By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The anti-Obama right’s latest obsession

Did you know that there is a movement afoot on the right to demand that Barack Obama produce his birth certificate on the grounds that it might prove he’s not a “natural born Citizen,” as the Constitution requires of presidents? I hadn’t heard that one until it came tumbling out of Jay Severin’s careless mouth on WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) yesterday.

Anyway, I went to Google Blog Search, entered “Obama ‘birth certificate,'” and got 3,416 returns. Perhaps that’s not indicative of a major groundswell — many of the posts appear to be refutations of the crazier conspiracy theories out there. But the crazier conspiracies are indeed out there, including the notion that he was born in Kenya, and that he’s lying about his date of birth in order to cover that up.

This post on Daily Kos strikes me as smart and comprehensive. And National Review’s Jim Geraghty — a conservative who thinks Obama should produce his birth certificate — nevertheless offers a reasonable and non-hysterical perspective.

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  1. Anonymous

    I heard the question as well, thought about it and feel that a birth certificate shouldn’t be a big deal to produce. Actually we have to produce birth certificates, licenses, passports etc. to get a job. Understandably, it sounds like a big deal or a conspiracy theory… but if you and I have to produce pieces of identification for a job, then why not for the most “powerful” job in the world, especially when one of the prerequisites is to be a natural born citizen.I think McCain had to produce one to quell any natural born citizen conspiracy theories and substantiate the constitutional prerequisite.

  2. Anonymous

    I disagree with your assesment of the Kos post, only because of CarmenT’s reliance on Wikipedia for information that could easily be verified at any number of legitimate government Web sites. Wikipedia has yet to achieve what could fairly be called credibility and, by the very nature of its construction, likely never will. Even the article she links to has a big “neutrality disputed” box above it. Every single fact in her post may well be true, but citing the 21st Century equivalent of a boys’ room wall as her only source weakens her credibility and makes her look lazy. As for Geraghty, did reporters demand to see Nixon’s, Carter’s, Reagan’s, Bush’s or Clinton’s birth certificate? How about McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, or Gore? Or are we to hold a candidate to a different standard if they happen to be on the receiving end of an Internet rumor they did nothing to encourage?

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 11:17: Do you have any evidence that anyone has asked McCain to produce a birth certificate? Why would he have been? He was born in the Panama Canal Zone — no one disputes that. The only question (and not a very serious one) was whether that disqualified him from being a “natural born Citizen.”

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: For some reason your link didn’t survive my republishing your comment, but here it is. You say “It’s both sides,” but the article shows that though the question had been raised about McCain, absolutely no one was taking it seriously.Not that that stopped some guy from Nashua from suing. But that’s another matter.

  5. Anonymous

    It’s a simple question. Why wouldn’t he show it… that is why it should be shown. Simple question why not? Not all of this… this person didn’t have to.. this other President didn’t have to … it was taken seriously with McCain in April. Again, enough of the back and forth, just show the birth certificate and then we can get on to the real issues… if he doesn’t come up with it, it will be a real issue and I don’t think that it a rumor mill crazy question to ask if he is a Natural Born Citizen, the first of many Pre-requisites. Thanks.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 7:48: Because you don’t say “how high?” every time the crazies tell you to jump.

  7. Anonymous

    WTKK still runs bumpers having Jay ask Michelle Obama why her senior thesis at Princeton was embargoed until after the election. Meanwhile you can see the thesis (actual scans of the original) on Severin does this all the time. He discredits his own Wikipedia entry because it points out that he lied about receiving a Pulitzer and that he never completed his Masters degree. Yet he’ll run with any old Internet rumor if it supports his right-wing talking points.He likes to call Obama the ultimate affirmative action hire. Maybe being a male member of the first co-ed class at Vassar qualifies him for the same accusation…didn’t he simply fill the need for some male quota?

  8. amusedbutinformedobserver

    Leslie L. King Jr. is rolling in his grave.

  9. mike_b1

    I want to see Old Man McCain’s birth certificate. I think he’s really 273 years old, and as such belongs in the Smithsonian, not the White House.

  10. Anonymous

    The crazies from the left tried the same stunt on McCain because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (on an American military installation as it turns out, which makes him a U.S. citizen). They were dismissed as partisan loons. Their equivalents on the right should also be ignored. Obama is a citizen.

  11. Anonymous

    Exactly, Dan. But the simple question has not been answered and I suppose you won’t answer why he won’t produce it.Crazy people aren’t asking him to produce it.. well, maybe some. But when a simple question is asked, not a crazy one, the public will ask, the voters will ask… Obama will answer at some point why. But again, I look for an answer why… don’t feel like you need to answer especially if you don’t think prequalifying a president is important or the constitution for that matter. On the media side of this thing, at least main stream or cable television, I have not seen any coverage of this, which means it probably doesn’t have legs… but the real question remains out there of why he won’t produce it.Thanks.

