President Obama – Birth Certificate Controversy II

I wrote a piece earlier wishing this controversy would go away.  I still wish it would.

If the President is an honest to goodness American-born citizen, then birtherism is a needless distraction from the real issues confronting the country and a waste of the opposition’s resources (time, energy, money, political oxygen, etc).  If the President wasn’t a natural born citizen of the US —- and I highly, highly doubt he was not —- then the country will be faced by a Constitutional controversy without which we would be much better off. 

Imagine, on the heels of Clinton’s impeachment and Bush v. Gore, that we were faced with the second Democratic President in a row facing possible expulsion from the Oval Office at the hands of a Republican Congress!?   

Of course, if we ever had any rock solid evidence that Obama is not Constitutionally eligible to be President, maintenance of the rule of law would seem to demand action – and yet be resisted by many as an anti-democratic/anti-Democratic partisan upholding of an archaic law.  We’d be faced with upholding the Constitution against the democratic wishes of the 2008 electorate or shirking the law in the name of democracy and (so-called, not by me) modern understandings of what the requirements of the Presidency should be.  Add partisan interests and the heated debate will further erode confidence in the American system of government and law no matter which side wins on the narrow point.    

For the good of the country, I wish a nice original Hawaii birth certificate would end this controversy once and for all.  I know – as Adam Smith cautioned – that there is a lot of ruin in a country.  However, I’d like to see a bit less ruin in ours!

But shouldn’t judicious statesmen – apparently not Donald Trump who wants to put political and economic advantage over national interest – just put this to bed no matter where the truth lies (especially since the country isn’t going to be automatically any better off or more respectful of liberty under President Biden)?  I’m not saying they should lie if they know or come to know otherwise.  But how about following the lead of Colin Powell, who, when asked in the first Gulf War how many Iraqis had been killed, basically said he wasn’t really interested in knowing or looking to find out (which is not to say this was the right approach in that case).   

So what do you think should happen if the nightmare scenario of the appearance of relatively rock solid proof did arise?  Is there a good way out of such a problem since impeachment/acquittal (as happened last time) would make a mockery of the rule of law and the Constitution in the face of solid proof (and expulsion would have the aforementioned negative consequences)?

Fortunately, I don’t think such proof in that direction will ever be found.  More likely is the status quo or even the eventual demise of anything but fringe birtherism.

24 thoughts on “President Obama – Birth Certificate Controversy II

  1. If there was ever clear, unambiguous evidence that Barack Obama, or any other recent or future president, was constitutionally unqualified to hold the office, it would be the biggest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. Every action of that president could be challenged, and probably would be. And the constitution itself doesn’t really provide much in the way of guidance here.

  2. There has to be something bad on the document. Mr. Obama could make fools out of so many so easily and quickly if nothing were there. I can’t imagine what motivates him to keep it buried. Spending all kinds of money and enduring a mystery so easily avoided doesn’t make a lot of sense unless something grim is there, something that scares Obama and cadre a lot. Ditto the college transcripts. Masochism doesn’t figure into this.

    Personally, I don’t think the problem with the cert is that it indicates Mr. Obama was NOT born in Hawaii. I think, if anything, there is a more devastating problem. There may be information on the long form cert that indicates Barack Obama Sr. is not his father. Try fellow traveler of both his mother and Barack Sr., Frank Davis, who is mentioned in the books as a mentor and big figure in his youth.

    Take away his reputed father, away goes a basic building block of his “narrative” and his popular books. His name is one assumed, unreal. He has been living a story with holes in it since Day One. This cannot but subject the rest of his life to a scrutiny it may not bear well. If his credulity is low now, what would be left afterward?

    It is not just then a legal question, but another major destruction of what and who Obama has claimed to be. The one you can fight in a court. The other, there is no way to get past.

  3. “the heated debate will further erode confidence in the American system of government and law no matter which side wins on the narrow point. ”

    This is just silly. Debate does not, cannot, erode confidence in the system that enables and encourages debate.

    It strengthens the system if anything. The high drama of recent conflicts and controversies was good sport for those with poor taste, but the system’s methods resolved them and continued purring right along. The losers called foul, “kill the ump”, as they always do, but this is part of the system rather than a deviation, weakness or sign of failure. Humans are poor sports.

    Doubts about Obama’s provenance will continue so long as there is a political advantage to expressions of doubt, just as there were doubts voiced about Bush’s military service and attempts to fabricate evidence against him.

    That’s politics. Get over it.

    1. I respectfully disagree. Imagine – in the scenario I pose – that Obama is impeached and then acquited. How does that process (which will consist of heated debate that would include even the point – on principle or due to partisan concern – that the text of the Constitution doesn’t matter since the demos spoke) further respect for the rule of law given the clear constitutional requirement? Won’t it simply look like another version of the strong doing what they will and the weak suffering what they must – the opposite of the rule of law? Just in this case, it could be numbers behind the sword rather than the sword itself ruling with principle in the ditch. Likewise, imagine how Bush v. Gore looks to Gore supporters or those who think (Gore or Bush supporters) that the political system was not allowed to operate effectively first. Doesn’t it appear as if sheer partisanship and numbers won out there?

