What Boehner should say about Obama’s birth issue—and about Obama’s Muslim issue

(A reader offers a different and less demanding suggestion as to what Boehner could have said to Gregory, and I reply.)

Yesterday I pointed to the pathetic way that John Boehner, a decent and reasonably intelligent man, allowed himself to be pushed into an embarrassing corner on the Obama birth issue by liberal apparatchik David Gregory, who challenged Boehner on why he wasn’t correcting Republicans who believe that Obama was born abroad and is a Muslim. Boehner said that he personally believes that Obama was born in America and is a Christian, then added that it’s not his place to tell other people what to think. This opened the door for Gregory to say that that was not enough, that Boehner was passively allowing negative “stereotypes” about Obama to be spread by Republicans (though how it is a “stereotype” to suspect that someone was not born in the U.S. is not clear). At the time I posted the entry, I wasn’t able to focus my attention sufficiently on the issue to suggest what Boehner should have said. Fortunately, reader Rob S. filled in the gap. He wrote:

I suggest that Boehner should say:

“President Obama created this issue and he’s the only person who can stop it. He created the issue by refusing consistently, for years, to release his birth records. Because he has done that, it’s inevitable that people will wonder why he is concealing the records. It’s inevitable that people will wonder where and when he was born. Nobody except the president can stop people from wondering about these things. Only he has the power to put the matter to rest.”

Rob S. is exactly right. But let’s now expand on his point and lay out the position in more detail:

1. Boehner is the highest ranking Republican in the country. He cannot appear to be siding with people who are actively making charges that sound extreme and irrational to many people, that Obama is not a natural born citizen and that Obama is a Muslim. His statement that he accepts the pronouncements of Obama and the state of Hawaii are understandable under the circumstances.

2. At the same time, Boehner’s semi-neutral, “I am tolerant of other views” position on the birthers’ charges—“I don’t agree with them, but it’s not my business to tell other people what to think”—does not extricate him from difficulties.

3. An analogy is the impossible position that then-Harvard Lawrence Summers put himself in a few years back when he said that the view that women may not be naturally equal to men at the highest levels of math and science abilities was a reasonable position and ought to be allowed. He himself was not endorsing that position; he only said it was a position that ought to be tolerated. But this alone gave the feminists enough rope to destroy him. When he was attacked for what he had said, he could not, given his neutrality, defend the position he only wanted to tolerate, because it wasn’t his position. In order to say that the position ought to be tolerated, he had to show that it was at least a reasonable position. But to show that it was at least a reasonable position would require, to a certain degree, that he take its side. And this he wasn’t prepared to do. So, as soon as he was attacked, he did a complete retreat, retracted his statement, begged for forgiveness, and summoned $20 million for a new diversity center. Yet he was still forced out of his job. For the same price he could have spoken the forbidden truth about natural male-female intellectual differences. But, once again, he wasn’t prepared to speak that forbidden truth, because he himself didn’t believe in it. He only wanted the forbidden truth to be tolerated, which made him look like an advocate of that forbidden truth, but left him unable to defend it.

Similarly, Boehner doesn’t believe that Obama was born abroad and is a Muslim, but he also doesn’t think that those views are so terrible that it is his job as Republican leader to denounce them. So he is caught between two stools and has no position to defend when he is attacked.

What Boehner therefore needs is a solid position that he can stand on, or sit on, given our stool analogy.

What is that position? It cannot be that Obama was born abroad, because that is not Boehner’s belief, and even if it were it would be too outré for a man in his official position.

But there is a solid position he can take. It is the same minimalist, rational, and unanswerable position that I have argued all along that birthers should take: We do not know the truth about the circumstances of Obama’s birth, and the reason we do not know the truth is that Obama has refused to release his birth certificate. The Certification of Live Birth which the state of Hawaii claims to possess in its records is a computer-generated document created at some point after the birth. A valid birth certificate is the document filled out by the doctor at the time of birth. This document has never been seen. Obama’s refusal to release that document naturally generates suspicions about the true circumstances of his birth.

As Paul K. wrote to me in an e-mail last night:

Ann Althouse, not the most conservative commentator, said this about the issue of Obama’s birth certificate:

“It’s perfectly rational to take as your working theory that evidence that isn’t produced would run counter to the interest of the party who could produce it and does not. In legal cases, if a party fails to produce a document requested in discovery, the judge can deem that the fact is established to be what the party seeking discovery is trying to prove. (See Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37(b)2)(A)(i)).”

I would add that the principle stated in the FRCP applies to ordinary logic as well as to federal lawsuits. If a person refuses to produce information which he possesses and which he ought to produce that would clear him of certain legitimate suspicions, the fact of his refusal to produce that information can be logically taken as establishing that the suspicions are true.

Now, Boehner doesn’t have to go that far. All he has to say is what Rob S. suggested he say, which I will now repeat with an addition of my own.

