The Birther Nation - The Other Half of the Right Fringe
Most people would agree that, like the Tea Party Movement, the birth of the “Birther Nation” is inextricably woven into the candidacy and eventual ascension of Barack Obama.
But unlike the Tea Party, the Birther Nation has a reputation that is a tad more portentous, unsavory, predisposed or bigoted.
For one, the Tea Party adherents can conveniently cloak their revulsion or abhorrence for the first African-American president of this country with respectable buzz words and seemingly innocuous iconic libertarian principles like fiscal conservatism and a slew of faith-inspired values. Nonetheless, the timing of their agitation still seems to, quite unmistakably, suggest a baser, sinister intention---if it was truly all about the size of government or deficit spending, as they often opine, one has to then wonder where this fascinating cast of characters with a jarring cacophony of voices was during the Bush years.
Be that as it may, the birthers on the other hand, are definitely without the luxury of such expedient cover.
A variety of theories have been advanced at various points since the rumors first surfaced during the 2008 presidential primaries. There have been widely discredited reports about Obama’s paternal grandmother supposedly admitting to having personally witnessed his birth in Kenya. Forged Kenyan birth certificates have even been proffered to demonstrate that Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. There have equally been claims that since anyone, including foreign-born individuals, can secure a Hawaiian certification of life birth, providing such documentation does not, in and of itself, prove that someone was born there.
Whichever of the competing theories one elects to embrace, the fundamental claim of the Birther Nation is that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and, consequently, not eligible to be President of the United States under Article Two of the United States Constitution.
All efforts till date by the Hawaii Department of Health, the Obama Camp and other independent fact-finders to dispel or quell the rumors have been ineffectual.
A public statement by the Hawaii Department of Health’s Director, Chiyome Fukino, confirming that the state had possession of Obama's "original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures" simply did not suffice. The birthers wanted the original birth certificate. However, researchers found that since Hawaii discarded all paper birth records in 2001 and only currently issues a person’s certification of live birth as the official copy, Obama’s original birth certificate is no longer retrievable.
A “Certification of Live Birth,” laser-printed and certified by the State of Hawaii on June 6, 2007, was circulated. But that didn’t pass muster for most birthers because since it’s “a short form birth certificate,” it contains less information than the longer "Certificate of Live Birth;” notwithstanding that, as already noted, the Hawaii State Department of Health now only issues the shorter Certification upon request.
Honestly one has to wonder if this phenomenon could foremostly have emerged, generated nearly as much interest and/or be so fiercely prosecuted if Obama weren't African-American or half-Kenyan.
Among the GOP elite, many high profile national political figures and other not-so-well-known notables have attempted to revitalize sinking political fortunes or re-energize fledgling presidential ambitions with occasional forays into the controversy. From Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, Richard Shelby to, most recently, Donald Trump, declarations have been made either directly or loosely questioning President Obama’s citizenship and, therefore, the legitimacy of his office.
Understanding that there is a willing and ready constituency on the fringes of the Republican Party with that certain predilection to a strictly racially-motivated hatred for President Obama and all that he represents, they seem devoid of any scruples stoking their seething anger.
In Trump’s case, his motivation is obviously so transparently self-serving that latest efforts to present him, strictly on account of his recent showing in Republican polls, as a serious contender seem quite farcical; even idiotic. Granted his self-professed billionaire status, Trump has a long history of doing or saying anything, including declaring an interest in a possible presidential bid, for a buck. In this particular election cycle, everyone knows he clearly has his sights on boosting ratings for NBC’s “The Apprentice,” his television show.
On a more serious note, the fact that a set and almost always guaranteed platform has repeatedly been provided for this kind of nonsensical discourse by not just politically-aligned news organizations like Fox News but other centrist, more respectable media outlets is gravely concerning.
Additionally, that the majority on the short list of potential candidates on the GOP ticket for the highest office in the country, blinded by their desire to appease a small, racist but extremely vociferous wing of the party, are willing to openly engage in this sort of gutter politics ought to alarm the average American.
But in reality, this goes way beyond politics in the beltway. Although Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature requiring that President Obama and other presidential candidates demonstrate that they are American citizens born in the United States before their names would appear on the state ballot, and similar measures also failed in three other states (Connecticut, Maine and Montana), fourteen other states are reportedly on schedule to take up a comparable legislation.
Mercifully, behind the backdrop of recent poll results showing that nearly 75% of Americans believe that President Obama is a native-born, bonafide citizen, the Republican Leadership is confoundingly playing a tune that it hopes would be pleasing to the raucous Tea Party/Birther wing of its base but which in reality is inharmonious with where the majority of Americans are today. Combined with the unpopular move to permanentize tax cuts for the top one percent while slashing multi-generationally admired social programs like Medicare and Medicaid, this serious miscalculation might foreswear devastating consequences for the GOP in 2012.