The mainstream media got played today, and it was terrific. The Trump campaign released a statement last night saying their candidate believed Barack Obama was born in the United States, but they didn’t believe it. This morning the campaign announced that Trump will make a statement about the birther issue and they all rushed to his new DC hotel for the press conference. But Trump didn’t come out right away. First, the press had to listen to (and in some cases televise) a series of Medal of Honor winners praising the GOP candidate. And when they were all done, Trump came out and said:
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
With that, it was over. The press didn’t get to ask about Trump’s claims that Hillary’s campaign started it and he finished it…Trump was gone, and it was great!
Let’s get to the real issues. Did Hillary Clinton and/or her 2008 campaign start the birtherism and did Trump end it?
There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton ever said publicly that she believes Barack Obama wasn’t a natural born citizen. But there is plenty of evidence that the birther hoax was born in her camp.
First, you have to understand it didn’t just happen. No one woke up one day and said: “Hey, lets spread rumors that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. My mom can make cookies.”
There was the “Obama is a Muslim” claim floated in 2004 by perennial Illinois political candidate, serial litigant, and anti-Semite, Andy Martin. Martin is recognized as the guy who began the whisper campaign against Obama in August 2004 after Obama’s keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. BTW Martin kept changing names and parties to be able to run for office, but every time he was found out, the nominating party would drop him like a hot potato. Once he promised if elected, he was elected, he would “exterminate Jew Power in America.” Because Jews are “schooled in bloodsucking and money-grubbing from birth.”
Anyway, Martin’s claim morphed into a claim that Obama was educated in an Indonesian “madrassa,” and that he was some sort of “Manchurian Candidate.”
While Hillary Clinton herself has never said she believes Barack Obama was born in any other place than Hawaii, this is how Manchurian candidate turned to not a natural citizen.
In 2007 Mark Penn, the top campaign strategist for Hillary’s campaign wrote a memo about Obama that said in part
“I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.”
He advised the campaign to target Obama’s “lack of American roots.”
Every speech should contain the line that you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century, And talk about the basic bargain as about the deeply American values you grew up with, learned as a child, and that drive you today. Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t … Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds [of campaign events].”
(the full memo is embedded below)
Politifact reported on the next step:
In the fall of 2007, it was clear that Clinton was losing ground in Iowa. The presumptive front runner was vulnerable and people in the campaign knew it. On Dec. 5, 2007, the online magazine Politico posted the text of an email that had been forwarded by Judy Rose, the volunteer chair of the Clinton campaign in Jones County Iowa on Nov. 21, 2007. The email was a quintessential smear that offered a distorted biography of Obama’s early years. Rose offered no commentary on it. She simply passed it along.
“Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim,” the email said, and it ended with, “The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the U.S. from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States , one of their own!!!!”
When Rose’s letter became public a few months after she sent it around the Clinton camp, she was forced to resign.
In February of 2008 HRC’s campaign was accused by the Obama campaign of releasing a picture of Barack Obama wearing traditional Somali dress. The image itself was taken in Kenya. The suggestion was clear, here is a man who may not be American. A perfect follow up to Penn’s memo. And when the Obama campaign complained they were trying to portray Obama as a foreigner then campaign manager Maggie Williams issued a statement that said:
If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.
This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.
We will not be distracted.”
The Clinton Campaign didn’t admit they released the photo. But as you can see in this video when Hillary Clinton was asked on 60 Minutes if Obama was a Muslim, she gave one of those political denials that didn’t entirely close the door.
According to Smith, an early version of the birther myth was published by the Chicago Tribune in June 2008 in an article titled “Is Barack Obama a U.S. Citizen? Yes.” The Tribune article was beating back a rumor that basically said while the future president was born in the USA, his father was Kenyan, and his mother was only 18 years old, and because she was young, he wasn’t an automatic citizen.
