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Glad that was cleared up

I am pleased that Barack Obama has decided, somewhat late on, to nail the nonsense that he did not have the right basic birth certificate details to enable him to hold his office. Good. I think that some characters on the fringe have provided a free gift to opponents by turning this into an issue.

The real problem is that the US electorate, by a mixture of self-delusion and misplaced enthusiasm, voted for a man unqualified for the responsibilities of high office, and a socialist in terms of his political doctrine. For sure, he continued the high spending of his predecessor, and the TARP policies, but he stepped them up. He still seems to be in denial about the scale of the fiscal hole the US is in.

The US is not, at root, a socialist country, although its universitieis and certain towns contain a lot of people who wish the country was like their imagined Western European social democratic welfare states. The irony being, of course, that these states are falling apart, with Greece being the most egregious example. For all his supposed modern appeal, Mr Obama is a strangely old fashioned figure. I am convinced that Obama is a one-term president. In the end, silly speculation about his birth certificate will not affect things one way or the other. And let’s be honest: some of the people who were going on about this subject struck me as racists; it enabled the pro-Obama camp to claim that parts of the right did not like Obama for discreditable reasons.

Meanwhile, our own Brian Micklethwait has thoughts about who he’d like to run against Obama.

36 comments to Glad that was cleared up

  • Laird

    Do you really think people are going to let this go? After three years of petulanly refusing to release what is (apparently) so innocuous a document, have you any doubt that a certain segment of the populace is going to remain unconvinced of its authenticity? This isn’t going away that easily.

  • In terms of getting the birthers to shut up, think Obama was foolish to do this. It simply dignifies the conspiracy theorising idiots more than they deserve to be dignified. The trouble with conspiracy theories, is that if you throw facts at them, this just demonstrates that the conspiracy is even bigger (and that you are part of it).

    On the other hand, doing this creates a lot of noise, and perhaps to distract from other things is the reason he did it.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The True Birthers have now shifted to the argument that there’s a distinction between ‘native-born’ and ‘natural-born’, and that Obama is still ineligible. I’m reminded of the old legal saying ‘If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are both against you, pound the table and yell like hell.’

    Table-pounding coming up. I suspect.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Maybe not, Laird. It is true that he has been remarkably slow to sort this out. Which is a bit odd, I’ll grant.

    I am rather more worried about his former associates; Paul Marks, of course, has been all over this issue for years. Many seem to be unreconstructed Marxists. It is as if the Reagan era never happened for them.

  • Tedd

    It strikes me as a very well thought out strategy.

    Up until now it has been possible to portray those who question Obama’s eligibility (due to birth circumstances) as conspiracy theorists, and to tar all those opposed to Obama with that brush. So it made sense to keep the issue alive by not releasing the document.

    But the article suggest that the birth question was gaining some traction, even among registered Democrats, so now releasing the document makes more sense than not releasing it. It brings wayward-thinking Democrats back into the fold while retaining the strategic value of the issue because, as has been pointed out above, hard core “birthers” won’t stop.

  • This first struck me as Obama seeing Trump as a serious-enough threat – am I totally off the mark, or is he?

    Tedd seems to have a point though.

  • Tedd

    On a different but related topic: It strikes me that, when there are only two dominant parties, a successful election campaign needs to have two main thrusts. One is to appeal to the undecided voters, which typically involves portraying yourself as closer to the center than you really are. The other is to motivate decided voters (in your camp) to turn out for the vote, which typically involves portraying your opponent as more radical than he really is.

    I’d be willing to bet that a lot could be learned by analyzing elections from that perspective. For example, I think the (to some) surprisingly poor result for the Democrats in the 2004 U.S. election was the result of mismanaging the balance between these two strategies: In their zeal to portray Bush as radical the Democrats made themselves look like the radicals, to undecided voters, by such mistakes as turning out in droves for Howard Dean and giving Michael Moore the most honoured seat at the party convention.

  • I must say, the amount of time that he could have produced his birth certificate and didn’t (surely, of all people in the US the PRESIDENT can get a copy of a misplaced birth certificate?) Had me half-convinced there was something to it.

    Wishful thinking I suppose. Would have been nice to see him arrested and led across the White House lawn in cuffs.

  • Sunfish

    How nice that he eventually found it.

    Any job applicant to be any sort of cop, even at the entry level, would have needed to cough up the birth certificate and far more, the first time asked.

    So, whatever Obama’s objections to releasing it, I’m unsympathetic.

  • That’s a good point sunfish- last year I had to produce my birth certificate and my passport in order to prove that I wasn’t an illegal immigrant. And I just work in a shop!

