Friday, January 1, 2010

Birthermania: all politics loco

Born to be president, or maybe not
By Jim Heffernan

I believe the turning of a new year is a good time to take stock in one’s life so far. Not just the last year, but one’s entire life up to this point.

And it’s high time for me to face up to the fact that I’m never going to be president. That’d be president of the United States. I did make president of my church youth group as a teenager, but that’s another story.

Even before that, when I was an actual small child, I believed them when they told us in school that every boy could grow up to be president (girls were not included then), and I counted myself in. But I became discouraged early due to those mean teachers who kept issuing report cards with mediocre grades. So it’s their fault that I never became president.

Actually, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because years and years after I’d grown up I discovered that I was not born, or at least properly registered, just as an alarming number of Americans do not believe that Barack Obama, president of the United States and commander in chief of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, was born, at least on American soil.

On New Year’s Eve, of all frivolous occasions, I received via e-mail a jubilant report that some California judge, who, the report took pains to point out “is a former U.S. Marine,” has agreed to take a case brought by people who challenge Obama’s right to be president because they believe he was born somewhere other than in America.

The U.S. Constitution, of course, stipulates that to be president you’ve gotta be born on U.S. soil, unless you are Sen. John McCain, who was born in Panama, but never mind that. Obama’s Honolulu birth certificate looks fishy to people who did not vote for him and resent the fact that he is not only president (who gets to fill Supreme Court vacancies when they occur), but commander in chief of the above-mentioned branches of the armed forces.

Association in some way with the armed forces apparently means a lot to these folks, often referred to as “birthers” when they occasionally get mentioned in the mainstream media because they challenge the validity of Obama’s birth certficiate.

So now to me. As a full-grown adult, with all thoughts of being president cast aside, I discovered when applying for a U.S. passport that they didn’t have a first name for me when I was officially registered (it was in the time of Caesar Augustus), so they wrote “baby boy” where the first name ought to have been.

Can you imagine how that would have played with a certain segment of the American electorate if I had, indeed, agreed to run for president had anyone suggested it, which no one did for reasons obvious to my early school teachers but not so obvious to the dozen members of my church youth group?

Ah, politics. Former U.S. House speaker Tip O’Neil is said to have said, “All politics is local.” I wonder if they heard him right. Are they sure he didn’t say, “All politics is loco”?

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