Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 96.7 FM. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
OPINION –Opponents of Barack Obama have long questioned the legitimacy of his citizenship. They claim that Obama’s birth may have taken place outside of the United States. If Obama were born in Kenya, as some claim, he would be in violation of the Constitution’s requirement in Article 2 Section I that a candidate for president must be “natural born citizen” of the U.S.
To this end, the so-called “birther” movement has spent much of the last four years demanding that Obama provide his original birth certificate as definitive proof that he was actually born in the U.S. After inexcusable foot-dragging, the Obama administration last April released a copy of the president’s certificate of live birth from the state of Hawaii.
Not surprisingly, birthers are dismissing the Hawaiian birth certificate as a fraud and have redoubled their demands for clear proof of the president’s eligibility to hold office.
Now a judge in the state of Georgia has given the controversy a new twist by agreeing to hear a case challenging Obama’s ability to appear on the ballot in several states unless he proves his eligibility. Obama’s attorney, Michael Jablonski, had earlier labeled the hearing as “baseless, costly and unproductive.” During the packed hearing in a Georgia courtroom on Jan. 27, 2012, the defense table was conspicuously empty as neither the president nor his attorneys were present.
The case is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:
First, the birth citizenship question is not as remarkable as the allegation that the president initially exerted considerable pressure on the Georgia Secretary of State to drop the matter, then openly ignored the subpoena summoning him or his legal counsel to the Georgia courtroom. The question this raises is whether the president is still subject to the laws of the land or whether he can simply ignore the legal process at his whim.
Secondly, the mass media has shown a clear reluctance to lend any degree of legitimacy to the issue, by refusing to cover it at all. This may be one of the strongest indicators yet of how the press increasingly exists to sell the agenda of the political class rather than informing the public. The questions around Obama’s birth citizenship could be examined thoroughly and objectively without creating a bully pulpit for the president’s detractors. But the silent treatment on the part of the press serves to raise more questions than it puts to rest.
There is far more important question that deserves serious consideration; what if both the president and the birthers are wrong?
From the standpoint of proper government, the president should be subject to the very same laws and legal protections as any American citizen. He is not a unitary executive who is permitted to act above or outside the law when he pleases. If a president’s policies include engaging in unjust wars, torturing or killing without due process or infringing upon liberty, those policies don’t become more or less legitimate based upon where he was born.
The birther movement appears to be straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. The president’s birth citizenship issue is a classic example of technicalitarian thinking. This is the belief that the problem with government is that someone in a high position isn’t following a technicality of the written law. Where are the concerns about the real abuses of executive power listed above? These are actual policies and powers being claimed by the current administration, not just some magic loophole by which Obama got elected.
Suppose that the birthers were proven correct. Barack Obama was removed from the presidency. How would our national situation have changed? We’d still be a nation mired in debt and war. Government would still refuse to recognize constitutional limits on its powers. Our popular culture would remain a moral cesspool. Not one of these problems had their genesis in Obama. Not one of them would go away if he were removed from office on a technicality.
The bitter truth is that Barack Obama’s presidency is a result of, not the cause of, our societal decay. Those who are serious about correcting America’s problems would be best served to begin by fixing the person we see in the mirror.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.