A few weeks ago, noted liberal commentator Camille Paglia stated, in her column at Salon.com, that the birth certificate and eligibility issue actually piqued even her interest – until it was hijacked by “blathering, fanatical overkill” from those on the political right.
After much of what I saw yesterday, I tend to agree with her. Or, at the very least, I understand where she’s coming from.
Don’t get me wrong — there are actual questions of merit here, legal and otherwise, and I want nothing more than to see those questions resolved. On the legal side, regardless of whether you approach it from the standpoint and perspective of Leo Donofrio or Philip Berg, you have the question of what constitutes a natural born citizen and whether or not Barack Obama fits that description. On the non-legal side, there’s the question of why Barack Obama has undoubtedly paid a tremendous amount of money to lawyer-up rather than just release the long-form birth certificate he wrote about in one of his books.
The latter question, decidedly the more palatable of the two and the most difficult to spin—why pay to conceal what is not harmful?—was never posed yesterday to the gathered press by any one of the people at the front of the room. Instead, the press was given disjointed arguments about NAFTA and Osama bin Laden and the World Bank and Janet Jackson’s right nipple to chew on, not to mention the characterization of Obama as a “long-legged mack-daddy” whose success is due only to his emergence from a “trashy” white woman’s womb. Indeed, the underlying fundamental argument and the constitutional question at the heart of the cases at hand, while fairly plausible, likely valid, certainly engaging and undeniably important, were instead lost like a Captain Planet decoder ring at the bottom of a seemingly bottomless box of Crackerjacks.
For a group of people who call attention to and rail against media bias at the drop of a hat, those at the front of the Edward R. Murrow Room at the National Press Club yesterday certainly did not seem to understand the ways of their mortal adversary. If they did, before even opening their mouths to speak, they would have tempered their remarks to better insulate themselves and their arguments from the inevitable efforts to spin and twist their words from the folks with the pens and notepads on the other side of the podium. Yesterday, the strongest arguments of the day were absolutely, positively overshadowed by the angry outburst which necessitated Bob Schulz to cut off the presentation by Orly Taitz, just like any attempts to stay on message in the face of questions from the media were drowned out by the 15-minute diatribe on Sharia law, Mitt Romney, NAFTA, the North American currency, Saudi Arabian oil tycoons and more by audience member Shelli Baker of Morning Song Radio who, even during the presentation, was emitting seemingly involuntary outbursts of “mmm hmm” and “that’s right” and “you said it,” reminiscent of what might be coming from the pews of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Chicago-area church during a Sunday morning sermon at Trinity United.
For example, instead of using answers to the media’s questions to sharpen their arguments and guide the reporters through their inevitable spin, simple questions like Mike Madden’s effort at asking “what’s next?” were greeted with tangential non-sequiturs tied together with passages from Bob Schulz’s pocket-sized Declaration of Independence.
Now, I don’t have a miniaturized edition of the Declaration of Independence, but I do carry a small copy of the Constitution in my back pocket. That being said, it should not be forgotten that the underlying constitutional question here is a valid and important one, but that plausible and essential concern was buried by the verbal manifestation of scatterbrained opinions fit more for overnight short-wave radio than what I hoped to be a focused news conference. Even Phil Berg, who today is burying his own brother but nonetheless chose to attend yesterday’s event out of “a simple concern for the Constitution and the country,” looked uncomfortable at certain points.
Yesterday’s objectives were simple. First, understand who you’re speaking to and how your words will be perceived. Second, recite the constitutional guidelines at the heart of your argument, apply the rules to the facts at hand, briefly explain what could happen should redress not be provided, and use the questions from the media to sharpen and reinforce points already made. For instance:
We are here today because Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution requires that the president of the United States be at least 35 years of age, have been a resident of the United States for at least 14 years, and be a Natural Born Citizen of the United States of America. Because of unanswered questions about the birthplace and citizenship of Barack Obama, because he has not provided a long-form birth certificate or other proof of his citizenship, we do not know for sure that he fits the natural born requirement set forth in Article II, Section 1, and have asked the court to suspend the Electoral College vote until such an affirmation can be made.
Here’s a copy of the Certificate of Live Birth made available by the Obama campaign, and here’s a copy of what a typical 1961 Hawaiian certificate looks like. Obama could have prevented this entire controversy a few months ago by obtaining a vault copy of his long-form, stamped and authenticated birth certificate from Hawaii and providing it to reporters and the courts to examine and photograph it. He has not done so, has instead retained counsel to avoid presenting the supposedly harmless documentation — and for that reason we proceed.
Should it turn out, later, that he has been serving as president without being constitutionally eligible to be there, he will be considered a “usurper” and the effect of the laws passed and decisions made during his tenure will be put into question. Any questions?
Above all else, at the heart of this controversy is indeed a valid question and very important issue, yet the actions of those who advocate on the issue’s behalf do nothing to responsibly advance the argument. We live in a sound-bite-driven media age, and those looking to advance this debate are already fighting an uphill battle with regard to the mainstream media’s obvious bias to the left — no need to further hinder their chances by adding rollerskates. These folks do themselves no favors by deviating from a simple, plausible argument that just might work with the public, if not the courts.
In fact, should the true, underlying questions and concerns at hand continue to be overshadowed by media indictments, Super Bowl nipples, NAFTA, Sharia law, flamboyant talk of the Tri-Lateral Commission and other forms of blathering, fanatical overkill, the very people who want so badly to defend the Constitution against Barack Obama could instead turn out to be Obama’s greatest allies.