  12. Marc Larocque

    Yo, Dan. I don’t think it’s that crazy to have Obama produce a birth certificate. I got a call at the Globe a little less than two months ago from an elderly African-American woman who the same thing and that she and her family are suspicious as well about Obama’s origins. She said the media isn’t investigating his family and his upbringing at all; instead, they are just taking Obama’s book on face value. Have you heard the one that Obama is a relative of Cheney, a distant cousin or something, heh-heh.

  13. Anonymous

    Partisanship aside, it’s an interesting little issue I had never thought about before. The Constitution says ” No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President,” but it doesn’t get into what is required as proof. Seems to me that any candidate who is on the ballot should have to provide a birth certificate proving he/she was born in the United States. Of course, the devil is in the details: To whom would the birth certificate have to be presented? The Supreme Court? Congress? Weird.

  14. mike_b1

    anon 10:12: A person doesn’t have to be born in the US in order to be a citizen thereof. Please review your civics lessons.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: No, but you might have to be born in the U.S. to be a “natural born Citizen.” That’s the issue.

  16. mike_b1

    Here’s what the US Code Title 8, Section 1401 defines: * Anyone born inside the United States * Any Indian or Eskimo born in the United States, provided being a citizen of the U.S. does not impair the person’s status as a citizen of the tribe * Any one born outside the United States, both of whose parents are citizens of the U.S., as long as one parent has lived in the U.S. * Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year and the other parent is a U.S. national * Any one born in a U.S. possession, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year * Any one found in the U.S. under the age of five, whose parentage cannot be determined, as long as proof of non-citizenship is not provided by age 21 * Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time) * A final, historical condition: a person born before 5/24/1934 of an alien father and a U.S. citizen mother who has lived in the U.S.That’s the definition of natural born. If Obama’s mother is a citizen, then so is he.

  17. Anonymous

    This is all about the politics of fear. They’re just adding “possibly foreign” to the “scary black man” smear.It’s straight out of the Kerry Healy playbook. I predict the next step will be pictures of him in a dark parking garage.They’re already sending around crap like this: a Republican these days requires a low moral threshold and a strong stomach.

  18. Anonymous

    Nice work, Mike, for catching my little semantical slip-up. Thanks. I’m really sorry about that. Your the best!

  19. Peter Porcupine

    DK – IMHO, the Obama campaign is deliberately NOT releasing the birth certificate because they know it is a non-issue, just like the emails about his midle name and the madrass were. Obama wishes to have this bubble swell as large as possible in order to pop it, and they HOPE pop others with it – like Rezsko, Ayers, Obama’s judgement or lack thereof (he really does SUCK at choosing subordinates, doesn’t he?). This way, Obama can imply that ALL claims against him are spurious, and can boost both his victimhood AND his Messiah-hood.I’ve been on various GOP sites, trying to tamp this down for this reason – we have MANY perfectly good reasons to doubt Obama’s credentials without using phoney ones – and the circulators don’t seem to be GOP but haters of varied stripe. If Stormfront weren’t so busy backing Cindy Sheehan, I’m sure they’d be on this too!

  20. Anonymous

    Mike,I would like to hear from an attorney whether US8/S1401 is on point. If US Code had the ability to amend the constitution, we could have all saved a lot of time on any number of pending matters.

  21. Steve Stein

    PP – Rezko and Ayers were Obama’s subordinates? Where and when?BTW, Kos posted a pdf of Obama’s BC about 2 hours ago.

  22. Rich

    Steve, It’s not his BC.

  23. mike_b1

    PP: Forget subordinates. Obama has, what, probably 2000 or so people working for him directly or indirectly. You want to single out a couple of bad seeds, fine. I’ll give you two in return: Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby.Talk about judgment (or lack thereof).Anon 1:35: Not sure why you addressed me on that. I’m not a lawyer. But the Yellow Pages are full of them.

  24. Steve

    Rich – you are correct, but that’s a distinction without a difference (hat tip: Gene Burns). It is a “certification of live birth” from the State of Hawaii. It’s what Hawaii gives to serve as ID in lieu of a copy of the original birth certificate.

  25. Peter Porcupine

    Mr. Stein – I am sorry to have confuse you. I had listed a series of Obama questions – his decades-long link to Ayers, his close association with convicted bundler Rezko, and his judgement as exemplified by selecting a person with sweetheart mortgage problems to sit on his vetting committee. I had not meant to imply that Ayers or Rezko were subordinates.but now that you bring it up – if he wishes to win, he’ll ned to stop relfexively defending his choices and associations at press conferences only to toss them under his already crowded bus later. First Wright, tangentially Grandma, now Johnson. All defended, all terminated save Grandma.

  26. Marc Larocque

    Update: <a HREF="” REL=”nofollow”>via

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