Is President Obama a Birther?

Barack Obama - Caricature

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

I argued recently that questions about President Obama’s birthplace may plague him more in the next election season than it did during the 2008 election. Donald Trump, who is rumored as of today to have decided to run for the presidency, could press the issue so that Obama is compelled to respond.

I’ve also argued that Obama would be wise to respond. Here are two reasons, stated succinctly:

  1. As president, it would be admirable for him to act in the interests of seeking national unity by providing what the birthers have asked for.
  2. It would also go far in deflating the steam that has built up among those who seriously believe that he was not born in the United States.

Obama needs to find a venue for doing this that looks less like a capitulation to demands and more like the act of a statesman. That means offering the long form version of his birth certificate sooner rather than later. It would be a relief to many of us who are not birthers if Obama would take this simple step and put it behind us all.

Let’s face it. This is the only way everyone will know for sure that Obama isn’t himself a birther.

Question: What do you think about the birther controversy?

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

23 Responses to Is President Obama a Birther?

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Matt, thanks for the nudge. I just did post again, finally. See “Triumph Over Blogging” for my explanation. Thanks for following!

    Like

  2. Matt Viney says:

    Dr Geivett,

    Please post again on your blog soon! It’s very quiet at the ranch.
    🙂

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  3. Doug Geivett says:

    Tim, you may be right. Questions about his education have also come up.

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  4. Doug Geivett says:

    Well, DC, I’m happy to hear from you as you continue to read posts at this blog. Subscribing is pretty simple. There’s a button on the page where you can do this.

    Cheers!

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  5. Doug Geivett says:

    Hello ianam,

    I decided to approve your comment, which is crass and disrespectful, because it reveals your failure to pay attention to what you read on this blog. I am not a birther or a skeptic about Obama’s birthplace. You discredit yourself when you allege what clearly can be demonstrated to be false right here in this post. Readers here should bear this in mind when they read your other comments, which I’ve approved, on other posts of mine.

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  6. Ray says:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/weigel/archive/2011/04/27/birther-legislation-in-texas-still-a-go.aspx

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/orly_taitz_obamas_long-form_birth_certificate_should_say_negro_not_african.php

    He could produce copies certified in blood by people on their deathbeds who had a fear of Hell were they to lie about the truth of the matter, and those who are driven by a hate that has nothing to do with his birth except that it is better euphemistically to use that as a reason rather than that which truly drives their engine, and in the old spy parlance, they would still deny, even if they knew that others knew that they knew . . . the truth of the matter.

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  7. Tim says:

    It occurs to me that Obama might have more to hide in terms of his educational records than he does with his birth certificate. Could it be that he’d rather have birthers looking like a bunch of nut cases than give them a taste of blood which would fuel their pressure for him to release his other, potentially more incriminating, records.

    Of course if the media had done their job during the campaign all of this would have been “vetted,” to borrow their word, before now.

    And one last thing, how is it one can’t get a passport without a birth certificate, but one can become president?

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  8. Nobland says:

    Re: above stated:

    “many Americans have been surprised to learn that presidential candidates do not, as a matter of course, have to document the place of their birth. Many would say that this is a failure within the system. ”

    I find it a bit humorous to note that Abraham Lincoln was not born in the United States… or a territory in fact. Lincoln was born in the frontier and his birth was a bit prior to the establishment of Illinois Territory in 1809. Log cabin beginnings did not include hospitals, rarely doctors and certainly no birth certificates. So Lincoln’s eligibility to become president could have been put in question. Was it?

    Considering the fact that a Civil War broke out when it was announced that Lincoln won the office of President I am a bit curious if there were any “birthers” challenging his eligibility. One might assume that the times were even more stressed and divided than even today and no stone would have gone unturned by the South in trying to keep Lincoln from office.

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  9. steve hays says:

    theuglyfringe says:

    “My reference to ‘system’ is being the sum-total of all the usual methods, checks & balances, judicial processing and in fact bureaucratic processing that normally exist in place. In other words, the chances of a person who is “the most powerful position in the world” being able to screw the system is as close to nil as can be because the processes of life itself would have exposed it.”

    Hmm. I can’t help remembering how Kurt Waldheim was able to elude detection despite international scrutiny of a public position (Secretary-General of the UN) at least as high-profile as the US presidency.

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  10. steve hays says:

    I haven’t made a point of following the “birther” dispute. However, from what I’ve incidentally encountered, the issue may be more complicated than where he was born. For even if he was born here, the requirements for citizenship can vary from state to state or decade to decade. I don’t know if birthright citizenship is, in fact, a constant in US history.

