2010 Democratic ‘Birther’ Strategy, Media Bias, Liberty, and the Jindal Response
This week there appears to be numerous Google ‘news’ search results concerning Obama’s eligibility to serve as President, an up tick. Not surprisingly, the dominant theme the media is using to present this subject is to closely associate any and all eligibility questions with the pejorative term ‘birther’ and little else. The ‘birther’ term probably began innocently enough as a quick and easy way to describe someone who does not believe Obama is a ‘citizen’ or believes he was born in Kenya or some other place back in 2008. While in fact, the ‘eligibility’ issue is much broader than either of these meanings.
Notwithstanding the eligibility issue’s complexity, when Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ appeared online, media supporters quickly realized it would likely appear farfetched to the casual reader that the document could mean anything other than absolute proof that Obama was born in Hawaii. As such, Obama’s support in the media seized upon the possibility that they could easily ignore the actual parameters of the issue and shape the news to redefine the ‘eligibility’ issue to mean: if Obama has a Hawaiian Birth Certificate, of course he is a ‘citizen’, and of course, this equals Obama is eligible to be President.
Voila, the media found their vehicle to infer that anyone questioning Obama’s eligibility to serve as President of the United States was a complete and utter fool.
Because, most people pay little attention to and/or fail to verify the details of news stories (most barely read past the headlines), the media has been able to pull off their slight of hand. And as the media is well aware, once people commit to a version of the facts they are reluctant to revisit an issue. Especially, given that many of the normal players (Hillary, Republicans, and the courts) for their own reasons have been reluctant to touch this story, it makes the casual observer’s commitment to his or her position even stronger. Thus, the term ‘birther’ has become an effective tool for the media and politicians to use to ridicule their opponents.
Allow me to give a quick statement regarding those sincerely questioning Obama’s eligibility to serve. Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution requires anyone serving as President must be a ‘natural born citizen’. The ‘natural born citizen’ provision was originally put in place to make sure that whoever held the Office of the Presidency would not be conflicted by allegiances to any other country. This is why questions about where a candidate was born matters. It is also why questions regarding the citizenship of the candidate’s parents matter; and any extensions of the parents’ allegiances to the candidate matter.
The Presidential eligibility issue is (for obvious reasons) entirely focused on complete allegiance to the United States. Therefore, where a candidate was born (being a U.S. ‘citizen’) is only a part of the determination of his or her status as a ‘natural born citizen’. The two terms do not mean the same thing.
Just as a warning – if you happen to read a ‘news’ article about the Presidential eligibility issue and you see the term ‘birther’ throughout, never or rarely see the term ‘natural born citizen’ or when you do, you see it equated with the term ‘citizen’; you can be fairly sure that you are having the wool pulled over your eyes.
Naturally, I did a few advanced Google ‘News’ searches this morning. (Google is funny in that it does not always give completely consistent results, but trends can be established.) This past week there were 74 articles identified as news that contained the term ‘natural born citizen’, 44 of which did not include the term ‘birther’. There were only 40 articles that included both terms. In contrast, this past week there were 233 articles identified as news that contained the term ‘birther’, 200 of which did not include the term ‘natural born citizen’. Talk about media bias!
Think about it.
Article II, Section I of the Constitution reads as follows:
No person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President….
So of 233 ‘news’ articles this week that use the term ‘birther’ only 33 used the term ‘natural born citizen’? Utterly amazing. Do you feel manipulated yet?
Anyway, as stated above, the term ‘birther’ has become a tool for the media and politicians to use to ridicule their opponents without actually having to look closely at the issue.
Now we learn that ‘birther’ is going to be part of the Democratic Party’s election strategy for the 2010 elections. Politico reports that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is distributing a memo containing a series of questions that Democrats should force their opponents to answer.
The very first question is: “Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen?” (Notice that they left out the appropriate terminology, ‘natural born citizen’.)
Given that the media (for the moment) seems to have successfully redefined the eligibility issue, this gotcha question must be approached cautiously by potential candidates. Rest assured, it doesn’t concern the media or Democratic politicians one little bit that there are legitimate Constitutional questions about Obama’s potential lack of eligibility. Ridicule, misrepresentation and villification are front and center in the 2010 Democrat election playbook and the ‘birther’ strategy is in fact already being deployed by Chris Matthews. Therefore, every candidate must be ready for this question!
