Neil Abercrombie is not an American household name.
But he sure did grab some “name-making” headlines recently, when he spoke to the New York Times.
In what is theoretically a “slow” period for news (the last couple of weeks of the year), Hawaii’s newly inaugurated Governor sat down with Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times. In the interview, the Governor addressed some serious issues – like the fact that the tiny state of Hawaii is facing an enormous $71 million deficit, and that Hawaii’s public education system has been so mismanaged that teachers are being furloughed so as to avoid layoffs and class time reductions.
But, not surprisingly, the issue that captured hearts and minds was Governor Abercrombie’s personal and passionate rebuke of the so-called “birthers” - that’s the derogatory nick name given to those who question whether or not President Obama was born in Hawaii, as he claims he was, and therefore question Obama’s constitutional eligibility for the presidency.
I suspect that Governor Abercrombie’s remarks about “birthers” will end up making matters worse, and not better (a point that I’ll get to in a moment). And I think that the Governor’s remarks on the topic illustrate some of the things that Americans find most disgusting about politicians (I’ll explain that in a moment, as well). But before I go further, let me make it clear where I stand on the issue.
Barack Obama is not the only President who has had his “eligibility” questioned. Some credible historians believe to this day that our 21st President Chester Arthur was actually born in Canada, and not Vermont as he claimed, and thus never should have been elected (a subject I detailed in my book “White House: Confidential”).
When I first heard rumblings that instead of being born in Hawaii, Barack Obama may have been born in Kenya, I did some research. If the rumors were true, then there must have been convenient air transportation between Honolulu and Kenya, to secretly carry baby Barack in to the good ol’ U.S.A. – right?
Well, at the time of Obama’s birth in 1961, Hawaii had been a state for less than two full years. And I have found no evidence that there was any air transportation available between the 1 year and 11 month old state of Hawaii, and the East African nation of Kenya. Even today there are relatively few airlines flying between Honolulu and Mombasa, and ticket prices start at a staggering (and prohibitive) $2,800+.
Additionally, the “birther” theories have proven to be politically unviable. Barack Obama ran for the presidency against three very powerful and well-connected individuals – former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton (make no mistake, both Bill and Hillary were running against Barack), and Senator and Republican presidential nominee John McCain. All three of these people had plenty of personal incentive to “bring down Obama,” and yet apparently none of the three could “prove” that he was born outside the U.S.
Oh, and let me also note that the “birther” conspiracies have been rejected thus far in every court and in every state in which they have been raised. I know that judicial activism is a real and serious problem, but there is no reason to believe that, suddenly, all of America’s sitting judges have decided to cooperate with each other.
And guess what? Some of the most high-profile personalities in the world of “conservative media” dismissed the “birther” conspiracies long ago. Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt, and Bill O’Reilly (just to name a few) have all, in their unique and individual ways, declared the “birther” thing to be a non-issue.
So why do President Obama’s political allies continue to talk about it, when so many of his political foes do not? I suspect that they’d prefer to have Americans talking about a non -issue, instead of high unemployment, or nuclear proliferation in Iraq, or the rising price of healthcare despite the “Obamacare” legislation, or the President circumventing the Congress and forcing cap-and-trade policies via the F.D.A., or the dangerous national debt level, or the President’s effort to control the internet, or the volatility of the American dollar.
As for Governor Abercrombie – he may have created more trouble than he alleviated. Noting that he was friends with Barack Obama’s mother and father, Mr. Abercrombie stated that “there’s no reason on earth to have the memory of his parents insulted by people whose motivation is solely political…” His statements remind us that when one spends their lifetime running for and holding elective office, one can begin to assume that the acquisition of more political power is the only thing that ever motivates people. The notion that some folks may be legitimately concerned with the preservation of the U.S. Constitution apparently isn’t a consideration for the Governor – and Americans, generally, are fed-up with politicians of this sort.
I am “done” with politicians like this, and I’m “done” talking about President Obama’s birth certificate. But I suspect that the President’s “friends” are not.