Anne E. Kornblut (Washington Post): After his major address on the deficit two weeks ago, President Obama sat down for an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos expecting a conversation about fiscal issues.
Instead, Obama faced repeated questions about the controversy surrounding his place of birth … the interview added to the growing sense within the White House that the mainstream media was perpetuating a dangerous myth.
Obama had grown incredulous at the overall debate. He had watched as even Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan had been sucked into the discussion of his birthplace, aides said … on April 19, in a meeting with White House counsel Bob Bauer, the president asked about the feasibility of getting his long-form birth certificate at last …..Last week, it was Obama who made the call to proceed. “He was the driving force,” the official said.
…the process began early in the week of April 18, after Obama raised the subject. White House counsel Bauer reviewed the legal steps necessary to obtain the long-form document, which is not routinely released by authorities in Hawaii …..When administration officials released the paperwork on Wednesday morning shortly after 9 a.m., it came as a shock to the political establishment….
….Aides acknowledged that there would have been a potential upside to keeping the obviously outrageous myth alive. “He did that despite the fact that it probably was…probably in his long-term political interests to allow this birther debate to dominate discussion in the Republican Party for months to come,” Pfeiffer said. “But he thought even though it might have been good politics, he thought it was bad for the country. And so he asked counsel to look into this.”
Paul Harris (The Guardian): The timing of the release of Barack Obama’s birth certificate expertly made a fool of Donald Trump – and the GOP with him.
….to the surprise of no one with two brain cells to rub together, the document proved that, yes, in fact, Obama was indeed born on American soil.
Yet Obama seemed barely in chiding mode at having to deal with this idiocy. Instead, he appeared relaxed. He told reporters that he had “watched with amusement” as the rumours spread and been surprised they refused to go away….
…The fact is that the Obama administration has played the recent spasm of birther attention remarkably well. They have let Trump rise up on a balloon of inflated birther nonsense – getting near the top of Republican polls for the 2012 nomination – and then promptly popped it underneath him.
…the White House timed the release so that Trump would be right in the media’s glare when the birther bubble burst. Not surprisingly, he looked like an idiot. At a news conference, he blustered about his proud achievement in forcing the release of the birth certificate, then attempted to cast a little doubt on it and finally made up a CNN poll that he claimed showed him neck-and-neck with Obama in the race (CNN promptly reported no such poll exists).
No one needed any more proof to understand that Trump is a joke in very poor taste. But he provided it anyway – in long form….
Which is why Obama has played this well. His team waited for Trump to have enough rope to hang himself on the birther issue, and in doing so, have helped him toxify the Republican brand – just as he tried to debut his serious side.
…. the sheer and increasing madness of the issue – especially now that the long form birth certificate has been released – must be offputting for the independents and moderates who are often so crucial in American elections.
…It is a sad indictment of the Republican party that its own leaders took the attitude of not dismissing birtherism and its followers without qualifying their stance or hinting at closet sympathies.
Come 2012, they may yet pay at the polls for that cynicism and moral cowardice. It is going to be an easy task for Democrats to paint the Republicans as extremists with little grasp of reality and many Republicans will have only themselves to blame.
Former White House press secretary and Obama confidante Robert Gibbs is throwing down the gauntlet on Donald Trump. “Donald Trump said he’d release his tax returns as soon as the president released his birth certificate, so the ball is in his court now and I know everybody is anxious to see his tax returns over the last 10 years,” Gibbs told Politico.
Trump first floated the trade-off in an interview with ABC earlier this month. “Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate,” said the real estate mogul, whose wealth has long been a matter of dispute. “I may tie my tax returns [to the birth certificate]. I’d love to give my tax returns.”
At a Wednesday morning news conference in New Hampshire following the president’s release of his birth certificate, Trump repeatedly ignored questions about whether he’d fulfill his pledge.
But now he’s being called out by one of the president’s closest advisers. What say you, Mr. Trump?
President Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate.
The President will speak at 9:45 ET on his birth certificate
WH: In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here.
When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.
The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting.
It is just endlessly depressing that the President feels he has to do this.
Steve Benen: ……The borderline-racist conspiracy theory was ridiculous anyway, and this step was entirely unnecessary. It should, however, once again put any lingering doubts to rest.
But it won’t. If there’s one thing right-wing voices have made clear, it’s that reason and evidence are irrelevant. They didn’t come up with a birther garbage out of sincere concerns; they came up with this to cast doubts on the president’s legitimacy and make him out to be The Other in the eyes of the mainstream.
I don’t necessarily blame White House officials for wanting to end this nonsense once and for all, but if they’re expecting the hysterical right to move on, they’re likely to be disappointed.
Update: All of the cable networks are hanging on Donald Trump’s every word this morning, including his boast that he feels “very proud.” American politics is often painful, but I can scarcely believe how stupid it’s become.
Steve Benen: ….what struck me about the president’s comments was the intended audience – Obama wasn’t talking to the public so much as he was directing his concerns at the media.
Indeed, at the outset, a bemused president joked, “Now let me just comment, first of all, on the fact that I can’t get the networks to break in on all kinds of other discussions.” Reporters in the briefing room laughed, but Obama wasn’t necessarily kidding – his point was that the media’s priorities are badly flawed, and he’s right.
The president went on to say that he felt like this was necessary after seeing last week that, instead of talking about the budget fight and the radical qualities of the Republican agenda, major outlets were preoccupied with covering conspiracy theories.
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” Obama said. “We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We got big problems to solve, and I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them, not on this.”
He wasn’t talking to the public, which has never much cared about this — he was talking to news organizations that need to know better and, for all of our sakes, must show better judgment.
Ezra Klein makes a good point on this: “It’s great that CNN has conclusively debunked the birther nonsense yet again, but really, what’s the point of fact-checking someone (Donald Trump) who has adopted a deliberate strategy of trafficking in lies in order to attract media attention, with no concern about whether it’s positive or negative?”
Still, credit to Anderson Cooper for showing these people up for what they are yet again: racist excrement.
Alex Pareene (Salon): CNN has finally found something it can take a stand against ….the man who drove CNN over the edge into something resembling activist journalism is, of course, Donald Trump.
…Anderson Cooper devoted the entirety of “Anderson Cooper 360°” last night to Trump, disguised as a special on “definitively debunking” birtherism, a conspiracy theory that has been definitively debunked a thousand times since 2008.
…Breaking: Hawaiian officials who have seen relevant documents confirm that the president was born in Hawaii! This has been known for years. The real meat of the special is a testy interview with, yes, Donald Trump, the television star…..
….But I am still proud of CNN, for finally finding some backbone and having the bravery to state that Donald Trump is a buffoon, without also noting, for balance, that some people think Donald Trump is not a buffoon. Baby steps.