“Birther” nonsense

2009/07/27

Like the rest of you, I have heard rumors about whether or not the President was actually born in Hawaii, or elsewhere, and as such, whether or not he is truly qualified [1] to be the President. [2]

In all fairness, the question is a valid one, as this is one issue on which the Constitution has been absolutely unambiguous since its creation over two hundred years ago. [3] The problem, in this case, is that to assume that Obama was not born a citizen of the Republic, one would have to accept that all those responsible for verifying his background prior to his announcing his candidacy for President somehow managed to miss this one little (but crucial) bit of information, or that they actively covered it up. In addition to these individuals, who of course may be presumed to be biased towards their candidate, one would also have to accept that any number of judges, fellow and opposing politicians, and a host of others both in and out of Fedgov also did the same. The problem with such conspiratorial notions is, again, that scale is a limiting factor: the more people involved in the conspiracy, the harder it will be to ensure that nobody accidentally (or intentionally) divulges the secret being kept. Beyond leaks of information, one must also assume that all of the individuals involved in said conspiracy are willing participants in a scheme to actively mislead the unsuspecting citizens of the Republic. While I do not doubt that such individuals do exist, it seems far less likely that there would be hundreds (or thousands, or tens of thousands) of individuals who would be willing to set aside their sense of duty to the Republic and, in effect, swear loyalty to an individual, instead. Indeed, scale was an argument used to argue in favor of a large House of Representatives when the Federal Constitution was first written, [4] as it was believed (probably realistically) that it would be difficult to amass so many like-minded individuals who would be willing to actively subvert the fundamental principles of the Republic.

The most annoying aspect of these claims, at least to me, is that such criticisms divert energy that might otherwise be spent on legitimate concerns. Rather than focus on a null issue, why not question the President’s desire for our legislators to hastily approve of trillion-dollar healthcare programs that not even he knows how to create, fund, or manage? Why not question his disregard for “low skill” jobs, while our manufacturing and service-sector job markets crumble? Why not question his support for bloated, inefficient, taxpayer-funded Congressional spending sprees, while hardworking Americans find it harder and harder to fund their own expenses? Why not question his support for expanded Fedgov meddling in private companies, and whether or not this is the kind of government activity we want for our Republic? Why not question his support for energy legislation that is merely a cover for an environmentally “moral” agenda and that will likely add substantial expense to energy costs for all Americans, while cheap access to energy is a sine qua non for a growing economy? Why not question whether or not it would be wiser for him to spend more time in Washington, rather than constantly campaigning around the nation in support of programs he never bothers to detail? Why not ask him what he plans to do about illegal immigration, Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, what role he envisions for our military and how his silence regarding recent Congressional budget cuts to defense spending fit with that vision, how he plans to address our education system such that it best serves the various ability levels of the various students in its charge, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Any one of these questions would be far more worthy than supporting conspiracy theories that almost certainly could not succeed in a Republic as large as ours with a government bureaucracy as massive as it is. So, for those of you out there who think this is a serious concern, get over it already. Like it or not, he is the President of our Republic, [5] so if you must criticize, please criticize something worthwhile. After all, it is the right, even the duty, of a responsible citizen of our Republic to hold our elected officials accountable for the actions they undertake in our name and by our authority.

Notes:

[1]: By birth, that is; questions regarding whether or not he possesses the proper skills to be president are another matter entirely.

[2]: See here for a rather prickly response from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs regarding the matter, CNN article, 27 July 2009.

[3]: “Valid” in the sense that it is a pre-requisite for even running for election to the Presidency. See Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 5.

[4]: See The Federalist, Number 55 for James Madison’s arguments in this regard.

[5]: Yes, despite my own criticisms of the President, I do not deny him the legitimacy of his election.

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2 Responses to ““Birther” nonsense”

  1. MI Says:

    Actually, the natural-born citizen clause is a bit more complex than at first glance. See:

    http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2008/02/mccain-natural.html

    http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2008/03/and-yet-more-on.html

    IIRC, the question of McCain’s citizenship did spawn a few interesting law review articles:

    http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2008/07/gabriel-j-chin.html

    http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2008/09/two-papers-on-n.html

    • seeker312 Says:

      Ain’t semantics fun? And yet, people sometimes criticize me for being overly nitpicky about the accurate (or inaccurate) use of language.

      In any event, the only supporting arguments I have heard thus far amount to no more than beliefs and assertions; as far as I have heard (granted, not far, since I haven’t been avidly following these crackpots and their theories), no one has offered unmistakable proof that their claims are true. Regardless, it was not really my intention to get into a pissing match with these nutjobs; my point remains that there are far more substantive issues to debate, and this place of birth argument is, ultimately, a distraction. Unless someone comes forth with indisputable evidence that his Hawaiian birth certificate is a forgery, that he was actually born in Kenya, etc., I don’t think these notions are really worth much more comment.


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