- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Donald Trump’s potential candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination has forced the issue of whether Barack Obama was born in America into the mainstream, a question the establishment media has been frantically avoiding. Mr. Trump is demanding the president reveal his long-form birth certificate. The real estate mogul believes Mr. Obama is deliberately withholding embarrassing or damaging information.

He has ridden the birth controversy to the top of the GOP field. Many polls have Mr. Trump in second place, just behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Clearly, his message is resonating with large segments of the Republican base.

Even some liberals, such as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, are calling for Mr. Obama to release his birth records. Hawaii’s Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie recently vowed to settle the issue once and for all. He sought to pressure state officials to prove conclusively that Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu. He failed. The records remain sealed.

Since Mr. Obama’s 2008 election, the liberal press corps has treated the issue as a fringe movement - composed of extreme right-wing conspiracy kooks. The establishment media have even negatively labeled them as “birthers,” suggesting they are equivalent to Holocaust deniers or those who believe the Earth is flat.

Yet, the issue has profound ramifications. Mr. Obama has been the most secretive president since Richard Nixon. In fact, much is still not known about Mr. Obama’s past. His medical records, academic records and thesis as an undergraduate student all remain hidden from the public. This is not trivial. Rather, it is crucial to understanding the man occupying the Oval Office - his background, worldview, intellectual influences as a student, academic performance and overall physical ability to do the toughest job in the world. The American people have a right to full disclosure about their commander in chief.

The reality is that until Mr. Obama shows his proper, documented long-form birth certificate, the issue will not go away - nor should it. Many in Kenya’s political and media class say he was born there before being brought to the United States. His Kenyan family members make the same claim, while others in Hawaii insist he was born in Honolulu. There is only one way to end the controversy: Show us the birth certificate.

Instead, what Mr. Obama has revealed is a certificate of live birth, which is not the same thing. It simply states that Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii; it does not prove it. Documents can be fraudulently manufactured after the fact.

The liberal media has a vested interest in not pursuing the story. Throughout the 2008 election, the Washington press corps effectively acted as surrogates for the Obama campaign. They propped him up; they gave him a free pass. He was the progressive messiah who would repeal the hated Bush years. Hence, they failed to vet the presidential candidate thoroughly. Instead, they turned a blind eye to all of Mr. Obama’s conspicuous flaws - his long years spent at the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s neo-Marxist black liberation church, his communist mentors such as Frank Marshall Davis, his ties to radical socialists like Bill Ayers, his repeated calls to create a post-American, anti-capitalist world, his vast political inexperience, his cultural Muslim background and intense hostility toward Israel.

If Mr. Obama was not born in America, then it would serve as the final damning indictment of the establishment media’s complicity with the Democratic Party. Not only would it bring the Obama presidency down, but the entire liberal power structure as well.

Moreover, it would spark a constitutional crisis. The Constitution is absolutely clear that to be president one has to be a “natural born citizen.” Therefore, every major initiative implemented during the Obama administration - the health care overhaul, the massive stimulus package, the government takeovers of the auto companies, big banks and insurance firms, the sweeping anti-carbon regulations, allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military, the nearly unprecedented expansion of state power, the new START Treaty - would be invalid and possibly illegal. It would drive a stake through the heart of Mr. Obama’s regime, triggering impeachment and his removal from office. This is why liberals ferociously insist that the birth issue must be buried at almost any cost.

The president’s supporters, however, cannot answer one simple question. If the controversy is so preposterous, then why has Mr. Obama’s legal team spent campaign money to prevent the birth certificate from being unsealed?

The answer: He is hiding something. It may be the stated religious affiliation, the possible identity of his true father, the location of his birth - no one will know until the records are revealed. But protecting Mr. Obama’s privacy is not a plausible reason and certainly not a justification for spending millions.

The birth issue is slowly casting a shadow over Mr. Obama’s presidency; it threatens to undermine public confidence in his legal and moral authority to govern. Several states are pushing to pass laws compelling future presidential candidates - including Mr. Obama - to fully disclose all documents proving their natural born citizenship status. This desire for greater political transparency and accountability is healthy.

It is time Mr. Obama came clean. At a minimum, if he does not reveal his birth certificate, he cannot - and should not - be allowed to run for a second term.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.

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