I wrote a piece of commentary at Mediaite Wednesday that touched on the reasons I believe that it was wrong for President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate, and in that commentary, there were many things that went without saying. There are good reasons for this. For example, I didn’t say that the true villains here are Donald Trump and his army of fact-immune, race-resenting Birther minions because:
a. There were ample, unsubtle contextual clues throughout the piece, and
b. I’ve spent nearly three years debunking, mocking, and railing against these lunatics and their PUMA forebears.
In the interest of clarity, I’m going to say them here.
I stand by everything I wrote, but I realize that the piece would have been more effective if it had been broken up into two posts, one detailing the various logical arguments against releasing this document, and another explaining my profound disappointment in the President over this decision. Unfortunately, you sometimes only get one bite at the apple.
The logical argument against this release boils down to this: it accomplished nothing that wasn’t already being accomplished (proving his birthplace? Check. Making the media look foolish? Check. Revealing Trump and the Birthers as clowns? Double-check.), and provided little, if any, practical benefit. The White House acknowledges that they gave away a huge political advantage, but whatever reason they give for doing so begs the inevitable question, “Why didn’t you do this a long time ago?”
Yes, it’s a distraction now, but it was a distraction in 2008, and has been ever since. Why was it wrong to release it then, but right to release it now? Whatever the reason for not releasing it then ought still hold true today. The only thing that’s changed is the volume and the voice of these attacks.
I thought the reason that Barack Obama was not working to release his long-form birth certificate was because it was an unreasonable, intrusive, racially-motivated demand that stood to serve no purpose other than to satisfy the whim of an unhinged McCarthyite crowd, (I say “satisfy” in the sense that it would meet the specific demand, but it would surely lead to a never-ending series of demands that, even if met, could never erase the animus that these people hold for the President), and to capitulate to such a demand would both violate principles of equality, fairness, and privacy that are deeply held by those who truly love this country, and set a precedent by which others (politicians and private citizens) would be expected to similarly capitulate if such demands were made on them at sufficient pitch and volume.
I thought it was because in America, we understood that no one has the right to ask you for your papers without just cause, or to ask you to meet a greater burden than your fellows simply because you are in the minority. Someone (Chris Matthews?) made the apt comparison to Jim Crow literacy tests, to which there were no correct answers if you were black. This is especially apt because, as it is already apparent, there is nothing that Barack Obama can provide that will gain him admittance into the America of these people’s rancid hearts.
Baratunde Thurston described, much better than I ever could, the harm that has been done by Donald Trump, the Birthers, and their abettors in the mainstream media, and he is absolutely correct to direct his anger at Trump, et al. I co-sign everything he said.
But I am also angry at Barack Obama, because the reasons that he had for refusing to capitulate to this demand for the past few years become exponentially more important as the pressure to do so increases. That which made it right to refuse in 2008 makes it even more right to refuse now. It is not enough for people to know that he didn’t owe those assholes a goddam thing. He owed the rest of us his continued resolve.