Gee, Thanks a Bunch, Chris…Big Lie Ethics and Obama’s Birth Certificate

Great. Now Chris Matthews is giving support to the birther conspiracy theory.

The excitable MSNBC host recently asked why President Obama doesn’t just put the suspicion and rumors to rest by giving the OK for Hawaii to release his original birth certificate, thus proving that he was born a U.S. citizen and ending the claims that Obama is really foreign-born and never was eligible to become President of the United States. By lending his credibility and perceived legitimacy to the lament of the birthers, Matthews has engaged in irresponsible conduct and done a disservice to the President, the office of the President and the nation.

Why? Here is why, from the toxic mind of Adolf Hitler:

“…in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying…”

The claim that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. was always a Big Lie, designed specifically to isolate him as “the other,” because he was black, because he came from a Muslim family, and because to question his qualifications for office was to sap him of power. It does no good, as Hitler understood well, to argue against a Big Lie, or even to disprove it. The facts are always of minor interest to the liars. What is important is the lie itself. Responding to the Big Lie gives it more credibility, not less. Responding to the Big Lie strengthens it.

Disproving Big Lies also doesn’t make them go away. Democrats continued to claim that George W. Bush “stole” the 2000 Presidential election throughout his eight years in office, because the constant repetition of the lie undermined his popularity. The tactic was designed to appeal to ignorant citizens who didn’t understand the Electoral College, to whom the fact that the loser of the popular vote still won the election was proof enough of chicanery. Post-election recounts using consistent criteria for assessing “undervotes” and “overvotes” that showed that Bush “probably” won Florida (and “probably” was as certain as it was ever going to get) made no difference to the liars, and an official Hawaiian birth certificate will similarly do nothing to stop birthers from claiming a conspiracy.

The best way to counter a Big Lie is to call it what it is, and ignore it. By asking the same question as the birthers, which carries the implication that if the accusation isn’t true, the President should be eager to do everything in his power to disprove it, Chris Matthews (he was joined by columnists David Corn and Clarence Page) is following Hitler’s script. A supposed student of history and politics, he should know better.

12 thoughts on “Gee, Thanks a Bunch, Chris…Big Lie Ethics and Obama’s Birth Certificate

  1. When Ahmadinejad said that most Americans believed that the government was involved in 9/11, many walked out, but my brother offered an alternate reaction that might have been more effective: laughing right his his damn face.

    Would this be a legitimate dismissal of birthers?

  2. But why at all the point of contention? The process of legal vetting the papers submitted by a candidate to the Presidency must have cleared him in the first instance. Is there such a process or not? If not, it is dangerous.

  3. Oh, yes, the “big lie.” Well, Jack, apparently you didn’t realize that the “big lie” that you refer to could just as well be the “big lie” that Obama WAS born in Hawaii. The idea that “…they [i.e. YOU, Jack and so many others], would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously” also applies, and it just so happens to cut BOTH ways. It does NOT incontestably argue that being born outside the USA is the big lie. A certificate of live birth is not the same as a long-form SIGNED birth certificate, and can be produced digitally, and therefore, potentially fraudulently, and have apparently been issued for children born outside the state. There are more than the “birthers” who are interested in this controversy, as indicated by the NY Times poll Matthews refers to. If 23% of the polled state they simply “don’t know” where he was born, they are clearly outside the supposedly “crazed” group you are referring to as “birthers.” Since McCain had to show his long-form birth certificate in the vetting process, why didn’t Obama?

    It’s not just a matter of being a black Muslim obviously born of American citizen parents that raises these questions. His father was born in Kenya, his family lived in Indonesia for some time, his parents met in a RUSSIAN language class in the midst of the Cold War, which raises concerns about KGB activity, counterintelligence, and so on. (And I won’t get into the evidence about his father, mother and step-father being deeply involved CIA operatives.) How is it that his mother’s passport records, which would have shown her residence at the time of Obama’s birth, were found to be inadvertently “destroyed” when FOIA inquiries were made to the State Department?

    Look, these are public records. Anybody should be able to have access to them. PUBLIC RECORDS. The only way people CAN’T get to them is if they are sealed off, and if they are sealed off from public retrieval, they are suspect. Sorry to have to be logical here, but the only way that this legitimate concern will be put to rest is if Obama does the right thing. It takes only one minute of his time to put the wheels in motion. However busy he is with other concerns, time isn’t the issue. What is he afraid of? Wouldn’t you like to know?

    • Peter, Peter…there’s a newspaper birth announcement! How would you explain that? It’s a crazy controversy, especially since it doesn’t matter at this point at all. 1) The requirement should be repealed, and 2) our civil service system was put in place by a native born Canadian. Who cares? Or rather, why waste energy over a dubious ( and I’m being respectful) conspiracy that is of academic interest at best? I don’t get it, and I’ve never gotten it.
      Happy New Year!

