I started this blog back on Friday, October 24, 2008 with the simple question: Is Barack Hussein Obama eligible for the presidency? Of course, as long-time readers have noted, I have since expanded to other topics, but who would have thought that such a simple question would stir such a major controversy?
Then again, in politics, isn’t it true that if there’s no “there” there, why make such a big deal about the question? Some of we bloggers, including myself, post as a hobby and happen to have garnered a fair amount of support from the blogosphere to make such a pursuit worthwhile. If it is merely we who are asking the question, what’s the big deal — why so much consternation over eligibility?
Let’s begin with prominent RedState blogger Erick Erickson, a Macon, GA councilman, lawyer, and someone who has over the past few months been featured on Hannity’s America as well as the mainstream news network CNN (incidentally, I applaud his good fortune in this respect, despite the fact that he’s wrong on eligibility). He posted this initial promise of banning those of us who question the administration, of which I will now dissect:
Today I want to reaffirm and make it more definitive. If you think 9/11 was an inside job or you really want to debate whether or not Barack Obama is an American citizen eligible to be President, RedState is not a place for you.
Birfers and Truthers are not welcome here. Period. End of Story.
But I want to expand on this too.
The tea party movement is in danger of getting a bad reputation for allowing birfers and truthers to share the stage. At the National Tea Party, Joseph Farah treated the birfer issue as legitimate. In Texas, tea party activists have rallied to Debra Medina who, just yesterday, refused to definitely dismiss the 9/11 truther conspiracy as crackpot nonsense. If a candidate cannot do that, we cannot help that candidate. It’s that simple. …[emphasis original]
A “bad reputation” based upon whose perspective? In the art of political war, one only cares about how one’s opponents perceive oneself in terms of “strategery,” not in terms of validation. Please do not confuse these two concepts.
Regarding Ms. Medina, I’ll be getting to the real story on her in a moment. However, being open to different perspectives does not necessarily mean that one agrees with other perspectives. Again, please do not confuse these two concepts.
This sets us up for attacks from the left and from within that we must anticipate. It is one thing to separate ourselves from these individuals and groups. It is quite another to know that these people are among us. We should be careful. All of us have an obligation to vet those who we ally with. Just because someone is stridently against the size of government does not make him an ally if he also believes the U.S. Army blew up the World Trade Center. Such a person brings disrepute on us all, deservedly so.
You did know, Mr. Erickson, that even the chairman of the GOP admits that Mr. Obama was never vetted, yes?
On the other hand, it may not be known that someone is a birfer or truther. We should be willing to show each other good grace and a measure of understanding in dealing with the troublesome fringe. We should also remember it was the Clintonistas who started the birfer rumor and the most vocal truthers live in Hollywood and voted for Obama. That is not, however, an excuse for us to associate with the nuts. …
“Troublesome fringe?” “Nuts?” I see. So the idea that PUMAs, in your view, allegedly started the “birfer” rumor is enough of a reason to say that folks such as myself should be essentially treated as a different class of citizens, merely because you become uncomfortable with the question?
Maybe it’s because you’re not comfortable with entertaining the thought of where the question might take you.
Birfers and Truthers have no place among us. And they are most decidedly not welcome at RedState.
That’s OK, Mr. Erickson. While I’ve changed my own site’s comment policy (more on that, too, in this posting), I do not keep anyone from commenting here — at least as long as they keep things civil.
Of course, things didn’t end there. John Charlton over at The Post & Email responded to Mr. Erickson’s editorial decision, to which Mr. Erickson then responded to the response — and said a few things that need to be addressed:
If the supposed chronicler of the birfer movement can look at a website and get the name of the law firm wrong and totally miss the fact that Orly Taitz’s representation of that soldier in Columbus, GA happened in Columbus, GA, what the heck sort of credibility can we trust these people to have with the actual facts?
The “credibility” question could also be asked of you, Mr. Erickson, who appears to be taking out of context and essentially smearing what Ms. Medina had to say about 9/11 “Truthers” (again, more on this shortly).