Anyway, this particular post, whose authorship is unclear, suggests that Obama is “not legally a U.S. natural-born citizen under to the law on the books at the time of his birth…”. According to the poster, if only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of birth, the citizen-parent “must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.” Obama’s father, of course, was not an American citizen, having been born in Kenya. That leaves his mother, who was a natural-born citizen, but who was only 18 when Obama was born, on August 4, 1961. In the poster’s opinion, Obama fails the constitutional test because his citizen-mother had not resided in the U.S. for five years after the age of 16–not old enough, at the time of Obama’s birth, “to qualify her son for automatic U.S. citizenship.”
The Tribune gave a legalistic answer to why that suggestion is wrong, which you can read; however, the bottom line is that it’s horse crap.
That, however, didn’t stop some of Hillary’s people to start a whisper campaign. James Asher, who worked for McClatchy newspapers in 2008, tweeted out on Friday:
#CNN says #Hillary team in 2008 never raised #birther issue. #SidBlumenthal, long-time #HRC buddy, told me in person #Obama born in #kenya
— James Asher (@jimasher) September 16, 2016
Later he spoke sent an email to his former colleagues expanding his account beyond the 140 character twitter limit:
“During the 2008 Democratic primary, Sid Blumenthal visited the Washington Bureau of McClatchy Co.,” Asher said in an email Friday to McClatchy, noting that he was at the time the investigative editor and in charge of Africa coverage.
“During that meeting, Mr. Blumenthal and I met together in my office and he strongly urged me to investigate the exact place of President Obama’s birth, which he suggested was in Kenya. We assigned a reporter to go to Kenya, and that reporter determined that the allegation was false.
“At the time of Mr. Blumenthal’s conversation with me, there had been a few news articles published in various outlets reporting on rumors about Obama’s birthplace. While Mr. Blumenthal offered no concrete proof of Obama’s Kenyan birth, I felt that, as journalists, we had a responsibility to determine whether or not those rumors were true. They were not.
Almost every day over the past six months, I have been the recipient of an email that attacks Obama’s character, political views, electability, and real or manufactured associations. The original source of many of these hit pieces are virulent and sometimes extreme right-wing websites, bloggers, and publications. But they aren’t being emailed out from some fringe right-wing group that somehow managed to get my email address. Instead, it is Sidney Blumenthal who, on a regular basis, methodically dispatches these email mudballs to an influential list of opinion shapers — including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers — in what is an obvious attempt to create an echo chamber that reverberates among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists. One of the recipients of the Blumenthal email blast, himself a Clinton supporter, forwards the material to me and perhaps to others.
Later in 2008, as an act of desperation, Hillary Clinton supporters angry that their “chosen one” was about to lose to a different “chosen one,” began to circulate letters and petitions that Barack Obama was not born in the USA. Many were from an anti-Obama Democratic party group called P.U.M.A (Party Unity My Ass). As John Avalon wrote at the Daily Beast in 2010.
Investigations for my new book, Wingnuts, revealed that the Birther conspiracy theory was first concocted by renegade members of the original Obama haters, Party Unity My Ass, known more commonly by their acronym, the PUMAs. They were a splinter group of hard-core Hillary Clinton supporters who did not want to give up the ghost after the bitter 50-state Bataan Death March to the 2008 Democratic nomination.
In the early summer of ’08, message boards on sites like PUMAParty.com began lighting up with the ultimate reversal-of-fortune fantasy—that their party’s nomination could be overturned on constitutional grounds. “Obama May Be Illegal to Be Elected President!” read one representative e-mail: “This came from a USNA [U.S. Naval Academy] alumnus. It’ll be interesting to see how the media handle this…WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL newspaper editors etc. Keep this out there everyday possible. Also write to the DNC too!”
This version was independently supported in the Telegraph:
It was not until April 2008, at the height of the intensely bitter Democratic presidential primary process, that the touch paper was properly lit.
An anonymous email circulated by supporters of Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama’s main rival for the party’s nomination, thrust a new allegation into the national spotlight — that he had not been born in Hawaii.
The man who emerged as the leader of the PUMA birther movement was a guy named Philip Berg.
