The foaming-at-the-mouth “birthers” are hardly the type to lay down their rhetorical arms and admit defeat even when forced to see the very document they’ve been demanding from President Obama.
The clamor surrounding Obama’s citizenship status has only intensified in the aftermath of the White House releasing, for the second time, documented proof he was born in Hawaii. For the most part, birthers refused to accept Obama’s “long-form” birth certificate at face value. Some even insisted the document they had sought for years — and claimed didn’t exist — offered more proof that Obama is not constitutionally eligible to be president.
Within hours of the White House releasing the document Wednesday — a political token Obama hoped would curtain the “sideshows” and muzzle the “carnival barkers” — lead barker Donald Trump held a news conference to offer self-congratulations for helping the country move past the issue. (Of course, for more than a month Trump has led the charge to delegitimize the president — and energize a possible campaign of his own.) Trump then moved on to question Obama’s intelligence, wondering how this “terrible student” got into Harvard and Columbia.
Not everyone would be as … ahem … gracious as The Donald.
Orly Taitz, often described as the “Queen of the Birthers” found herself in a surreal yelling match with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, demanding the camera zoom in on a copy of Obama’s draft records — new proof, she claimed, of a fraudulent presidency. The interview quickly devolved into shouting, and O’Donnell cut her feed. "I invited a crazy person on the show to see if a crazy person faced with the thing that the crazy person was trying to get for two and a half years could say something responsive, something human,” he said. In the end, she couldn’t.
The Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist group that argues black people are “a retrograde species of humanity,” accused the White House of doctoring Obama’s birth certificate, claiming to have uncovered computer coding that suggests it had been digitally altered. Meanwhile, over at the far-right World Net Daily, Joseph Farah — who has sponsored billboards with the text “Where’s the birth certificate?” — called for a “skeptical public” to press Obama on his parentage and why he “continues to cultivate a culture of secrecy around his life.”
“It would be a big mistake for everyone to jump to a conclusion now based on the release of this document, which raises as many questions as it answers,” Farah said.
In what The New York Times called “a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life,” Obama released the missing piece of the “birther” conspiracy puzzle — his “long-form” birth certificate. It confirms that Barack Hussein Obama II was born on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961. His parents are identified as Stanley Ann Dunham, born in Wichita, Kan., and Barack Hussein Obama, born in Kenya — precisely what the president has said clearly for his entire life.
The questions Farah says remain are ludicrous, but they’re part and parcel of the loony conspiracy theories surrounding Obama’s presidency: He’s a Manchurian candidate, a sleeper agent placed here years ago by mysterious foreign — perhaps “Islamic” — interests bent on seizing control of the nation’s highest office to steer the country toward socialism. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, reacting with typical chicanery, even suggested the president might not even be human.
What does he find shocking? “That Obama was born at all,” Limbaugh said. “I mean, here they have presented this guy as ‘the Messiah,’ as ‘the One,’ and those people aren’t born. They just descend from the heavens.”
The birther claims were first introduced during the 2008 campaign. They quickly spread from the conspiracy-laden dens of the radical right into the talking points of conservative media pundits and politicians, many of whom lent the idea credence. Sarah Palin said questions about Obama’s citizenship were “fair game.” U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) questioned the president’s nationality, too, though she has backed off slightly in recent days. Arizona state Sen. Carl Seel introduced legislation that would require every presidential candidate appearing on that state’s presidential ballot to produce a birth certificate. (Gov. Jan Brewer ultimately vetoed the bill.)
Most recently, right-wing attack dog Jerome Corsi — best known for his “Swift Boat” twisting of the Vietnam war record of then-presidential candidate John Kerry — wrote two books questioning the Obama story. In what must produce chuckles in the White House, one of them goes on sale on May 17. Upon publication, Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case That Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President will be saddled with an untimely title.
Even though Obama provided exactly what Corsi has been asking for, he wrote Thursday on World Net Daily that the president has more to prove. “Obama's presidency now depends upon the White House being able to support the veracity of all the information contained in the birth document released yesterday morning.” He even claimed the document presents new proof to discredit the president. (Critics spuriously claim that because of his father’s Kenyan citizenship, the Constitution disqualifies him for the office of the president.)
During yesterday’s White House briefing, Obama said the time has come for the nation to move on and address the real challenges facing the nation.
“We’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted,” Obama said. “We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.”
Maybe, just maybe, the Trumps, the Taitzs, the Farahs and the Corsis of the world aren’t really interested in that at all.