PJ Media

Settling the Birther Controversy

For some time now, even before his assumption of the presidency, the subject of Barack Obama’s origins has been a vexed and tenacious issue, with no sign as yet of diminishing. Is he a “natural born citizen,” as per Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the criterion of eligibility for the office of president? Was he born in Hawaii or Kenya or possibly in both places at the same time? Or is there, as potential 2012 presidential candidate Donald Trump speculates, “something on Obama’s birth certificate he doesn’t like”? Is there no dispositive evidence anywhere to be found that would give closure to the rumpus once and for all? Only one thing is certain: there is no denying the exceptionalism of Obama’s nativity.

“There are those who,” to use a favorite locution of the president, claim that the documents he has released to confirm his place of birth are incomplete and unpersuasive. These so-called “birthers” contend that, in the absence of a “long form” birth certificate replete with precise details regarding the name of the hospital, attending physician, and such-like, the president’s credentials are suspect. Others are content that a short-form “certificate of live birth,” two newspaper announcements, and state attestation are more than enough to settle the issue regarding the president’s authenticity and good faith. This is the argument of diverse reverend elders regularly trumpeted from the towering summit of Mount Media to a rabble of dubious and ungrateful nullifidians.

For example, in the Introduction to Our Choice, the redoubtable Al Gore points out that “the governor of Hawaii … personally examined and publicly verified the official certificate” and that the libraries of Hawaii “provided copies of contemporaneous birth announcements in two Honolulu newspapers.” Gore then dismisses the affair as an “odd faux controversy [that] is hardly worth mentioning,” and many will agree. But many remain unconvinced. After all, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who promised to release the original document, now concedes that state privacy laws forbid him do so, and a personal affidavit from a government official and two newspaper notices do not constitute an actual birth certificate. They are merely bulletins whose provenance is not definitive and which serve as distractions from the real issue rather than incontrovertible proof of a blessed genesis. These bothersome birthers also point out that the list of presidential birthplace addresses omits only one, that of the current occupant of the White House. As a result, the debate continues to rage.

Thus Trump remains highly skeptical, believing there is something very curious about the whole affair, as does Rush Limbaugh. This is perhaps to be expected, but then even President Obama’s ardent disciple, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, asks where’s the harm in making the cryptic document public. Of course, people like Limbaugh and especially Trump, since he harbors presidential aspirations, will be mocked by the mainstream punditariat (though Matthews, obviously, gets a free pass). David Frum at Frum’s Forum thinks Trump may be “crazy” and Time’s Joe Klein feels “he…just…can’t…help… himself.” The problem is that ridicule is not an argument. Indeed, the problem is that the problem won’t go away.

May I suggest that the controversy is entirely academic and need no longer be pursued, having been agitated thus far to the disadvantage and consternation of all involved? It is now time to close one book and open another, and to this end I have a major disclosure to make respecting this heretofore troubling matter. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to reveal the identity of my source and must invoke the unwritten law of “privileged information” so as not to expose my informant to the unwelcome intrusion of investigative agencies or the slander of an incredulous and vindictive public. (Though, I must confess, my informant is pretty well above the fray.)

The fact is that the ongoing debate surrounding Barack Obama’s place of birth is wholly inconsequential. I have it on unimpeachable authority that, shortly after he came into the world, the future president was discovered floating in an ark of bulrushes, daubed in slime and pitch, along the banks of a river whose name, regrettably, was garbled in the transmission from my source. (A loud peal of thunder deafened me for a moment.) Apparently, the woman who is honored as his mother had gone down to the river to bathe and, when she saw the little ark tangled in the reeds, opened it, beheld the infant, and immediately took compassion on him.

It is true that the chronicles of his upbringing and early triumphs are much abridged, with many important particulars left out of the picture. This is an unfortunate lacuna but by no means a damaging one, for we know the essentials of the story. The child grew tall and strong and was eventually ensconced as a prince among his people, guiding them out of social and economic captivity into a land of redistributed income, socialized medicine, political transparency, fair commentary, programmatic disarmament, guild solidarity, turning windmills, and decarbonized beatitude, irrespective of the many obstacles he would have to confront along the way. Determined to relieve a people afflicted with sorrows, a task which he considered as both a calling and a covenant, the young luminary bravely pursued his vision despite those who murmured against him and set their teeth against his will. And his journey was lit with fire and prophecy.

As for the documentation pertaining to his birth, it is, as I have indicated, totally beside the point. We must accept that there was something ineffably mysterious, if not predestined, about the president’s needlessly contested origins, and move on.org from there. Not to do so is mere caviling and betokens both unenlightened stubbornness and meanness of spirit, for the aura of the inexplicably numinous attends his elevation. How can we gather ourselves together against so exalted a personage who goes out unto his brethren and looks on their burdens? Of what possible significance are a few sheets of paper, a jpeg here or there, a missing address, or a digital facsimile in the context of so prodigious a narrative? Is the proof not in the presence?

Let us quibble and doubt no longer. The nimbus of command is unquestionable. When a leader is born and raised from humble and deeply shrouded circumstances to bring forth a groaning people out of bondage, we have no option but to marvel and follow.