Obama's Eligibility Diversion
Having followed the Obama "natural born" citizenship quandary since its inception, I had always viewed the controversy over Obama's birthplace and other records as a diversion from the real issue: Obama's dual citizenship precluded his constitutional eligibility.
My position was also influenced by my desire to elevate discussion on the inextricably related issue of birthright citizenship as a key component in effective immigration reform. Birthright citizenship is the practice of conferring U.S. citizenship to every baby born on U.S. soil, regardless of the nationality, domicile, or legal status of its parents.
The practice, seen by many as an illegal immigration magnet, also often results in the dilemma of double allegiance, a "supra-citizen" status held by millions of Americans. Although the State Department rarely enforces its policies discouraging dual citizenship, it does recognize its security clearance implications. And the department confirmed that Obama was born a dual citizen.
Citizenship, its rights and responsibilities, and presidential eligibility are more than merely "rinky-dink" technicalities. Polls consistently reflect both the nation's overwhelming desire for immigration reform and the fact that many still have "natural born" eligibility questions.
Following the Georgia eligibility challenges, the mainstream media had been forced to note another symptom of what they pejoratively refer to as "birtherism," since two of the three challenges centered not on Obama's birthplace, but on constitutional law and Supreme Court precedent. Most of the media, however, concluded that "birthers" merely switched their argument, after Obama released his long-form birth certificate last April, to his dual citizenship. I can personally attest that is not true, although I recognize that some so-called "birthers" do focus primarily on either the documents issue or the constitutional debate.
Whatever the opinion, many are beginning to note that the entire spectrum of questions points to the most troubling realization of all: the lack of transparency of Obama, the arrogant attitude of this administration toward the rule of law, and the support and complacency of the mainstream media.
What little mainstream attention was given to the Georgia event still primarily covered the challenge led by California attorney Orly Taitz. The others, represented by attorneys Van Irion and J. Mark Hatfield, which centered on the less sensational issues of statutory construction and the law, were for the most part completely ignored. As was the unseemly fact that Obama and his attorney turned their backs on the judiciary of a state.
Taitz, crowned by the media as the "birther queen," entered her evidence in the Georgia hearing items such as the anomalies of Obama's posted birth certificate and Connecticut Social Security number. The Soviet-born Taitz, however, inexperienced in a courtroom and suffering somewhat from a language barrier, perhaps has not been the most effective representative in presenting what truly are very interesting facts and significant unknowns about this president.
In fact, there are so many curious items in Obama's history and adventures in the "birthers'" quest to obtain more information that anyone attempting to recount it all ends up sounding like a loon. Many have scoffed at the level of conspiracy or collusion required to create such a fascinating and frustrating trail. But does the consistent pattern of unknowns suggest that maybe there really is something there?
Is Obama's dual citizenship perhaps a distraction (even though a valid point of constitutional law) to the issue of his unusual and undocumented past, rather than the other way around?
Our legal system has evaded the question of Obama's constitutional eligibility, and even when legitimate attempts were made to force the issue, as in Georgia, Obama simply turned his back and walked away. And Georgia's judiciary and secretary of state apparently got the message.
Besides, according to the media, popular opinion has ruled that everyone born in the U.S. is a natural born citizen, and to argue otherwise is the stuff of racism or crazy "birtherism."
Academia shrugged. Congress paid no attention. Conservative pundits failed to acknowledge the importance of either the question of Obama's constitutional eligibility or his elusive past.
And in Georgia, the mainstream media orchestrated a blackout.
In my column on the significance of the media's inattention and the judge's ruling on the Georgia challenges, I fretted that the outcome further entrenched the notion that even babies born to "birth tourists" were "natural born" citizens. I also specifically noted the interesting case of Anwar al-Awlaki.
Awlaki recently made headlines as an unlawfully assassinated U.S. citizen. Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents in the U.S. temporarily to attend college, Awlaki lived in the U.S. until he was seven and his family moved back to Yemen. Awlaki returned to the U.S. in 1991 to attend Colorado State University, where he received a U.S.-funded scholarship reserved for foreign-born applicants. The State Department investigation into Awlaki after 9/11 obtained his passport records, birth certificate, scholarship applications, Social Security records, etc., and discovered that he lied about his birthplace, claiming it was Yemen.