  • Jay Cuenel

    This nonsense started and was pushed by the Hillary campaign way back when. The way it”s been gaining ground among democrats, I wonder if Hillary’s crew are still doing spadework for a possible challenge?

  • Seriously, Obama produced overwhelming evidence that he was born in the US long ago – specifically a birth certificate of the normal form that the state of Hawaii issues if you ask for a birth certificate. And the birth notice in the local newspaper also makes no sense unless he was either born in the US or his supporters were planning on faking his birth so that he could become president of the United States when he was a tiny infant. No other candidate would have ever been asked for more than that, and it may well have irritated him that he was asked to do more than this himself. And if he was irritated, I can’t really blame him.

    If you want to play this game, then you can make a much stronger case for the idea that his opponent in the 2008 election, Johm McCain, was actually not eligible, as neither the law giving citizenship to people born in the United states nor the law giving citizenship to the foreign born children of US citizens appears to have applied to his birth in the Panama Canal Zone (assuming he was born in the Canal Zone: I have seen some reports suggesting he was born in Panama proper, in which case this problem goes away). Legislation was passed after his birth that applied retrospectively to fix what was clearly an unintended anomaly in the law, but does “legislation that applied retrospectively” make someone a “natural born citizen”? I don’t know, and without a court ruling on the matter, neither does anybody else. I actually doubt that anyone would have made much an issue of this if McCain had been elected, however.

    Obama is a dreadful president, and Obama has had some appalling ideological comrades in arms. That is what people should be focusing on.

  • Valerie

    John McCain was born to a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral serving his country overseas, Mr. Jennings. That’s hardly the same situation as Obama’s. To most of us, the “O”‘s eligibility was about the Constitution. If the 4th estate were the least bit honest, they’d admit that a conservative candidate would have faced far harsher words for failing to produce a proper BC.

  • I would agree completely that it is just for the child of a US Admiral (or the child anyone else in the US military) *should* be eligible to stand for president, but that is not necessarily what the law says. If he was born in the Canal Zone in 1936, McCain was not a US citizen at birth. This was due to a legislative oversight that was rectified soon after his birth, but if “Natural Born Citizen” means “US citizen from birth” and Congress lacks the ability to make someone “natural born” retrospectively, then he might not qualify. If the Supreme Court was ever asked to rule on the matter, my hunch is that they would almost certainly find that he did qualify on the basis that it would be absurdly unjust if he did not, but this is not necessarily clear from a strict reading of the constitution and legislation. (There are actually situations under current law today where the child of a US citizen serving in the military abroad is not a US citizen automatically. It is trivial for such a person to become a US citizen later, so the only possible hardship to such a person is likely to be a lack of eligibility to stand for President. This is completely unjust, but the meaning of the phrase “natural born citizen” in the constitution is somewhat unclear, and its lack of clarity has consequences.

    Obama, on the other hand, was born in Hawaii, and was thus guaranteed citizenship from birth under the 14th amendment to the constitution. Even without his producing an additional document today, there has always been ample evidence that he was indeed born in the United States, and not the slightest piece of credible evidence that he was born anywhere else.

  • Andrew Zalotocky

    Obama seems to have done this in response to Donald Trump making the “birther” question an issue. I suggest that this is a clever political strategy by Trump.

    He has previously questioned Obama’s academic credentials and has called on the President to reveal his college records. By pushing the issue of the President’s birth certificate Trump has forced him to produce the actual document. Firstly, because Trump’s celebrity power makes waves that most “birthers” can’t. Secondly, because Trump has offered himself as a target, giving Obama the chance to slap down a celebrity Republican by producing the birth certificate.

    But in revealing it Obama has made it much more difficult for himself to refuse to reveal his college records, which I believe to be Trump’s real target. Trump will now keep demanding those records, and will imply that Obama is not releasing them because they contain some guilty secret.

    What could they contain that’s so important? They may well show that Barry O was a mediocre student who benefited hugely from “positive discrimination” because of his ethnic background. This matters because in 2008 Obama didn’t run on his record because he didn’t have one. He ran on the claim that his intellect and character were superior to all other candidates. Destroy the image of Obama the intellectual and what’s left? Just another Chicago machine politician who’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.

    Trump has bounced Obama into releasing his birth certificate in order to bounce him into releasing his college records, in order to undermine the foundation of his credibility. If you think that’s too far fetched, just ask yourself what kind of cunning it takes to become a billionaire who owns huge pieces of New York real estate. Trump is a professional speculator playing hardball with the kind of leftist politicians who think that nobody else can be as smart as them, particularly not a mere businessman.

