Obama's Birth Certificate vs Moral Authority

People believe what they trust - and that's Obama's problem.

In a stunning about-face, after years of sniping from so-called "birthers" and weeks of derision from Donald Trump, President Barack Hussein Obama Jr. abruptly released a scanned image of his original long-form birth certificate as completed by doctors and officials on the spot in Hawaii in 1961.  This should finally lay to rest all possible questions about the location of his birth, and thus his constitutional eligibility to hold the office of President of the United States.

Or not.  No sooner was the PDF scanned image posted on the White House website than an entire Internet-full of deconstructors started hooting and hollering.  First came the discovery that the image was composed of layers, apparently more characteristic of a manufactured Photoshop phony than a simple image-scan of a physical document; then came accusations that the hospital listed on the form didn't exist in 1961, though even birther HQ WorldNetDaily admits that other non-Obama birth certificates from 1961 have the same hospital name.

For the record, it is the opinion of Scragged that Obama was in fact born in Hawaii as advertised.  It's certainly possible for a President to have perfect forgeries of darn near anything produced; it beggars belief that he'd cough up an obviously bogus document and indeed there are other perfectly innocent and plausible explanations for the supposed anomalies, which we choose to believe.

None of which matters one iota.  All that matters to any President is the trust and confidence of the American people - and Obama is fast losing it.

We thought it was a letter.
Turns out, it's a numeral.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Our Founders were deeply concerned about excessive concentration of political power; they'd had bad experiences under an autocratic King and his unaccountable Parliament.  However, they were equally well aware of the dangers of government-by-committee - the decentralized authority of the Continental Congress and Articles of Confederation nearly destroyed America before we even got off the ground.

Their solution was a compromise - three branches of government, each with their own authority, but one of those branches being a unitary Executive with enormous flexibility, power, and a far shorter reaction time.  In effect, the President naturally holds the power to do pretty much anything at any given moment as long as he can convince Congress to tolerate it afterwards.  The motto of the Oval Office might as well be "It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission."

Because of this great power, it's essential that the American people be able to trust their President - or, put another way, the American people are required to pick only Presidents who are trustworthy.  John Adams expressed this limitation:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

When past Presidents did wrong, even their opponents understood that they needed to act with care lest they erode the majesty of the office.  The election of 1960 was stolen for Kennedy by Mayor Daley's Chicago chicanery and LBJ's skills in Texas rural vote fraud.  In spite of this blatant theft of the election, Kennedy was permitted to take and occupy the Oval Office:

When approached with evidence by GOP officials, [Nixon] turned them away. "The American people should not know that the presidency of the United States can be stolen."

Alas, Nixon thought he'd learned that election fraud was OK in the big leagues; he didn't realize it was only OK for Democrats.  The cost of the Watergate takedown of a sitting President was a national loss of confidence in our politicians and political systems, a loss from which we have never recovered.

In fact, in some ways things have gotten worse.  Carter never lied to us that we know of, but his incompetence was almost as bad.  Reagan never provably lied either, but it's generally considered that everyone else in the Iran-Contra scandal lied like rugs.  Bill Clinton famously told the nation, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" while the DNA evidence to the contrary was soaking into a blue dress.  Bush never actually lied, but thanks to media venality and some pretty egregious blunders on his part, everyone believes he did.

Such trends only get worse over time.  Mr. Obama's lies have been so blatant that even the Washington Post was finally forced to call him out.  Meanwhile, confidence in all of our leaders continues to decline.

Full Faith and Credit

We Americans want to believe in our President.  We're even willing to tolerate the occasional lie as long as we're persuaded that it's really for our own good and not just to line someone's pockets.

The Iran-Contra scandal fizzled because its purpose was to free hostages and fight Communism.  Even if it was the wrong means, the American voters decided that it was for a good end; besides, we trusted Grandpa Reagan.

We even trusted George W Bush as someone who, while maybe a bit of a bumbler and overenthusiastic when it comes to war, truly loved America and did only what he thought was in the best interests of the safety of the United States.  That belief buys you a great deal of forgiveness for screwups even if the mainstream media are totally against you.

Can America have the same confidence in Obama?  More to the point, does America have the same confidence in him?

On November 4, 2008, an American majority did.  After two straight years of increasingly obvious lies, kowtowing to foreign dictators, betrayals of loyal allies, destruction of our economy in every conceivable way, racist demagoguery and class warfare, however, that confidence is dying a slow and painful death.  If any President has proven himself not merely untrustworthy but unworthy of any leadership position at all, it is Barack Obama.

No, Mr. Obama wasn't born in Kenya; he was born in the United States, but it really doesn't matter anymore.  There comes a time when you've lied so often, you can tell us that the sky is blue and we'll call for a Pantone chart to check up on you.

When trust is lost, any administration or government is doomed.  LBJ had both the wisdom and the humility to recognize that he'd lost it and decided not to run for a second term; Jimmy Carter didn't, but Ted Kennedy and Reagan drove the point home.

In the meantime, the helm will, for all intents and purposes, be unmanned.  The unfortunate detail is that just at the moment, our ship of state is surrounded by shoals in the midst of a building typhoon.  Nobody wants that, but it's where we are, and it's where we shall stay for at least the next two years.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

I had wondered what the conservative reaction to the birth certificate would be. Now I know.

But be of good cheer! The latest news is that Ron Paul may well be running for the office next cycle, and if we can reign in the media and... certain people who are prone to fall into conniptions when they realize the full ramifications of his plans for foreign aid... then we just might have that conservative savior on the throne!

April 29, 2011 3:55 PM

Why did he release it now? To keep people from talking about his college records? Is Trump going to go after those? Distract us from Lybia?

April 29, 2011 7:46 PM

That was my first thought as well, Nate. Why now?

April 29, 2011 9:24 PM
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