that was required by Hawaii to obtain this document was an affidavit by one person claiming to be a parent.
Yet, on that faulty foundation, Taranto is quick to label as lunatics those who dare demand better evidence to meet the critical constitutional test of natural born citizenship.
Please tell me how Americans could ever establish Obama’s eligibility without a genuine, long-form birth certificate – the product of meticulous, first-hand eyewitness reporting by a certified physician and hospital staff? How would that be possible, knowing how extremely lax and compromised the Hawaiian state health rules were and are today?
Taranto is satisfied to accept Hawaii’s obvious ineptitude in this area and impose its mistakes on the entire country.
He claims the “certification of live birth” is a legal birth certificate and, in fact, “the only kind of birth certificate the state of Hawaii issues.”
That is simply not true.
It may be the only kind of birth certificate Hawaii routinely issues today. But it was not the only kind issued when Obama was born.
The Honolulu Advertiser last week published photographs of two long-form birth certificates issued to twins born in Kapi’olani Medical Center the day after Obama was supposedly born in that hospital. The mother kept them. She wasn’t issued “certifications of live birth,” a digital document which didn’t become the norm in Hawaii until 2001.
And neither is the need for Obama’s original long-form birth certificate a matter of routine. This is an extraordinary case. The document, I repeat, is the only basis for determining the eligibility of the president of the United States, since the short form was subject to abuse and error and offered, at the very least, the potential for documenting foreign births as domestic births.
Taranto, like many others determined, for whatever reason, not to know the truth about Obama’s birth, never questions the wisdom of the public policy decisions Hawaii has made in concealing vital records even when they represent matters of national security and grave public interest.
Taranto concedes Obama can still retrieve his long-form birth certificate if he cared to do so. But, in his autobiography, Obama strongly suggests he already has one – citing its discovery among personal papers as a critical and defining moment of self-reflection in his life. So, it would be an easy matter for Obama to quell the national debate about his eligibility if, indeed, the long-form document verifies the details found in the short-form document.
“But the real question is: Why should he?” asks Taranto. “The demand has no basis in principle and would have no practical benefit.”
No basis in principle and no practical benefit?
We’re talking about the Constitution here.
We’re talking about the legitimacy and integrity of the presidency.
We’re talking about the rule of law and the will of the people.
“Obama has already provided a legal birth certificate demonstrating that he was born in Hawaii,” writes Taranto. “No one has produced any serious evidence to the contrary. Absent such evidence, it is unreasonable to deny that Obama has met the burden of proof.”
It’s important to understand Obama is not being accused of a crime. He is not being asked to incriminate himself. He is being asked by millions of Americans to offer up a simple document he claims to possess that could verify his legitimate hold on the presidency. Why won’t he do that? And why wouldn’t every American, including Taranto, begin joining the call for openness and transparency – promises Obama made for his presidency?
Instead, Taranto calls for a witch hunt against “birthers.”
There is not a doubt in my mind that if the American people press hard enough and long enough for the release of Obama’s birth certificate – not to mention the dozens of other personal papers he is secreting from the public – that we will see it. Obama will either be forced by public pressure to release the document or there will arise a political will to extract it from him.
I want you to try to imagine a similar scenario eight years ago at this same point in George W. Bush’s first term. Imagine there was broad concern about whether he was constitutionally eligible to serve. If Bush refused to offer up the critical document that could settle the matter, is there any doubt congressional hearings would have been held? Do you have any doubts many of the same people so incensed about these questions would be organizing marches of protest? Do you have any doubts there would be calls for congressional hearings?
Just recall the uproar over his National Guard duty, if you have any doubts.
This is the nature of an open society – one that encourages free-wheeling debate and public scrutiny of public affairs.
It’s worth reminding the world that Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee for the presidency, faced a Senate inquiry over his own eligibility issue. His colleagues found he was constitutionally qualified because he had two parents who were U.S. citizens. Barack Obama didn’t. If – and it’s admittedly a big if – he wasn’t born in Hawaii as he claims and as that deeply flawed evidentiary document suggests, then he is not, by the standards applied to McCain, a legitimate president.
I know that’s a scary thought for many Americans. But, as long as that possibility exists, this public concern, this skepticism, this distrust is going to linger and grow. That is not healthy for our country.
I believe most “birthers” only want to know the truth about their president. They want to be sure the Constitution is upheld and honored. Why are those such annoying and antagonizing objectives for so many in the media? I read supposedly objective news accounts claiming that “birthers” insist Obama was born in Kenya. I don’t know anyone who insists Obama was born in Kenya. But I do believe that many, if not most, Americans are now uncertain he was born in Hawaii. They are uncertain he is legally, morally and constitutionally qualified for the most important job in the United States.
It’s time to remove the uncertainty. It’s time to lift the cloud of doubt. It’s time to stop the stonewalling. It’s time to release the real birth certificate.