Mr. President, this has gone on long enough. You have refused to be candid with the American people whose trust you evidently desire and whom you are required to represent honorably. You have, in effect, erected a wall behind which you give the distinct impression of hiding. There are far too many questions you resolutely decline to answer, far too many mysteries which, by a modicum of simple disclosures, you could easily dispel in a single day. Indeed, so many riddles and puzzles have accumulated about you that, if they are not addressed, they will inevitably bring your presidency into increasing disrepute. At some point, the sphinx must speak.
Why do you not release your long-form birth certificate to the public who surely have a right to know the salient facts surrounding your birth? Why would you want to sow doubt and skepticism? Why endure the prodding of Donald Trump who is convinced that "There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like." Even your great admirer and stalwart supporter Chris Matthews asks on MSNBC: "Will there be any harm done by releasing the original document?" Neither Trump nor Matthews are suggesting that you are not an American citizen. But they are posing a legitimate question you can continue to avoid only at your eventual expense – unless, as some have alleged, your persistent stonewalling is part of a cunning strategy to entice your detractors into a trap that you will spring with a sudden unveiling, thus making them look foolish. Somehow, I don't think the entrapment scenario holds. Too clever by half, even for you. The truth is, there should be no need for evasion here. Settle the 'birther" controversy immediately; otherwise the issue will cling to you no matter how absurd or irrelevant you and your advocates consider it to be.
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There are many other gallets in the wall you have built. Why do you not release your client lists for the period in which you acted as an attorney? You were an Illinois state senator: Where are your official papers? Why has the electorate not seen your Occidental College records? Why have you not released your transcripts from Columbia University, where it also appears that your graduate thesis has utterly vanished? Why is there no significant paper trail attesting to your contribution as president of the Harvard Law Review, except for an unsigned 1990 article? Where is the legal scholarship from your time as a "law professor" at the University of Chicago – though according to your colleague John Drew, you referred to yourself as a "law professor" but served only as a senior lecturer?
Why have you suppressed the details of your application to the Illinois state bar? Where is the bulk of your medical file? Why have you not come clean about teaching Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" to your ACORN students in Chicago? Why do you not instruct the Los Angeles Times to reveal the video footage it has suppressed of your words and actions at former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi's Chicago farewell party held in your honor? Does it contain some revelation damaging to your reputation? Given that you are president of the United States, should not such items as your record of baptism, SAT scores, list of campaign donors and passport records be accessible to the public?
Your behavior perplexes. It brings your authority into serious question. As I've written before, there is something troublingly undocumented about you, a cloud of ambiguity hovering over your selective reticence. Why does so much of importance relating to your history and development remain sequestered under seal? A president was never intended to be a cryptogram, his full biography a state secret. Why are you so dossier-shy? Why does your résumé look more like a palisade than an open door?
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You appear to have constructed a wall of legal masonry intended to keep a concerned public at bay, but which only divides you from the common belief in the authenticity a president must command to govern effectively. You have, according to reports, spent millions of taxpayer dollars raising a juridical barrier between you and the people who elected you. This is not the kind of conduct that befits a man who occupies the highest office in the land. "Something there is that doesn't love a wall," the great Robert Frost memorably wrote. He understood America and loved it with a passion you must certainly approve and share, that is, if you are the man you say you are. Clearly, there is only one way to proceed.
Mr. President, tear down this wall.
David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist.