Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Just Do It, Mr. President
“President Obama was in Hawaii for his Christmas vacation when Hawaii’s Governor Abercrombie said he wanted to find Obama’s birth certificate,” I said to the class. We were reviewing stories in the news after we returned from our week-and-a-half-long Christmas vacation.
“The New York Times reported on Christmas Eve,” I continued, “that: ‘Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, who befriended President Obama’s parents when they were university students here, has been in office for less than three weeks. But he is so incensed over “birthers” — the conspiracy theorists who assert that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya and was thus not eligible to become president — that he is seeking ways to change state policy to allow him to release additional proof that the president was born in Honolulu in 1961.’”
“How can they say Obama’s not eligible to be president?” asked a boy. “He is the president, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” I said. “However, some people insist he was born in Kenya, Africa where his father lived. Such people are called “birthers” by the New York Times and others who think they’re nuts.”
“What do you think?” asked a girl.
“I’ve been hearing that story since before Obama was elected, but I’m skeptical. When I read that local newspapers reported on Obama’s birth in Honolulu back in 1961, I figured it must be true and stopped giving serious attention to the “birthers.” The skepticism had died down when Abercrombie called attention to it again. I hope he finds it and clears this up. If anyone can do it, I imagine the governor can. Of course, President Obama could do it too and I’m not sure why he doesn’t.”
“Have any of you had to get a copy of your birth certificate?” I asked. Several hands went up.
“I had to get one to prove how old I was for a Babe Ruth game,” said a boy.
“I had to get one so I could get a passport,” said a girl.
“I had to get one so I could visit someone in jail,” said another girl.
“So lots of people have to produce birth certificates for lots of reasons,” I said. “ “What if they find out that President Obama wasn’t born in the USA?” asked the girl. “What would happen then?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s never happened before. Let’s hope we don’t have to figure that out. To see what the Constitution says about this, turn to page 879 in your textbooks.” I gave them a few minutes and said, “Look at Article 2, Section 1, Number 5 of the Constitution where it says ‘Qualifications.’ Could someone read that please?”
“‘No person except a natural born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible for the office of president; neither shall any person be eligible for that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident in the United States,’” read a boy.
“Thank you,” I said.
“That’s all you need to be president? he asked.
“Yup. That’s all,” I said.
Two weeks later, I put a story up on the screen with an LCD projector. It was an article from the London Daily Mail with the headline: “Hawaii governor claims record of Obama's birth 'exists in archives' but can't produce the vital document." “Remember when we discussed this a couple of weeks ago?” I asked. “The story here says: ‘[Governor Abercrombie] told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser: 'It actually exists in the archives, written down,' he said. But it became apparent that what had been discovered was an unspecified listing or notation of Obama's birth that someone had made in the state archives and not a birth certificate. And in the same interview Abercrombie suggested that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.’”
“So now what?” asked a girl. “Will he have to resign?”
“I doubt it,” I said. “The so-called ‘birthers’ will continue to grumble, I guess. The article says: ‘[Abercrombie] acknowledged the birth certificate issue would have 'political implications' for the next presidential election 'that we simply cannot have.’ So Obama’s friend Governor Abercrombie thinks it may hurt the president politically when he faces reelection in 2012 if he doesn’t come up with a birth certificate before then. People may think: ‘I have to produce a birth certificate when I’m asked. Why doesn’t the president?’”