Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama releases 'long form' birth certificate

From the Associated Press:
Responding to critics' relentless claims, President Barack Obama on Wednesday produced a detailed Hawaii birth certificate in an extraordinary attempt to bury the issue of where he was born and confirm his legitimacy to hold office. He declared, "We do not have time for this kind of silliness."

By going on national TV from the White House, Obama portrayed himself as a voice of reason amid a loud, lingering debate on his birth status. Though his personal attention to the issue elevated it as never before, Obama said to Republican detractors and the media, it is time to move on to bigger issues.

Citing huge budget decisions in Washington, Obama said, "I am confident that the American people and America's political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have. But we're not going to be able to do it if we are distracted."

So what's the Republican response?
In a statement after Obama spoke, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the issue a distraction — and yet blamed Obama for playing campaign politics by addressing it.

"The president ought to spend his time getting serious about repairing our economy," Priebus said. "Unfortunately his campaign politics and talk about birth certificates is distracting him from our number one priority — our economy."

Yeah. "Why is President Obama distracting us with this nonsense?" They are blaming Obama for bringing it up! Heh, heh. That really takes gall, doesn't it? Of course, Republicans have nothing but gall.

After two years of relentless attacks on this fake "issue" - since Obama had released his official birth certificate long before now, and Hawaii state officials had confirmed it - polls show that less than a third of registered Republicans believe he was born in America.

So he finally gives in to the lunatics and requests a waiver from the Hawaii health department for the so-called "long form" document. And how will that work out?

First of all, do you really think this will stop the loons on the right, when the previous official birth certificate didn't? Not a chance! For example, here's Joseph Farah of World Nut Daily: "It would be a big mistake for everyone to jump to a conclusion now based on the release of this document, which raises as many questions as it answers."

And Orly Taitz isn't buying it, because the document lists Obama's father's race as "African," rather than "Negro." Surprise, surprise - when lunatics make up their minuscule little minds, no evidence is going to change them.

Second, Republican operatives like Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich are already patting themselves on the back for getting the President to, once again, fold like a cheap suit. At this point, does anyone believe that Obama will ever stand up to them on anything?

Yes, Obama is clearly just a typical Democrat in that respect. The right-wing is chalking up another in a never-ending series of wins. The thing is, you can't just say that you plan to grow a spine... someday. You actually have to demonstrate that you can stand up. Otherwise, your opponents know that it's just talk.

And as I say, the Republican National Committee is already turning this around and blaming Obama for "distracting" the country with nonsense when there are serious issues like Planned Parenthood unions jobs to address. Will it work? Well, at this point, I don't think there's anything too stupid for the American people to swallow.

I'm hugely disappointed in Barack Obama. No, not because of this single issue, but because he continues to bend over backward trying to appease his political enemies when there's literally nothing he could do that would make them happy. They hate him for who he is - a black Democrat in the White House - not what he does.

And meanwhile, while Democrats control the best bully pulpit in the world, we have no one standing up firmly for progressive values, no one fighting for our side. Obama apparently won't fight for anything, and he's not all that progressive, anyway. (But I could live with that if he'd just lead.)

Take a look at this column by Ezra Klein:
America is mired in three wars. The past decade was the hottest on record. Unemployment remains stuck near 9 percent, and there’s a small, albeit real, possibility that the U.S. government will default on its debt. So what’s dominating the news? A reality-television star who can’t persuade anyone that his hair is real is alleging that the president of the United States was born in Kenya.

Perhaps this is just the logical endpoint of two years spent arguing over what Barack Obama is — or isn’t. Muslim. Socialist. Marxist. Anti-colonialist. Racial healer. We’ve obsessed over every answer except the right one: President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican from the early 1990s. And the Republican Party he’s facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him.

If you put aside the emergency measures required by the financial crisis, three major policy ideas have dominated American politics in recent years: a health-care plan that uses an individual mandate and tax subsidies to achieve near-universal coverage; a cap-and-trade plan that attempts to raise the prices of environmental pollutants to better account for their costs; and bringing tax rates up from their Bush-era lows as part of a bid to reduce the deficit. In each case, the position that Obama and the Democrats have staked out is the very position that moderate Republicans staked out in the early ’90s — and often, well into the 2000s. ...

The normal reason a party abandons its policy ideas is that those ideas fail in practice. But that’s not the case here. These initiatives were wildly successful. Gov. Mitt Romney passed an individual mandate in Massachusetts and drove its number of uninsured below 5 percent. The Clean Air Act of 1990 solved the sulfur-dioxide problem. The 1990 budget deal helped cut the deficit and set the stage for a remarkable run of growth.

Rather, it appears that as Democrats moved to the right to pick up Republican votes, Republicans moved to the right to oppose Democratic proposals. As Gingrich’s quote suggests, cap and trade didn’t just have Republican support in the 1990s. John McCain included a cap-and-trade plan in his 2008 platform. The same goes for an individual mandate, which Grassley endorsed in June 2009 — mere months before he began calling the policy “unconstitutional.”

This White House has shown a strong preference for policies with demonstrated Republican support, but that’s been obscured by the Republican Party adopting a stance of unified, and occasionally hysterical, opposition (remember “death panels”?) — not to mention a flood of paranoia about the president’s “true” agenda and background. But as entertaining as the reality-TV version of politics might be, it can’t be permitted to, ahem, trump reality itself. If you want to obsess over origins in American politics, look at the president’s policies, not his birth certificate.

