UPDATE: The reporter “misspoke” and he “apologizes.” So, Assumption #1 is apparently true, Assumption #2 is apparently at least half false. Assumption #3 is probably false, too.
Where does that leave us? With a governor who has been searching for ways to release a document that he knows he can’t release and a reporter who flatly said the document doesn’t even exist and is now throwing himself under the bus. So my main point – that American politics are becoming absurd – is true. in fact it is proven almost hourly. As far as the Birth Certificate Issue is concerned I am convinced there is something in the president’s paper trail that is highly problematic. What?, I don’t know.
I have come to believe three things over the course of the Battle of the Birth Certificate.
1) That most people have a tin-foil hat either at hand or in the closet which they put on when specfic subjects are discussed. I don’t think such enthusiasms are by definition bad. I know I have a fine TFH that I have worn from time to time and I don’t think it has actually hurt me. At worst the hat is reflective and eye-catching.
2) It is hard to argue with believers in an alternative theory or conspiracy unless you are sufficiently familiar with the subject to have a defined set of arguable beliefs of your own. That is why their passion is so often judged “craziness.”
For example, perhaps you run into someone who passionately believes John Wilkes Booth escaped death in that burning barn and lived under an assumed name until he died in 1903 in Enid, Oklahoma. It is much easier to walk away when you know Booth’s body was identified by medical and dental records and that the family identified the body at least twice.
3) That the Birth Certificate Battle is lawyer driven and since lawyers have social standing, their own language, and a sometimes adversarial relationship with facts and truth the ground is fertile for particularly nasty and divisive arguments.
The law is almost never clear cut, the burden of proof is not on the president and the absence of evidence has been turned into evidence of absence. One has to have a good grasp of several convoluted areas of law in a number of states and countries (and a knowledge of how the law worked in 1961) to really talk clearly about it. Since I don’t have that knowledge and can’t be very funny about it I have stayed away. Except for stray comments on other blogs.
But since the self-trumpeted arrival of Neil Abercrombie into the picture I have dusted off my tin foil hat and I admit I am wearing it right now. If the governor can be a Birther, than I can talk about the issue.
So, if you want to follow, here goes. Let’s make three assumptions:
1) The governor is/was as close to President Obama and his family as he says. He is not someone basking in post-election hubris and reflected glory.
2) Mike Evans is/was close to the governor and the governor said what Evans said he did.
3) There is no Birth Certificate on file.
OK. The simplest explanation I have is this. President Obama and his supporters wanted him to run for office, but they felt that although he was eligible under the Constitution for the presidency proving that in a court battle would be such a turn off that it would likely cost him the election. If you have read Philip Berg’s lawsuit you will remember that Berg states at several points that all four of his causes of action are arguable and could be defeated in court.
So, they recognized that then-candidate Obama has no burden of proof here. The constitution requires a candidate to be a NBC but has no mechanism for proof or enforcement – except the lawsuit, especially if filed in federal court by a plaintiff with “standing.” Standing is probably the best example of how a lawyer-driven mess works. Lay people have a great deal of trouble getting their heads around it, but you can’t discuss the federal court challenges without understanding it.
Strategy One was hoping it would all go away. Then Candidate Obama’s lawyers made the absolute minimum filing to simply let the thing rot. This was perfect lawyer reasoning: you don’t give documents up you don’t have to give up. Evidently, his lawyers were thinking like lawyers and not like folks. Folks give up their birth certs when asked by a variety of agencies. The distinction between surrendering a document because the law says you have to (to get a security clearance, for example) and surrendering a document to some one who is suing you just because they want it was lost on most people. Hence the simple question: “What is the big deal, why not release it?”
Berg was industrious and took steps to be sure it didn’t go away. Strategy Two was to paint all adherents of the idea as crazy racists. This was successfull in the mainstream media, among Democrats and among those self-ashamed Republicans and Independents who refused to even examine the causes of action.
Strategy Three was the expectation that things would be good enough and President Obama’s popularity would be high enough that it just wouldn’t matter. Things aren’t good enough and his popularity isn’t high enough, so here is Strategy Four: Neil Abercrombie.
In this scenario Neil Abercrombie and the administration come clean in stages. It is very risky, but the timing is interesting. It is early enough in the campaign cycle that they may be able to spin it sufficiently that it will be forgotten, or at least handled by convention time.
Strategy Four is based on the hope that most Americans don’t take the NBC clause very seriously. There is a good case they don’t. A dozen presidents and candidates have been accused of failing the NBC test since at least the 1880’s and yet the law has not been clarified and no public outcry has ensued. There was no public outcry, no congressional action and no judicial ruling clarifying what is an NBC or putting the burden of proof on the candidate. Berg screamed “constitutional crisis” but mayber 40% have listened. If Americans don’t take it too seriously, then the Abercrombie Affair may be an intentional leak to prepare for the admission that President Obama’s records aren’t quite in order. It may also be a frank admission that the White House believes one or more states will require proof of eligibility prior to the 2012 election. That will render the whole question moot in the future and would require action from the White House to either provide the documents or find away around the issue. Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to force himself on the ballot for Chicago mayor show the lengths this administration and its people will go to in order to get what they want.
It is risky because giving up the birth cert or an explanation of why there isn’t one may lead to more questions. Probably will in fact. There are lots of questions.
At least my theory is easy to dispel. If President Obama says “Neil? Neil who?” Abercrombie simply becomes another one under the bus. Likewise, if Mike Evans doesn’t really know the governor or the governor convincingly denies saying any such thing and can prove there was no conversation, then we are back where we were.
That may be exactly what is wanted, a petering-out of the discussion.