Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Birthers Find New Avenue

The birthers are back in the news. This time they have a new plan to keep Obama from running for re-election, a plan that looks like it will become law in Arizona and may creep into several other states as well. Unfortunately, I suspect this will look very bad for the Republicans.

The newest plan is sponsored by Arizona Republican Judy Burges and 31 other Arizona House and Senate Republicans. It is all but guaranteed to pass, as there are almost as many cosponsors as votes needed to pass the bill. This bill would bar any presidential candidate who cannot prove they were born in the United States from appearing on the ballot in Arizona. If that’s all the bill said, then this wouldn’t be an issue. But the bill goes further, it specifically requires candidates to provide

“an original long-form birth certificate that includes the date and place of birth, the names of the hospital and the attending physician and signatures of the witnesses in attendance.”
While this sounds fine, it’s actually unconstitutional. Why? Because states are not allowed to discriminate against citizens of other states, and part of that means they can’t refuse to recognize marriages, births, divorces, drivers licenses, and property records that are considered valid in other states. In other words, if Hawaii or Kentucky or whoever decide that a person is a legal resident, Arizona cannot demand that a person provide additional proof beyond that required by Hawaii or Kentucky. Thus, Arizona cannot say “we want more documentation than Hawaii requires.”

Moreover, this requirement raises all kinds of issues. What happens to people whose original birth certificates get lost or destroyed? Of if the doctor failed to sign the certificate? What if the witness signs as “Mickey Mouse” or signed with an "X"? What if Wyoming doesn’t use long-form birth certificates? These people would suddenly be disqualified from running for President, which means this bill is trying to add requirements to the US Constitution. . . that’s a legal no-no.

So if this will fail in court, what’s the big deal? The big deal is the politics of this.

Americans hate technicalities; they see the exploitation of technicalities as cheating, whether in sports or court or jobs or politics. Obama is an American, there’s no one who can seriously doubt that. He was born to an American mother, he was raised largely in the US. He’s as American as a great many of the rest of us. To try to keep him from running because the exact location of his birth is in dispute, is a technicality. And to try to keep him out, when he’s already been elected and is currently serving, will strike Americans as an attempt to cheat -- to use a legal technicality to defeat a political opponent.

(Not to mention that the only thing worse than cheating is cheating ineffectively -- which this would be as Obama won’t win Arizona anyway and as this requirement will be struck down).

And before anyone says, “but it’s the law,” ask yourself how you would have reacted if in 1983, a Democrat discovered that the doctor who should have signed Ronald Reagan’s birth certificate forgot. . . or misspelled his name. . . and suddenly the Democratic Congress passed a law declaring that Reagan couldn’t run for re-election. I’ll bet your response wouldn’t have been “awe shucks, what a shame.” Your response would have bordered on rage or disgust at the Democrats. So why should we think the public would be any less forgiving if Republicans do this to Obama?

Obama is definitely beatable. Trying to disqualify Obama in this way will make Republicans look petty and like cheaters, and will turn Obama from a foolish dictator-wannabe into a victim. In fact, this is eerily similar to the Republicans impeaching Bill Clinton for “lying.” They may have been legally right, but they were politically very wrong, and they paid a heavy price for pursuing what appeared to be a vindictive agenda.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the fact this issue keeps dogging Obama -- I particularly liked how Hawaii Democratic Government Abercrombie breathed new life into the whole thing by trying to kill it. . . but Republicans need to get out and stay out of the birther issue. Leave that to humor circuit.


patti said...

andrew: i'm so glad you weighed in, as i have had mixed feelings about this issue. thanks for making clear a murky debate.

and i'm with you. i love the doofus hawaiian gov who was gonna "help" barry once and for all on this matter. go team barry!

LL said...

There needs to be a method - on a federal level - where any candidate for president would present "clear and convincing proof", available to public scrutiny, that they are a "natural born citizen" of the United States BEFORE they can be listed on a ballot.

