[Note: this article contains a number of early birther references, but I believe that the authoritative answer to the question is found in Loren Collins’ paper: The Secret Origins of Birtherism.]
There are any number of groups whose special interest would be better served by a president other than Barack Obama.
- Right-wing extremists
- Anti-abortion activists
- Anti-gay activists
- Gun activists
- Anti-Muslim activists
- White Racists
- Pro-Israel activists
- Hillary supporters
Is it one, two, more or all of the above? It’s of no value labeling entire groups with anything. But in an attempt to track down where the rumors start, I keep running into partisans in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that is where the real value is in selecting the US president or crippling a president they don’t like. Israel Insider, a pro-Israel web site has been a proponent of Obama rumors and misinformation, but not only a proponent, but an early source. Consider, for example, the claim that Obama’s birth certificate was forged.
The Obama COLB appeared on the Daily KOS web site on June 12, 2008 and within just 9 days, israelinsider published the story that it was a forgery, saying:
But some who have examined that image in high resolution claim inconsistencies and irregularities which suggest that the purported document is a forgery. Its high profile use by the campaign, they claim, suggests an attempt to conceal the truth of Obama’s birth circumstances and citizenship qualifications from the American people.
Note that israelinsider gives no clue who these examiners are.
In another early report (June 24, 2008), two months before Berg’s lawsuit against Obama, we see already mention of Obama possibly being born in Kenya on israelinsider.
Even though Geraghy notes that Obama “initially refused to provide his birth certificate,” he has suggested that it is “rather unlikely” that Obama was born in Kenya, since it would require that the candidate and his family do a lot of lying. In fact, there were reports of Kenyati relatives claiming he was born there, and there is the mysterious disappearance of his grandmother, who may indeed know something about this subject.
But wait! Who is Geraghy? On the day before the COLB appeared on the Daily KOS web site (remember the release of the birth certificate was supposed to “clear up all questions” — take note you who think another birth certificate will clear up all questions) Sean Hannity at Fox News was saying on his blog:
Jim Geraghty, reporting on the Campaign Spot, cited the “unlikely” but still circulating rumor that Obama was born not within the United States, but elsewhere, possibly Kenya.
Geraghty defined the concerns most clearly, stating: “If Obama were born outside the United States, one could argue that he would not meet the legal definition of natural-born citizen … because U.S. law at the time of his birth required his natural-born parent (his mother) to have resided in the United States for ’10 years, at least [f]ive of which had to be after the age of 16.'”
Note: this was written before bloggers changed the Constitution to require natural born citizens to have two citizen parents and be born in the United States. Geraghty is on the right track, although the age is 14, not 16.
Fox News? No wait! Fox News got this story from Public Enemy Number One: WorldNetDaily! on June 10. Now this is rich:
Geraghty said the Obama campaign could “debunk” the rumors about his birth simply by releasing a copy of his birth certificate, but the campaign has so far chosen not to do that.
Two days later, the Obama campaign released a copy of his birth certificate. That only started a cottage industry of doubters.
Geraghty published his article on a National Review Blog: Campaign Spot, June 9 3BC (3 days before COLB) and this is the source of the WorldNetDaily story, picked up by Sean Hannity. But Geraghty is not the source, because he himself links to a Snopes.com message of a “new” story of Obama born in Kenya! That message dates way back to April 21:
Today, we have a new matter before us. There is an article out today on the internet that says that Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy.
She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so she Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth.
Obama is not eligible to be the President of the United States of America. This may not be proven in the next few days, but I am sure it will be proven before the General Election.
The DNC and the elite of the Democratic party should respect Hillary and not force her off the ballot. If they do, we may not even have a viable candidate.
I’m sure all this can be proven, by hospital documents and witnesses. It will take time, but Obama is not a legitimate U. S. citizen. He has citizenship established in Kenya, where he is recorded as Arab-African.
What is curious about the story on the Snopes message board is that there is no source for the story or where it appered on the Internet. One Snopes commenter who couldn’t find it asked for the source, but there was no reply.
Dig, dig, dig…
This question was asked by “Baby E” on Yahoo Answers and labeled “10 months ago” which hits in April:
Obama was born in Kenya. Obama can’t be President. Can Obama supporters sue for their money back?
Looks like I found an early source for the Obama is a Muslim and his middle name is Muhammed. It’s two Christian missionaries in Kenya in an email circulating since March 2008.
What we would like you to know is what the american press has been keeping a dirty little secret. Obama IS a muslim and he IS a racist and this is a fullfilllment of the 911 threat that was just the beginning. Jihad is the only true muslim way. We have been working with them for 20 years this july! He is not an american as we know it. Please encourage your friends and associates not to be taken in by those that are promoting him. It is world wide jihad. All our friends in Europe are very disturbed by the mulsim infiltration into their countries. By the way. His true name is Barak Hussein Muhammed Obama. Won’t that sound sweet to our enemies as they swear him in on the Koran! God Bless you.
Ah, but not born in Kenya. Must have jumped too far back…
This is a cool article: The Wingnut Smear Machine at Work from June 2008.
One might argue the Obama campaign ought to just release the mystery birth certificate to put the rumors to rest. But you know that would just set off a new round of rumors. Some rightie blogger would question the authenticity of the birth certificate, and that very evening Sean Hannity would look into a Faux Nooz camera and intone, why did Barack Obama release a forged birth certificate? Questions are being asked, after all.
Velvet Hammer was calling for a Birth Certificate in March 2008, but the one article I found didn’t specifically suggest a Kenyan Birth.
Wait, Mahalo (nice site, by the way) says it goes back to 2007:
In 2007, rumors began that Obama was born in Kenya, and may not legally be a natural-born citizen. As pointed out in the National Review, if this is true then Obama and his relatives have been lying about his birthplace for most of his life. All official accounts point to Obama’s birth taking place in Hawaii, one of the 50 United States.
Alas, no reference to a web site where the story appeared.