I mentioned this controversy a couple of times already, in an earlier blog post on the “moon-landing” hoaxers, but apparently this is another one that just won’t die. This particular misbelief — that President Barack Obama is not a “natural-born citizen” of the US as required by the Constitution and therefore not legally the President — is a favorite of the Religious Right and assorted other paranoid conspiracy theorists.

It became an issue during the 2008 campaign, and despite his electoral victory, it appears never to have died out. It kicked up afresh when a “birther” showed up at Republican Congressman Mike Castle’s “town meeting,” sanctimoniously raging about Obama not having a birth certificate and waving her own — which she believes constitutes proof that Obama refuses to provide his own. The Chicago Tribune‘s Swamp blog comments on this and other events that have pushed this misbelief back into the limelight:

Listen to the cheers for the woman holding up her birth certificate and asking why the president won’t share his.

Listen to the boos when a Republican congressman asserts rather assuredly that the president of the United States, a Democrat, “is a citizen of the United States” …

Listen to the Pledge of Allegiance break out.

Yes, indeed … the assembled childish crowd was angered by Castle’s response that Obama is, in fact, a citizen. And yes, they actually launched into a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance … as if that, too, were somehow proof that Obama is not a citizen.

Folks, the matter of Obama’s birth was settled long ago. Obama has produced all the documentation necessary to show that he is a “natural-born citizen” as defined by federal law. Claims that his birth certification is not valid, are simply untrue, as FactCheck has demonstrated conclusively:

Some claim that Obama posted a fake birth certificate to his Web page. That charge leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream media earlier this week when Jerome Corsi, author of a book attacking Obama, repeated the claim in an Aug. 15 interview with Steve Doocy on Fox News. …

Corsi isn’t the only skeptic claiming that the document is a forgery. Among the most frequent objections we saw on forums, blogs and e-mails are:

  1. The birth certificate doesn’t have a raised seal.
  2. It isn’t signed.
  3. No creases from folding are evident in the scanned version.
  4. In the zoomed-in view, there’s a strange halo around the letters.
  5. The certificate number is blacked out.
  6. The date bleeding through from the back seems to say “2007,” but the document wasn’t released until 2008.
  7. The document is a “certification of birth,” not a “certificate of birth.”

Recently FactCheck representatives got a chance to spend some time with the birth certificate, and we can attest to the fact that it is real and three-dimensional and resides at the Obama headquarters in Chicago. We can assure readers that the certificate does bear a raised seal, and that it’s stamped on the back by Hawaii state registrar Alvin T. Onaka (who uses a signature stamp rather than signing individual birth certificates). We even brought home a few photographs.

Said photographs are available on the FactCheck page in question, including full-size high-resolution photos if you click on the smaller images on the page itself. FactCheck explains a bit more about this document and why it constitutes proof that Obama is truly a “natural-born citizen”:

The document is a “certification of birth,” also known as a short-form birth certificate. The long form is drawn up by the hospital and includes additional information such as birth weight and parents’ hometowns. The short form is printed by the state and draws from a database with fewer details. The Hawaii Department of Health’s birth record request form does not give the option to request a photocopy of your long-form birth certificate, but their short form has enough information to be acceptable to the State Department. We tried to ask the Hawaii DOH why they only offer the short form, among other questions, but they have not given a response.

Note that Hawai’i is not the only place that provides a “short-form certification” rather than the “long-form certificate.” A friend of mine recently requested a copy of her birth certificate, in the town of her birth, and was given a generated document very similar to this one. It was more than enough to get her a passport … which means it passes muster according to federal standards of citizenship.

Something the “birthers” fail to understand is that, while the Constitution requires that the President be a natural-born citizen, it does not state what documentation is required to show this. There is nothing in the Constitution about whether birth certificates or certifications of birth are necessary. Rather, it allows the federal government to decide what is necessary. And according to federal statutes and legal decisions, what Obama has provided, suffices … just as a similar document sufficed for my friend when she applied for her passport.

While the sanctimoniously-outraged woman at Mike Castle’s “town hall meeting” was able to get her long-form birth certificate, for any number of reasons, not all Americans are able to get them. Local officials in some jurisdictions simply do not provide them, and offer no means to get them.

Whether Obama is a “natural-born citizen” is a matter for officials in Hawai’i to decide … and they have done so, as FactCheck explains in the article:

Update Nov. 1: The Associated Press quoted Chiyome Fukino as saying that both she and the registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, have personally verified that the health department holds Obama’s original birth certificate.

Fukino also was quoted by several other news organizations. The Honolulu Advertiser quoted Fukino as saying the agency had been bombarded by requests, and that the registrar of statistics had even been called in at home in the middle of the night.

Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 1 2008: “This has gotten ridiculous,” state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said yesterday. “There are plenty of other, important things to focus on, like the economy, taxes, energy.” … Will this be enough to quiet the doubters? “I hope so,” Fukino said. “We need to get some work done.”

Fukino said she has “personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.”

It turns out that Fukino was incorrect, back in November; it was not enough. His word and those of other local officials are simply being ignored by those who are too committed to their irrational beliefs and delusional thinking to accept otherwise.

It’s really time for the “birthers” like the raging woman at Castle’s “town hall meeting” to grow the hell up and stop denying reality … but we all know they will not do so.

I’m not a big fan of Chris Matthews, but he has a point, as the Tribune‘s Swamp blog entry mentions:

See Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball question Rep. John Campbell, a Republican from California, about the “crazy” bill that he and others are sponsoring requiring future candidates for president to present their birth certificates. …

“Wouldn’t you like to put it to rest? That’s what this proposal is all about,” replies Campbell, noting that people also questioned Republican Sen. John McCain’s credentials because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. …

“Nice try,” replies Matthews. “What you’re doing is appeasing the nut-cases… You’re verifying the paranoia out there… You are playing to the crazies… You guys are playing to the whacko wing” of the Republican Party.

It’s true. Acting as though the “birthers” have a legitimate objection, only makes them feel as though their delusion is well-founded. Yet, as the Swamp blog relates, even Campbell has little doubt:

“As far as I know,” concedes the congressman, pressed to say whether Obama was born in the United States. “Yes,” he says, “I believe so.”

If this concession is good enough for Campbell, it should be good enough for everyone.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.