Boehner should say:

President Obama created this issue and he’s the only person who can stop it. He created the issue by refusing consistently, for years, to release his birth records. Because he has done that, it’s inevitable that people will wonder why he is concealing the records. It’s inevitable that people will wonder where and when he was born. Nobody except the president can stop people from wondering about these things. Only he has the power to put the matter to rest.

Again, I personally accept the President’s statement that he was born in Hawaii. At the same time, it is perfectly reasonable for people to wonder whether he was born in Hawaii, given his refusal to release his proper birth certificate. There is no way that in a free or even an unfree country we can stop people from asking reasonable questions. As long as Obama’s birth certificate remains hidden, those questions, and the alternative theories of where he was born, as wacky as they may sound, will persist.

I repeat: the birth controversy is totally President Obama’s fault. I will not condemn the people who insist that he release the birth certificate. In fact, I support them.

But what about the “Obama is a Muslim” issue? Just as with the birth issue, there is no safe “neutral” position. Just as there are reasonable grounds for people to suspect that Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, there are reasonable grounds for people to suspect that he is a Muslim. Therefore, here is what I think Boehner ought to say. My own language and arguments are very hard-hitting, and Boehner obviously would not go nearly as far as I am going, though, just as obviously, I believe that if he took my Full Monty approach to the issue, that would be best. In any case he needs to say something, if more moderate, along the following lines:

As for the question whether Obama is a Muslim or a Christian, you have stated that there is something prejudicial or bigoted for people to believe that he is a Muslim. While I take his word for it that he is a Christian, there are reasonable grounds for people to believe otherwise. The fact is that he lived for four years in a Muslim country and was educated there as a Muslim. He has frequently stated a deep fondness and regard for the Muslim religion that he has not stated for Christianity. The only Christian church he ever belonged to was a church led by an anti-white, anti-American pastor, who equated the black race with goodness and the white race with evil. Obama has also insulted American Christians, when during the 2008 campaign he spoke at a fundraiser about Americans who “bitterly cling to their Bibles and their guns and their dislike of people who are different.” So he puts down American Christians as bigots, while he bows down to foreign Muslim leaders such as the King of Saudi Arabia, leader of one of the most restrictive and hate-producing societies on earth. He also went to Cairo in 2009 and spoke of his duty to fight against anti-Muslim stereotypes, i.e., criticisms of Islam, wherever they appear. Fighting against criticisms of Islam is not the President’s job. His job is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. It is not the U.S. Constitution, but Islamic law, which prohibits criticism of Islam. In declaring his intention to fight all criticisms of Islam wherever they appear, Obama was in effect taking on the role of an enforcer of Islamic law against non-Muslims.

Finally and most damagingly, Obama’s administration engaged in a total cover up of the Fort Hood massacre, by having the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security issue reports which did not even mention that the mass murder, Maj. Nidal Hasan, is a Muslim, let alone that he was an outspoken advocate of violent jihad against the United States and that his superiors, though they were informed of his beliefs and statements, did nothing about this declared enemy in their midst but continued to praise him and promote him.

So, given the President’s unusual personal history, which he himself always highlights in his own speeches, given the fact that both his father and his stepfather were Muslims, which under some interpretations of Islamic law makes him automatically a Muslim, given his obvious identification with Islam and lack of obvious identification with normative Christianity, and given his administrations’s systematic coverup of a Muslim jihadist mass murderer in the U.S. army, it is reasonable for people to wonder if he is a Muslim.

Again, I personally don’t believe that Obama is a Muslim. I think he is a Christian, as he says he is. And in any case there is no way that anyone can prove what Obama’s real religion is, one way or another. So I don’t think the real issue is whether Obama is a Muslim in some formal sense, but whether he feels closer to Islam than to Christianity and the West. And I think that this is what people really are worrying about when they tell pollsters that they think he is a Muslim.

If those polls added another question, and instead of only giving people a choice between saying that they think Obama is a Muslim or not a Muslim, they asked whether people think that Obama identifies with Islam and supports Islam, I think more people would say “yes” to that question than to the question whether he is a Muslim. And then the burden of proof would lie where it ought to lie, not on people who think that President Obama may be a Muslim, but on President Obama for giving people reasonable grounds for thinking that he supports the Islamic world over the Western and Christian world.

- end of initial entry -

Laura G. writes:

One of the positions that several Republicans are taking regarding the birther issue is that “it is a distraction from really important other issues we should be addressing”. They are correct, it is indeed a distraction, but for an issue that is far worse than just failing to implement a Republican agenda item. It is a distraction from the massive question of who or what organization helps The One to protect himself from public knowledge of virtually all the documentation of his life. In some ways, the birth certificate is the least of the issues. Also hidden, destroyed, missing, forged, are: his medical birth records; his current medical records; his mother’s delivery records; his selective service records; his passport records; his Illinois bar records; his Occidental application and transcripts; his Columbia application and transcripts; his Harvard application and transcripts; his Illinois senate calendar; his social security records; his adoption papers; his U.S. citizenship records if any. The sole and only record that has a chance of being legitimate is the record from his school in Indonesia where he is listed as a Muslim, his citizenship is Indonesia, and his name is Soetoro.

