There's an item that's been simmering on the back-burner of our politics for a while and which every now and then boils up so that the public catches a glimpse. I don't know what to make of it, but I think we'll be hearing more about it as time goes on, and despite the fact that it sounds a bit crack-pottish it could turn out to be very significant.
This is the matter of Barack Obama's birth certificate. There have been a number of attempts to get the President-elect to produce his birth certificate to prove that he was really born in the U.S. as the constitution requires of all serving presidents. The allegation is that Obama was actually born in Kenya and that his claim to have been born in Hawaii is false. His campaign has produced a certificate on the internet they claim to be legitimate, but a number of lawsuits have been initiated claiming that it's not.
The Philadelphia Bulletin notes that problems with this certificate are too many to ignore:
The short list is first that the document is not signed. Secondly, it has no seal. Third, is that the security border doesn't match similar documents from the same time period. Other objections are that the race of Mr. Obama's father is listed as African. In the early '60s the State of Hawaii listed African- Americans as Negroes.
What is missing from the document is the doctor's signature and physical characteristics at birth that every original birth certificate reveals.
Some interested parties have submitted the internet document to the scrutiny of Adobe and graphic experts who all agree the document is highly questionable or a complete fraud. Is it? Who knows at this point? What is far more intriguing is the resistance being thrown at uncovering the true vault document. This is what is spawning suspicion and doubt.
Now one of the lawsuits that has been filed to force him to present a paper copy is going to the Supreme Court on Friday. Despite the fact that this sounds nutty, there are several reasons it's significant.
First, if it turns out that Mr. Obama was not born in the U.S. then he's disqualified from serving as president according to Article 2, section 1 of the constitution. He'll soon (December 15th) be certified as the president-elect by the members of the electoral college, and there's no enforcement mechanism for removing a president who has been duly certified except the impeachment process. Since impeachment certainly won't happen with a Democratic congress the constitutional provision requiring the president to be a natural-born citizen will have been effectively ignored.
This means that in 2012 there would be very little standing in the way of, say, an Arnold Schwarzenegger throwing his hat into the ring. And if the provision against non-native born presidents is to be disregarded why not dispense with the provision that requires a president to be 35 years of age and/or to have been a resident for fourteen years?
Secondly, there are questions whether anything Obama signs as president - legislation, treaties, directives - would have any legitimacy since he, himself, would be serving illegitimately. Everything would be open to challenge, and the courts would be working through the mess for years.
In other words, President-elect Obama's birth certificate could trigger a constitutional crisis of unprecedented proportions. As the Bulletin points out, he could end the controversy today and spare everyone a lot of trouble and expense by simply producing the original or by requesting that Hawaii do so. Why doesn't he?
CORRECTION: This post originally stated incorrectly that the electoral college has already officially elected Barack Obama to be our next president. It has been corrected to show that this will not occur until December 15th.RLC