Obama keeps playing 'hide the ball' and this would put the issue to rest once and for all.

Arizona's efforts, while understandable, don't rise to the challenge. The federal government needs to police itself on this issue. And then Obama can put up or not run again.

CrispyRice said...

Sorry, Andrew, but I think you're off the mark on this one. It is precisely at the state level where this sort of qualification should be looked at. It's not a federal issue. So now the states are trying to do something that frankly should have been done long ago, and I think that's a good thing. Right now, the individual secretaries of state have a huge amount of discretion, and the dems have been very effective in "packing the courts" so to speak in SOS offices.

I also think you're setting up a straw man with that argument about a typo on a birth certificate disqualifying Reagan. At the very least, one should be able to submit documentation sufficient to get a US passport, which our dear leader's certificate would not have done for any of the rest of us.

It's not a technicality. It's the Constitution.

Tennessee Jed said...

exactly! I want to beat Obama on the issues, not technicalities. L.L. your point is excellent as well. Just as the time to talk about civility is not when you haven't practiced it, but just lost your power base, now is not the time to engage in this petty garbage. High road is best!

Tennessee Jed said...

I must apologize for my last post, by the way. (Particularly to Crispy ;-))I was distracted by the pup. I am not saying that determining whether an individual is a citizen or not is "petty garbage," I was starting to say "what many will see as petty garbage"

By way of example, I was glad Clinton was not convicted and glad he didn't resign. Why? I believe if algore had become president, he would have run in 2000 s the incimbant and probably won.

In other words, I'm thinking practicality, here.

StanH said...

I agree. Though there seems to be some there, there, we (they) have elected this clown, and once again proves the old adage, “we get the government we deserve.” These are things that needed to be thoroughly vetted by our press in ’08, (as it was with many, many other things) and pounded on by the RNC and McLame, “thanks John, Barry’s a real good guy.” That being said, in 2012 we must put up a hard fighter, someone who will deliver a punch as well as counter punch. Color the real picture of Barry, a creation of ‘60s radicalism, with all of it’s glory. Do not allow the press to create a false narrative where Barry reemerges as a god. He is eminently defeatable in 2012 as he was in ’08, but I worry about the RNC and their ability to remove the gloves. We need a great, positive conservative message, and at the same time pin the democrats ears back, and define them as who they are, provably “socialist.” We’ll see.

BevfromNYC said...


B. What is up with Arizona?
I'm with you Andrew. Sorry gang. It's a distraction and pointless.

The reason that I don't think there is any "there", there, is I truly believe if there was a real question, the Clintons would have exploited the hell out of it.

THat being said, it DOES look fishy that Obama is being cagey, but he's the President whether we like it or not. He holds an American passport, so the State Department deemed his live birth cert valid.

BTW, my mother had a problem many years ago when she applied for her first passport. Her actual birth date and her recorded birthdate on her birth cert were different. My grandmother had to go down to the Fed. Court and sign an affidavit in person swearing that she was there when my mother was born and the date on her birth cert. was incorrect before the State Dept. would issue the passport. We are talking 1 day difference.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, You're welcome! As I say, I enjoy the fact this issue keeps dogging him, but this is one of those things that will blow up on us if we push it as official policy.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I do agree that this issue should be clarified and I would like to see it spelled out at a national level. In fact, it should probably be spelled out in conjunction with the illegal immigration debate.

I for one, think it's insane that Obama would not be eligible, but somebody whose mother snuck across the border from Mexico, gave birth here, went home, and then sent the kid back at 18 would be eligible?

It's time to sort out what makes you and American and what doesn't -- especially before some state gets the idea that they can make illegals legal by issuing after-the-fact birth certificates or something like that.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, It's not a straw man, I'm pointing out that conservatives would be on the other side of this if they liked the guy and the Democrats pulled the same technicality -- just like sports fans think it's funny when it happens to a rival, but an outrage when it happens to them.

