Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Paul Broun is Still a Birther

My buddy Jason Pye conducted an interview of Rep. Paul Broun last night. Addressed briefly, starting around the seventeen minute mark, were Broun's recent comments regarding President Obama's citizenship:
DOMINICK: You think he’s an American citizen and a Christian?
BROUN: I’m not gonna get involved in that.
DOMINICK: You can’t say that he’s an American citizen?
BROUN: Well —
DOMINICK: You can’t say the president’s an American citizen?
BROUN: I don’t know.

Jason provided Broun with a chance to clear the air on this, asking him straightforwardly, "Do you believe the President's citizenship is in question?" Broun's response to that yes/no question was an unfocused three-minute-long ramble that discussed everything from health care to Argentina. Broun claimed that he is not questioning Obama's citizenship ("because I've not gotten engaged in all that"), but wraps up by saying:

"That's what I said when I was asked: I don't know, nobody knows for sure, we've not seen any documentation one way or the other."

Like Nathan Deal, Broun has resorted to weasel code. "We've not seen any documentation?" Horse-apples.

We've seen his birth certificate. We've seen his newspaper birth announcements. We've seen the director of Hawaii's vital records department formally declare that he was born in Hawaii.

Thus, Broun's claim that "we've not seen any documentation" can mean only one of two things. One possibility is that he is ignorant of all of this evidence. I find this doubtful, considering that in the same interview, Broun acknowledges his familiarity with the questions that others have been asking. In any case, he's only promoting an image of ignorance if he's claiming to be unaware of the birth certificate that has been available online for almost two years.

The other possibility is that Broun is aware of the existence of this evidence, but for some reason, does not consider it to be decisive "one way or the other." Is Broun expressing doubt as to the authenticity or reliability of the available evidence? Does he subscribe to the conspiracist view that Obama's family and/or the state of Hawaii have been engaged in a conspiracy to cover up a non-Hawaiian birth? Is he suggesting that the evidence should be doubted in the face of baseless online rumor? What does Broun mean by this obvious falsehood?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Birther Mythbusting: Barack Obama was not born "White"

Conspiracism does not hold up consistency as a virtue. Every Birther is very familiar with the infamous Nordyke twins' birth certificates, issued in 1961 for girls born at Kapiolani Hospital within hours of Obama himself.

Birthers are also quite fond of arguing that Obama's hospital birth certificate might identify the newborn Obama's race as "white." To wit, "I read that Obama will not release his birth certificate. Have heard rumors it's because he is listed as white."

This is a patently foolish theory for at least two reasons. First, we've seen baby photos of Barack Obama, and it's hard to imagine anyone in 1961 looking at such a baby and declaring him "white."

Second, just look at the Nordyke certificate itself:

There are only two boxes for "Race" on the entire certificate, both of which I've marked above. One for the father's race, the other is for the mother's race. Both of these categories are repeated on the COLB. There is no box for the race of the newborn child.

Again, let me repeat that: a 1961 long-form Hawaiian birth certificate does not have any box for "Race of Child." Obama's long-form birth certificate does not say he was born "white" because it CAN'T say his race. There's no spot for it. It's a simple and outright impossibility. Simply looking at the Nordyke certificate should instantly tell you that the theory has no factual grounds to even start building on. You might as well speculate that his birth certificate claims that he was born "Communist" or "Handsome."

This should hardly be a surprise either, since modern American birth certificates almost never have a box for the race of the newborn. That's a judgment call that hospital staff have no business making.

So why does this canard continue to be repeated, seven months after the Nordyke certificates should have put this to rest forever? Because Birthers don't pay attention to evidence, and don't allow contrary evidence to affect their postitions.