The Birth Of The Blues

Copyright © by Len Holman, 1/3/11


  Certain Red State denizens (either geographic or political, or both) are not pleased that the Blue State guy is president.  They claim Obama’s policies, not his pigmentation,  are the cause of their angst, and we might reasonably take some of them at their word—but others of these people have gone a step—or two, or three—more and wondered aloud, and often, about the birthplace of the President of the United States.  Not only is this a transparent slap at Barack Obama, but it cuts to the heart of what a person IS, what his or her identity is comprised of.  Where a person is born is a part of the fabric of a person’s life. It includes all the cultural elements of language, religion, politics, social life and structure—even what sport is called “football.” It tells Hawaiians, native and transplanted, that they are not real Americans and are suspect because they live out in the middle of the ocean.

  An Army colonel was badly misled by these zealots and ended up losing his career and his pension.  His mea culpa was weak, more focused on his own naiveté, rather than the fact he was wrong about the facts—if he even ascertained them, wrong to question the President’s authority, wrong to retain a lawyer who wants everyone to be born in the “real’ U.S., and wrong to put all his pennies in a cracked jar.  The crux of the issue is framed in terms of what is seen by these wacky folk as illegal documentation—which as a cover for their real intent is about as opaque as Salome’s veils.   It is claimed that the birth certificate issued by Hawaii is a fraud, a photoshopped piece of incredible skill, but fake nonetheless.  This so-called Birther Movement is more like a Bowel Movement, which is producing a huge amount of smelly filth from a few open mouths.  It should be flushed out of the public discussion—except there IS no public discussion. There IS public punditry, snide commentary, and pseudo-earnest analysis from Fox News (which, amazingly, does nothing to relegate the product of this movement to the septic tank of discredited ideas).  Some of these people and fellow travelers want to introduce a constitutional amendment which REQUIRES any potential President to produce any and all records which clearly demonstrate his or her constitutional purity, and right to be running for the land’s highest office (well, not counting the CEO of Wal-Mart).  Individual states are trying the same thing, so that for anyone like, say, Donald Trump, who wants to get on the ballot in, say, Oklahoma, will have to submit the appropriate documentation to show his bona fides. It’s entirely possible that someone like, say, Donald Trump will merely have to flash his pale arm to get on the ballot, while someone like, say, Barack Obama, will have to provide a list of the food he ate in kindergarten on the third Tuesday in March.  So aside from the fact there are, in some minds, non-citizens from Hawaii (not a REAL state) voting and fighting in wars and driving on public streets and getting married—all as illegal aliens, this whole issue brings out the absolute lack of discussion in this country on any substantive issue that doesn’t involve designer clothes, celebrity rehab, Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic frame of reference, breasts of any sort, belonging to any female, and the value of 3D movies.  One such issue: What ARE the requirements for being President?  Well, there are the constitutional ones and the other ones—and those are whatever those who don’t like the franchise rocked by outsiders say they are.  If we go down THAT road, we may find more trouble than we presently have.

  The constitutional requirements are simple at first glance:  Being at least 35 years old.  Being a “natural-born” citizen (this one is tricky.  What if you’re born overseas at a U.S. embassy?)  And the last one is having lived in the U.S. for 14 years (this one is also tricky.  Is that 14 consecutive years?  Or 14 years all together, with time out for living in Kenya not counted?)  But that is precisely what the Birthers are contesting.  They can’t very well say, “A BLACK guy as President?  Woe to our Stars and Bars mentality!  We need to nuke this guy!”  So this ploy seemed reasonable—if you can call the Birthers reasonable people.  According to their logic, the electronic form that Hawaii uses is illegitimate, and therefore is not proof of Obama’s—and, by extension, everyone born in our 50th state’s—legitimacy,  many of whom—such as their two senators—are violating constitutional requirements.  But they are focused on Obama, and it’s because he is not like them, not like the “traditional” Presidents we’ve had, including Warren Harding and John Kennedy.  And let’s not forget the myriad polls, which show a steady quarter of the respondents saying they KNOW Obama was born in Kenya.  Now, if Obama WAS born in Kenya, if Hawaii IS covering it all up, if thousands of people across the world ARE in on this cover-up, then this all makes the grassy knoll thing look like a mild fib.  But True Believers don’t succumb to logic, nor are they amenable to reason, so let’s go with that.

  Question:  Do the Birthers want Biden as President?  To get rid of HIM what will they come up with?  He’s too tall (there goes Lincoln’s legacy)?  He misspeaks on a regular basis and his syntax is more tortured than a renditioned terror suspect in Egypt (there goes Bush #41’s legacy).  No, he is the right color and born in an unquestionably American state. So they’ll just wait until 2012. But the major question which underlies all the others, the one which is the substrate of all the hand-wringing and deliberate distortions of truth and lies and lack of unity in the face of serious national problems is also the only one worthy of a democracy:  Where is the public voice?  No one really believes those tabloid headlines you see at the checkout counter at Von’s, where a woman proclaims she is pregnant by some horny alien, do they?  I mean, except for the people who wear aluminum foil on their heads to block out government signals from taking over their brains, or the ones who look up at the sky every day expecting to see those black helicopters coming in to take over their neighborhoods.  So where are the voices of sanity and reason, who can turn this Birther thing into a spectacle of derision and mockery, who can make not-so-gentle fun of the crazies, zealots, racists, and those legion of misguided fools who don’t do their own research and their own thinking?  CNN does this “Keeping Them Honest” segment and Anderson Cooper always says that the facts will be presented and tells the viewer that “you can make up your own mind.”  Well, for 27 percent of the electorate, that’s not gonna happen.  So what’s wrong with CNN and other “objective” media (if you can find any) just saying flat out to some congressman or lawyer or advocate of this movement that they are nuts, wrong on the facts, and then, after a decent interval (perhaps fifteen or twenty seconds) stop interviewing them? No crazy movement goes very far if not fueled.  Let Fox do that.  But public discussion on this continues to rise to the salacious, the conspiratorial, the absurd.  No amount of reason, it seems will alter this until Obama has retired to Illinois or Hawaii—even if reasonable, fair people rebut all this until they’re blue in the face.


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