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Opinion Origin of birth a non-issue

George HasaraThe question of presidential birth legitimacy brought up by “birthers” needs to be addressed. Was our 21st President, Chester A. Arthur born in Vermont or Canada as some have claimed? His mother was an American but his father was from Ireland, so would a Canadian birth invalidate Arthur's Presidency? (Arthur was James Garfield's VP and he became president after the Garfield assassination.) Though there was no definitive evidence of Arthur being foreign born, the issue was a significant diversionary talking point of the 1880 election.

Fast forward 132 years, replacing Canada with Kenya, Arthur with Obama, and you have all the fixings for another full course meal of baloney. I enjoy postulating about outlandish things as much as the next conspiracy nut. I also understand that the burden of proof lies with those making a claim. Repeating something doesn't make it so. There may be a fire where there is smoke, or maybe just a smokescreen.

The contesting of Obama's citizenship follows a classic “conspiracy” pattern. Anything that contradicts the conspiracy, must be explained away. Short form birth certificate – not good enough. We need the long form. Okay, we got the long form, but it doesn't support our claims so it is obviously faked. Birth announcements at the time in Honolulu newspapers must be a hoax to solidify the baby's citizenship status. Eye witness accounts such as the current Hawaii governor remembering the arrival of baby Barack – must be a crock especially since the governor is a democrat. The bar of proof always rises. Maybe there will be a demand that Obama's mother's body be dug up for DNA testing to confirm that she in fact, was his mother. Heck, lab tests can be tampered with as well, so round and round we go.

The attention the Obama birth issue has received is very bizarre. Even if he wasn't born in the U.S. or Hawaii was not a state in 1961 (as some have claimed), one would think that having an American mom would seal the deal. The Constitution says “natural born citizen” is a presidential requirement but doesn't follow up with a definition of what that exactly means. I thought the standard understanding of “natural born” meant born on U.S. soil or of American parentage, but apparently there is a hybrid category of “natural born, but not eligible to be president.”

Presidential aspirants Barry Goldwater, George Romney, and John McCain never made it to the White House but showed up as small blips on the birther radar. Though 1964 Republican Candidate Goldwater was born in Arizona, it was only a terrority at the time. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Mitt Romney's father George hailed from Mexico but other reasons caused him to lose out to Richard Nixon in the 1968 GOP primary process. Perhaps, if one of these men had made it to the White House, their citizenship status would have become a major issue – but I doubt it.

There are plenty of valid reasons to oppose Obama or other candidates without resorting to manufactured ones. However, the two major parties are not as different as they would like to project and issues in the margins are emphasized to gain traction with voters. Chester A. Arthur had a substantial dirty laundry list but scrutiny was diverted from corruption to Canada. We'll see how it plays out this time around.


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