Donald Trump, Birther

Classy as ever, Donald!

Donald Trump, whose pseudo-entry into the Republican presidential sweepstakes has had the effect of making all the other candidates and near-candidates look classy by comparison, now is playing the despicable “birther” card. It figures. Everything about Trump’s career, personal life and properties, even his hairstyle, has been an exercise in bad taste.

This tactic plays to the lowest lights in the Republican party, about 70% of whose members harbor serious doubts about President Obama’s place of birth. This is not surprising: it is pure confirmation bias. Most Republicans don’t like Obama, and so don’t trust him. The confusion about his birth certificate feeds that distrust, and confirms it. It seems plausible to them that such an untrustworthy sort is hiding his true place of birth. To someone who trusts the President, this is not plausible. The slow-motion furor over his citizenship confirms their already formed beliefs too: that the Republicans are fools and racists.

Conspiracy theories, of which this is one, always are the product of distrust. Because they a built out of dark suppositions woven from the normal coincidences and random events of life, they are easy to sustain; because they can usually only be debunked by proving a negative, they are harder to kill than the Hydra. Can we prove that War Secretary Stanton wasn’t in league with Booth to pave the way for Lincoln’s assassination? Can we prove the FDR didn’t have advance notice that Pearl Harbor would be bombed? Can we prove that there wasn’t another gunman on that grassy knoll?

Nah. And we can’t prove that Barack Obama wasn’t spirited into Hawaii from Kenya or Malaysia or Mars sometime after his supposed birthday, at least in the absence of a certifiably genuine birth certificate, which no one, apparently including the President, can’t put their hands on. Lots of Americans are in similar positions regarding their birth certificate, but they don’t have a hoard of political enemies hell-bent on proving they are fraudulent citizens.(Amusingly, Trump out his own birth certificate online, and it turned out that it wasn’t the document he thought it was.) The Donald explained to Candy Crowley on CNN that the two newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth could have been planted there to aid in the deception, since they were eight days late. Trump emphasizes that none of Obama’s relatives can say which hospital he was born in, or who the doctor was that delivered him. Oh-oh! Not only do none of my living relatives know which Boston hospital I was born in, but neither can I.

I admit it. I was born in Kenya.

Trump’s birther fantasies have only one purpose, and that is to be disrespectful of the President of the United States, to imply that he is not a legitimate leader, and to suggest that he is living a lie. There is no other. If, in a development that I deem as likely as the appointment of Charlie Sheen as Secretary of Agriculture, it was shown that President Obama was, in fact not born in the U.S., the odds are that nothing would happen. He would probably not be impeached, certainly not convicted by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. Maybe the most rabid Republicans could force a Constitutional crisis of some sort…gee, just what we need! Absolutely nothing good could come from proof that the birthers are right, if such proof existed.

The biggest boon to Obama-haters comes from just repeating the “suggestion” over and over again. This is the “Big Lie” tactic, and Hitler was right: it works. It has worked recently for the Democrats, who have eroded Sarah Palin’s popular support by relentlessly asserting that she is illiterate, uncivil and a dits, though she is none of these.  (Bonus Quiz: In 100 words or less, explain how Palin’s famous comment about “death panels” was more outrageous and deserving of media criticism than Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) statement during last week’s budget debate that “In ’94 people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they’re here to kill women.” ) They used the same tactic to convince many Americans that George W. Bush was some kind of idiot savant, though objective evidence indicates that he is at least as smart as Al Gore, and smarter than John Kerry… though, in fairness, who isn’t?

The President of the United States does not deserve abject obeisance, but he does deserve the presumption of good will and honesty. He also deserves the public’s respect and loyalty, neither of which are served by maintaining corrosive conspiracy theories to undermine his authority that can never be proven and would grievously harm the country if they were.

The birther fantasy does do some good however: it is an accurate indicator of seriousness, judgment and character, telling us that public figures who endorse it have none. It would have served that purpose with Donald Trump, except that it isn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know.

23 thoughts on “Donald Trump, Birther

  1. Might want to be careful on any negative comment regarding our next potential president (other than Palin). 🙂

  2. Personally, I tend to believe Obama was born in Hawaii; however, that doesn’t make him a “natural born citizen.” Even Obama admits that he had dual citizenship because of his father. In order to be a “natural born citizen” both parents have to be citizens at the time of the child’s birth. He would definitely be considered a “citizen” because of his mom, but that isn’t “natural born.”

    Taking the above “natural born” as true we literally have a usurper in office but the people elected him and it wouldn’t do anyone any good to do anything about it now. But, there’s another election coming up.

