May 1, 2011 in Opinion

Cut the cord on birth issue

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It will be interesting to watch the polling now that President Obama has released the long-form birth certificate that affirmed what the short form said: born in Hawaii. Yes, some people needed proof that Hawaii puts the same place of birth on the document it releases as the one it keeps on file. I’ve never understood why it would do otherwise.

Anyway, the trend thus far has been that the more obvious it seems that Obama was born in Hawaii, the more likely it is that people will think otherwise. When the question first arose during the 2008 presidential primary, the birth announcements in two Hawaii newspapers were produced. Yet, suspicion grew that his expectant mom hopped a plane for a grueling flight to Kenya (this was 1961) to deliver the baby, and then quickly hopped another flight to pretend to have it in the United States. They certainly regarded her as one tough mother. (Side note: What if she gave birth on the plane?)

Then the Obama campaign requested a birth certificate, and the state of Hawaii sent what it sends to all requestors: a certified short form with an inscription that reads, “prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding.” This was personally inspected by factcheck.org and posted on the Internet. Good enough to get a driver’s license and a passport. Good enough for the courts. Not good enough for the crack CSI: Birther Team. So the percentage of people who figured he was born elsewhere grew. “Show us the long form,” they said.

That was against state law, so Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the director of the health department, said she had “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.”

Not good enough. “Show us the long form,” the doubters repeated. And in a recent New York Times/CBS News Poll, fully one-quarter of respondents believed Obama was not born in the United States. Among Republicans and tea party supporters, 45 percent said he was born in a foreign country.

So, finally, the president got a legal waiver to Hawaii state law and was given a long form, which he turned over to the media. If “birtherism” still abounds, it will be confirmation that this was never about an honest quest to uphold the Constitution. It was about undermining a man whose lawful victory was deemed unacceptable. In short, sour grapes. Hard to imagine the founders smiling on that.

The hair apparent. NBC hasn’t announced whether Donald Trump’s show “Celebrity Apprentice” has been renewed for another season. But if it’s canceled, the network has two other reality shows he could slide right into.

First, there is “Who Do You Think You Are?” No, it’s not about monstrous egos; it’s a show about genealogy. Who better to take over than a birth certificate expert? If that doesn’t work out, there’s always “The Biggest Loser,” though it would suffer in the suspense department.

Adderall Nation. Among the local responses to the birth certificate release, Matthew Pederson, Spokane County Republican chairman, said: “Now that it’s been released, we can move on to real issues.” President Obama said something similar.

How crazy is it that a nonissue can distract from real issues? Sometimes this country is like a child with attention deficit disorder. Great Recession, horrible employment picture, wars, scary debt, government budgets slashed, college tuition through the roof, but … look! … over there! The guy with the captivating comb-over is talking. He’s a TV celebrity, you know. Let’s listen in.

Trust, but verify. The comments on the President Obama birth certificate story at spokesmanreview.com are pretty entertaining. My favorite is from “johno”, who wrote: “We shouldn’t believe this until it is verified by an unsourced chain email sent by a person we’ve never heard of.”

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.


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