For those of you that aren't political junkies and don't know what the term means, some have nick-named anyone who challenges President Barack Obama's qualification to serve because he may not have been born in the United States, as a "birther."
The birther movement has become an organizing tool among conservatives although most would consider people who challenge the president's qualifications at this point on the fringe of politics.
But, for a moment, ask yourself, what if they are correct? What if Obama was not born in the United States and therefore not qualified to serve even though he was elected. What if, by some fluke, his parents lied to him his entire life? Weirder things have happened. And, according to Obama himself, his father was not the nicest person in the world.
Most people would say that this doesn't matter at this point. Liberals would - and have - challenged the requirement altogether, calling it nativist.
But in thinking about this a bit, I am surprised that not one single person in the press even asked Obama during the campaign if he could produce a birth certificate proving he could serve. I mean, is it just supposed to be assumed that we all believe everyone qualifies for everything? We don't trust ordinary people to be licensed to drive or other things. Why would we trust this man with something as important as his birth location?
As the birthers put it, there is only one way to find out: The president should produce his "real" birth certificate. Some have said that someone in Hawaii produced something that was considered to be his real birth certificate while others are claiming they have a document from Kenya that is his birth certificate.
Personally, I don't believe that Barack Obama is not a citizen or that he was not born here. It might be true ... I don't actually know, I'm not his father or mother. But I seriously doubt it. But wouldn't it be interesting if the president called their bluff.
Picture this for a moment:
The country is clearly divided for many reasons, over many issues. Some of it is legit; some of it isn't. The country is still involved in fraudulent wars. Even though we own 40 percent of Citibank, they are still being allowed to financially rape people at 26 percent. Cars are being repossessed. Homes are being lost. Families are being destroyed. It's not a good time. Even if we don't all agree on the causes of the nation's problems, we all agree that things are bad.
The president and the Democrat Congress, not unlike the Republicans before them, in my opinion, have done a terrible job of "leading." As Ralph Nader has said, real "reforms" are nowhere to be found. Many other people feel the same way. But many of us have hope for the future.
But hope is not always enough. The Obamas probably do care about people even though they both come across as elitist and snobs. Admittedly, most pols are pretty shady, however, many do care about others and try to do their best. It is clear that Obama wants to succeed even though he is taking the nation in the wrong direction on many fronts. It is clear that he really does want to work on bipartisan solutions that he campaigned on, even though some of those solutions are wrong. But all these nagging problems are creating a creeping movement from the right and left, ordinary people, in many extraordinarily horrific economic situations who are starting to wonder privately and out loud.
So, that is the state of the nation.
One way of de-fanging his birther opponents might be to subject them to such humiliation of fact that they would lose political ground and Obama would gain ground. The "movement," if it can be called that, could collapse in a moment of blunt, honest truth. We have all seen this before, when someone you trust is proven to be wrong and they squirm with excuses and often skulk off into the night, never to be seen before again ... President Obama could do this to the birthers.
The president could hold a roundtable discussion with some of his worst critics and on national television and humiliate them with the truth (assuming it is the truth). The White House press corps would be allowed to watch over the proceedings. It would be done civilly and the president would come out with a huge weapon against his critics.
"Thank you all for coming here tonight," he would open in his comments. "I have gathered this 'truth summit' to disprove one of the most offensive criticism of my time as president, that I am not qualified to serve ... We have with us some gentlemen who claim I was not born here. I have tried to ignore their claims, but this has been a distraction long enough."
President Obama would then pull out of his personal safe a copy of his birth certificate proving that he was born in Hawaii.
"Today with me is so-and-so from such-and-such town in Hawaii to verify that this is indeed a legitimate document."
The person from the town clerk's office of such-and-such looks at the document and verifies it. The birthers look the document over, see that it is a real birth certificate, and the roundtable has so obliterate the birther movement that people might gain the trust of the president.
"These people before you have been lying to you, the American people. As your president, I could not stand for this any longer and have taken these steps in order to prove the point. It is very important that we all come together to fix the problems of the nation. I hope that you will join me in this cause to save our nation ... blah, blah, blah ..."
This, of course, would be unprecedented which means it will never happen.
Most presidents ignore, lie or connive their way out of things. It's easier than the truth, in many ways. They will wag a finger and get all pissy but you know when they do that, they are lying. When President Clinton wagged his finger at that teacher event many moons ago saying, "I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," I and others knew he was lying. The arrogance and defiance was so obvious. I remember watching that and thinking, Oh my gosh, he is so guilty ... When President Nixon lied and tried to fight investigation into his administration's wrong-doings, it too tore the nation apart. If he had just outed the criminals in his org. instead of protecting them, he would have come out of Watergate a hero, not a disgrace.
Clearly, millions of Americans do not trust their president, not unlike the millions of Americans who didn't trust the previous president or the one before that ... I don't understand why Democrats don't understand this but they don't. Just because you win doesn't mean you actually get to govern properly. But there are things this administration can do to in order to move beyond all of this crap and stay leading the people.
And BTW: I sent out a Tweet over the weekend about the NYT's David Brooks' column here talking a bit about why the tea party people are not racists: ["No, It’s Not About Race"]. I urge everyone to read this piece because it really does describe what a lot of people are feeling out there.