It took three years, a host of speculation, and Donald Trump’s rise to the political national stage before the White House finally decided to release a copy of President Obama’s full “Certificate of Live Birth,” issued by the state of Hawaii in 1961. The president claimed that he released the document so the nation could concentrate on more important issues. But that line of reasoning doesn’t ring completely true. Indeed, have there not been numerous more important issues facing the nation over the last three years as this controversy has dragged on and on? The timing of the release, upon closer observation, suggests something quite different: as the White House gears up for the 2012 election, and as the birth certificate issue has gravitated into the mainstream, the Obama administration calculated that it had reaped most of the political benefits of fueling the conspiracy theory through inaction. In just one press conference, President Obama traded in an increasing appearance of deception on the birth certificate issue, which Donald Trump brought into the mainstream dialogue from out of the fringe, for a well-placed and far-reaching “gotcha” moment.
It was clearly Trump who forced the administration’s hand, which has led many to speculate that Obama and his team allowed this question to fester for so long precisely because they planned to answer the question only when the timing was right. That is, (a) to make the administration’s opponents look as witless as possible, and (b) to deflect any further potentially legitimate questions about the many concealed aspects of the president’s personal history. But one thing is certain: the “long form” birth certificate confirmed the baseline facts that were contained in the “short form” certification of live birth that the Obama campaign released in 2008. The administration has thus silenced those who questioned the president’s reluctance to release the full birth certificate and also discredited those who insisted that Obama was not born in the United States soil and is therefore ineligible to hold the office of president of the United States.
The president’s strategy in a nutshell: The word “birthers” has clearly become a term the Left uses to insult and degrade with a broad stroke even those with a vague curiosity about the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate. Instead of dispelling the speculation, Obama chose to let the questions fester and metastasize (as the Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong felicitously described) in order to fertilize disinformation – and discontent – among his opposition. By reluctantly producing that document after spending three years belittling those who asked to see it, the administration has achieved a political victory, characterizing the entire Right as a movement filled with conspiracy theorists, obstructionists and other unsavory characters.
In fact, this process might have gone on longer had Donald Trump not brought the issue to a head and forced the White House to take action. “I’m very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump said after learning that Obama had released his full birth certificate. He added that the president should have taken this action a long time ago and expressed his hope that the document “checks out beautifully” so that America could finally move beyond this issue. Indeed, the birth certificate issue had remained very much on the fringes until Trump began to issue provocatively pubic exhortations to the president and the media had no choice but to report on the developments. Thus, it is no surprise that Obama chose this moment to debunk the birth certificate “sideshow,” as he called it.
“As I’ve repeatedly stated, this issue is a distraction,” Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus commented. “Our economy is strained from out of control deficits, debt, and unsustainable entitlements. The President ought to spend his time getting serious about repairing our economy, working with Republicans and focusing on the long term sustainability of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Unfortunately his campaign politics and talk about birth certificates is distracting him from our number one priority – our economy.”
Obama was quick to feign similar frustration. “We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts aren’t facts,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.”
However, Obama releasing the document now is not – nor has it ever been – about what is best for the nation, but what is best for Obama. Timing is everything in politics, and the timing of this release reveals that Obama is a shrewd political opportunist. He willfully withheld the birth certificate to allow his opponents to sow mythology and to make them look as ridiculous as possible. He releases it now because circumstances forced the issue – and in so doing, Obama finally scores his long-sought calculated blow against his political adversaries.