Monday, November 10, 2008

Urban Legend Clouds Obama's Birthplace

By Jim Heffernan

It was a chance coming together. We were seated alone in adjacent booths in a small café. I was eating an egg salad sandwich; he had coffee and something I couldn’t recognize. I found out later it was vitriol.

The election was over, but only by about 36 hours. The stranger, reading a newspaper, asked me if I knew the current inflation rate. “It used to be about 3 percent, but I’m not sure how the financial crisis has affected it,” was my answer.

His query opened the door for casual conversation, initiated by him. It was immediately clear that he was not overjoyed at the election of Barack Obama. I believe he believes that America as we have known and loved it has come to an end with the election of Obama to the presidency.

Taxes, he said, will skyrocket. If you like taxes, you’ve got your man.

I said I have never paid much attention to taxes. I haven’t. Never in my adult life has an income tax increase or tax cut had the slightest effect on my standard of living. Not the slightest.

He seemed disgruntled; bitter about the way the election turned out and was looking for a like-minded person – anyone, even a total stranger – to gripe with.

I am not one to confront strangers (they might punch you in the nose), so I smilingly indicated to him that I was not his man. I cheerfully said I had voted for Obama myself, and, come to think of it, in 48 years of voting, I had always cast my presidential ballot for the Democrat.

He looked at me incredulously, as though he was exchanging conversation with someone from another planet – Pluto or, worse yet, Mars.

Then he introduced an issue that had escaped me throughout the entire campaign, but which apparently has had great currency on the blogosphere, which, in spite of having a blog myself, I am not in the habit of regularly perusing.

The issue is this: Thousands – millions? – of people believe that Obama’s candidacy, and now election, is illegal because he was not born in the United States, but rather in Kenya. Never mind that the campaign, back in June, produced a birth certificate from Hawaii showing that Barack Hussein Obama was born there in 1961 (a year after I cast my first presidential ballot – for John F. Kennedy).

Unfortunately, those disposed to believing the Kenya rumor do not believe the birth certificate is authentic. Never mind that other Hawaiian birth certificates of that era are identical to Obama’s. Never mind anything.

My neighbor in the next booth subscribes -- you could say hook, line and sinker -- to the rumor. He told me that the United States Constitution, which stipulates that presidents must be “native born,” is being violated and that the Republic will now crumble because a non-native born president has been elected. “You’ll see.”

It was time for me to depart, so I laughingly pointed out that John McCain was born in Panama, where his father was serving in the U.S. Navy, something I had picked up along the way during the campaign. He was still deemed eligible to be president.

There was a parting shot, initiated by me. I told him that I had received a call the day before the election from someone claiming that Obama was not only a socialist but a Marxist.

It’s true, he boomed. He is a Marxist.

All the better, as far as I’m concerned. I have always embraced the Groucho wing of Marxism. Groucho, about whom it has been said, “saw to it that no conversation went anywhere, or, if anywhere, that it was of maximum unimportance to the human race.”

That about summed up the conversation I’d just had.

*** Check out this Snopes.com link if you're still a doubter....

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is your position that the SCOTUS has requested a copy of the Birth Certificate?

I'm not saying that the crazies are right, I just find it interesting that SCOTUS wants to take a look.

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS ABOVE: Where's the news story about this? Wacko web sites don't count. Ask yourself: who benefits when you and likeminded fall for these rumors? What's driving the belief or "interest" ? Fear? Who benefits from your fear?

Michael said...

Ditto. When I Google this issue, the only websites that show up are run by right-wing nutcases. There are, apparently, no legitimate journalists on this story. As a result, I can't even tell for sure what the Supreme Court has or hasn't done.

Jim Heffernan said...

Regarding questions raised about Obama's birthplace: I spent 42 years as part of the mainstream media. Many people don't trust the mainstream media, and some segments of it at times deserve criticism. But this I believe: No one can control it, or "spin" anything throughout the mainstream media. I'll believe there are legitimate questions about Obama's birth when I read or hear about it in the mainstream media. I'll believe SCOTUS is "interested" when that is reported in mainstream news outlets. -- Jim

Anonymous said...

Amen! Obama is the target of so much fear. Come together, America! PH