This is bad politics, even if there is a legal issue here.

In terms of the minimum qualification, I agree that there should be a minimum standard, but are you saying Obama couldn't get a US passport? I think you're wrong on that. Even without the long form birth certificate, he would be able to get a passport by getting Hawaii to provide some alternative notice of his birth.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. I think LL makes a very good point and I agree that we should sort this out. But doing something so clearly aimed at taking Obama out on a technicality will not play well.

And I think your sentiments are shared by the vast majority of Americans -- people want to win fair fights, not on technicalities. And I think people don't respond well at all to people who try to use technicalities to pull out a win -- and even worse when they probably would have won any ways.

PLUS, do we really want the Democrats finding a better candidate than Obama in 2012? I don't think giving them a chance to start fresh would be a good idea either.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I'm not doctrinaire about it, but I think the jerk has produced sufficient evidence of his American birth to satisfy the authorities. That doesn't mean I'm convinced, but I think I can live with it. I see it as another example of Obama's arrogance. And there could be method to his madness. It makes many of us look like desperate zealots, and it could cost us a victory if it becomes a "crucial" issue and he suddenly springs full documentation on the birthers after a lengthy and well-planned ambush. There are simply too many risks with a very uncertain outcome to continue tilting at that windmill. Let's just beat the SOB on the merits and quit skirmishing over an issue that might never be resolved.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree about the practical part too. Do we really want to eliminate Obama from the race and then have to face someone without the baggage? The public has stopped listening to him (as evidenced by his ratings continuing to fall). I'd rather face him that somebody knew and possibly inspiring!

Also, let me say that I also don't think this is petty or garbage, but laws have never been ironclad in this country -- there is always wiggle room for when and how they are enforced. We can and should fix this issue, but we can't be seen to be exploiting it. And when a group of Republicans get together and create a bill that all but says "this is to stop Obama from running again," that's just not going to play well.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I agree, it's time for all Republicans to take the gloves off -- this guy can be beat, but not by playing nice. We need to point out who he is, what he stands for and what he's done. His record is damning with the American people, we need to remind them of that mercilessly.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Happy Groundhogs Day to you to! Let's hope we don't end up reliving this day over and over ala Bill Murray.

I think the word distraction is right. That's what this is and it is the kind of distraction that gives the other side (who are drowning in his failures) something they can use to rally the troops and to turn the debate from Obama's failures to the unfairness of our attack. That's bad strategy.

The story with your grandmother is something that many people have gone through -- birth certificates contain errors, get lost or destroyed, and sometimes are overlooked. That's why I can't see a court allowing a strict application of a law that says you need to provide a specific original document. The courts will require some alternative procedure for people whose birth certificates are somehow faulty or "unproducable"... and that is what Obama did with the certificate of live birth. So in the end, legally speaking, this bill will do nothing.

I'd like to see the issue of who is an American and how do you prove it (particularly in relation to the illegal immigration debate), cleaned up, but this is not the way to do it.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I don't know if he was born on US soil or was shipped her afterwards, but I don't think that's a distinction we should be trying to exploit. There's no doubt the guy is an American, no matter where he was born, and I think the vast majority of Americans don't care if he was born in Hawaii, on a plane, or at an Indonesian rest stop.

I think the real danger is that this is the kind of thing that give a demoralized enemy (the Democrats) something to rally behind and to use to change the debate. He's failing, let's keep the spotlight on him and his failures.... not on a group of Arizona legislators trying to exploit a technicality.

Ponderosa said...

I don't believe it is a mere technicality, nonetheless the timing is all wrong. Let's just beat him in 2012 then do the digging after the election.

If he lied, his legacy will be further tarnished and laws can be changed.

If didn't lie and he was just playing a game (my guess) - then the GOP won't get burned.

Joel Farnham said...


You are correct in that it is a losing problem for Republicans, but you lose sight of what is simply a request for legitimate information. Obama has refused legitimate requests for this birth certificate.

