NATCHITOCHES, La., April 20, 2011 – Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal believes that President Obama is a U.S. citizen. He’ll also sign Louisiana HB 561 if it reaches his desk. The bill, introduced by state Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) and Sen. A.G. Crowe (R-Slidell), requires that all candidates for federal office present original or certified copies of their birth certificates before appearing on Louisiana ballots.
Similar bills have been drafted in other states, fueled by belief that Obama isn’t really a U.S. citizen. Donald Trump has hammered the issue, claiming that there is “a real question” about Obama’s birth certificate.
Trump’s stance on this has earned him derision from MSNBC and a spirited defense from Sarah Palin, who on Fox News’ “Hannity” show argued, “When they’re hammering him about the one issue that he’s brought up and not been shy about, and that’s the birth certificate, he’s merely answering reporters’ questions about his view on the birth certificate, and then reporters turn that around and say, ‘That’s all he’s got, he’s only running on a birth certificate issue,’ when that’s not the case.”
As the national debt grows like a massive tumor on the economy, as we lose men and treasure in a forgotten war in Afghanistan and a desultory military adventure in Libya, as Texas burns and TSA agents grope children, it’s nice that the media are so keen to provide the comic relief.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Obama is a U.S. citizen, but his tenure in office concerns me all the same.
There are so many reasons to attack his performance in office, so many ways to argue reasonably that he’s unqualified, it’s odd that so many people have focused on this one. A clear exposition of Obamacare does more to damage his reelection chances than anything else. The birth issue plays only to the choir. The entire congregation worries about health care and taxes.
It’s less surprising that “Obama and his minions” (to quote Donald Trump) are spilling so much ink and air-time to attack bills like our HB 561. The Constitution does indeed require that candidates for the presidency be natural-born U.S. citizens, so in spite of the motivations it’s hardly outrageous for states to pass legislation requiring proof of that status. But “birthers” make an easy target, and spending time mocking them allows Rachel Maddow to not spend time reporting on Afghanistan, the national debt, Libya and other serious news.
Birthers are a better target of snark than dead soldiers, they’re funnier than the deficit, they’re better entertainment than the misery in Japan. (You can be excused for thinking that Japan is back to normal. The news media don’t want to depress you.)
Matt Drudge is breathless over Jerome Corsi’s expose of Obama’s birthright. He quotes a nameless source as saying, “Obama may learn things he didn’t even know about himself!” If that’s true, I’ll good-naturedly eat crow, but without a major, dramatic and crystal clear revelation about Obama’s origins, this is just another sermon to the choir.
It’s unlikely there are many “birthers” who think Obama is doing a good job. Why don’t they focus on explaining to the rest of us how awful his job performance is?
The “birther” distraction is just that. It adds nothing positive to any important debate on any significant policy. Given that, it would hurt nothing if every state passed legislation like HB 561 and every governor signed it. Then Obama, Romney, or whoever runs can provide a birth certificate and definitively end this discussion, or not provide a birth certificate and not go on the ballot.
If Obama isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen, he has to go, but people who think he has to go should be better focused on getting rid of him the old fashioned way: at the ballot box.
James Picht teaches economics at the Louisiana Scholars’ College in Natchitoches, La., where he went to take a break from working in Moscow and Washington. But he fell in love and there he stayed. Now he teaches, takes pictures, and with wife Lisa raises two children. He knows a few foreigners who he thinks would make better presidents than Obama, and more than a few native-born Americans who would be worse. The Consitution has a few things to say about that, but he doesn’t know any “birthers” who think Obama is doing a good job. He tweets and has a blog at pichtblog.blogspot.com.