  • thefrollickingmole

    Andrew Zalotocky
    Nice points, is Trump that rat-shit cunning though?

  • Ed Snack

    Michael, unfortunately you are a little under informed about birth certificates. In 1961, it was possible to register someone born outside of Hawaii as born in Hawaii by simply testifying that they had been born in the state. This would however show up on the long form where there would be no hospital listed and no attending professional. So producing a short form certificate was not “proof” as such although it did mean that a valid long form certificate existed. The law governing the registration of births was changed, I believe in the 70’s, as the original attestation mechanism was being abused.

    Secondly, yes, it is at least likely that John McCain was ineligible. Congress may have passed a motion to ostensibly make him eligible, but that would have no legal force. The stipulation to be a “natural born citizen” is in the constitution, and the interpretation of such is the prerogative of the Supreme Court and no other. Unfortunately there is no apparent case deciding exactly what the “natural born” stipulation means. I think it stands to reason that it is not the same as being a citizen because different language was used, but it isn’t clear. One could at least argue that the intention was that the person be born in the USA, or possibly born of parents who were both citizens, but it isn’t defined.

    Is it important, I think one can take the attitude that one either follows the constitution or doesn’t, following it only when it suits is not logically justifiable, as attractive as it can seem when it is yourself that is affected.

  • Gary

    Obama unqualified? Neither was Bush, unless you think alcoholism and welfare-sponging are qualifications for President.
    Bush’s eagerness to bail-out Wall Street (he called them his base) was obscene and hypocritical. Bush spouted the free market but practiced socialism for the rich. Bush’s Medicare D, a masive corp welfare handout, is a classic example of this, as was his opposition to ending agriculture subsidies and his opposition to Canada’s superior drugs companies being allowed to compete in the US.

    There is no difference between Obama and Bush. US Presidents are, like all US politicians, whores. The only way to fix this problem is to ban them from receving any donations and make them work for the lowest wage. That will teach them humility and keep them honest.

    America is the Corporate Welfare capital of the world, so it is socialist. The US spends about a trillion a year on corporate welfare.
    You have spongers like Rick Scott transferring taxpayers money into his own private interests, and cost-plus contracts where clowns like Dyncorp and Xe cream off profits and dump the cost on the taxpayer.

    What sort of nation gives taxpayer’s money to something as frivolous and pointless as the NFL?

    Then you have the made-up drugs (Ritalin) for made-up illnesses funded by the US taxpayer and handed out by drug dealers (hilariously called “doctors”).

    Fact is, you could slash the US deficit instantly by ending all corporate welfare.

    Taxpayers money should never, ever, be given to private companies or foreign entities. The reason private companies get these socialist handouts is because of corrupt politicians whoring themselves out to Porkheed Martin, Pork of America, etc.

  • John B

    If being born in the USA is a requirement for being US President then he should have fully presented the evidence.
    Like not swearing the oath of office, or whatever, until it could be done in a way that squared with his principles, Obama has played it his way.
    Not releasing documents when asked? – he is saying I am not accountable to you lot on your terms. But the job he took on says otherwise.
    And yes, his previous(?) mates, such as Farrakhan and Ayers, are more disturbing being as they are totally hostile to the West and especially the USA.

  • John K

    I find all this a bit confusing. There seems to be no doubt that el Presidente Zero’s mother was a US citizen, albeit a Communist who didn’t seem to find white American males very attractive, as compared with African or Asian Muslims, but let that pass. Given that his mater was an American, how was he not a “natural born American” wherever he was born (which does now seem to have been Hawaii)? I assume he came out of his mummy’s tummy in the conventional manner. I have always thought the purpose of this constitutional clause was to ensure that the President had to have been born an American, rather than someone who was naturalised, and there has never been any doubt that the Big O was born of an American Communist woman, and raised by his American Communist grandparents and their American Communist comrades. For me, it’s the whole Communist upbringing thing which is the most worrying part about the Minimum Leader.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “I am convinced that Obama is a one-term president”

    I fear this is wishful thinking.

    There is nobody in sight from the GOP with anything like enough presence or reputation to take him on.

    We (or rather they) are stuck with him till 2016.

    Will Hillary be too old by then? Ghastly thought…

  • newrouter

    wasn’t the canal zone us property at one time?

  • Jacob

    “I am convinced that Obama is a one-term president”

    I fear this is wishful thinking.


