Monday, August 3, 2009

The 'Birther' Battle


Of all the non–issues I have seen that distract attention away from the real issues that need to be discussed, this so–called "birther" matter takes the cake.

As I see it, here is what you need to know. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, nearly two years after it became a state. It is ludicrous for anyone to suggest that he was not born in the United States.

Here are the facts:
  • His mother, Ann Dunham, was a natural–born American citizen. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was from Kenya.

  • They married in February 1961, when Dunham was three months pregnant. Barack Obama Jr. was born in August 1961.

  • Obama's parents divorced in 1964.
Obama's mother met an Indonesian student at the University of Hawaii, and they married in 1966 or 1967. The family moved to Indonesia, where Barack Jr. attended school from 1967 until 1970, when he returned to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. I am not aware of any evidence that shows that either Dunham or her son became a citizen of Indonesia.

When Obama was a candidate for the Democratic nomination, the Obama campaign released the "Certification of Live Birth" (also known as the "short form"), but that was not enough to satisfy some people.

Apparently, it still isn't. Those in the "birther" movement continue to call for the release of the "long form" birth certificate, in spite of the fact that a spokeswoman for the Department of Health has stated that Hawaii has no short–form or long–form birth certificate.

Enter Lou Dobbs and CNN.

Now, let me say this about Dobbs. He calls himself a populist. I consider myself a centrist. Sometimes I agree with what Dobbs says. Sometimes I don't. He is pro–choice, and so am I. He opposes gun control. I do not. He generally favors gay rights. So do I. And he is concerned about immigration and border security. So am I, but we have different ideas about how they should be handled.

Lately, he has been giving some attention to the "birther" movement. And, apparently, tomorrow night a liberal group called "Media Matters" will start running ads on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News challenging Dobbs. David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun says the ads will air on CNN during Dobbs' program, "Lou Dobbs Tonight."

According to Zurawik, CNN feels compelled to run the ads even though they slap one of the network's on–air personalities because failing to do so will be perceived the wrong way.

This is really getting out of hand.

John McIntyre, the author of the You Don't Say blog, summarizes the "birther" battle best: "The birther hysteria is just the just the kind of phenomenon that H.L. Mencken used to say 'makes the United States a buffoon among the great nations.' "

I agree with that. And here's what I think about the Dobbs–CNN conflict: Dobbs lends credibility to the "birther" matter by talking about it? CNN makes matters worse by running the ads.

When will it end?

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