The Anatomy of Birthermania
Some of us are born to be accountants and actuaries; these sober folks keep the world’s vast machinery humming smoothly (if prosaically) from one day to the next. Others among us still commune with the powers and principalities of the air; from these fertile, feverish minds spring all manner of inventions, art, philosophies, religions, myths, follies and (of course) blogs.
There’s a place in this humdrum world for the otherworldly types. I respect the childlike souls who believe in fairies, ghosts, banshees, wood nymphs, elves and sprites, not only because such beliefs are colorful but because nobody has ever succeeded in disproving them. I have less respect for those who persist in believing that President Barack Obama was born outside the United States.
Why? Because the “birthers” refuse to renounce their eccentric faith even when confronted with stark, tangible evidence to the contrary. They’ve latched onto an idea like a terrier sinking its teeth into the mailman’s pants, and they just won’t let go.
Last night on CNN, during a testy debate with Donald Trump, stalwart reporter Anderson Cooper displayed a photograph of Obama’s birth certificate. Everything about it seemed kosher: the parents, the date, the place of birth (Honolulu). Did The Donald accept the evidence and call a halt to his overhyped birther crusade? No way. He merely expressed his “sincere” hope that Obama was a native Hawaiian while he continued to deny the validity of the evidence.
In the gospel according to Trump, the certificate on display was a short version of the genuine article, which is kept sealed in some secret Hawaiian vault. That much is true. Told that the short version is actually the definitive birth certificate that Hawaiians use to prove their status, Trump refused to back down. No matter that the governor of Hawaii has stated that he knew Obama’s parents while they were expecting our president. No matter that other witnesses, including a Hawaiian obstetric nurse, have stepped forward to verify Obama’s Honolulu delivery.
No amount of evidence will convince these people. After all, the “Certification of Live Birth” could be a forgery, couldn’t it? Or it could have been tampered with. The birthers believe that Obama is a foreigner because they want Obama to be a foreigner. If Obama is a foreigner, his presidency is automatically invalidated. And the birthers would do anything in their power to invalidate Obama.
But the birthers’ fevered faith runs even deeper than a desire to unseat an intelligent African American president with an Islamic middle name. It’s the same faith that insists on planting a second gunman on that grassy knoll in Dallas, the same faith that claims our government is hiding the remains of aliens who crash-landed in the New Mexico desert.
I can sympathize with the conspiracy-mongering mentality up to a point. Is vital information is being withheld from us commoners by the people in power? You bet it is. Look at the nefarious schemes perpetrated behind closed doors by lobbyists, Congressmen, Wall Street honchos and our own Department of Defense. That’s where the birthers and their ilk should be pointing their magnifying glasses… not at Hawaii’s record keepers.
Let’s forget about the controversial birth certificate for a moment. We know that Barack Obama, Sr., and Stanley Ann Dunham (yep, that was her given name) met at the University of Hawaii. We also know they were married in Hawaii and lived there until after their son was born. Yet the birthers expect us to believe that one of them would suggest to the other, perhaps casually over breakfast, “What do you say we move to Kenya for a few weeks and have our baby there? He’d be a native son of Africa, and besides, the Kenyan hospital system is really first rate.”
I don’t think so. Add the photographed birth certificate and all the other corroborating evidence, and it becomes virtually incontestible that Barack Obama, Jr., is a bona fide native of the 50th state. Case closed, at least in the opinion of The New Moderate.
Here’s an unsettling statistic for you. During Obama’s rookie year as president, some 58 percent of Republicans reportedly believed him to be foreign-born. Two years later, that figure is still hovering around 47 percent.
Optimists might point to the marginal progress toward rationality, but it makes me a little queasy that nearly half the Republicans in this country are birthers. When I think about those same 47 percent having a voice in selecting the next Republican presidential nominee, I feel even queasier.