The controversy over a birth certificate (Update)
I have to be completely honest about something that’s in the news these days that I was really planning on ignoring: I don’t really believe that President Obama was born in a foreign country. Barring real evidence to the contrary, I have no reason to doubt the word of the Vital Records folks in Hawaii who say their records show Obama was born there in 1961. And I honestly believed I was part of a firm majority of people in Virginia who felt the same.
However, word is coming out about a Public Policy Polling survey due to be released today that 41% of my fellow Virginia Republicans believe Obama wasn’t born in the US. (Really, guys? 41%?) Just 32% believe as I do that he was while 27% – almost as many of us who believe he was born in Hawaii – aren’t sure. There’s no reason to believe that these figures are somehow massively different in Virginia than they are elsewhere but even if it’s just half of that nationwide, that’s still 1 in 5 Americans with a serious doubt that the man sitting in the Oval Office is legally qualified to be there. That’s a very big deal.
I read an opinion piece by Chuck Norris yesterday and it got me thinking: if this kind of uncertainty exists why not do something about it. Norris says the same thing:
I’m writing you because this is no longer a matter merely about proving a presidential prerequisite in the Constitution. Refusing to post a copy of your original birth certificate is an unwise political and leadership decision that is enabling the birther controversy. The nation you are called to lead is experiencing a growing swell of conspirators who are convinced that you are covering up something. So why not just prove them wrong and shut them up?
To the members of Obama’s supporting team who have suddenly decided that dissent isn’t the patriotic duty they have been claiming it was for 8 years, take note that Norris explicitly states that he’s not among those who believe Obama wasn’t born in America. Read Norris’ whole article and you’ll see that he’s more concerned about the wisdom of allowing such a controversy to survive and grow when the fix for it would be simple and devastatingly quick.
But is it right and proper to be asking for that document to be released? Well, we demand that our Presidents release their medical reports. We demand to know their tax returns. We demand these things because we want to know that the man at the top is medically fit for such an office and that he’s adhering to the law in fiscal matters. The issue of whether he was born here in America isn’t academic and it’s not political, it’s a matter of Constitutional law and it’s black and white. He’s either legally permitted to run and hold the office or he’s not.
The requirements consist of him being of a certain age (35 years old or more) and that he be a native-born U.S. citizen. (A third requirement exists that he also must have lived in the US for 14 or more years but we know that’s been met by President Obama.) The only document that can conclusively prove that he meets both of the first 2 requirements is a birth certificate. That document is required for anyone so much as trying to get a drivers’ license in this country and it’s suddenly a no-no to ask that we see it when we’re confirming eligibility to be the President? Asking for documented proof of legal eligibility is not wrong and the mere asking is not traitorous regardless of the various commentary being aired – on both sides of the political aisle. I’m with Norris on this one: put up and shut them up. If this is such the non-issue it’s being claimed, then produce the document, shove it into the nearest “birther’s” face, and tell them to stick their conspiracy theories where the sun don’t shine.
Then we can get on with the rest of this business we have before us.
Update: Jonah Goldberg at The Corner has an interesting take.