The president, pestered by “birthers” since he began running for the White House, finally felt compelled to try to put an end to the controversy, providing his original birth certificate for the first time.
“Yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital,” Obama told the White House press corps, before going on to demand an end to the “silliness” about his birthplace that he fears has distracted the country from urgent policy matters involving wars, the federal debt and the economy.
But he added: “I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.”
Correct. The birthers, far from chastised, found themselves newly energized and freshly suspicious.
“It raises far more questions than it answers,” said Joseph Farah, editor in chief of WorldNetDaily and birther extraordinaire, almost breathless between media interviews.
Farah, whose online publication has run hundreds of articles over the past couple of years questioning Obama’s citizenship, professed delight at the latest development. So did real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who has found that raising questions about Obama’s legitimacy is political jet fuel for someone pondering a presidential run.
Trump said he felt “honored” to have played a role in the White House’s move, and then he nimbly skipped to his next demand — the release of the president’s college transcript, which he thinks will show that Obama was no star student.
The dispassionate observer might think that Wednesday’s production of the birth certificate could not fail to bury forever the carefully manufactured controversy of the president’s origin. The facts are now as official as facts can possibly get: Barack Hussein Obama II was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii.
But it is the nature of a conspiracy theory that all information must pass through a very discerning, yet simple, filter. Information that is confirmational is accepted; that which is contradictory is rejected.
Conspiracy theories have the self-sustaining gift of ramification: They sprout new tendrils, like a mad vine that has invaded from another continent. For the committed conspiracy theorist, there is always another angle to explore, another anomaly to scrutinize.
Orly Taitz, a prominent Obama critic who has questioned his birthplace, told Talking Points Memo that she thinks the newly released document is questionable because Obama’s father’s race is listed as “African.”
“It sounds like it would be written today, in the age of political correctness, and not in 1961, when they wrote white or Asian or ‘Negro,’ ” Taitz said.