It’s come to this

IT’S COME TO THIS…. For the second consecutive day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was peppered with questions about President Obama’s birth certificate. It wasn’t just some fringe reporter who worked his way into the briefing room — the questions came from CNN’s White House correspondent.

It was a reminder that our political discourse is deeply stupid. It was also a reminder that media outlets that already know the “birther” conspiracy theory is baseless continue to treat this garbage as a legitimate area of inquiry.

And so, this morning, when reporters gathered at the White House for the morning gaggle, staffers distributed copies of the president’s birth certificate — not the one released in 2008, but the “long-form” certificate requested by hysterical conservatives.

Soon after, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer posted this item online.

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 (PDF).

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. President Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate can be seen here (PDF). Correspondence with the Hawaii State Department of Health can be seen here (PDF).

At a time of great consequence for this country — when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President’s hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.

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.