Thursday, April 28, 2011

Obama's birther sanctimony

I've always thought that the whole birtherism conspiracy-mongering were truly loony. There are so very many reasons to criticize Barack Obama and to think that he was a terrible choice for president, why make up conspiracies? As far as I've been concerned, his mother was an American citizen and, therefore, her son is American. I realize that the Constitution says that the president must be "natural born Citizen," but no one apparently knows what that means. So I've never cared about the whole question.

So if the President's release of the birth certificate pushes those still muttering birtherism conspiracies further to the fringes, then that is a good thing. And if more people start seeing Donald Trump as the joke that he is, that would also be a good thing. I actually, for the first time, enjoy something that Robert Gibbs said. The former Obama press secretary told Politico that Donald Trump should now release his tax returns as he said he might if Obama released his birth certificate. I'm sure that there is a whole lot more embarrassing information in Donald Trump's tax returns than in Obama's birth certificate.

What is totally annoying is Obama's sanctimonious preening about why he finally released his birth certificate. He said in his press conference that he had to do it because it was distracting from the more important issues such as working on the budget.
The president said he was prompted to act “two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.”
However, as Jake Tapper points out, that just wasn't true.
According to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, that week the dominant news story was without question the economy.

The ridiculous claims about the president’s birth certificate actually was the No. 4 story for the week – receiving about one tenth of the coverage devoted to stories about the economy.
And Tapper further details that the President was so concerned about the birther issue distracting from important discussions about the deficit that he then jetted off to Chicago to tape an Oprah show and go to fund-raisers where he himself several times brought up the whole birtherism thing in order to make jokes about it. Even Jon Stewart had a lot of fun with the contrast between Obama's statement that he had to focus on the budget with his then flying off to appear on Obama.

I was struck by the contrast to another time when a president unwillingly decided that he had to do something to help the nation get over an ugly distraction and thought of Gerald Ford's truly brave decision to pardon Richard Nixon. That was a difficult decision that perhaps immediately doomed Ford's opportunity to win election in 1976. Read the speech Ford gave at the time and contrast that with Obama's dishonest posturing in his press conference yesterday.

And to get up at his self-praising podium to say that he wants to focus on the budget deficit is just ludicrous. He first decided to appoint a commission to look at our debt. Then he ignored their findings and recommendations. Then he submitted a budget that did nothing to address the deficit. Then he tried to take a mulligan and give a budget speech but then not submitting anything new to address the budget. Tell me that this is a guy who gives a hoot about reducing the deficit. He's right. This is much more important than birtherism. I just wish that the President was as serious about reducing our national debt as he is about fundraising for his reelection.