I happen to have a few ideas how Independent and Republican candidates can answer this question.
The main thing, be honest. If you do not believe that this is an issue, just answer I have no reason to believe that Obama is not a Citizen. However, I would suggest that you are careful not to say you have ‘no reason’ to believe that Obama is not a ‘natural born citizen’ because that answer may come back to bite you.
If the question is asked about Obama being a ‘citizen’, a candidate might answer –
*Well (Chris Matthews), as you know there’s a difference between being an ordinary ‘citizen’ and being a ‘natural born citizen’ – and the Supreme Court has not adequately defined the term ‘natural born citizen’ with any degree of specificity as far as I can tell.
Historically, it involved making sure the person leading the country and our military does not have divided loyalties.
As to the question is Obama a citizen – I haven’t seen anything that would cause me to believe that Obama was not born in Hawaii. However, Obama could have easily put the issue to rest by being more forthright about releasing documents that every other similarly situated candidate would have released. That would have been the common sense thing to do. He still can!
*Well Chris, I’ll be happy to answer your question if you answer three questions for me. As you know, Gov. Jindal may be running on the Republican ticket in 2012 and his parents were citizens of India when he was born in Louisiana. Do you believe that Gov. Jindal is a citizen? Do you believe he is a ‘natural born citizen’? What’s the difference between ‘citizens’ and ‘natural born citizens’?
If Chris answers Gov. Jindal is a citizen, is a natural born citizen and there is no difference between the two terms – then simply shake your head affirmatively and indicate that whatever the law is that applies to Gov. Jindal should apply to Obama. Follow up by saying that you would hate to see Gov. Jindal have to address these types of questions if they are not necessary. You might add that you’ve seen no evidence indicating that Obama is not an American ‘citizen’. Then ask: Chris, would you mind having your staff research the question about the differences between ‘citizens’ and ‘natural born citizens’? (Maybe this would force the media to actually research or reveal their research regarding the Constitutional question of who is eligible to serve as President.)
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like the media (or anyone else for that matter) manipulating how Constitutional questions about who can serve are answered. It’s not Chris Matthews job. It’s not the media’s job. It’s not the candidate’s job. It is the sworn duty of the courts, State Secretaries of Elections, Members of Congress, the FBI, the military, et. al. to make sure the Constitution is protected.
One thing is for certain – it is the media’s job to make sure those in power are doing their jobs and that the American people know every relevant detail about those seeking office, especially for the Presidency. They are failing. What can be more relevant than knowing if a candidate is eligible to hold the office he or she is seeking?
This sort of ad hock, de facto, amendment of the Constitution of the United States by slight of hand, turning a blind eye is not acceptable and should not be tolerated by the left, right or center. It is a slippery sloop that undermines the principles America was founded on and enumerated in the Constitution more than two hundred years ago. These principles and protections have served America well and should not to be trifled with -especially, by the media.
Today the left and the media might not think the eligibility issue is any big deal. However, next time this comes up, or something else, it may be a BIG deal to the left. It depends on who holds the reigns of power and how they view that power. That’s the danger inherent in viewing the Constitution as a living, changing document as the far left favors. It’s the danger of having the Supreme Court look at a diminished Constitution and interpreting it to suit their purposes, image, or to do their appointer’s bidding. The Constitution will mean nothing.
We must all remember that when free speech, freedom of religion, freedom to prosper – our liberties – are temporarily entrusted to our leaders – it is with the deep understanding, knowledge and conviction that how they handle our liberties are limited by the Constitution of the United States. We do not want Chris Matthews or any other media personage to impose some watered down version of Constitution upon us.
The reasons the ‘Founders’ included the Article II, Section I eligibility restrictions remain as relevant today as they were in the 1700’s. All one has to do is look to the shenanigans Obama and his minions have been attempting in Washington to see how true this is – prosecuting Navy Seals, persecuting CIA interrogators, giving Terrorists the same rights as American citizens, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, surrendering U.S. sovereignty, trying to close GITMO for purely political reasons, socializing healthcare, etc., etc., etc.
– You know what would really put the media on the defensive and maybe cause America to get to the bottom of this eligibility issue?
What would happen if Gov. Bobby Jindal found the opportunity and encouragement to respond to a question about Presidential eligibility by saying that he very much doubts that he (Jindal) is a ‘natural born citizen’? The media would have a cow!