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Kapi’olani digging

So Rambo Ike asked me over at Birther Report (before I gave it up for Lent) just when was the earliest reference to Obama being born at Kapi’olani hospital. Of course I wasn’t going to kick over a hornet’s nest and mention the birth certificate, which in all fairness didn’t see the light of day until 2011. I had to do a little digging, and here’s my reply:

The earliest Kapi’olani reference is a really good challenge. Most of my interest started with the birthers, and my knowledge of pre-birther history is pretty light. But let’s see what I can do.

The earliest Kapi’olani reference I know of without looking is the one in the Honolulu Advertiser from November 9, 2008, citing “family sources.” You can read about that here:

That’s the interview that contains Tong’s comment;

“We don’t have plans to do anything,” said Kapiolani Medical Center spokeswoman, Claire Tong, when asked how the center plans to commemorate the soon-to-be 44th U.S. president, who, according to Obama’s family and other sources, was born at that hospital on Aug. 4, 1961.

“We can’t confirm or deny it — even though all the information out there says he was born at Kapiolani Hospital. And that’s because of the HIPA (sic) law.”

Tong acknowledged that the center has received daily inquiries from news agencies far and wide asking for confirmation of Obama’s birthplace. Much as she wishes she could do it, Tong said it’s not possible.

“Our hands are tied,” she said.

David Maraniss, who would later write a Biography of Obama, wrote of Obama’s birth at Kapiolani in an article in the Washington Post August 24, 2008. Maraniss doesn’t give a source

The Honolulu Star Bulletin article: “Punahou left lasting impression on Obama” from February 8, 2007 says Kapiolani.

Another article from the Star Bulletin from March 21, 2004 also lists Kapiolani as Obama’s place of birth. That article was copied, mentioning Kapiolani, at the Free Republic forum also in 2004, so we can be pretty sure it wasn’t changed.

FR - Kapiolani 2004

That’s as far back as I can find.

Obama birth certificate appears in Frontline documentary

Last evening, PBS aired “The Choice 2012,” a program from the acclaimed documentary series Frontline, examining the early years and development of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The narration about Barack Obama’s birth was accompanied by panning close-up images of the long-form birth certificate. (This appears just past the 17 minute mark.)

The documentary was insightful, and I learned some things about both candidates. The Obama portion appeared to rely heavily on David Maraniss’ book, Barack Obama: The Story.

Watch the program:

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Same old doctor

Despite some serious sleepiness, I toughed it out until midnight last night when the Kindle version of Barack Obama: The Story was published. Reports were that the author, David Maraniss, was going to disclose information about a doctor who remembered the Obama birth.

It turns out that the doctor was Dr. Rodney T. West, a physician and hospital administrator in Hawaii, about whom I have written several articles. Maraniss recounts a conversation between Barbara Czurles (later Nelson) and Dr. West where West said that the unusual thing that happened that week was “Stanley had a baby” (obviously referring to the President’s mother Stanley Ann Dunham).

Someone looking for an FBI investigation saturating Honolulu in 1961 will not find it in this book, but it is fairly detailed and sources are footnoted.

Obama: Known!

Birthers make a huge deal about Barack Obama’s past being a complete mystery, while at the same time freely filling in their own fictional details. They remind me of the three monkeys, or perhaps


In any case, the darkness of Obama’s past is solely due to people not looking. A new biography called Barack Obama: The Story, details Barack Obama’s early life. NPR broadcast an interview this morning with the author, David Maraniss, a Pulitzer Prize winner and currently an associate editor at the Washington Post.