Early in his 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” President Barack Obama makes this innocuous remark about his father: “In 1959, at the age of 23, he arrived at the University of Hawaii as that institution’s first African student.”
Obama got the book contract for “Dreams” while he was still at Harvard Law School. He may have pulled Obama Sr.’s biographical data from his Harvard documents, all of which list him as being born in 1936 and thus 23 when he arrived in Hawaii.
Obama could have gotten his father’s age from the birth certificate he claims – in “Dreams” – to have found “folded away among … old vaccination forms.”
If this is same birth certificate as the one posted on the White House website, it lists Obama Sr. as “25” at Obama’s birth in 1961, which would confirm that he was 23 in 1959.
Then, too, Obama could have deduced Obama Sr.’s age on arrival from the aforementioned Honolulu Advertiser article about his departure. It describes him on June 22, 1962, as a “26-year-old.”
Today, even Wikipedia gives Obama Sr. a 1936 birthdate and a Hawaii arrival age of 23. Yet, like so much of the history told about our president, it is flat-out wrong.
Obama Sr. was born on June 18, 1934. He arrived in Hawaii as a 25-year-old. Contrary to what the birth certificate reports, he was 27 when Obama II was born.
This information about Obama Sr.’s real age did not come to light until his INS documents were made public by the Arizona Independent.
Although these documents were posted the night before the president’s April 27 presentation of his birth certificate, it is unlikely that the Obama camp noticed the discrepancy in Obama Sr.’s birth dates.
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Obama Sr. had no reason to deceive the INS upon arrival. The June 18, 1934, birth date listed on his immigration documents is almost surely the right one. Obama Sr. used his 1934 birth date all through his Hawaii years.
As late as Aug. 31, 1961, on his “Application to Extend Time of Temporary Stay,” Obama Sr. was listing his birth date as “18/ June, 1934.”
This is the birth date the INS records on his “Certificate of Eligibility,” also filled out on Aug. 31, 1961. On Obama II’s birth certificate from earlier in that same month, however, the 27-year-old Kenyan is listed as “25.”
It was not until mid-1962 that the Harvard-bound Obama Sr. started to trim two years off his age by moving his birth date up from 1934 to 1936. He would stick with the later date throughout his Harvard years.
Researcher Don Wilkie argues that it is not an uncommon practice for foreign students to start recalculating their age when faced with the prospect of going home.
Obama Sr. “decided that if he was two years younger, he could still be young enough to be a student.” In 1962, he turned 28, a little long in the tooth to be looking for scholarship money.
The question remains, though, as to why Obama Sr. would lie on his child’s birth certificate, especially given that he was listing his real age later that month on his official immigration documents.
Obama supporters might answer that Obama Sr. did not sign the birth certificate. The mother did. In that she was just 17 when the baby was conceived, and Obama Sr. was 26, he might have been lying to her all along.
In a similar vein, Obama supporters say that Obama must have gotten his Connecticut-based Social Security number because he was visiting Connecticut at the time or through a bureaucratic screw-up.
There is an explanation for every anomaly, but no investigation. Obama-friendly operations like Snopes and FactCheck trumpet these strained explanations with grand declarations like “the TRUTH about the birth certificate” or the “TRUTH” about the Social Security number.
The truth, however, is that these outfits do not have a clue as to what the real truth is. The media are no better informed, the “respectable” conservative media included. Worse, they don’t want to know.
Unlike the media, the “birthers” of my acquaintance do not presume to have the answers, but they do have questions and are willing to pursue them.
Upon reading this, they might wonder whether some friendly forger created the released Obama birth certificate unaware that Obama Sr. was an admitted 27 at the time of Obama’s birth, not 25 as listed.
The birthers I know are willing to put their hypotheses on the table and test them. It is Obama’s defenders who shy from the challenge.