Birthers: What it all meant

President Obama unveiled the “long-form” version of his Hawaiian birth certificate, ending the birthers' argument that he was born in Kenya and thus ineligible to be president.

“It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life,” said The New York Times in an editorial. Last week, with revolution raging in the Middle East and tornadoes killing hundreds across the South, President Obama called a press conference to unveil the “long-form” version of his Hawaiian birth certificate. How sad that Obama felt it necessary to address the lunacy of the so-called birthers, the roughly 25 percent of Americans—and 45 percent of Republicans—who persisted in believing that he was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be president. “One can’t help wondering when exactly we lost our minds,” said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. You couldn’t blame other countries for laughing at this “national descent into silliness.” To any birthers reading this who may be offended by this slight against their sanity, “please feel free to take full possession of the insult.”

The birthers’ rage was always about “the biological fact of Obama’s existence,” said James Carroll in The Boston Globe, “not the bureaucratic fact of government records.” Some people just cannot process the idea that a man born of a mixed-race marriage with the name Barack Hussein Obama could legitimately be president. Hence their em­brace of nutty conspiracy theories. The two-year “controversy” over Obama’s birth is really just a large-scale version of the special burden that black Americans face “to prove what, in the case of whites, goes without saying.” Their innocence in court. Their right to vote. Their qualifications and competence on the job. And after all that, blacks must “prove that proof is genuine.”

We conservatives owe the president a huge debt of gratitude, said Jonathan Gurwitz in the San Antonio Express-News. Because so many Republicans bought into “the birther baloney” out of their dislike for Obama, there was a real danger this phony issue would dominate the GOP primary season. With the issue now defused, Republicans can fight the 2012 campaign on the issues that really matter: “the size and scope of government,” the national debt, and “the explosion in federal spending under Obama.” Unfortunately, said Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama has already used the birther story to remind moderate voters “how reckless, rabid, and resistant to facts some of his critics are.” If winning elections is about appearing more attuned to reality than your opponents, “this round goes to the kid from Honolulu.”

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