Recalling this history of Awlaki reminded me of one of the most interesting items of Obama's past -- the story of the Occidental College records.
As documented by The Obama File, in the eligibility case brought by former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, the presiding judge had approved a subpoena for all records held by Occidental on Obama. Rumors were flying that Obama had registered there as a foreign student. At the very last moment, Obama's attorney obtained a quash, and none of the Occidental records were released.
The incident has not been forgotten around the blogosphere, however, and even Mike Huckabee suggested recently that Obama should be asked to produce his college transcripts and prove that he didn't receive foreign student loans.
We've seen Governor Perry's transcripts. Newt Gingrich's divorce papers. Details of Herman Cain's personal affairs. Sarah Palin's e-mails. Mitt Romney's job-creation record at Bain.
Why don't we have details of Obama's life or career, even in his official capacity as a state senator? Is Obama truly the haloed saint the media portrays -- is his past squeaky-clean, or uncannily unreal?
Instead of anything substantive to place in Obama's vetting file, we got a vague autobiography and a book of campaign speeches. Jack Cashill, author of Deconstructing Obama, has researched and written much about not only the very questionable authorship of both books, but also the inconsistencies in Obama's life story.
Recall the passport records breach at the beginning of the 2008 campaign? Obama's slip to the press a couple of weeks later that he visited Pakistan after graduating from college in 1981? The retreat to Bali to finish his book?
Rashid Khalidi? Jeremiah Wright? Neighbor Bill Ayers? Tony Rezko? Does the pattern of Obama's past reveal...something?
After almost four years into the reality of Obama's presidency, many Americans are beginning to wonder if the portrait painted by the media during the 2008 campaign was fiction, or merely the reflection of their own dreams on the blank screen that Obama offered.
Even the conservative media rarely dug into Obama's past. At least Obama had to deflect some criticism from Hillary in 2008. Now, he gets a free pass from members of his own party and the subservient mainstream. And lately, GOP pundits and candidates have been busy attacking each other.
Obama's 2008 campaign site, "Fight the Smears," suggested by its very name that investigations into Obama's past and experience are smears. A few weeks ago, just before the Georgia hearings, all links to that website (including the page that admitted his dual citizenship) were redirected to the home page of Attackwatch.com, where citizens can "report an attack" on Obama.
Ordinary Americans are subjected to pat-downs just for holding a boarding pass. Surely the one who will hold the nuclear football deserves some scrutiny. Obama got away with little investigation for this term, but folks are becoming uneasy about giving him a pass for another four years. They want to know more about the history and character of the person who may have to answer that 3 a.m. call.
"This election, we're going to vet [Obama]," promised Andrew Breitbart at CPAC. Breitbart also announced that he's obtained videos of Obama from college and will show us that Obama was a radical, and that "racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008."
American Thinker's Selwyn Duke observed:
We have not heard about any soul-changing conversion in [Obama's] life[.] ... Nothing that could reconcile the flat-out Marxist-Leninist Obama was in his college days with the man he supposedly is today[.] ... There are no stories about a great epiphany ... There's nothing to explain how a radical Marxist became a reasonable politician. And if there is such an explanation, it's the most elusive of missing links.
Is there a "missing link"? Or rather, no link at all, and merely unrevealed history?
Huckabee was right. So was Romney's son, Matt. Only this isn't a joke. It's not uncivil, racist, or "birther" to question a candidate's credentials and records. Vetting is a concept every GOP hopeful painfully understands. And Obama, although the president now, is a candidate in the 2012 election. The citizens of Georgia had every right to question anew his eligibility.
"Is Obama eligible?" is a legitimate question. But so is "Who is Obama?" And further, "Who is backing him?"
Let's see Obama's records. Let's expose the radical leftists who support him.
In fact, Obama himself once said: "The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide."