Here it is four years later and people are still complaining about how President Obama is not American enough to be president. Despite the president releasing his birth certificate to the public and despite him having written years ago after he served on the Harvard Law Review detailing his life, people still seem to question the authenticity of much of his bio. And these questions seem to make it OK for them to refer to the president as a usurper and a stealer of “the throne.”
When Donald Trump brought up the same tired issue this week, with a loud “Why isn’t anybody asking about the birther issue?” followed by a “Why is everyone asking me about the birther issue?” no one should have been surprised. Trump is the perfect patsy to bring up this subject. It makes vitriol burn in the heart of birthers, and it means Mitt Romney can get a bit of mileage from the issue without ever having to bring it up himself.
But the truth is, what are the chances the President was born in Kenya? What are the chances he didn’t get his education where he said he did? Not very big. For a lot of reasons.
1. Why are there birth announcements and letters written around the time Obama was born in Hawaii? The doctor reportedly wrote to a friend about how a woman named Stanley gave birth to a son named Barack because it was such a strange event at the little hospital. But, no — it is more likely to some that Obama’s grandparents took out an ad after the fact so they could establish Obama’s citizenship.
But Obama didn’t need to establish U.S. citizenship. A child born to an American abroad is American. The only thing an American born abroad cannot do is be president. This means that Obama’s parents had the forethought to imagine that their biracial son might one day become president of the United States and therefore they needed to establish his birth right immediately.
But how many people knew this was a qualifier for presidency? I ask this as the parent of a child born outside of the U.S. I knew the president needed to be a natural born citizen. I always thought my child was, since they were an American citizen from birth. Turns out thanks to a ruling a hundred years ago, it isn’t. But how many people were aware of this before Obama?
2) “Obama didn’t graduate from Columbia.” – As there is very little information about Obama’s time at Columbia, some people question if he ever attended the school. Never mind that Columbia has profiled Obama as a graduate early as 2005 and he wrote for the Columbia school magazine. People don’t remember him, so he didn’t go there.
What can you say to this? Do people not realize how huge Columbia is and how many people go there? Newspapers have interviewed Obama’s roommate and a few professors, but no, I would guess not everyone who attended Columbia in the 80’s remembers him. And no, the president does not owe us his college transcript. Not to mention that after attending Columbia, he got his law degree from Harvard. A pretty big challenge. And he edited the Law Review. Both of these academic achievements should far outweigh bachelor degree work.
There is no reason to believe that Obama was not born in the United States or that he didn’t attend Columbia. And while I think the whole “born in the U.S.” idea at all is not inline with the constitution, it has been upheld. But it does make problems for candidates, such as McCain, who were born abroad.