    This isn’t a conspiracy and I don’t believe I’m a “birther” unless all birthers believe Obama should produce his full birth certificate as did most if not all other presidents. The very fact that he refuses to show it along with a host of other pertinent documents most presidents exhibit makes him appear like he’s hiding a great deal. In addition, most hospitals would love to have it known he was born there, but in Obama’s case, no hospital is forthcoming. In Obama’s book he admits finding his full birth certificate, so why does he only show a “Certificate of Live Birth”? In order to get a passport, one has to show a copy of the original “full” birth certificate. Obama must have a passport since he traveled around the world. Is it an American passport? If it is American how did he get into Pakistan when Americans weren’t allowed to go there? As a dual citizen he certainly could have had another country’s passport.

    Let’s face facts, in order to be a conspiracy there would be almost no way to prove anything. In this case, Obama does have the pertinent documents but like everything else he does, there’s no such thing as personal “transparency” or in his administration.

    Re: Newspaper announcements mean nothing since even his grandparents could have registered his birth in Hawaii and the papers would have picked up the information from the Health Department’s Office of Health Status Monitoring that lists a child named “Obama II, Barack Hussein” was born in that state. The address in the announcement was his grandparents address. His mom was enrolled in a college in Washington State at the time of Obama’s birth & yes, she did attend that college while her alleged husband was in college in Hawaii.

    Trump is definitely wrong in stating his father’s step-mother admits he was born in Kenya. She originally did say something like that through a translator but the translator asked what hospital in Kenya and she said he was born in America – twice.

    Now, here’s a conspiracy that probably cannot be proven. Obama’s real father is Malcolm X. This one is weird because he sure as hell looks a lot like Malcolm X and nothing at all like Obama Sr. See pictures at: http://israelinsider.net/profiles/blogs/is-obama-the-secret-son-of

  3. You are wrong. If you are born in the US, you are a natural born citizen. What do you think all the controversy over illegal immigrants who have children here is about? Any of those children are “natural born citizens,” and any of them are eligible to be president.

    • IMHO a “natural born citizen” is ABSOLUTELY NOT the same as a normal American citizen. Children born in America to illegal parents are citizens but CANNOT be president because they’re not “natural born citizens” — born of two American citizens even if they’re only naturalized parents. They can be congressmen, governors, mayors, etc. but not a U.S. President.

      John Bingham, aka “father of the 14th Amendment”, was an abolitionist congressman from Ohio who prosecuted Lincoln’s assassins. Ten years earlier, he stated on the House floor:
      “All from other lands, who by the terms of [congressional] laws and a compliance with their provisions become naturalized, are adopted citizens of the United States; all other persons born within the Republic, of parents owing allegiance to no other sovereignty, are natural born citizens. Gentleman can find no exception to this statement touching natural-born citizens except what is said in the Constitution relating to Indians.” (Cong. Globe, 37th, 2nd Sess., 1639 (1862)) http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/059/0600/06811639.gif

      Then in 1866, Bingham also stated on the House floor:
      “Every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.” (Cong. Globe, 39th, 1st Sess., 1291 (1866)) http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llcg&fileName=071/llcg071.db&recNum=332

      • Stop spreading misinformation, please. The Congressional research service and the US Supreme Court, plus the Common Law definition of the term say otherwise. You are dead wrong.

      • The United States follows “ju solis” which means any child born in the “land” within the sovereignty of the United States of America is considered a citizen of USA… What is hard to understand about it.. go back and review your constitution..
        This is just a proof that you people are envious of the current President.. Please review your history too so it will remind you who is the first inhabitant of the Americas.. NOt you my friend.. we were all once an alien on this land. Dig it. or continue the “dark” legacy of you forefathers…

  4. Thanks for the link to the Slate article. Exactly what I’ve been wanting to read.

    I actually would like to see the “Birth” requirement thrown away. America has been a great country built on the dreams and ambitions of immigrants.

    Isn’t kind of ridiculous that a baby born here, can be taken abroad and raised for 20 years, then come back to the U.S., Birth Certificate in hand, live here for 15 years and then become president? How is that any better than someone being born in Kenya and growing up in the U.S. and never leaving?

    • I agree completely. I’d love to see the likes of Ahnold, Henry Kissinger, George Soros and David Ortiz be eligible to run for president. The natural born citizen requirement is archaic and pointless.

  5. There are two things that I’ve always found interesting about this whole “thing” (for lack of knowing what to call it).

    1) The sense of scale:
    I once had to produce my State-issued BC just to get my Driver’s License renewed (because I had accidentally waited until a few days after it had expired to get it renewed, and as such had to prove “legal presence” according to VA law as if I were applying for the first time). Yet, with a Constitutionally-mandated requirement for age and citizenship, why is this not a routine part of the swearing-in of EVERY President, Senator, and Representative?

    I mean, when it’s a big deal that you don’t get officially sworn in even though you’ve been properly elected (and I agree that it is a big deal), why are the Constitutional requirements just treated as a formality?

