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PORTSIDE  February 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE February 2011, Week 1

Subject:

The Birther Plan to Block Obama's Reelection

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Date:

Fri, 4 Feb 2011 22:52:39 -0500

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The Birther Plan to Block Obama's Reelection

Yes, they have a plan--and it may not be crazy.

By David Corn 
Jan. 31, 2011
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/arizona-birther-bill-deny-obama-reelection

The birthers have a plan to end Barack Obama's
presidency--and in Arizona, they're making progress.

Last week, Arizona state Rep. Judy Burges [1], a
Republican, introduced a bill that would bar
presidential candidates who do not prove they were born
in the United States from appearing on the ballot in
the Grand Canyon state. And state Rep. Chad Campbell,
the top Democrat in the GOP-controlled Arizona House of
Representatives, tells Mother Jones that the bill is
likely to pass. It was introduced with 25 co-sponsors
in the House and 16 co-sponsors in the state Senate;
the measure needs 31 votes in the House and 16 in the
Senate for approval. "Will it matter?" asks Campbell.
"We've started a tradition here of passing legislation
that is political grandstanding or that sets up
litigation."

But the birthers [2]--those ardent Obama foes who
believe the president was not born in Hawaii and, thus,
is not constitutionally qualified serve as president--
see this measure as more than symbolic. For them, it's
part of a well-orchestrated campaign to deny Obama
reelection.

It's not that Obama necessarily requires Arizona's 10
electoral votes to win reelection in 2012. In 2008, he
lost there to John McCain,  Arizona's senior senator
(though in 2012, Obama could make a play for the
state). More important, Burges' bill--which would
establish a strict standard for proving natural-born
citizenship (which the birthers presume Obama could not
meet)--is a model for other states, and similar efforts
are under way in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana,
Georgia, and Texas. (Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008 and
lost Missouri by less than 4,000 votes.) Arizona may be
where this birther ball gets rolling.

"We've started a tradition here of passing legislation
that is political grandstanding or that sets up
litigation."
Last year, Burges introduced a similar measure [3] that
stalled in committee. Her new one is much tougher. The
original bill would have set up a system under which a
presidential candidate would have to document his or
her citizenship to be listed on the state ballot.
Here's how it would work: The national political party
would submit an affidavit from its presidential
candidate in which the candidate states his
citizenship, and this affidavit would have to be
supported by "documents that prove that the candidate
is a natural born citizen." Arizona's secretary of the
state would then review the affidavit and supporting
documents, and if there were "reasonable cause to
believe the candidate does not meet the citizenship"
requirement, the secretary of state would be able to
keep the candidate off the ballot.

This system left discretion to the secretary of state.
And Burges' original bill did not specify what
documents would be acceptable. Consequently, the
certification of live birth [4] that the Obama campaign
produced in 2008 might well qualify as sufficient
documentation under that measure.

Burges' new version raises the bar. It notes that the
affidavit must be accompanied by "an original long form
birth certificate that includes the date and place of
birth, the names of the hospital and the attending
physician and signatures of the witnesses in
attendance." (The other documentation required would
include a list "that identifies the candidate's places
of residence in the United States for the preceding
fourteen years.") And the law states that if the
candidate fails to submit these records, the secretary
of state "shall not" place his or her name on state
ballot.

There's no wiggle room: Produce a long-form birth
certificate, or no ballot-listing. That certification
of live birth issued by the Hawaiian government would
not count. (Two weeks ago, radio personality Mike Evans
said he had been told by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie
that no original birth certificate could be found for
Obama--a remark that lit up the birther community--but
this past week, Evans said he had been misunderstood
[5]. Meanwhile, Hawaiian legislators have introduced a
bill charging [6] anyone requesting Obama's birth
records--meaning that certification of live
birth--$100, in order to cut down on birther requests.)

Burges' bill, if passed, would have to be signed by
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to become law, and, if
enacted, could well face a court challenge. It would
establish a hard-and-fast criterion for all
presidential candidates.

"Imagine if just one or two states adopt such a measure
before 2012. Obama will be forced to comply with those
state regulations or forgo any effort to get on the
ballot for reelection."
But what if a candidate does not have a long-form
version of his or her birth certificate, and the state
where he or she was born could not locate a copy--say,
it was lost in a fire, or simply misfiled? Would he or
she be out of the running? The law also demands the
candidate produce an "original" long-form birth
certificate. Does that mean a copy wouldn't suffice?

Birthers are ecstatic about the Arizona move. "It could
be a game-changer," declares [7] WorldNetDaily, a
conservative site run by Joseph Farah, a leading
birther. "Imagine if just one or two states adopt such
a measure before 2012," Farah says. "Obama will be
forced to comply with those state regulations or forgo
any effort to get on the ballot for reelection. Can
Obama run and win without getting on all 50 state
ballots? I don't think so." In the past, Farah has put
up billboards around the country asking, "Where's the
birth certificate?"

Campbell complains that the Arizona measure is "not
based on an factual evidence. I'm trying to figure out
the thinking behind this bill. I can't. It's just
another conspiracy." But the strategic intent is clear:
maintaining the marginalized birther movement. Numerous
lawsuits filed by the birthers have failed in the
courts. Last month, Lt. Col. Terry Larkin, an Army
doctor who refused to be deployed to Afghanistan
because he questioned whether Obama was born in the
United States, was dismissed [8] from the Army and
sentenced to six months in prison for refusing his
orders. And last year, a Republican birther bill in the
US House of Representatives fizzled.

Yet the birthers are charged up about this new battle
plan: using GOP-dominated state legislatures to
pressure Obama to produce a long-form birth
certificate. A win on this front in Arizona will not in
and of itself scuttle Obama's reelection (assuming no
such document for Obama can be produced). But it will
certainly encourage birthers in other states to follow
suit--and to keep their hope, and conspiracy theory,
alive.

Links:
[1] http://www.judyburges.com/
[2] http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/08/meet-birthers
[3] http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/hb2441p.htm
[4] http://www.snopes.com/politics/graphics/birth.jpg
[5] http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2011/01/27/2011-01-27_journalist_i_never_spoke_with_hawaiis_gov_about_obamas_birth_certificate.html
[6] http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/01/27/us/AP-US-Obama-Birth-Certificate.html?ref=us
[7] http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=255489
[8] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/birther-terry-lakin-dismissed-army-sentenced-months-prison/story?id=12414886

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