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  11. ianam says:

    Doug, you are, like all birthers and “skeptics” about Obama’s birthplace, an imbecile.

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  12. Pingback: What is a birther? « THE STR

  13. Thanks for the reply Doug.

    My reference to “system” is being the sum-total of all the usual methods, checks & balances, judicial processing and in fact bureaucratic processing that normally exist in place. In other words, the chances of a person who is “the most powerful position in the world” being able to screw the system is as close to nil as can be because the processes of life itself would have exposed it. That to cover up a birth certificate or in this case a non-existent birth certificate via civil servants, judges and government officials, from endless numbers of journalists and other investigators prodding and examining every minute of that person’s life and not come up with a fraud on that scale is not just unlikely but in fact to many an insult on “the system” itself. Watergate was nothing compared to this and was found out quick enough let alone all the other “gates”. As a long-term law professional I would consider it an insult.

    Recently there was an item in Yahoo News about a child-hood friend of Obama being caught in a sex-scam – he was in early school with Obama in Hawaii and he (and his family) knew the Obama family from day one. The anti-Obama press made much of this “child-hood buddy”. So much for the same press and community making such a case of nobody knowing the child Obama and yet they want to score political capital on both those not knowing him and those that do. Simply put “the system” actually brings out a non-biased reality and simply shows up abuse and those that want to abuse it. Many would say that the corner-stone of society these days is in fact “the system”. For us in the legal profession, “the natural system in play” is a critical element of law as the assumption is that eventually the basis behind justice, fairness, trust and protection of rights comes from this system we have developed. Challenging or accusing the system to be flawed is therefore an accusation of a miscarriage of justice, unfairness, lack of trust and lack of faith that things work and is amongst the most serious of issues that in some countries (as recently shown) results in revolution. Now ask the question, do you have trust in the system that the current President, the most scrutinized man on the planet, did somehow manipulate that system? I would argue no, because that system would have rejected him.

    The reference to 2 million dollars to cover up I think is also not logical even from a brief glance with obvious flaws. As you can imagine based on how the system would reject such a fraud, even some form of bribery at the cost of 2 million would not be enough to cover it up – Murdoch would pay ten times that to bring down a left leaning government with exclusivity (so would Trump in fact) and as I mentioned, such an act would have been exposed already (let alone being in fact proven beyond doubt).

    Even assuming the only other possibility that the 2 million is the legal costs by White House Council does not really stick. That they were engaged to remind the officials, courts and others in Hawaii what the laws say and behave themselves is doubtful as the bill costs would be only in the low 10’s of thousands and any campaign regardless of cost would have been also fodder for the newspapers. I think it is just another myth.

    I have to say that I find the subject so interesting because of that percentage figure who doubt the nationality (and the religion) of their President simply because a number of interest groups whom are fringe can spend time, money and effort to perpetuate myths for their own political or popularity reasons. It goes without saying that it simply would not have happened without the Internet.

    Another way to look at it is that if 23 per cent of people want to see the original or something else that proves it then democratically some could say they are out voted by the 77 per cent much larger majority who say they trust “the system” and are confident and say no need. I am sure they will also say that the 23 per cent can go to hell.

    I will subscribe as soon as I work out how to do so, I have to say I am not very web literate. I tend to read the web and not write in it.

    Cheers

    DC

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  14. Doug Geivett says:

    UglyFringe,

    Welcome to my blog. And thanks for posting your comment.

    Like you, I’d like to see the media demonstrate that Trump has got his facts wrong. Trump says he’s willing to be proven wrong.

    Your two points are interesting.

    (1) I’m not sure what you mean by “the system,” but many Americans have been surprised to learn that presidential candidates do not, as a matter of course, have to document the place of their birth. Many would say that this is a failure within the system. I’m baffled by this myself. And I would have to agree that if this step was required, the birther issue would have no traction whatsoever.

    (2) I see your point about why the Obama people might prefer not to accommodate birthers: that is, that they look ridiculous as long as they keep bringing this up. We’ll see about that in due course. Trump hasn’t backed down, even though he has been ridiculed.

    What do you make of the claim that Obama spent 2 million dollars to ensure that his birth certificate does not become public? If that’s true, it doesn’t seem like it was calculated to make birthers look stupid.

    In the paper recently I read that something like 24% of those polled would like for Obama to produce his birth certificate. Not all of these are birthers.

    May I encourage you to subscribe to this blog?