A Texas-based Clinton volunteer, known as Linda Starr, connected with Philip Berg, a former deputy Pennsylvania attorney general who had suggested George W. Bush was involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, to file one of the first lawsuits over Obama’s birth certificate.
In the first week of August 2008, as the Democrats were getting ready for their convention in Denver, Starr called Philadelphia attorney Philip Berg and offered a challenge. Berg recalled the conversation for me: “She called me up and said, ‘Have you heard about Obama not being national born?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Well, now it’s for real, and you’re the only attorney in the country with brass balls enough to sue Obama.’”
Berg also had been a Clinton supporter, and a former deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania and a serial unsuccessful Democratic campaigner for statewide office. He also had a reputation as an enthusiastic litigant: In 2004, he filed a 9/11 Truther lawsuit against Bush, alleging that the government allowed the terrorist attacks to happen and that the World Trade Center was destroyed from within. Now he had a new conspiracy to push.
Sadly, after the Clinton supporters created the Birther hoax, the story has switched sides. And rumors that Obama was not a natural born American began to seduce many of the Republican rank and file desperate to prevent Obama’s far-left policies from becoming law.
But after a week or two, most Republicans began to fall away from the birther belief, especially after the Obama campaign responded by posting a copy of his “certificate of live birth” — a shorter version of the birth certificate, totally legit (in fact it’s the only one I have, and I was born in Brooklyn).
Around the same time birth announcements that appeared Aug. 13, 1961, in the Honolulu Advertiser and Aug. 14, 1961, in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin were discovered. That was what lured me off the birther train, but there were some holdouts.
The fact it was not the full, original certificate with the fully raised seal and that the campaign failed to show the serial number and other details the scan they posted did not show made some people cling to the birther story. But the hospital was not allowed to release the long form birth certificate without Obama’s permission — which he didn’t give until 2011 –, but that will be covered in part two.
The problem with those remaining 2009 birthers is they could never explain how the birth announcements ran in the Hawaiian newspapers the week after he was born. For those to be fake, Obama’s mom would have to have seen into the future, knowing he was going to run for president and planted those announcements in 1961.
The only other explanation for Obama to have been born outside the country is that someone at the DNC performed one of those Star Trek maneuvers, when they fly toward the sun to pick up speed, circle the sun and come back in the past like they did in Star Trek IV with the Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Since the Klingon Bird-of-Prey hadn’t been discovered, I rejected the birther movement. Note: if someone does produce the Bird of Prey, I may change my mind about the birther movement, as long as the cloaking device works.
To be honest, if I was President Obama and there were no birther movement, I would invent one. It destroys the credibility of anyone who talks about it. To moderates and liberals, the birther movement is the right-wing equivalent of those moonbats who were calling the 2000 election stolen even though it is years after the election was over– it’s a bit crazy. Besides, if the birther thing were real, the SCHMOTUS, Joe Biden would have let it slip it out years ago.
But Obama didn’t invent the birther movement, Team Clinton did, which is why it is so hypocritical that she brought up the subject to bash Trump (he was a birther until recently). But just as the birther nonsense was good for Obama, it’s good for Hillary, which is why she recently started using it to paint Trump as a racist.
There is a second issue about Obama’s birth. There are those who believe that he is born in the United States, but unlike most Democrats, do not believe that his was a “Virgin Birth,” that argument about Obama’s birth is perfectly legitimate.
Oh, and one more thing. The press’s reaction to Trump’s statement about Obama’s place of birth was totally one-sided. The press got angry, so angry the video pool voted to erase the video tour of the new Trump hotel they filmed. Yes the same media that ignored Benghazi lies, ignored the pay for play scandal, Hillary’s email scandal, along with Obama’s scandals such as Fast and Furious, and the IRS targeting of conservative groups, and that same media that decided that the Tea Party, GOP, and 50% of Trump’s supports are racist—they are now whining because they got played by Donald Trump. The real difference is when Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton plays the media they go along willingly. Donald Trump had the nerve to make them cover more than they wanted to and like petulant children, they are “acting out.”
Penn Strategy Memo 3-19-07 by The Atlantic on Scribd