But I do. God help the U.S.A.
So here it is, you dumb, hayseed, birther hillbillies. Click here for the short form, and here for the long form. Read it, digest it, and then please go away. And take Donald Trump with you. And speaking of Trump, here he is congratulating himself:
Meanwhile, in issuing his long form birth certificate, President Obama also offered a rather stinging rebuke to the media, which has allowed this nonsense to become a huge distraction from the important issues of the day:
9:48 A.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Now, let me just comment, first of all, on the fact that I can’t get the networks to break in on all kinds of other discussions — (laughter.) I was just back there listening to Chuck — he was saying, it’s amazing that he’s not going to be talking about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it.
Q Wrong channel. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going. We’ve had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.
We’ve posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate. And yet this thing just keeps on going.
Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given day and I’ve got other things to do. But 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.
And so I just want to make a larger point here. We’ve got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices. We’re going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt — how do we do that in a balanced way.
And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements — and that’s good. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have.
But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.
We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have. But we’re going to have to get serious to do it.
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. 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.
Thanks very much, everybody.
The media should be absolutely ashamed that they allowed this nonissue to become actual news, or for a circus clown who pretends to hire celebrities to be treated as a serious presidential candidate. Donald Trump is incapable of shame. The entire country owes the president of the United States — the first and only such president EVER to be treated this way, a major apology.
Only in America.
UPDATE: This post by Adam Serwer sums it up:
It’s tempting to make this simply about reality television personality Donald Trump, who rocketed to the top of the Republican presidential field by promoting the slander that the president wasn’t born in the United States. But there are a number of other factors that created the current situation. Chief among them is that Trump’s lunacy emboldened conservative media sources to fully embrace birtherism. According to Media Matters, Fox News has spent over two hours promoting false claims about Obama’s birthplace across 54 segments, and only in ten did Fox News hosts challenge those claims. This isn’t just about Trump. All he did was encourage the communications wing of the conservative movement to go into overdrive in an attempt to make birtherism mainstream.
Aside from being one of the most idiotic moments in American political history, this marks a level of personal humiliation no previous president has ever been asked to endure. Other presidents have been the target of crazy conspiracy theories, sure, but few have been as self-evidently absurd as birtherism. None has been so clearly rooted in anxieties about the president’s racial identity, because no previous American president has been black.
Serwer rightly calls today’s episode an embarrassment to the country. He’s right.
And only the media can stop it. BTW, that includes not giving Donald Trump any more airtime, as CNN’s John King plans on doing tonight.
UPDATE 2: Another important piece, this time by David Corn:
Obama was sending a message to the media: c’mon guys. On the way into the press briefing, he chided NBC News’ Chuck Todd, who moments earlier had been doing a live-shot on NBC’s Today show: “I was just back there listening to Chuck—he was saying, it’s amazing that he’s not going to be talking about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it.”
Obama has long believed that the national political discourse is too often dominated by trivial matters. In his inaugural address, he quoted the Bible: “the time has come to set aside childish things.” And in the wake of the tea-partied Republican victory in last November’s congressional elections, Obama has tried to establish himself as the responsible negotiator in Washington, realizing that is one way to win back independent voters who have lost their affection for the president. Ending the birther conspiracy allowed him to nudge the political media and demonstrate he’s the mature leader in town.
Obama felt strongly about delivering this message himself, White House aides say. He wanted to come to the podium and take point on the birther rebuttal, using the occasion to address that larger problem and to demonstrate his own desire to rise above political pettiness in order to make Washington work for the citizenry. So rather than just release the records and allow the cable chatterers to chew up the material (and bash Trump), the White House deployed the president to throw the knock-out punch, realizing that it had a much better chance to cut through the clutter if he was the messenger.
In the minutes before Obama’s appearance in the press briefing room, White House reporters observed that this moment seemed absurd. “This is like a movie,” Todd said. The most powerful fellow in the world was going to answer the most ridiculous question in recent political history—and the media was jumping up and down in anticipation. (Obama’s case proven.) But as is their way, Obama and his aides were looking to use this episode to their advantage and make (if not score) larger points. …
UPDATE 3: One more smart, interesting take, from The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry:
The American slave system disrupted the ability of enslaved Africans to retain or pass along their ethnic identities. Igbo, Ashanti, Akan, Yoruba and Hausa became interchangeable units for sale. While slaves nurtured fragments of cultural, religious and familial traditions, much of the specificity of their African experience was surrendered to an imagined and indistinct notion of “Africa.” Moreover, the law did not initially recognize slaves or their US-born children as American. So enslaved Africans were women and men literally without a country, defined solely in terms of their labor value. Their descendants eventually achieved citizenship, but to be an American black, a Negro, is to be a rejected child who nonetheless clings to her abusive father because she knows no other parent. To be a black American descended from slaves is to lack, if not a birth certificate, then at least a known genealogy—to have only a vague sense of where one comes from, of who one’s ancestors were and of where one belongs.
In this sense, Obama is not very black. He is not a Negro. As a black man, President Obama’s confident and clear knowledge of his lineage is precisely the thing that makes his American identity dubious. Unlike most black people, he has easy access to both his American and his African selves.
In 1897 W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “One feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” Although Obama is the child of a black African and a white American, one does not sense this unreconciled two-ness in him. He confidently embraces a triumphant American narrative that echoes the tone of voluntary immigrants more than the pathos of the dominated.
Compare Obama’s Dreams From My Father with Michelle Robinson’s senior thesis. The First Lady reflected a Du Bois–like struggle with being the outsider within. She wrote, “My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘Blackness’ than ever before. I have found that at Princeton…I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong.” Whatever racial invectives have been hurled at Michelle, they have never included a claim against her American identity. Her familial lineage in slavery, the Great Migration and Chicago’s South Side are far too emblematic of American blackness to raise suspicions about her country of birth.
But in another sense, birtherism is the dual-edged blade of African identity for black Americans. In the eighteenth century, choosing the designation “African” was a symbol of self-determination. For example, the Free African Society, founded in Philadelphia in 1787, and its religious offspring, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, were founded in the spirit of defiance of slavery and racial inequality. Later, emigrationist movements led by Paul Cuffee and Marcus Garvey offered physical and psychic return to Africa as an alternative to the horrors of American racism. These efforts reflected black people’s rejection of the idea that they are a people without a place. No one can find the country of “Negro” on a map, but the continent of Africa, no matter how remote after centuries of disconnect, is a real place. To claim it was to recognize one’s humanity. …
I think that argument might be a little too sophisticated for the birther crowd, who I think just plain can’t stand Barack Obama, his name, his parentage, his background, or the fact that he is a Black man in the White House.