It is a fact that President Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.
The original long form birth certificate is held by the Hawaii Department of Health, which has publicly released a short form birth certificate, which is a valid legal document for all appropriate purposes. On the basis of information provided by the Department of Health, a birth announcement appeared in the August 13, 1961 Honolulu Advertiser and the August 14, 1961 Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat who has seen the original birth certificate, knew Obama’s parents and remembered his birth in Honolulu. Abercrombie’s Republican predecessor, Linda Lingle, is equally certain that Obama was born in Hawaii.
Clear and unequivocal as the evidence is, why do right wing Republican extremist birthers continue to circulate the lie that Obama was born outside the U.S., most likely in his father’s homeland of Kenya? That would make him ineligible to be president, since only natural born American citizens may hold the nation’s highest office. Racism is clearly an element here, as well as the dishonesty that is rampant among right wingers. The birthers have no valid evidence to support their dishonest claim. Orly Taitz, a leading birther, produced an alleged Kenyan birth certificate that proved to be a forgery.
Clearly, the discredited birthers don’t have a leg to stand on, but their lie remains popular among Republicans. Thus, while 75 percent of Americans believe that Obama was born in the U.S., more than 40 percent of Republicans believe he was probably or definitely born in a foreign country. It only follows that some Republican politicians add opportunism to dishonesty in exploiting the phony birther issue. An example is businessman Donald Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination and raising the birther lie to boost his shaky party credentials.
Then we have birther bills in state legislatures. One such bill recently passed in Arizona’s Republican dominated legislature that would have required presidential candidates seeking to get on the state’s ballot to produce a long form birth certificate. If unavailable, they would have to show a combination of baptismal or circumcision records, hospital birth files, postpartum medical records, early census records or other documents, along with a sworn affidavit declaring U.S. citizenship and residency for the previous 14 years. Disputes would be resolved by the secretary of state.
Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, had the good sense to veto the bill. A former secretary of state, she objected to making one person the ballot gatekeeper, which could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions. The bill was also of dubious constitutionality by imposing additional requirements on candidates, a likely violation of Article II.
Nevertheless, birther bills are still being considered by 14 legislatures. In one of them, Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal has promised to sign the bill if passed. Birther bills have already been defeated in Connecticut, Maine and Montana.
But some Republicans have realized that the phony birther issue can backfire on them. It may play well in a Republican primary, but in a general election it could alienate crucial independent voters. As a result, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), strategist Karl Rove, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have distanced themselves from the birthers. The Republicans would do everyone a favor by dropping the birther sleaze completely and instead focus on real issues that affect people’s lives.