      • The founding fathers specifically required this in the Constitution, and unless you have some compelling reason to believe that your wisdom is greater than theirs, the requirement should stay as it is. The obvious concern is that a foreign-born national would likely have less allegiance to an adopted nation than to his own, or to some other cause, a matter which is currently legitimately in dispute. Anyone who listens to such a President apologizing for American achievements and disavowing American exceptionalism could be one of those “doubting Thomases.”

        A Canadian designing the civil service system has nothing whatsoever to do with the appropriateness of requiring natural birth for its President, unless you somehow think of Executive power of the most powerful nation in the world being right up there with that of the Postmaster General.

        Once again, a birth announcement is NOT the same as a long-form certificate of live birth, a distinction which has not been recognized by those who prefer to believe a conclusion without checking their facts. Once again, the production of a certificate of live birth has specifically been DENIED by this President. This is an ACTIVE move to prevent something. It’s not an inadvertent omission. To anyone with the most minimal curiosity and concern for adhering to our Constitution, this is indeed a matter which has not been laid to rest.

  4. Gotcha! The Canadian was President Chester A. Arthur, which was my point.

    Obviously the conditions regarding non-native born Americans was rather different in the 18th Century, no? No foreign agent is going to get elected president. I would vote for Austrian-born Arnold over a lot of the likely crop of 2012 candidates, and would like to have the option—unless you think he would make everyone wear liederhosen.

  5. From Wikipedia: “Most official references list Arthur as having been born in Fairfield in Franklin County, Vermont on October 5, 1829. …There has long been speculation that the future president was actually born in Canada and that the family moved to Fairfield later. …. During the 1880 U.S. presidential election a New York attorney, Arthur P. Hinman, was hired to explore rumors of Arthur’s foreign birth. Hinman alleged that Arthur was born in Ireland and did not come to the United States until he was fourteen years old. When that story failed to take root, Hinman came forth with a new story that Arthur was born in Canada. This claim also fell on deaf ears.” Apparently you’re still in the “hearing” camp. But the point is irrelevant. Even if Arthur had been born in Canada and been an illegitimate President doesn’t set the precedent that now says it’s OK for future Presidents not to be natural born. And I shouldn’t be the one reminding you as a Harvard lawyer that a Constitutional amendment would be required to change this.

    As for the assertion that no foreign agent is ever going to be elected President, in an era of ascendancy of global corporations, and those calling for global government at the extinction of American national sovereignty, you are incredibly naive.

  6. Jack, the heart of this matter is not a campaign of political character assassination. It’s a matter of the Constitution. Every President before Obama presented affidavits of eligibility for office to the best that their times allowed. Barack Obama has not only failed in this, but has actively resisted all legal attempts to get him to comply. This alone is what has kept the “Birther Movement” going. As the leading birthers themselves say, all that’s needed is a legal document that attests without qualification to Obama’s birthright. And, as with other birthers, I hope that he IS qualified, as I understand that a disqualification would wreck untold havoc on this nation in many ways. Obama could put an end to all this with one phone call to Hawaii. Yet, he has not. And the longer this goes on, the worse will be the consequences if he is disqualified. That’s what worries many citizens. Birthers are not racist or right wing fanatics, as the Left proclaims. They’re just asking a question that needs to be asked as a patriotic duty.

  7. Precisely so, Steven. Why do you think this is so difficult to understand? Unless we, once again, are witness to those who don’t even want to consider the awful implications, and are therefore unwilling to investigate whether true or not?

  8. Dear Peter:

    My great worry on this has always been not only in the precedent it sets, but the terrible impact it would have if Obama were to be revealed as a false President. It would mean that every action he authorized and every measure he signed while in the White House would become null and void. That would not only create political havoc, but would likely collapse the already frail economy. It would be a situation unprecedented since the War Between The States. And it could very easily devolve into a like scenario, resulting in this nation’s dismemberment.

    AND, the longer this goes on, the worse the situation becomes. That’s why I fervently hope that Obama IS eligible, even while opposing virtually everything he’s done! The future of civilization hinges on America’s survival and the defense of its ideals. However, if those essential ideals are to survive at all, the truth must be known. Obama’s arrogant intransigence has placed us all in danger by this factor alone.

  9. BTW, Peter, your exchange with Jack over Chester A. Arthur was noteworthy in that it illustrated a big difference between he and Obama. Like Obama, Arthur was the product of a notorious big city political machine (NYC in his case) and was elevated to high office as a representative of his political bosses. However, upon succeeding to the Presidency, he enacted measures to curb the power of those interests over those of the nation. Like another casually despised President (Millard Fillmore!) he demonstrated the ability to decisively act wisely and responsibly, even to his own detriment. No one will ever say that of Barack Obama. His recent elevation of Mayor Daley’s brother as his chief of staff is indicative! Polk, Fillmore, Arthur and Coolidge stand as the most underrated Presidents in history.

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