Monday, July 27, 2009

Mr. Obama's non-issue

One of my more embarrassing confessions is that, as a college freshman in 1972, I attended several John Birch Society meetings and actually gave serious thought to joining the organization. But in the end, reason prevailed, and I finally decided that I simply could not accept the Birchers' simplistic notion that most of the world's problems were the direct or indirect results of the decades-long machinations of a sinister cabal of international bankers and their lackeys, all of them pulling strings behind the scenes and marching in lockstep. Today I am highly skeptical of nearly all conspiracy theories, although I will never cease to marvel at the sheer foolishness that underlies so many of them, or the tenacity and persistence of their adherents. (As an aside, I once considered posting my "discovery" that with computer enhancement, accompanied by some hocus-pocus such as clicking one's heels together three times a la Dorothy, one can clearly see O. J. Simpson, armed with a rifle, in frames 77 though 125 of the Zapruder film; but then I realized that if I did this, some would take the idea seriously and run away with it. Soon the Web would be abuzz with rumors that O. J. had been complicit in the JFK assassination, and I didn't want to be responsible for that. O. J. is guilty as hell of enough violent felonies as it is, but even he deserves something better than to be the central focus of this ridiculous scenario.)

There are many valid criticisms one can make of President Obama, and lately more reasons to do so have been sprouting up on all sides as he sails through turbulent waters and his approval ratings slip. But one all-too-frequently-heard complaint about him has never concerned me at all: the persistent rumor that Mr. Obama is foreign-born, and thus constitutionally ineligible to be President in the first place. I have never seen or heard any valid reason to dispute his claim to having been born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961; moreover, even if this were not true, his mother was indisputably a U. S. citizen throughout her life, which by law would automatically confer citizenship on her son as well. (For instance, George Romney, who for a time was the frontrunner for the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination, was born in Mexico to American parents; and although his campaign eventually fizzled for other reasons, his citizenship was apparently never much of an issue at all, even among the fringe types.)

Today I discovered this article while checking the day's news. I, of course, am not among those needing to be convinced, but if I were, these findings would be enough to satisfy me that the issue could be forever laid to rest. Barack Obama may turn out to be a great President or a disaster, or perhaps something in between, but he at least meets the constitutional requirements for being the nation's Chief Executive. All of us -- conspiracy theorists included -- need to focus on the real issues of our time, rather than phony ones such as this.

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