Friday, May 18, 2012

OF BIRTHS AND PUPPIES

"He’s not embarrassed that people will find out he lied about being born in Hawaii; he’s embarrassed they’ll find out he lied about being born in Kenya."

President Obama's birth in Honolulu was announced in two local newspapers. His birth certificate notes that he was born in that state as well, although some are concerned with the poor quality of the copy we've been shown. I don't think there's much room for doubt that the president was born in the United States, and even if he wasn't that's largely irrelevant at this point in any case.

However, as recently has been pointed out, over President Obama's career, it has repeatedly come up that he was born elsewhere, usually Kenya. This is where the whole "birther" movement came from and why the Clinton election team brought it up to begin with.

The latest example is a young Barack Obama's biography at Harvard, which plainly says he was born in Kenya, but it isn't the only one. That biography was not changed until 2007. His own wife stated that he had been born in Kenya on one occasion. A Kenyan newspaper The Standard added a claim to an AP story that Obama had been born in that country.

There are some other bits out there that support the notion, so the "birther" thing has a lot more support than the "truther" nonsense, which was entirely based on ludicrous speculation and a fundamental lack of scientific comprehension and deliberate deception. Still, its wrong; he's an American. And even if he wasn't, do you really want him to step down so we have President Biden???

In any case, my reaction to this is a lot like Erick Erickson at RedState:
The point is not that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. The point is that Barack Obama has repeatedly been perfectly okay embellishing and having others embellish his qualifications and biography to make himself someone unique instead of just another Chicago politician. The pattern goes back to his job as a “financial reporter”. A former colleague of his and Obama fan, way back in 2005, claims Barack Obama really embellished his resume describing his financial related reporting.
This isn't really about his birth at all, its about what people do to help their career along and a pattern of deception. Sure, the publicity agency claims it was their mistake, but not only was the bio updated and corrected in the late 90s (somehow missing the Kenya claim) but why on earth would a PR flack invent something like that out of the blue? They got it from somewhere, and as many people have pointed out, the PR flack who is claiming responsibility didn't even work at the firm when that bio was originally written, and people submit their own bio to the PR guys who polish it up. They don't just invent things whole cloth and stick them in. And they hand it to people to edit and correct. I don't know about you but if my bio said I was born in another country, that would stand out to me and be something I'd correct.

No, the answer is that President Obama claimed this for years to enhance his resume, just like he did in his financial job. It made him seem more exotic and important, and he has a pattern of doing this. His emphasis on his name during his political campaigns to make him seem exotic and interesting is part of the pattern. And Harvard ate it up with a spoon just like they did with Elizabeth Warren: it helped their multicultural credentials, it made them seem more diverse and interesting as well. Look! A Kenyan immigrant is in charge of our newsletter! Aren't we global!

This kind of stuff is what lawyers use in court cases to help a jury understand the character of a defendant. It is the sort of thing that prompted newspapers to report on an incident in Mitt Romney's life 40 years in the past - see what he was like? That's part of running for high office, people want and need to know details like this to help decide who the candidates are and what they were like in the past. It can get ridiculous, but the most ridiculous part is what Breitbart is trying to emphasize.
It took most of the month of August in 2004 for the media to pay attention to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — men who served with John Kerry and had real problems with both his conduct in Vietnam and his conduct after he left Vietnam. The media did not want to cover the story. For a while, it was just Fox News. The clear demonstration of bias finally forced the New York Times and the big three nightly newscasts to play catch up as dismissively as possible.

This story has been out there since Barack Obama ran for the United States Senate. Even now the media is dismissing it as frivolous. If it turned out Mitt Romney had not actually been a missionary in France, it would be headline news.

Barack Obama embellishing his biography to make himself look unique? Hardly worthy of press attention. In fact, nothing Barack Obama has done suggesting serious character flaws — and that’s what this is about — is ever worth the media’s collective attention. Why? Because some people think Barack Obama was born in Kenya, but much of the press corps is pretty damn sure he was born in Bethlehem.
Its about consistency and doing their job. This is why the story was released under the "vetting" storyline: because their story was about the press, not President Obama. The media could easily have found this and written about it, they could have put half as much effort on Barack Obama as they did Sarah Palin in 2008. They chose not to.

And Breitbart is rubbing their noses in it like a bad puppy. In the process we get yet another glimpse of President Obama's character and personality. And it goes a long ways toward explaining why we know virtually nothing about Obama's college years and why nobody is even trying to find out in the press.

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