Buried in the comments section of a Jay Bookman blog post at ajc.com, I've had a conversation with one fellow who asked me why I believe Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen. When he didn't like my first answer enough, here's what I wrote:
I’m going to do it kinda bullet-point style, to keep things relatively short. So here goes. These first several assume birth in Hawaii, and all take into account the 'two-citizen-parent' theory of natural-born citizenship; I will deal with the Kenyan birth allegations further down.
- I have a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary in front of me. It defines “natural born citizen” as “A person born within the jurisdiction of a national government.” It then defines “naturalized citizen” as being “A foreign-born person who attains citizenship by law.” It does not list any other kinds of citizen, only by birth or naturalization. It does not require two citizen parents. This points to the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen.
- I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a law degree. Everything I learned in school, both undergraduate and graduate, points to the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen, and nothing I learned suggests otherwise.
- Two hundred plus years of electoral precedent and the public understanding of what constitutes a natural-born citizen (for instance, see WWI draft cards), and the lack of any prior eligibility challenges akin to the one made against Obama (and there have been other Presidential candidates who were not born to two citizen parents) supports the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen.
- The consensus opinion of the legal scholarly community as to the meaning of “natural-born citizen” supports the conclusion that Obama is a natural-born citizen. Whereas there are essentially zero legal scholars who have given support to the ‘two-citizen-parent’ theory, which suggests that it is a fringe and wholly Constitutionally unsupported theory.
- Obama faced seven opponents in the Democratic primary, in addition to Republican opponent John McCain. All of them had election lawyers. Out of those eight, precisely zero of them ever so much as accused him of being ineligible for not being a natural-born citizen. Even Hillary, who refused to concede until the eleventh hour and who would have been the automatic Democratic nominee if he had been declared ineligible, never even suggested that he was ineligible. This supports the conclusion that he is a natural-born citizen.
So assuming a birth in Hawaii, my belief that Obama is a natural-born citizen is supported by the preeminent legal dictionary, my own legal and political education, two centuries of precedent, the legal scholarly community, and everyone who had a personal stake in Obama’s eligibility status.
As for why I believe he was born in Hawaii:
- The Certification of Live Birth says Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. The newspaper birth announcements say he was born in Hawaii. The director of the Hawaii State Department of Health has said “Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii.” Obama has consistently said, for 48 years, that he was born in Hawaii.
- There was never *any* doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii until spring 2008, four years after his name started getting mentioned as a Presidential contender, and over a year after he started his campaign. And the claims that he was born outside Hawaii were started and spread by anonymous and pseudonymous folks online, without any sources to back up their claims that ‘I heard that his mother had gone to Kenya…’ And in the year and a half since those initial rumors started being written online, not a single bit of evidence has turned up that the rumor-authors could have been relying on.
- Evidence ’supporting’ a Kenyan birth has consistently proven to be falsified, manipulated, grossly exaggerated, or non-existent. Meanwhile, the ‘experts’ who claimed that the Hawaii evidence was faked or forged consistently turned out to be liars and frauds themselves.
- And as obvious as this seems, I feel I should say it anyway: the notion that Ann Dunham traveled from Hawaii to Kenya to give birth is really, really stupid. I could mince words here, but I’m not. It’s just absurd on its face, and it’s barely even internally coherent. It’s a 10,000 mile plane trip from a first-world nation to a third-world nation, with no direct flights in-between. (By contrast, Joe Biden was born just a 200-mile car trip from Toronto, but no one claims he could’ve been born in Canada, even though it’s 1/50 the distance and could be driven in a few hours.) Until spring 2008, there had never been so much as the suggestion that Ann Dunham had ever set foot in Kenya during her lifetime, much less while she was pregnant. There is still no actual evidence that she ever traveled to Kenya. She knew no one there, and didn’t speak the language. And for her to obtain a birth registration by August 8, which said that her son was born in Honolulu, would have required a considerable amount of deception and fraud (which of course raises the internal consistency problem of: why go to Kenya in the first place to give birth if you want your child’s vital records to say he was born in Hawaii, and want it so hard that you’re willing to commit fraud?)
So there’s a lot of credible evidence to support a Hawaiian birth, as opposed to a lot of speculation and non-credible evidence to dispute a Hawaiian birth or support a birth anywhere else. There is no more credible reason to doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii than there is to doubt that Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania, or that Bill Clinton was born in Arkansas, or that Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois. There is simply no reason to demand extraordinary birthplace evidence from Obama that was not demanded of previous candidates or Presidents.
Finally, to preempt any questions as to where my political loyalties lie, I am not a Democrat. I regularly vote Libertarian, and I have rarely voted Democratic for a federal office. I have never voted for a Democrat for President, and I did not vote for Obama last November. Rather, I voted for, and strongly supported, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. And I fully stand by my choice, because I continue to oppose much of what Obama has done in office. But despite that, I can’t abide denialism, so I find myself forced to defend his eligibility against unsourced, unsubstantiated, and unsupported allegations. It’s something of a Golden Rule thing, really.