I am writing this note to you after Democratic Governor of Hawaii Abercrombie, armed with subpoenas, went on public record stating that he searched for documents, and there is no original long-form birth certificate, and no birth records for him or his mother at either of the hospitals which had maternity services at the supposed time of his birth. By now, it is no longer rational to continue to maintain that there a valid birth certificate exists in Hawaii and it just hasn’t been released. I wish it weren’t so, but I have to wrap my mind around the conclusion that his identity is unknown, and he has purposefully hidden himself and his entire life history.

Well, I know that if a large number of groups of smart and determined investigating citizens were searching for my own documents for some reason, it would be completely impossible for me to hide them. In fact, it would take a massive amount of help and resources to bribe, destroy, threaten, legally box away, and generally do whatever needed to be done to keep them away from public scrutiny. So, I can’t think of an alternative to the likelihood that The One has that sort of assistance, and probably has had it for quite awhile.

That brings us to the truly terrifying issue. THE QUESTION is: From whom or from what organization did he get that sort of help? Why did he get it? And, The $64,000 question (the one that keeps me up at night) is: WHAT DOES THAT PERSON OR ORGANIZATION EXPECT AND DEMAND IN RETURN FOR THIS ASSISTANCE, AND HOW DOES THE ONE PLAN TO PAY OFF THAT DEBT? I won’t speculate any further, but the prospect is truly chilling and likely to be armageddon-on-steroids for the rest of us.

Our useless press, of course, is stuck in the birth certificate stage of the situation, and not one has been able to cover even that introductory issue. The bottomless pit is at our feet, and we have clowns mocking our citizens.

Lydia McGrew writes:

A hypothesis that might be able to explain all the data (as far as I can tell) is that Obama was accidentally born in a private home in Hawaii. In that case there would be no hospital birth certificate. It’s the kind of thing he might not even have been told, especially if his mother had been taken to a hospital with the newborn baby shortly after the birth. He might even have believed in good faith that he was born in a hospital; his mother might have said something to him about a hospital and simply neglected to tell him that she gave birth at home. Sometimes first-time mothers, especially young mothers, do not know or refuse to acknowledge that they are going into labor, and the child is accidentally born somewhere unexpected.

Obama may have actually believed at first that a long-form hospital birth certificate existed and may have been as surprised as anyone when it didn’t turn up. In that case he would now be trying to squelch the issue because admitting that no such certificate exists would seem to give credibility to claims that he was not born in the U.S.

My understanding is that the short-form certificate of live birth was developed in part for situations where a baby was born at home, so why not conjecture that this was exactly what happened in Obama’s case and that this explains the existence of the shorter certificate and the inability to find the longer one?

Am I correct in thinking that all the people who could confirm or disconfirm this hypothesis directly (his mother and maternal grandparents) are now dead? If they died without telling him, he may never even have thought of the possibility.

Robert K. writes:

You wrote, “Yesterday I pointed to the pathetic way that John Boehner, a decent and reasonably intelligent man, allowed himself to be pushed into an embarrassing corner on the Obama birth issue by liberal apparatchik David Gregory, who challenged Boehner on why he wasn’t correcting Republicans who believe that Obama was born abroad and is a Muslim.”

I’ve often wondered, watching these interviews, why someone like Boehner doesn’t simply say to someone like Gregory, “Why Mr. Gregory are you concerned that the Republican Party state one way or the other what Obama’s birth status is? What is it TO YOU that I be required to affirm or deny something about Obama? What is YOUR stake in this issue? Why are you pressing me to come out with a statement that should conform to your insistence?”

In other words, make Gregory stipulate what his involvement in the matter is. Why are his emotions rising over this? Why he is requesting or requiring that Boehner or the Republican Party affirm one part of the issue. Turn the tables on Gregory and make him the focal point of the question. “Mr. Gregory, what does it matter to you what I think about Obama’s birth status or religious preference?”

LA replies:

I absolutely agree. That would have been another tack for him to take. He wouldn’t have to say the whole thing that Rob. S. and I suggested. He’d never do it anyway. But he could have simply turned the tables on reporter Gregory and said, “What do I have to do with the birth issue? Why are you asking me this? Why don’t you interview the people who have these views? And what is your interest in this matter, other than trying to embarrass me, a Republican, over an issue I have nothing to do with?”

But, just as with Rob S.’s idea and my more demanding suggestion, this too would have been beyond Boehner. He’s a Republican. No Republican has the brains, guts, presence, to challenge the media’s premises.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 18, 2011 02:43 PM | Send

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