The White House today released President Barack Obama’s “long form” Certificate of Live Birth from the State of Hawaii, asserting that he was indeed born at the Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu at 7:24 pm on August 4, 1961
The release of this document will change nothing, as the President himself noted during a brief statement to the press this morning. “I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.”
“But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press,” he continued. “We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them -- not on this.”
It’s an odd bit of political theater, and it only gets odder the more you think about it. The “birther” issue has been going on for years now and has shown no sign of particularly perturbing the President or his supporters. The people who tend to believe in it are not voters Obama needs to win re-election in 2012 or could hope to swing in his favor. Random comments by Donald Trump are also unlikely to have much impact on Obama voters or Obama-leaning voters. Neither is Jerome Corsi’s new book. The release of this document, but Obama’s own admission, changes nothing.
So, why now? Why today?
Because Obama is a smart guy, surrounded by other smart guys. They know this isn’t about the birth certificate. It’s never been about the birth certificate. The birth certificate has always been a stand-in for something else. They’re using it, the same way their political opponents do.
It’s part of the modern presidency: this obsessive focus by the opposition on some tangential, hard-to-prove-the-negative issue. Whether we’re talking about Barack Obama or George W. Bush of Bill Clinton, it’s all about de-legitimizing the sitting president. The trick for said sitting president to deploy the issue to his advantage as needed.
For the Obama Administration, today is as good a day as any for a distraction. After leaving the White House press room this morning, Obama headed out to Chicago for a fundraiser and to tape a show with Oprah Winfrey. Then, it’s off to New York for a swank fundraiser at the Waldorf-Astoria, with seats starting at $2,500 and topping out at $100,000. This will be followed by a more proletarian $44-per-person town hall before heading back to Washington tonight. This afternoon, Ben Bernanke will give his first-ever press conference, announcing the results of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting. Those in the know expect that the dollar will fall after his comments, which will very quickly translate into more economic pain for stressed Americans.
Distract the media with something shiny today, secure in the knowledge that by tomorrow, it will be all Will and Kate, all the time.
Well played, Mr. President. Well played.