The dustup between mogul Donald Trump and New York Times editorial page columnist Gail Collins over whether or not President Barack Obama has a valid birth certificate or is a U.S. citizen makes for wonderful political theatrics. Would-be 2012 Republican presidential candidates, including The Donald himself, must be licking their chops over the potential fodder this nagging "birther" debate may represent during their campaigns.
Even the most ardent Obama supporters would agree that the favorable 2008 conditions under which Obama was elected are ancient history: an America grown weary of eight George W. Bush years, a nation tired of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an electorate optimistic about the first African-American president, believers hypnotized by "change you can believe in," and the unemployed encouraged by the promise of 3 to 5 million new jobs. All that stood between Obama and the White House was the ineffectual John McCain.
Not only are those advantageous circumstances distant memories for Obama, but the 2008 aggressor will be on the defensive in 2012 over the stubborn unemployment rate, his health care plan and a third war in Libya. More Obama headaches loom. He'll have to defend against all the other accumulated baggage an office holding president carries.
My message to Trump: Go for it! With Republicans having little to lose against an incumbent who projects a $1 billion war chest, why not make Obama's birth certificate one in your arsenal of issues? Nothing in American history could be more scandalous than a president who is not legally eligible to serve under the Constitution sitting in the White House.
While it's hard to be brief about the subject, I'll try. At the debate's core is the short form Certification of Birth that Obama holds and that Hawaii claims is the only document it issues at birth, versus the longform birth certificate that many native Hawaiians have posted on the Internet but which Obama's camp and the Hawaiian government insists does not exist.
The former contains scant information like the child's name, date of birth and parents' race. The latter has the details including the hospital's name, the attending doctor and the appropriate official signatures. Despite passionate arguments that the long form isn't available, Susan Nordyke, who was born in Honolulu on Aug. 5, 1961 just one day after Obama, produced a long-form birth certificate that's on the Internet. Anyone can see it.
Despite protestations by Chiyome Fukino, the former head of the state agency in charge of birth records, that documents pertaining to individuals' birth circumstances cannot be released, the evidence is to the contrary. According to Hawaii Revised Statutes, Paragraph 38-13(a) specifies that the agency "shall, upon request, furnish an applicant a certified copy of any certificate, or the contents of any certificate, or any part thereof." Further, subparagraph C allows that copies of birth certificates "may be made by photograph, dry copy reproduction, typing, computer printout or other process approved by the director of health."
Among the most pressing lingering questions are why, if Obama was born in Hawaii as he insists, doesn't he simply produce the long-form document to prove it?
I'm not convinced one way or the other. For Obama to be the United States president but a Kenyan national, as birthers maintain, means that a large portion of Washington, D.C. insiders, including the Secret Service which vets high level government officials, would have to have looked the other way for two years and kept quiet about what they know.
Still, last year the Supreme Court refused to hear Donofrio vs. Wells, the case that questioned Obama's citizenship. In a single word, the Court stated that the application was "denied."
Whatever your political leanings are, there's enough to question about Obama and his birth certificate that the president should be eager to put all the doubters to rest. So far, that hasn't happened.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pa. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.