- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Yes, President Obama’s birth certificate was made public two years ago and even emblazoned upon a Democratic fundraiser coffee mug during the 2012 presidential campaign. But the “birther” issue which so intrigued Donald Trump has yet to disappear.

“Since before he was elected, President Obama has been dogged by rumors that he was born outside of the United States and, therefore, ineligible to serve as president. Despite releasing his long-form birth certificate in 2011, these rumors have persisted. In particular, between 40 and 70 percent of Republicans still believe that President Obama may have been born outside of the U.S.,” says a wide-ranging poll released Tuesday by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College.

“Most of those who question President Obama’s place of birth are not just expressing negative views toward him without considering the implications. When asked in a follow-up question about whether they thought being born outside of the U.S. would make Barack Obama ‘ineligible under the U.S. Constitution to be president,’ 72 percent of those who thought the president might have been born outside of the U.S. believed that he would be ineligible to be president,” the research states.

“These results suggest that a substantial portion of Republicans is inclined to accept the worst about President Obama, regardless of facts, and believe that he is not a legitimate president, making it extremely difficult for him to overcome partisan polarization.”

Ironically, White House press secretary Jay Carney made a passing quip about the president’s birth certificate Tuesday, as an example of Republican attempts to “politicize matters.” Mr. Obama himself made a comedic reference to his birthplace at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month, and the topic still surfaces on talk radio.

“It seems like the birth certificate issue was dropped immediately as far as major media went. My gut tells me if it had been a different president, like say George W. Bush, they’d have been digging into that like there was no tomorrow,” noted Michigan state Sen. Tom Casperson, a Republican, during a February appearance on a Lansing-based show hosted by Michael Patrick Shiels.

MUST-SEE TV

Four hours of intrigue? Well, maybe, at least for concerned citizens and policy wonks who ponder IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Here’s a chance to see some possible factoids emerge. At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, C-SPAN broadcasts a live, four-hour hearing titled “Targeting Americans for Their Political Beliefs,” this showcasing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa.

The California Republican will be joined by Neal S. Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury; plus J. Russell George, U.S. Treasury inspector general for tax administration, former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, and Lois Lerner, the former IRS director of exempt organizations who now oversees health care reform law.

Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, engaged many of the same officials in a similar hearing Monday; now it’s the GOP’s turn. See the bout on C-SPAN 3, C-SPAN Radio, or here: C-SPAN.org.

BUMPER PATROL

“Audit the IRS!”

New bumper sticker available for a $5 contribution to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, at AuditTheirs.com.

MOMENT OF REMEMBRANCE

It is a solemn memorial wall with no names on it, only stars to designate the fallen. And such is the nature of the CIA.

John O. Brennan, director of the clandestine agency, stood before that very wall Monday in an annual salute to those who have died in the line of duty in service to the CIA since 1947. Mr. Brennan faced 107 stars.

“These beloved colleagues will inspire us forever with their unsurpassable devotion to duty and country,” he told hundreds of employees, retirees, families and friends who had assembled for the moment.

“It is during these ceremonies that we take full measure of CIA’s unique and critical contributions to our nation’s security, and of the terrible cost these contributions often entail,” he said.

Mr. Brennan also presented families with a replica of their loved one’s star, carved from marble similar to that of the wall itself, to “forever serve as a source of pride and comfort,” the director told them.

ALE TO THE CHIEF

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are set to raise a pint together as part of plans for the G-8 summit. The U.S. president and Russian president will clink glasses in front of cameras, but away from the official venue,” reports The Irish Sun, with some glee — but no predictions on the leaders’ libation of choice.

“Details of the off-site meeting involving all eight world leaders have already been drawn up. Names of guests for the event have been submitted to security chiefs, but the location remains top-secret,” the newspaper says.

Local officials, not to mention the proprietor of the pub in question, have time to plan, though. Situated at the five-star, 600-acre Lough Erne resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, the G-8 summit does not begin until June 17.

POLL DU JOUR

74 percent of Americans say it was “inappropriate” for the IRS to target conservative groups on their tax status; 80 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

56 percent overall say the action was a “deliberate effort” to harass these groups; 72 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent overall say this action was illegal; 67 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent overall say the action was inappropriate but not illegal; 30 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

31 percent overall say the focus on the groups was an “administrative mistake”; 18 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats agree.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted May 16 to 19 among 1,001 adults with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Rumblings, grumblings, applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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