I've never, ever thought Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. And he would have been eligible to be president in any event because his mother was an American citizen. So I don't care. Still, it's worth remembering that, as recently as 1991, he had a literary agency portraying him as somewhat more, ahem, exotic than he is now:
As it turned out, he never finished "Journeys in Black and White" and instead wrote the first of his two autobiographies, "Dreams of My Father" instead. One would have thought Obama would have had this document corrected concerning the place of his birth, but he didn't bother. He probably thought it advantageous at the time. After a quarter century, it doesn't really matter very much.
It's always been clear that Lord Orange of the Outer Boroughs has had a lot of fun playing the birther card over the years. Does that matter much? Well, if you believe the amazing screed (labeled as "analysis") on the front page of today's Star Tribune, it's just about the worst thing ever:
It was not true in 2011, when Donald Trump mischievously began to question President Obama’s birthplace aloud in TV interviews. “I’m starting to think that he was not born here,” he said at the time.
It was not true in 2012, when he took to Twitter to declare that “an ‘extremely credible source’ ” had called his office to inform him that Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud.”
It was not true in 2014, when Trump invited hackers to “please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check ‘place of birth.’ ”
It was never true. Obama’s citizenship was never in question. No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.
Yet it took Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president.
In fact, it took Trump much longer than that: Obama released his short-form birth certificate from the Hawaii Department of Health in 2008. Most of the world moved on.You can always tell how worked up a writer really is if you count the adjectives. This guy is kinda worked up. But I understand -- consider what I wrote about the birther controversy, in this feature, back in 2011:
But not Trump. He nurtured the conspiracy like a poisonous flower, watering and feeding it with an ardor that still baffles and embarrasses many around him.
He called up like-minded sowers of the same corrosive rumor, asking them how to take a falsehood and make it mainstream in 2011, as he weighed his White House run.
“What can we do to get to the bottom of this?” Trump asked Joseph Farah, an author who has long labored on the fringes of political life.
What he could do — and what he did do — was talk about it, uninhibitedly, on social media, where dark rumors flourish in 140-character bursts and, inevitably, find a home with those who have no need for facts.
1) Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen.Since then, Obama was reelected in 2012. He's about to leave the stage, thank God. He's not the issue any more, although cleaning up the incredible mess he's leaving behind is Job One for his successor. So let's make a few updated assertions, shall we:
2) Even if he weren't born in Hawaii, his mother was a U.S. citizen, which makes him a U.S. citizen. That would be true even if he was born in Kenya, or Indonesia, or beamed down from Planet Zorf. Which he wasn't.
3) We rightly ridicule Andrew Sullivan for the wild-ass theories he progagates about Sarah Palin's son Trig. We stare in disbelief at the spectacle of those who believe 9-11 was some sort of inside job. We marvel and scoff at the cottage industry that continues to surround the assassination of John F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years on. We do these things for good reason. And yet some of our putative friends throw all that common sense out the window, because they wish to believe conspiracy theories that are more in line with fan fiction than reality.
4) You can, I think, believe that Barack Obama's presidency is dunderheaded, inept, mendacious, intellectually vacant and morally bankrupt. You can mention with confidence the notion that he has surrounded himself with knaves, mountebanks, thugs and brown nosers. You can describe his performance in office as that of a dilettante (ahem), a malingerer and someone who is aloof to the point of catatonia. Even if all of these assertions are accurate, his presidency is not illegitimate. Barack Obama won the election in 2008, decisively. He is the President of the United States. So can we give this birther crap a rest, please?
1) Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. I'm sure it was a blessed event.
2) At some point, Barack Obama decided it might be advantageous to pretend he was born elsewhere. Around the time of his 30th birthday, he allowed a publication to state he was born in Kenya. This may have been for marketing purposes or to hide something else (perhaps he was able to gain financial assistance from the colleges he attended), but we aren't ever likely to find out the truth. And in the end it doesn't matter much, 25 years on.
3) That doesn't change the facts of his birth, but it does explain why some people view his upbringing with suspicion.
4) The two candidates most likely to succeed him, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, were born in the United States, in the aftermath of World War II. They are early-period Baby Boomers and as such carry a certain assortment of assumptions that are reflected in their thinking and their actions on the world stage.
5) The question before us is which one is better suited to assume the role that the current president has so comprehensively botched.
6) I don't have confidence that either of them is up to the task, for a variety of reasons.