Thinking back over the past year, I think no single event more influenced the birther movement than the release by the White House of a certified copy of Barack Obama’s original Certificate of Live Birth from Hawaii, shown here in a photo taken by NBC News correspondent Savannah Guthrie at a White House news conference.
The document’s release in April had two almost immediate consequences. First, many casual doubters, those whose doubts stemmed primarily from the fact that the President hadn’t responded to demands to release the document, were satisfied that Obama was born in Hawaii just as the Encyclopedia Britannica said. The long-form certificate refuted claims that Obama’s registration was fraudulent, submitted by a relative: it clearly shows Obama was born in the Kapi’olani hospital and delivered by physician David A. Sinclair. Birther poll numbers dropped sharply.
The presidential aspirations of real estate mogul and TV host Donald Trump (who some credit with forcing Obama’s hand in releasing the certificate) were dashed as Trump’s TV appearances questioning Obama’s place of birth backfired in the light of new evidence. Author Jerome Corsi, whose book Where’s the Birth Certificate? was about to be released, also became a laughingstock.
The second result was that the remnant birthers began to make new claims that the newly-released Certificate was a fake, despite official statements from Hawaii to the contrary. WorldNetDaily published articles from many self-proclaimed “experts” claiming that various artifacts in the PDF file image of the certificate from the White House web site proved it was a fake. This lead to the publication of the first book specifically to take on birther claims, John Woodman’s Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud? Tea Party conservative Woodman made quick work of debunking the fraud claims.
Over time Birther emphasis shifted from the place of Obama’s birth (as a growing consensus rejected the born in Kenya theory) to his parentage where they were on more factual ground. The President’s father was undisputedly not a US Citizen. However, all recognized authorities who have commented on presidential eligibility have said that persons born US Citizens in the United States are unquestionably natural born citizens, as required by the Constitution.
If I may be so bold, I predict that the year 2012 will be “the year of the ballot challenge”, with birthers focusing their efforts on proving their claims in court cases related to the President being on the 2012 Presidential Ballot.