NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

White House releases President’s long-form birth certificate; birthers not satisfied

Appar­ent­ly hop­ing to fan the flames of the “birther” con­tro­ver­sy (which is mak­ing the right wing look ridicu­lous) Pres­i­dent Oba­ma today autho­rized the release of his “long-form” birth cer­tifi­cate, which, under the laws of the State of Hawaii, would oth­er­wise not be sub­ject to pub­lic records requests.

I’m guess­ing the White House knows full well that the release of this doc­u­ment isn’t going to shut up any birthers. Those who have con­vinced them­selves Barack Oba­ma isn’t an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen and was­n’t born in Hawaii were nev­er going to be appeased with a long-form birth certificate.

But our brain-dead tra­di­tion­al media just loves faux con­tro­ver­sies like this, as evi­denced by CNN’s recent “spe­cial report” on the mat­ter. Releas­ing the long-form birth cer­tifi­cate gives tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tors more evi­dence to use against those kooky birthers with when they inevitably end up talk­ing about this.

The White House ben­e­fits if would-be Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls are spend­ing their time in debates argu­ing whether Barack Oba­ma was born in Hawaii or not. It makes the Repub­li­can Par­ty look sil­ly and dom­i­nat­ed by con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists. Mean­while, Oba­ma can look, well, presidential.

Hilar­i­ous­ly, right wing orga­ni­za­tions are releas­ing state­ments say­ing they’re with­hold­ing judg­ment until they can care­ful­ly scru­ti­nize the doc­u­ment, and not­ing the “late­ness” of its release.

Barack Oba­ma is not — and nev­er was — under any oblig­a­tion to release his birth cer­tifi­cate. Like any oth­er Amer­i­can, he is enti­tled to the pri­va­cy that the law affords. His high-pro­file accusers, inter­est­ing­ly enough, have not both­ered to release their birth cer­tifi­cates. Where’s the proof they were born here? How do we know that they’re Amer­i­can cit­i­zens? Maybe they were secret­ly born some­where else!

In fact, accord­ing to birther log­ic, none of us are real­ly Amer­i­cans. Not unless and until we’ve plas­tered our long-form birth cer­tifi­cate on a sign­post some­where so any of our fel­low maybe-cit­i­zens can see it.

A sane, ratio­nal press corps com­mit­ted to true jour­nal­is­tic prin­ci­ples would not legit­imize the base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries of peo­ple who despise Barack Oba­ma. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we don’t have a sane, ratio­nal press corps. The White House has decid­ed to take advan­tage of the sit­u­a­tion and lever­age it for polit­i­cal gain. Noth­ing wrong with that tac­tic, I sup­pose, if the First Fam­i­ly has signed off on it.

But I think I speak for a great many oth­er pro­gres­sives when I say this whole birther sideshow is just more evi­dence that our media is in greater decline (in almost every respect imag­in­able) than any oth­er insti­tu­tion in this country.

And that’s a prob­lem, because with­out a healthy, eth­i­cal, and vibrant fourth estate, we can’t have a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with each oth­er. Nor can we know what our gov­ern­ment is doing in our names.

POSTSCRIPT (Ken): There are some who see the Pres­i­dent releas­ing his birth cer­tifi­cate as a good thing, cer­tain to cause the press corps to fur­ther mar­gin­al­ize birthers (as if they were doing that already, which they’re not)  and sure­ly to change the nar­ra­tive to how the Repub­li­can par­ty will now deal with its crazy wing. I’m not so sure that’s the case.

In the Pres­i­den­t’s state­ment today, he said:

“We’re not going to be able to solve our prob­lems if we get dis­tract­ed by sideshows and car­ni­val barkers.

I know that there’s going to be a seg­ment of peo­ple for which, no mat­ter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.  But I’m speak­ing to the vast major­i­ty of the Amer­i­can peo­ple, as well as to the press.  We do not have time for this kind of silli­ness.  We’ve got bet­ter stuff to do.  I’ve got bet­ter stuff to do.  We’ve got big prob­lems to solve.  And I’m con­fi­dent we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this.”

The irony here is that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma suc­cumbed to the end­less media sto­ries and silli­ness on the sub­ject, which he pur­ports to want to avoid. By releas­ing his birth cer­tifi­cate the Pres­i­dent did­n’t appease his oppo­nents, who can nev­er be appeased.

Phil Berg, who filed one of the orig­i­nal birther law­suits, now believes that Oba­ma was adopt­ed by his Indone­sian father and lost his U.S. citizenship:

“I think the issue is that he’s not any more nat­ur­al born. I don’t care if he releas­es his birth cer­tifi­cate or what­ev­er,” said Berg. “Let’s see his records com­ing back through immigration.”

Orly Taitz, once called ‘Queen of the birthers’ and who was respon­si­ble for a num­ber of law­suits, is ver­i­fy­ing the doc­u­men­t’s authen­tic­i­ty and now believes that the pres­i­dent is using a false social secu­ri­ty number.

It’s a tried and true tac­tic in elec­toral pol­i­tics to  make mar­gin­al to false claims about your oppo­nent to dis­tract them from the task at hand. What is price­less is when a can­di­date or elect­ed offi­cial spends time refut­ing such charges by pro­duc­ing evi­dence to the con­trary. Divert­ing the oppo­nen­t’s atten­tion by forc­ing them to  fight dubi­ous and false claims, takes their focus away from the issues of the day and, when an oppo­nent, such as Oba­ma, address­es those charges it gives them a mea­sure of legitimacy.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma does­n’t need to waste his time address­ing the false­hoods per­pet­u­at­ed by a group of (arguably) racist mal­con­tents or a loud­mouth cor­po­rate rob­ber baron. It does not serve him or the Amer­i­can peo­ple well to dwell on or respond to these issues. As he sim­ply said today, we’ve got big­ger prob­lems to solve and we do not have time for this kind of silliness.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation

    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation

One Comment

  1. Mr. Oba­ma did very well. I hope now Don­ald Trump will calm down. I think this mat­ter will end with te release of Oba­ma’s birth certificate.

    # by Prasad :: April 28th, 2011 at 1:34 AM
  • NPI’s essential research and advocacy is sponsored by: