President Barack Obama finally gave in on Wednesday and released his long-form birth certificate, in an effort to prove to all those “birther” conspiracy theorists – chief among them, Donald Trump – that he was, in fact, born in the United States. Whether the birthers consider Hawaii part of the US in another matter all together.
The Obama Administration released the birth certificate on the White House website, in response, they said, to media inquiries. The birth certificate shows that the President was born at Kapiolini Hospital in Honolulu at 7:42 p.m. on August 4, 1961 (and yes, Hawaii was a state by then – it was inducted into the Union in 1959). The Administration clearly hopes that releasing both his regular and long-form birth certificates will put paid to the longstanding claim that he was not born in the US and therefore not eligible for the presidency.
“This is not and should not be an open question,” White House press officer Dan Pfeiffer wrote in the post. “The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. 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.”
So, will it work? Was this a good idea?
- Trump already questioning authenticity. If it’s any indication how the rest of the birther community will take the news, Donald Trump, who appears to be throwing his combover into the ring for a Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is questioning the birth certificate’s authenticity. Trump said that he and others would want to examine the documents, National Review Online reported. “I hope it’s true. He should have done it a long time ago,” said Trump, at a press conference. “I hope it checks out beautifully.” Trump also noted how “proud” and “honoured” he was “do something nobody else had been able to do,” ie, get the White House to release the birth certificate. Elsewhere at National Review, Daniel Foster noted that now “birthers can get to work on explaining why we now need a photograph of President Obama’s parents standing in front of Kapiolani hospital with a copy of the August 4, 1961 edition of the Honolulu Star Advertiser in one hand and a complete genome in the other.”
- Trump did make him do it. At least, that’s the way it seems, The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz claimed: “Bragging aside, it does make Trump look like he is driving the agenda and forced the White House to react. In a way, you can also thank the media, which loved to flog this issue even as journalists said there was absolutely, positively nothing to it. There were, among other things, the two birth announcements in Honolulu papers days after the future president was born.” Bad move: “By bringing out the president himself to address the non-issue, the administration is blotting out any other news he planned to make today.”
- Does Obama want Trump to run in 2012? The answer, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein sighed, looks like yes. “Which leaves me with a much more depressing explanation for the morning’s events: Maybe our politics really have become this stupid.” It certainly won’t shut him up, Steve Kornacki wrote at Salon.com: “If anything, the White House elevated Trump’s stature by its decision today. It could be that there’s some devious long-term strategy at work, designed to make Trump and his idiocy the face of the GOP. From that standpoint, maybe it does make sense to put the long form out now. But if the idea was to shut Trump up and to quiet the GOP base, the move has already backfired.”
Obama addresses the press:
- Doesn’t really change anything. “If Obama hopes that providing facts and evidence will shut up the birthers, he’ll be disappointed. It simply doesn’t work that way,” observed Amanda Marcotte at Slate’s XXFactor blog. Conspiracy theories have little to do with truth, but rather what people want to believe: “And, as the saying goes, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.”
- Giving in to bullies. Joan Walsh, writing at Salon.com, is deeply saddened by the President’s decision: “I understand why the president made the decision he did, and I fervently hope it works the way he wanted. But I worry that bowing to bullying rewards bullies, and this paranoid, vicious faction in American politics, the one that says a black president has to show extra papers, extra credentials to be accepted, will never be satisfied. It is time for the media to ignore Trump and Taitz and Corsi and their lies.”
- About time. Daily Dish columnist Andrew Sullivan, who’s been on to birther theories of all stripes for years, indignantly exclaimed, “Obama had every reason and capacity as both the person whose birth certificate is on record, let alone as president of the US, to have done this months ago. But he decided to play rope-a-dope instead.”
Who didn’t believe Obama was born in America? These folks.