BOLD FACT FOR THE BIRFERS: The time to raise the question was before the man got elected President and as every single court that has heard it has thrown it out, these people are insane. No federal judge would ever throw out the election of a man who was chosen by FIFTY-ONE PERCENT of the American public. Oh, and Obama was born in Hawaii. [emphases original]
No, Mr. Erickson, here are the facts:
- Since there is no statute of limitations on presidential eligibility (incapacity, as it were) per the Constitution or federal statute, the premise of your “timing” issue is wrong. Further, as I’ve already pointed out, GOP chairman Michael Steele has long since admitted that the candidate was never vetted;
- Eligibility cases have been “thrown out” of Court on the legitimate technicalities of standing (e.g.: the right of a petitioner to be heard), subject matter jurisdiction (e.g.: does this Court have the authority to answer the question at hand?), whether or not the Court can fulfill the remedy requested for the petitioner (e.g.: removing the President from office), and various other issues. In other words, no courtroom in America has ever heard a singular case on its merits. Further, even Judge Carter’s opinion from Barnett v. Obama shows that there could be “a legitimate role” for the Courts to play with respect to the question of eligibility (from page 25 of the opinion):
- “There may very well be a legitimate role for the judiciary to interpret whether the natural born citizen requirement has been satisfied in the case of a presidential candidate who has not already won the election and taken office. However, on the day that President Obama took the presidential oath and was sworn in, he became President of the United States. Any removal of him from the presidency must be accomplished through the Constitution’s mechanisms for the removal of a President, either through impeachment or the succession process set forth in the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. Plaintiffs attempt to subvert this grant of power to Congress by convincing the Court that it should disregard the constitutional procedures in place for the removal of a sitting president. The process for removal of a sitting president–removal for any reason–is within the province of Congress, not the courts.”
- Notice that nowhere in his opinion does Judge Carter state that a Joint Session of Congress is the “sole” arbiter of determining eligibility (else why even have a campaign or Electoral College, for that matter?), nor does he ever reference a Supreme Court decision that interprets presidential eligibility;
- Also, being a lawyer, Mr. Erickson ought to know that having a case “thrown out” doesn’t necessarily mean that the petitioner(s) is(are) “insane”;
- Regarding “throwing out elections,” the underlying question is one of having the Courts impeach the President versus Congress. As I’ve been saying on my site, of course the Courts cannot impeach a President. However, if a Court were to find a President ineligible, it’s still up to Congress to fulfill their Legislative duty of dealing with such a scenario — and deal they could, per the Constitution. Strawman issue completely.
SECOND BOLD FACT FOR THE BIRFERS: What do George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Ronald W. Reagan, Jimmy E. Carter, and Barack Obama all have in common besides being elected President? None of them had to present a birth certificate before they ran for office. Why is Obama special? You people just don’t like Hawaiians, do you? [emphases original]
Mr. Erickson’s credibility as a lawyer and as a rational debater is truly suspect. Here’s why:
On the question of whether or not past Presidents and/or candidates have ever had to present a birth certificate before running for office, the proverbial cart is being put before the horse. There currently is no law that enforces presidential eligibility, nor to what degree it should be enforced. Does Mr. Erickson not see an issue with this simple fact? Perhaps not, though he seems to be sufficiently satisfied with such blissful ignorance.
Furthermore, on the same question, what if only now the American People have “awaken,” as it were, to questioning the legitimacy of a sitting President? Is this a bad thing? I thought that grassroots efforts were to be applauded, not castigated? What if there are those of us who simply don’t know one way or the other?
Surely Mr. Erickson knows that if the Constitution stipulates a given thing and there is otherwise no existing law that directly deals with that thing, then enforcement of such a thing flows down to the States and/or the People, respectively. Therefore, to ask the question is a perfectly legitimate — if not obligatory — responsibility of the citizenry.
On the question of Mr. Obama’s being special: no, he isn’t any more or less special than any other man who has historically held the office.