  4. I think not. The carping is political carping. When the roles are reversed the carping reverses too.

    If one side or the other always won then the carping would become toxic, but majoritarian systems oscillate. The predictable challenges to legitimacy come from the opposition and are politically motivated. Clinton, Bush and now Obama faced such challenges, and had Palin been a winner the challenges would have been even more feverish.

    It’s ugly, stupid, demeaning, pathetic … call it what you will. But, it isn’t a system failure. I suspect that a scholar could cite many instances from the history of the country that were as traumatic for society at the time as these are now. It’s a form of entertainment. Primates like to squabble. It’s better than assassination, that tried and true method of yore.

    I also suspect that it is part of political strategy to spring such attacks at opportune moments rather than as the openings are discovered. Who knows what dirt the campaign managers have in their tricks bags that will be used as 2012 approaches. That is the system, not a failure of the system.

  5. Harry Schell:

    Obama has every incentive to not release his birth certificate: the birther obsession paints a large portion of republicans as loonies to independents and otherwise educated Americans. And these independents instinctively distance themselves from the loonies.

    Why should Obama release his birth certificate when candidates shoot themselves in the foot by harping on the birther issue? Make no mistake, there are plenty of independents who are turned off by the birther craze.

  6. In the long run, I don’t think it really matters. The Constitution is as dead as a doornail. We don’t live in a land of the power of the law,we live in a land of the power of men. If Obama crosses the power elite in this Country,they will take him down, probably using the Birth Certificate issue to do it.

  7. There is the issue of standing. The Constitution is silent on enforcement of requirements for the Presidency. No Court has standing to hear the issue, including the Supreme Court and this isn’t an issue subject to impeachment. As a practical and legal matter, the only party with any standing to judge the matter is the College of Electors. They have already spoken by voting yea for Candidate Obama.

  8. There is no “long-form birth certificate” for President Obama to produce…as per Hawaii state law, he can only release the COLB, which is good enough for the State Department, et. al. to prove citizenship.

    The Hawaiian Dept of Health has the original birth certificate and it is not released publicy to anyone.

    Therefore, to ask the President to release a document over which he has no legal ownership is absurd. The man was born in Hawaii in 1961….end of story.

  9. I think the attention being paid to Obama’s birth certificate among some on the right is an instance of the same kind of conspiracy-obsession that some on the left have with finding billionaires who are the alleged puppet-masters of the Tea Party movement. By any objective standard, the evidence in both cases is weak and remote, and there are far bigger fish to fry in both cases—namely, the policies, positions, and claims the respective targets (Obama and the Tea Party) are pressing.

    I propose in both cases we focus on the substance, not on these distractions, however sensationalistic, mysterious, and titillating they might be. (I realize this proposal is an old one and is probably issued in vain, but it is worth making anyway.)

  10. The long form birth certificate has been released by the White House. Let’s hope this is the end of this non-issue. Let’s focus on the real issues facing this country.

  11. Grover, obviously Obama is a better American than politician (at least on this issue). I would have waited until the birthers were in full uproar and released the birth certificate ~June 2012, but that is just me… Politically, it would have made more sense to Obama to have the conversation be about his provenance than the economy.

    1. I hear you. A much earlier or a much later release would have made more sense politically – unless he was worried that the meme would stick regardless of the data once it was solidly established.

      1. I think his timing was probably perfect, politically speaking. Had he waited until just before the election to release it voters would have been infuriated — Obama would have appeared predatory to voters. Trump would have spent all his time criticizing this one point that Obama knew all along was moot.

        Now Obama gets to keep the classy image, and revealed Trump to be the incompetent imbecile he is.

    1. Yes, very glad to see that the story can now fade into the Hawaiian sunset! Now let’s see the Donald put his energies into criticizing Obama’s horrible domestic and foreign policies.

  12. Imagine America being led by Donald Trump and Sarah Palin as his V.P! What is the world coming to? I don’t think he will get nominated by the republican party but it is quite entertaining!

    1. A horror movie or a comedy – either way, not my preference either! But one is tempted to think it wouldn’t/couldn’t be worse than what we are presenting enduring in this country. Obama had turned out much worse than I expected (not that I like McCain either). He jumped the shark in foreign policy with Libya. In domestic policy, the health care bill is awful (and unconstitutional in my view). Let’s hope Smith is right that there is a lot of ruin in a nation!

  13. That is funny! Have you seen the comedy version of scary movies? Like Scary Movie I and II? They are a ridiculous combination of scary and funny…

    Please help me understand why do you think that the health care bill is unconstitutional?

  14. The birther movement is a manufactured controversy, and one that has backfired on the people who started it, but has worked out in the favor of the political left. It’s the same kind of conspiracy that dominates the extremist elements in politics on both the right and left wings. Whether that’s 9/11 conspiracies, the new world order, international zionist conspiracy, marxist takeover, etc. Objectively, none of these hold any meaningful weight in the fact department. In the end they sound like raving Alex Jones lunatics, and that in itself is politically convenient, because it distracts our center and moderate electorate from talking about bigger, more important issues.

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