It’s official: Barack Obama is a native-born American. He has a vote of Congress to prove it.
Language in a resolution celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming the 50th state declares that the 44th president of the United States was born there. It passed the House unanimously with 158 Republicans voting for the measure — even Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who briefly sought to block or delay it.
So, will that quiet a silly accusation, lacking any factual basis, that has only grown in intensity since it first surfaced in the presidential campaign? That Obama was not born in the United States and thus is not really a citizen and thus is president illegally? No, but it may push it out to the lunatic fringe, where it can join other whacko conspiracy theories from the grassy knoll to 9/11 being an inside job.
The accusers have even earned a name for themselves: "birthers." On Monday, Hawaii’s state health director said, as he has periodically since last October, that he had examined the original birth certificate and that it was indeed genuine.
But, said a department spokesman, the birthers "just keep asking over and over and over again." This sounds very much like Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
To their shame, Republican lawmakers helped keep the birth accusation alive, often in backhanded ways.
Taking time out from health care and the deficit to solve a problem we don’t have, 10 Republican House members sponsored a bill requiring future presidential candidates to supply a copy of their original birth certificate.
And many refused to say conclusively they believed he was a native-born U.S. citizen. Posted on YouTube are the genuinely comical efforts of GOP House members to avoid a liberal videographer’s attempts to get them to say so. Some actually fled; one hid out in the House stationery store. Only one stood up to the interviewer — yes, Obama is an American — and as a reward was allowed unedited time to rip into the president’s administration.
And that was what this whole birth issue was about. The Republicans aren’t that gullible, but by keeping the question alive they might somehow damage Obama’s standing. But by appearing to pander to the credulous wingnuts, they damaged their own instead.