Yet, it is about the Constitution.
Moving on, the eligibility question is truly a dangerous one for some, including (apparently) Mr. Erickson, though plenty have questions and further issues that extend beyond the presidency.
For starters, FoxNews.com covered gubernatorial candidates for Georgia and Texas, Rep. Nathan Deal and Debra Medina, respectively (which I will similarly dissect):
A couple of widely debunked conspiracy theories are getting mainstream attention in two of the country’s gubernatorial races.
Really? Who “debunked” either one of these “conspiracy” theories? Certainly not the FactCheck.org blog.
Republican Debra Medina, a candidate for governor in Texas, has said she has questions about whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks — echoing the members of the so-called 9/11 “Truther” movement, which rejects the accepted fact that Al Qaeda terrorists acted alone.
And in Georgia, Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor, has sent a letter to the White House asking President Obama to release his birth certificate — a request that is at the heart of the “birther” movement, which questions whether the president was born in Hawaii.
But Medina and Deal insist they are not part of those movements, which have drawn derision and scorn for focusing on conspiracy theories that lack evidence or have been proven false.
Medina has said she believes in the right of 9/11 truthers to ask questions, but she rejects the notion that she is one of them.
“Do I champion those ideas? No I don’t,” she said. “Have I been working on them? No I haven’t. Am I a conspiracy theorist? No, I’m not. Would I consider myself a 9/11 truther? No, I would not.” …
Later, she released a statement saying she did not believe the government was involved in the attacks. …
In Georgia, Deal, who sent his letter in December, says he is not questioning Obama’s legitimacy, but he believes the president would like a chance to put the issue to rest — even though the Hawaiian government confirmed during the 2008 campaign that a copy of Obama’s birth certificate, which his campaign posted on his Web site, was authentic.
Really, FoxNews? Are you really, really sure about that? I know that I and many other bloggers, including The Post & Email, can find no corroborating evidence that “the Hawaiian government confirmed … that a copy of Obama’s birth certificate … was authentic” (TP&E’s link; TampaBay.com’s link; readers will notice that the Hawaii Department of Health never makes a public, direct connection between anything publicly available and what they have on file).
Rep. Deal went on to say the following:
“I have simply asked the president, tell me where I can refer these constituent inquiries to a source that you think is credible so that we can answer their questions,” he said. “I think that’s a reasonable proposition and certainly something that I think the president should respond to. Although at this point he has not.”
No receipt for the certification of live birth, no comment from anyone who allegedly procured the document, and no response to Rep. Deal’s letter. While the letter itself is not public, to date, the Administration hasn’t even commented on where the federal officer’s constituents should go to confirm the President’s background documentation.
There has been a lot of eligibility news; below are highlighted points to peruse:
- Oklahoma firecracker takes on Obama eligibility (WND.com)
- Candidate for Congress: ‘If he claims he was born at Kapi’olani, I want him to show proof’
- The real conspiracy theorists (WND’s Joseph Farah)
- First an eligibility question, now a new investigation (ThePostEmail.com)
- Hillary’s eligibility challenged in Supreme Court (WND.com)
- Another Look at Obama’s Origins (AmericanThinker.com)
- “Obama’s Constitutional Eligibility Question” – New Policy – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – Washington Times National Weekly – Monday 15 Feb 2010 – pg 5 (Attorney Mario Apuzzo)
- U.S. Grand Jury, Incorporated report on the Monroe County Tennessee Grand Jury (PDF; USGrandJury.org) (JagHunter)
Site note: I have changed my comment policy. You will now have to register (free) to post a comment, and all comments are moderated (that means I approve every comment before it becomes public). Unfortunately, I have had too many opposition commenters post the same things over and over again to try to make their points; that is now stopping. Of course, the opposition is still free to comment, but keep it original and civil.
See the following links regarding the eligibility saga:
- The background:
- The questions:
- The State Department and Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) Natural Born Citizen Resolution (April 10, 2008)