  • Surellin

    What I find fascinating is not so much the notion that Obama isn’t eligible to be president, but the great reluctance that he has shown by, contrary to custom, running for president and not releasing his birth certificate, his college transcripts and his medical records. I never believed that he was born in Kenya, but I have a certain amount of sympathy for people who wonder what he has to hide. Maybe he just feels that, in his awesome awesomeness, he doesn’t need to hand out his personal stuff to all and sundry, as all those other candidates do. If so, that is a significant and not very appealing aspect of his personality.

  • The citizenship law in place when Obama was born stated that in the case of birth to one US citizen parents outside the US and when the parents were married, the US citizen parent had to have lived in the US for ten years prior to the birth, and five of these years had to be subsequent to age 14. As Obama’s mother was 18 years old when he was born, Obama would not in fact be a US citizen had he been born outside the US. (Oddly enough, he would have been a citizen had he been born outside the US and his parents were not married, as the rules were different in that case). Therefore the place of his birth is all important, but since he was in fact born in Hawaii, no problem.

    This citizenship law was designed to prevent people who had lived in the US as children but not as adults from passing on citizenship. That it also excluded people from citizenship whose parents just happened to be young was clearly silly and likely unintended, which is probably why the law was later amended.

    As John says, it is the “communist” thing that is the problem. I have never had any doubt that Obama is an American communist.

  • Sandy P

    Obama the chance to slap down a celebrity Republican


    Trump isn’t a republican.

  • JeremiadBullfrog

    All of these documentation issues, birth cert., transcripts, etc., are a direct result of the facts that the regular US media did not at all vet Obama the candidate in the run up to 2008, and that even during his presidency they continue to shield him and obfuscate any potentially unsavory connections. This is especially galling when you consider that he frequently promised that his administration would be the “most transparent ever”.

    It’s one thing to demand of a regular politician who gets normal media treatment that he release extraordinary documents (and not really all that extraordinary, since so many regular folks have to do it just to get a job). It’s quite another when the politician in question has such a scanty track record to begin with, which then is jealously guarded like no other before, along with the constant aid of a compliant media.

    I never thought he was an illegitimate citizen (Hilary’s people would have found that, if it were true), but can you blame people for thinking he had something to hide, esp. when they were lawyered up to their necks and spending tons of money to prevent its release and making up bogus arguments about how long and difficult the process of releasing it would be, when it actually took only a couple of days and a couple of brief notes?

  • APL

    Johnathan Pearce: “Glad that was cleared up.”

    Ho ho ho

  • Yeah APL. It seems that what was released was not a scan of a paper document. I’ll go with K.D. on that.
    Was there really a birth registrar in Hawaii at the time by the name of UK La Lee?

  • Linda Morgan

    And let’s be honest: some of the people who were going on about this subject struck me as racists

    I never paid enough attention to all this to know who, prior to Trump, the key players were, or to sort out what exactly they were getting at. What about (any of) these persons or their interest in pursuing this matter made them seem racist to you?

    I ask because a growing number of media figures have begun to decry all demands for Obama’s papers, transcripts, etc., as racist and I just don’t get it. The charge seems more reflexive than substantive. Can you throw some light here?

  • Gary

    Trump is a cretin.

    He has an appropriate name for a man who likes the smell of his own farts.

  • Laird

    I don’t have much use for Trump, and there are plenty of bad things to say about him, but he is not a cretin (at least, not according to the dictionary definition: “a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person”). One cannot succeed in the cut-throat world of NYC property development without real smarts. Of course, those very skills which lead to his success as a real estate developer are precisely the ones which I don’t want to see in a President.

    I can’t speak to his flatulence preferences, though.

  • James Waterton

    “I am convinced that Obama is a one-term president”

    I fear this is wishful thinking.

    There is nobody in sight from the GOP with anything like enough presence or reputation to take him on.

    Nonsense. That’s what the primaries are for. Bar the no-chancers Romney, Huckabee and Palin, we’ve hardly seen any auditions thus far from the other candidates who are jostling for position – and there are one or two promising ones. It’s far too premature to say that there’s nobody who could take O on in the Republican camp at this early stage in the game. You may end up being right, but at this point you don’t know.

  • Ed Snack

    It did matter whether Obama was born in Hawaii as pointed out, by the law at the time he would have been an american citizen if he wasn’t. However, to be POTUS he must be a “Natural Born Citizen”, and as I stated, the qualifications for that aren’t exactly set down but that they are indeed different from plain citizen seems at least a reasonable construction to place on the use of different words.