For years, this has been swirling around Obama. A simple showing of the certificate will resolve this problem. "WHY WON'T HE SHOW IT?" will be the question of the decade.

I am sure this Arizona law will be thrown out and ruled unconstitutional. In the mean time, Obama will have to show his certificate or flout PUBLIC OPINION. It will show that he personally won't follow laws he doesn't agree with. A true elitist attitude.

At any rate, it ties up some of his people to fight this law and not make new laws or rules that curtail our freedoms. A win.

He will be on the losing end of this unless he shows a legitimate certificate. Yes, the Republicans will be shown to have cheated Obama out of his second term, but.. I DON'T CARE.

If there was a legitimate certificate he would have shown it before now if only to score points against McCain. There is smoke here.

What I am more upset at is the Republican in question is writing bad law. Why write a law if you know it will be ruled unconstitutional in the end? And this question is being raised in the media before the Republican, no doubt looking to cash in on public sentimate, sponsored this law. I would carefully look at this individual to see if they would normally be Tea-Partied out because of his/her voting record or policy positions.

AndrewPrice said...

Ponderosa, I'm not saying it is a technicality -- the law is the law, but I am saying it will be perceived as such by the public if we try to use this to disqualify him from running again.

I think fixing this issue after the election works well... and investigating then would be a good idea. But I think doing it now would just be a distraction that can only make us look bad.

I would actually like to see this resolved along with the bigger issue of defining what it takes to be considered an American. I think we could probably leverage this (after 2012) into an opportunity to reform that whole issue.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I don't know much about her or the other co-sponsors, and I don't think they think this will be unconstitutional -- but it will be. The problem is that to make it pass constitutional muster will require what they want: it will require that Arizona accept what Hawaii considers an acceptable alternative proof of birth.

In terms of him not showing it, I think you're right that he doesn't have it. Why doesn't he have it? I don't know, but I honestly don't think the public cares. The public heard about this and still elected him -- they made their decision. And trying to undo that by now ruling him out will not suddenly endear us to the public, it will trigger their sense of injustice.

I know a lot of people want to see this issue followed up on and Obama forced out or stopped from running again, but poll after poll shows they are a very small minority. The vast majority of the public just doesn't care about this. That's why this is the Clinton lying thing all over again -- it's an issue that rings with the activists, but not the public. And pursing issues like this (just like going after Reagan for Iran Contra or Clinton for lying) always blows up on the people pursing it. The public already voted on this issue when they elected him.

We are better off just beating him straight up rather than making him a victim and losing to a Hillary Clinton replacement nominee.

Ponderosa said...

If there is a "there" there, most would be fine with him being bounced off the 2012 ballot. Enough people watch and play sports.

It is complaining about the game last year or the last election that irritates people. 2008 is in the books.

Or if the "there" is a typo. Then yes it is technicality and the GOP would viewed as easily played rubes.

But if after winning in 2012 it is proven that he lied? Well, the GOP would have carte blanche for years to come...well until they screw up.

To echo your other point:
HCR was signed by BO not HRC.

AndrewPrice said...

Ponderosa, I think you're right that being seen to be trying to replay a prior election is never a good thing.

In terms of there being "there" there, I think it would entirely depend on what the there is. If there just isn't a birth certificate, then I doubt the public would see that as meaning much. But if we suddenly found proof that he was registered in Hawaii by mail or something, and he never even entered the US until his teens, that might be different. I don't know.

But I also don't think this is something the Republicans should be pursuing. Let the conspiracy guys go digging. If they find something devastating, use it. If they don't, then steer clear.

In other words, let other people sling the mud until it becomes clear there is something there that will change the public's mind.

CrispyRice said...

No offense taken, Jed. :)

I'm not saying that the exact legislation that Arizona (and a bunch of other states, mind you) has crafted is perfect. But I think it's a good and necessary step. I was personally surprised to find out that no one ever really checks whether a candidate is qualified. I always assumed it was in the paperwork they file somewhere. I guess there hasn't been a need in the past. There is now and in the future. And I'm glad it's happening on the state level.