    -Doug

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  15. Pingback: Photoshop Disasters: Birther Edition « The Fifth Column

  16. Interesting item and blog here Doug.

    I ask the question what motivates the Birther question anyhow? For my part the facts have been proven and the doubts are motivated by the far political right (whom are the vast majority in the birther movement) and that the subject remains because of the power of the internet. In other words, if it was not for the internet, the birther movement would have been labelled (I believer correctly) in the fringe conspiracy section and then ignored.

    The recent Trump Today Show item showed how the main stream media is not doing their job. Simply put any good journalist could have roasted Trump alive and made him look the idiot and fringe-dweller by pointing out that the facts are there, that no the Grandmother made a mistake and recanted, that there are friends who were with Obama at school, that obviously numerous civil servants would not put their careers at risk by making up stuff.

    I personaly believe that the White House will not say anything more about the Certificate because of two reasons alone. Firstly that to do so would create a precedent of “lack of confidence” in the system, and Secondly the Birther Movement does more harm to the Republican Party than shooting down the issues.

    Having said all of this, and pointing out that I am not American, I am intrigued about the subject of radicalized politics and the first item I put in the blog that my friends and colleagues wanted me to make on the subject is on the politically motivated hate on Obama and why.

    DC, (aka theuglyfringe)
    Gibralta
    http://theuglyfringe.wordpress.com/

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  17. Doug Geivett says:

    Beth, the case that occurred in your country is interesting. It does demonstrate the prudence of establishing definitively the place of one’s birth if one is to be elected to a position that requires natural-born citizenship.

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  18. Doug Geivett says:

    Kurt, you may be right. But it’s hot air that could be cooled with a gesture like the one I’ve proposed.

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  19. Ray says:

    Just hoping that I’m not one being considered (1) an “Obama supporter” or (2) one engaged in mocking Doug. The first is not true. And I hope Doug and I have enough history for him to know where my heart is in my exchanges with him.

    Personally, I would not defend all comments made deriding “birthers.” That does not mean that every criticism of birthers is unjustified, especially in questioning whether all birthers are, in fact, ready and willing to be reasonable in evaluating and accepting trustworthy evidence on this issue.

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  20. Chuck Arnett says:

    If I were Obama I would use my unveiling at the most politically advantageous moment. It seems to me that for the moment it is to his political benefit not to speak out on the issue. Till Trump the birthers have been painted as kooks thus portraying one more segment of Obama’s opposition as extremists. This is obviously to his benefit. On the other hand the issue has not seemed to hurt him politically. So why ruin all that by revealing anything.

    At the right moment – probably during one of the debates in the next campaign – Obama will pull the papers out of his breast pocket and embarrass his opponent. Its going to be great political theatre and you heard it here first.

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  21. bethyada says:

    As someone who has never been to the US I find the idea that someone does not need to produce definitive evidence (ie an actual certificate) to even run for president (if birth in the US is what your country decides necessary to be president), let alone became one unusual. Mind you I find your lack of checks and balances for other aspects of voting in your country somewhat bizarre also.

    And why any Obama supporter would mock those who have concerns rather than agree Obama should allay them does not speak to sense or honesty.

    We had an episode some years back where a non-citizen was elected. I think that this could even happen shonky. But at least when the question was raised shortly after, she had to produce the evidence, could not, and was removed.

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  22. Kurt says:

    I don’t think you understand what the State of Hawaii’s “long form” really is. What the President has released is perfectly legal. There’s just no story here. It’s just a lot of hot air.

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  23. Ray says:

    I think that your optimism about people’s accepting evidence sufficient to get this matter out of the way of the real issues falls into a category akin to “even if a man were to return from the dead” as insufficient for many (most) who still cling to this issue.

    Copies of official birth notices published in newspapers by what was then an official Hawaii Bureau of Health tasked with publishing such notices should be enough (especially since such was sufficient for O’Reilly in his interview of Trump). Copies of the birth certificate have been in the past available at factcheck.org See: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html (why the link was not working at the time I tried today, I do not know, but I’m assuming it was a problem with the browser I am using as I have seen it before).

    What bothers me is that I find it incredible that someone like you (a) has not at least referred to the fact that what would pass for sufficient evidence for the reasonable man has been made available to the public (b) which leaves me wondering where you think the line of Obama’s responsibility lies. Should he personally have delivered a certified copy into the hands of every “birther?” And even if he did that, do you really believe that this would make a fundamental difference in their worldview on the issue let alone upon their view of the man?

    BTW, anybody even suggesting that Trump is doing any more than hyping for his commercial interests by his playing at being a possible presidential candidate makes me look even far more cynical on that issue than the most zealous “birther.”

    As always, praying that you are constantly aware of God’s blessings in your life and of the blessing of God that your life is to others.

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