    What actually is there to stop a 20-year-old (citizen) from running for Senate?

    2) The big question at the root of it:
    At what point do you draw the line between answering what you consider frivolous criticisms and ignoring them to avoid dignifying those criticisms with a response?

    There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus on this question because there are definite pros and cons to doing either one, and the situation can easily change over time. This whole “thing” seems to be a good example where the line is always a bit in motion and people certainly seem to have different opinions about where it falls. It strikes me as a balancing act of absolutist versus utilitarian concerns, with both “answer” and “ignore” each having both absolutist and utilitarian arguments in their favor.

    All I know for sure is: whatever you do, Mr. President, don’t forget to renew your driver’s license!

    –Dwayne

    • I think you have that right. The fact is that the natural-born requirement has traditionally been glossed over, and is something between a dead letter and taken for granted. In other words, it has been on the honor system. Based on our nature, we’ll have to wait until a really good candidate get dinged by it, and then they’ll be a rush to repeal it.

      • Think of it like the requirement that the president and vice president can’t come from the same state. Originally, it was to limit regional power. Now? Who care’s if Cheney had legal residence in Texas or Montana.

  6. (Bonus Quiz: In 100 words or less, explain how Palin’s famous comment about “death panels” was more outrageous and deserving of media criticism than Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) statement during last week’s budget debate that “In ’94 people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they’re here to kill women.” )

    Challenge Accepted (2). That statement appears to be mocking what is being done compared to what was intended (15). The reps were elected to fight debt, but instead they are cutting funding that not only saves lives, but also keeps down government costs (24). Getting rid of this program will cause women to die and increase the longterm debt (15). That’s not in the same class as Palin’s false statement, where a government board decides who lives and dies (19). One’s a scary lie meant to confuse; one’s mocking their opponent with scary truth (13).

    Of course, if Rep Slaughter is not just making a parallel to mock the tea party reps, then my explanation wouldn’t apply.

  7. Obama has produced his birth certificate, and it has been examined by the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, and by the registrar of vital statistics (at least one of which is a Republican, I believe). It contains all the necessary information to verify his parents, date and location of birth. They have publicly stated that the Department of Health in Hawaii holds the certificate. Factcheck.org also examined the document and have photos on their website that address the issues of signatures and the raised seal, but of course they could be biased.

    You are exactly right that this is mere fear-mongering and a diversion from issues that are truly important.

    I disagree that the Republicans are out to “kill women,” but tgt is correct, more women will have and die from illegal abortions, std’s and cancer if Planned Parenthood is defunded. Only 3% of their budget goes to abortion services.

    • I think Planned Parenthood is an excellent organization, as are the National Endowment for the Arts and NPR. And it is fiscally irresponsible to give any of them government funding when we are in hock to the Chinese up to our eyeballs, have an aging population, the world is getting more dangerous and our sewer lines are rotting beneath us.

      But I digress.

  8. I would agree with you about NPR and the National Endowment for the Arts up to a point, but that’s not the topic. I do believe that women’s (and men’s and children’s for that matter) health is part of the “common good” provided in the constitution. I know I am not going to convince anyone who thinks the free market is going to lead to a better health care system (wouldn’t it have done so by now?). Taking care of the health of our citizens who are unable to do so by those of us who can contributes to the common good, both in terms of physical and economic health.

    • There’s also that little thing where preventative care for the poor keeps them from going to emergency rooms and getting treated for free, with the incurred costs passed along to the government directly, or through increased rates for everyone else, and more money spent pretax on healthcare. It’s like needle exchange programs. Every dollar spent saves 5.

    • Hey, I support a competitive and primarily private healthcare system (with relatively little direct regulation apart from things like making sure people with pre-existing conditions don’t get rejected), AND increased public funding for people who otherwise can’t afford care. What does that make me?

  9. Has anyone ever had to request a copy of their birth certificate? It involves jumping through hoops, presenting papers IN PERSON, waiting in line, many phone calls, often a return trip, again with the same documents, and usually takes 2ish months.

    I don’t understand the desire to withhold the actual birth certificate from the public in his case, but I equally don’t understand the desire to SEE it from so many loud voices. I’d like it to shut the noise about it up- but it won’t happen. Who here would happily post their birth certificate online for all to see? I’d bet NONE of us (I wouldn’t). There are already a few fake mes out there based on identity theft from years ago. Getting a digital copy of my birth cert from online, with a decent, not even amazing, forger to print it, would be a bonanza for other fake mes.

    • Indeed I have. And it was pretty much as you describe.

      While your concerns about identity theft are completely valid, you have to also admit that trying to steal the identity of the sitting President of the United States takes a very special kind of foolhardiness.

      –Dwayne

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