    There are various discussions of what NBC means. The two major interpretations are of the born a citizen in the USA, or the stricter, born of two citizen parents in the USA (or territories or ships flying the US flag). Under the 14 th amendment, it is possible that congress can change what is meant by NBC (although that’s not universally agreed, they can change what a citizen is though), but all agree that they cannot do so retrospectively.

    It would appear that John McCain’s claim to be an NBC is definitely subject to doubt, as is Donald Trump’s, and others, for example Bobby Jindal, both of whose parents were not citizens at the time of his birth. On the stricter interpretation, Obama is not eligible, but he could be on the weaker. Interestingly Barry Goldwater’s eligibility was challenged because he was actually born in Texas before it became a state.

    It can be argued that the qualification is to prevent anyone being eligible who has any allegiance to another country, that is discussed in letters at the time of the framing of the constitution (and a specific exemption granted for those citizens living at the time the constitution came into force). Obama arguably would fail that test because he became a British citizen a birth, courtesy of his father. He also *may* have become an Indonesian citizen as a child, and that is an exclusive citizenship. It’s murky, and possibly not really worth arguing over, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid concerns that can be raised about Obama’s eligibility on several grounds.

    Only SCOTUS can rule absolutely on the matter, and they have fairly resolutely refused to grant anyone the standing to gain a hearing on the matter.

  • John K


    Didn’t Texas join the Union around 1840? Goldwater wasn’t that old surely? Wasn’t he from Arizona, which became a state in 1912?

    As for “natural born”, I thought it must refer to someone “naturally born” of his parents, rather than adopted (I doubt they were thinking of IVF back then). If it is taken to mean that both parents must be US citizens, then Obama would fail, but that can’t be the case, as it was no secret that his father was a reluctant subject of the Queen back in 1961. Still, there can’t have been a President with an odder background can there? An absentee Kenyan father, an Indonesian step-father, and then being raised by his American communist grandparents and their communist coterie. It doesn’t scream “elect this man to the Presidency” to me, but then again the Repiblicans in their wisdom chose John McCain to run against him, a man who probably is older than Texas!

  • Paul Marks

    Give the voters a break JP

    “Errr it is not like you to be tolerant Paul…”

    Do not do as I do – do as I say.

    Every television station (bar Fox News) held that Barack Obama was the second coming in 2008 – they had been banging away that he was Moses or Jesus (or something wonderful anyway) since 2004.

    Almost every major newspaper in the country backed him – not just in editorials, but (far more important) in slanted news coverage. Indeed even some newspapers that formally opposed him helped put him in office – as news coverage (written by School of Journalism trained leftists) over months and years, is worth a lot more than an eve of election “we are not sure he is the right man” editorial.

    As for the magazines.

    From Time and Newsweek, thru the Economist, right to “Reason” (supposedly libertarian) “Obama the honest reformer – and civil libertarian” not “Obama the ruthless and corrupt Chicago pol – plus lifelong Marxist scumbag” was the message.

    Of course tens of millions of Americans were not deceived – but a majority were, which is only natural.

    Indeed is surprising that so many were not deceived – the Lincoln rule about “you can not fool all of the people all of the time” came into play (hard to see that a good defence of democracy – after all if you can fool the MAJORITY….).

    Hopefully it will be a majority next time – let us see how the Republicans do on Thursday (the first debate is on Fox News).

    But as for American not being a socialist country……

    Well the “mainstream media” are under the control of people who in any other country on Earth would be described as socialists – accept in America if one calls a socialist a socialist (even a lifelong Marxist a Marxist) one is denounced as “paranoid”, “crazy” (and so on).

    The entertainment media (from Hollywood films – to “the businessman is always the bad guy” television drama and soaps) is socialist – in all but name.

    And, most importantly, the EDUCATION SYSTEM is dominated by socialists.

    Not just the universities – but most schools as well, even for the youngest children.

    Either there will be a very radical fight back against all this – or this is the last generation of Americans as the term “American” is traditionally understood.

    I am sorry but most people simply can not withstand this level of brainwashing – not from the youngest years at school to adult life.

    And even if someone is unconvinced by everything they are taught (and see on in films and ……) then are still not an “American” for being an American is more than not being brainwashed into believing in socialism (“social justice” and so on). It is a positive set of beliefs and if no one is teaching them (apart from your parents – and everyone from the school teachers to the television comics, tells you that your parents are fools) then where are the children (the soon-to-be adults) going to get these beliefs from?

    Either this collectivist conditioning stops (and it has to be MADE to stop, the leftist near monopoly on education must be broken, – the Reds are not just going to stop out of a sudden burst of morality) or America will soon no longer exist.

    Minas Ithil will become Minas Morgal.

    It really is as bad as that.