America may not like getting off on technicalities, but we don't like pompous jerks who play "hide the facts" long enough to get their way and subvert the rules, either.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, True enough! And I have to agree completely with your description of our Kenyan Overlord as a pompous jerk! LOL! Well said.

Ed said...

I'm torn on this issue. Part of me tells me we should let this go, but part of me agrees with Joel - he's hiding something so let's make him prove it!

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, The irony here is that if he does have it and he doesn't release it, then he's allowing this issue to fester.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Changing the ands to ors and requiring any two or three would achieve the same thing. Your drivers license which is valid in all states. Each state does not require you producing the drivers test as well.

There are usually small number of candidates so simply requiring thew Supreme Court to validate each would clear any contention. The Supreme Court ruling would nullify any states actions like this in Arizona.

To get a passport you are required to produce a validated birth certificate before it will be issued. Does bo have a pass port and were proper documents provided in order for it's issuance?

We saw the shadow here so I guess its more snow for us.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good points Andrew.

I understand why this bothers a lot of folks. Hell, it bothers me too.
However, this is still a waste of time, effort and could very well backfire and for what? Is it really worth picking this battle when there's so little public support?

We have a ton of evidence showing how destructive Obama's policies have been to America and the majority of voters do care about that, so why not focus on that and make sure ObaMao doesn't get reelected?

If we can't stop him from getting reelected with a mountain of evidence proving he is a neo-com who considers our liberties a nuisance in his pursuit of power then I seriously doubt we could stop him with any new state birth certificate laws which would get thrown out anyway.

Again, I realize the frustration. Maybe after we get a republican President, Senate and House then something can be done legislatively to have more checks and balancees and transparency, but first we hafta win.

I have no idea why Obama refuses to release his long form BC (and if he lost it why not simply say so?) but I suspect there is something on it he doesn't want us to know (same with his school records).

Perhaps it lists a different father? Or maybe he's hoping we overplay our hand and make him look like a victim?

At any rate I think it's a red herring and I concur that if there was something substantial enough to it that voters would've turned away from Obama in droves that Clinton would've found it.

CrispyRice said...

"If we can't stop him from getting reelected with a mountain of evidence proving he is a neo-com who considers our liberties a nuisance in his pursuit of power..."

Ultimately, this is so very true. If the American people are willing to re-elect him despite all he's done, then the people certainly don't care about anything else in the Constitution any more either, and there may simply be no hope for our country.

AndrewPrice said...

Tom, He does have a passport. I'm not sure what documentation he gave to get it. In terms of having the Supreme Court make the decision, that does fly in the face of our federalist system, but it does make sense.

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, I agree. If we can't beat him with the mountain of evidence he's given us about how horrible a President he is, then adding a birth issue in a few conservative states he won't win in anyway won't help us either. The time to fix this is after he's lost. And I think that should be a national fix. We should also combine it with a fix on immigration to stop people people from becoming Americans if they aren't born to Americans.

In terms of having something to hide, that's very possible. I'm pretty sure he won't release his law school transcript because it shows he's a dullard and that doesn't fit the narrative of him being a genius. This could be the same thing. In fact, for all we know, his American "mother" adopted him?!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Sadly, that's true. And I think the truth is that a large majority of the public doesn't care much about the Constitution except in principle -- they just want things done or not done. That's a real failing of our schools to explain to the people how or government works and why it works that way.

DUQ said...

I'm with Ed. I hate to let it go, but I think it's the wiser course of action.

Still, I'm not sure it's a bad thing to take steps for the future.

Oh, I guess I'm of two minds, too.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I think a lot of people are of two minds on this. I just think the politics of using it to get Obama will backfire. But that doesn't mean we can't fix the issue or wait and see what it reveals.

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