Thursday, April 28, 2011

Obama, frustrated by ‘this silliness...’

The President of the United States yesterday decided to both produce proof of his birth citizenship and whine about the fact that he felt it necessary to do so. The Washington Post, of course, agrees with the President, but skips critical details of the the story.
Some of the president’s conservative critics have pushed the theory that Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was born in Africa, as a way to question his constitutional legitimacy and even his basic American-ness. It is a falsehood that has gained remarkable currency. The most recent CBS/New York Times poll suggests that about a quarter of Americans believe it to be true. Among Republicans, 45 percent said they think Obama was not born in the United States.
There are two key points that need to be made about this "silliness."
  1. The story was started by Hillary Clinton supporters, not "conservatives" or Republicans, during the Democratic primary in 2008.
  2. The story was fed by a telephone call to Obama's step-grandmother, who attested that she was in the room when he was born in Kenya.
You've never seen anything about the story here, because I haven't written about it, because I think it's nonsense. The phone call was done through an interpreter, and the snippets of it that I've heard are abruptly cut off after the confirmation, apparently because when the caller tried to confirm, the interpreter realized he'd misunderstood the question and said, "no, he was born in Hawaii." There was no particular reason to doubt that he was born in Hawaii to begin with and his mother was an American citizen. So I thought that the story was both pointless and silly.

But if Barack Obama is upset that he's dealing with the "silliness" in April of 2011, well, he's got no one to blame but himself.
“The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a blog post on the White House Web site. “It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country.”
The fact that he released yesterday because the distraction "wasn't good for the country" implies that before yesterday, the distraction was good for the country. If he can put this controversy away (which he can't, completely, at this point1) by simply releasing the long-form birth certificate, as he did yesterday, then he could have put it away three years ago when it first surfaced. He chose not to. There's been some speculation that he believed it served his purposes to have a fringe group to point at as he played the race card, but, for whatever reason, he chose not to release the form until yesterday. So it's his own fault that he was dealing with it yesterday.






1 - There are always going to be those who latch onto conspiracy theories and won't let go. Releasing the long-form birth certificate won't stop those people from believing that he was born in Kenya, because it wasn't rational evidence that spawned or promoted that belief, and it won't be rational evidence that dispels it. The three year delay allowed the size of that fringe to grow substantially.

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