Have you seen the long-form birth certificate of President Obama that the White House released today? (Click here to view it.) It's unequivocal proof that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961 – just as his short-form certificate said, and just as local newspapers reported at the time.
Will this finally quiet the people who believe the president is not a "natural born citizen," as the Constitution requires? The voice of the "birthers" has gotten so loud it's hard to imagine even this latest evidence completely silencing their bogus claim. Now, 45 percent of Republicans believe this lie, according to a New York Times/CBS poll. Several Republican-controlled legislatures have set in motion "birther bills" requiring presidential candidates to prove their birth creds.
The birther decibels were amplified by out-there Republican celebrities such as Donald Trump, but also by more traditional members of the GOP establishment, people such as House Speaker John Boehner. He and others have said they, personally, believe Obama was born in America, but who are they to tell voters what to think?
I saw an example of this just yesterday, when the Monitor hosted the new Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus, at a breakfast with reporters. He stated clearly his belief that the president was born in the United States. But he added, candidates such as Mr. Trump can say what they want. It's up to voters to decide.
Yes, free speech is free speech. But that doesn't mean the message shouldn't be roundly condemned by Republicans who don't buy it. Saying "I don't believe it but others are free to" is just another way of allowing a lie to live and grow – and an obvious pander to a sizable chunk of GOP voters.
But here's another reason this birther business ballooned. The White House didn't act soon enough to prevent the build-up of all that hot air. Yes, it often refuted the claims. And Mr. Obama released his short-form birth certificate long ago. But why wait so long on the long-form proof? Could it be that, gasp, the White House saw a political advantage in the president's opponents being distracted by a nonissue?
It appears that responsible people in both parties have played a known lie to political advantage. No wonder Washington has such a credibility problem. And don't be surprised if the birther conspiracy lives on. It was allowed to.