I don't have to agree with everything a politician believes or that a politician supports (not always the same thing). And I always knew that Barack Obama wasn't as liberal as his enemies made him out to be - or as many of his supporters hoped.

But yes, the Democratic Party has moved strongly to the right. And since I wasn't a moderate Republican in the early 1990s, I can't say that I like this much. It would have been different if they'd been able to "compromise" with the GOP by adopting these GOP positions. It would have been different if moving to the right had resulted in isolating the Republican Party in a tiny fringe position on the extreme-right.

But that's not what happened. Yes, the GOP moved right. The GOP moved incredibly, excessively, fanatically to the far-right, into quite literally the position of conspiracy theory crazies. But - thanks to Fox "News," I suspect - that hasn't seemed to hurt them a bit. They just get crazier and crazier, while I'm still waiting for a backlash among sane Republicans (are there any left?).

I've got to think that it's just racism. After all, do you really think it's just coincidence that half the country lost their minds when we elected the first black man as President of the United States? What else could it be?

Democrats have adopted Republican positions that the Republicans themselves are now calling "socialist" and "unconstitutional." It's just crazy. And meanwhile, what are people like me supposed to do, people who think we've been on the wrong path since Reagan and that, instead of continuing to move right when that's been a complete disaster for us, we need to take the opposite course?

Since Republicans have abandoned not just the political center but the moderate right as well, Democrats should be on top of the world. They've got the left, the center, and even much of the right. But they're apparently so inept at politics that they can't even make that work out for them! Or else America has just become so batshit crazy that nothing sane is going to work anymore.

I don't know. Either way, letting Republicans walk all over us is not going to be a winning strategy. Democrats couldn't even make tax cuts for the wealthy an effective political issue, not even after such tax cuts crashed our economy and gave us record-breaking deficits. And now Republicans want to kill Medicare, which is opposed by 84% of Americans! What do you want to bet that Democrats can't capitalize on that, either?

We need a leader in the White House. And we just don't have one. It's hard to believe, after the masterful campaign he ran in 2008, but Barack Obama has turned into a milquetoast as president. And he - and the rest of the Democrats - are running out of time to turn things around.

Unfortunately, America is also running out of time to turn things around.


Chimeradave said...

Amen! You are 100% right.

My one question is why didn't Obama release this document years ago? I mean, I'm sure the extreme right would have immediately moved on to something else, but why let them blabber on about this for so long? I mean I understand he saw it as lowering himself to their level, but after the first month I would have said I'm gonna release the stupid document.

WCG said...

John, this was complete insanity from the very beginning. It's not a real issue, and never was. Barack Obama had the legal proof that he was born in America, and he released that in 2008, before he was ever elected. And Hawaii state officials confirmed it. This was a complete non-issue.

Now a rational human being - and certainly the President of the United States - shouldn't give some things the respect of even acknowledging them. What's next? Should he have to show proof that Bigfoot hasn't been occupying the Lincoln bedroom? Should he hold a press conference denying that there are aliens at Roswell?

Furthermore, this position was originally held by only a tiny number of cranks. Now, it's held by a huge number of cranks. The last poll I saw indicated that only 32% of Republicans acknowledged that he was born in America.

Isn't that crazy? Half of Republicans think that the President of the United States is illegally holding the office, and many of the rest have doubts about it. It's just insane. How can a rational government even function with that degree of insanity in the country?

At any rate, I understand why he petitioned Hawaii for a waiver now, when he didn't years ago. Ignoring the lunacy just didn't work, because the GOP had reasons to keep the issue alive. (They'll use anything that works for them.)

Plus, let's face it, none of this would have ever arisen if Obama had been white. This is just a proxy for racism. It's a way of saying that black people are "them," not "us," without coming right out and admitting that you're a racist. As a white Democrat, Obama would still have faced intense opposition from his political opponents, but these kinds of hysterics are mostly a matter of race.

Still, I wish he'd stood up at that podium and told them all to go to hell. The big problem with folding this time is that he folds every time. This has just become the pattern of his presidency. That's not good politically, and it's certainly not good for America.

Chimeradave said...

I guess I just don't see this as folding. Yes, you can argue it's going down to their level or akin to proving bigfoot didn't stay in the Lincoln bedroom, but the way I see it if the press said I wasn't born in America I would immediately do everything I could to ram the truth down their throats, not let it stew for years. I see the stewing as weaker and I guess you see him releasing it at all as capitulation.

FYI- two of my siblings were born out of country while my mother was on vacation. My father loved to say they could never be president. If you look at the letter of the law, I'm pretty sure they could since they were born to two American citizens and have lived here most of their lives, but I wonder what would happened if they or someone in the same situation tried.

WCG said...

You're probably right that it isn't "folding," John. But the right-wing is certainly crowing about their success. And note that this isn't stopping the loons. I've already seen claims that it's a forgery (on the Fox News business channel, no less).

And no, I don't think your siblings could run for president. At least, I heard from another person about this. He was born in Japan to American citizens, but he had to get naturalized when they moved back to America.

I was surprised by this, because I thought that being a child of a citizen was enough. But I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not going to claim anything for sure.