Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama’s Birth Certificate: Long on the Horizon and Long to be With Us

The doubts about Barack Obama’s birthplace are persistent. New pieces of circumstantial evidence come up every day. There is a clip on You Tube of Obama’s grandmother, a native of Kenya saying he was born in “this village”. There have been forensic specialists who pronounced previous copies posted on Obama’s campaign website to be forgeries.

Most disturbing is the avoidance by Obama of the simplest solution, which would be to round up the most hard to convince skeptics and those most well trained in forensic document examination to refute with finality all assertions impugning Barack Obama’s constitutional fitness to assume office. The failure to do this is the most damning evidence of all.

All of this could have been avoided if the press had done its job. The advocacy function assumed by the press seriously compromised American democracy.

The election of Barack Obama meant a great deal to African Americans. With his election, the last glass ceiling was shattered. To see the joy in the face of elderly voters who had felt the stinging shame of segregation was a sight that moved even ideological opponents of the Democratic party. All could appreciate the symbolic importance of his victory.

If any other candidate in the last election were to have been found to be born abroad, it would have caused a ripple of headlines and a scramble for a replacement. Barack Obama is unlike the other candidates. His victory is taken as a matter of personal pride by millions of African Americans. Conversely, his removal would be perceived rightly or wrongly as a personal affront, a last ditch defense against African American political empowerment. There is a genuine and well founded fear that if Barack Obama were to be removed from office, there would be massive civil unrest, along with unprecedented destruction of property and loss of life. It seems clear that the refusal of the Supreme Court and every other court to address questions of Barack Obama’s constitutional fitness to remain in office are rooted in this underlying anxiety.

This shield around Obama’s security in office is useful to the Democratic Party. They will not have to worry about a Clinton style impeachment. No one wants riots across the country. No one wants massive civil unrest.

In a coup d’etat, the military brandishes weapons and deposes an elected civilian government. Often, not a shot is fired. The implicit willingness to use deadly force is all that is required.

Thankfully, America has never in its history known a government installed through a military coup. But it is hard to avoid the feeling that our government’s refusal to enforce its own laws is not a sort of concession to mob rule. It is hard not to feel that the Democrats want an added insurance policy against their candidate’s removal from office. To be brutally frank, there would be widespread anger if the first African American President were removed from office.

If Obama were in any danger of being removed from office, many Americans would be taking material and logistical steps to safeguard their lives and property. In areas that are all white, this might be a minor difficulty. Safeguarding white minorities in African American areas would be a major logistical problem.

For the above stated reasons, I would not look forward to Obama being removed from office. It would not be a popular repudiation of his ideology. It would be yet another instance of the judiciary changing a visible component of our daily lives.

I would like to see a candidate’s race be as inconsequential as his or her eye colour or sports preference. We have expanded our circle of acceptance to an extent unimagined only forty years ago. In 1960, it was noted by all that the first Roman Catholic had become President. On January 20, it will be an African American breaking new ground.

The problems facing America’s non white minorities will not be solved because Barack Obama took office. Native Americans on some reservations still have a live expectancy at birth far lower than whites. AIDS, unemployment and broken families still disproportionately affect African Americans. It will take more than symbolic landmarks to change these trends.

New York City was for years considered ungovernable. Its crime statistics were considered to be a fact of urban life. Rudolf Giuliani instituted policies that slashed welfare rolls and crime rates. He endured constant criticism from his predecessors David Dinkins and Ed Koch whose mediocrity shined so brightly against the backdrop of the Giuliani administration’s achievements. There are other places in which fresh ideas can and should be tried. Like New York, America can and should redefine its limitations.

I view the election of Barack Obama as a great mistake by the American people. I am very concerned over who he would appoint to the Supreme Court, and what considerations will shape his foreign policy. If he steps down, there is a line of succession, at the head of which stands Vice President elect Joe Biden. I have no confidence that he would be any improvement at all. In the area of foreign policy, his previous pronouncements have shown that Biden would be a disaster. It will take more than a change of President to redirect America’s ship of state.

America needs an ideological and a tactical debate.

We need to recognise business as the generator of prosperity rather than the source of our problems.

We need to recognise the crucial role of a well paid work force in keeping the wheels of our economy turning.

We need to guard our borders with existing technology and manpower rather than winking at its daily violation.

We need to recognise the role that a common language has in bridging our great diversity. We need to institute and propagate English, our historical common denominator in order to insure our destiny as a united country.

Our founding fathers alluded repeatedly to a Creator and to Providence. Their allusions were broad and non denominational. But they were not empty platitudes. They designed a legal system that was predicated upon citizens with internal restraints.

Our prisons have chaplains and our schools banish prayer.Our prison population is expanding and our schools are taking on the violence of prisons. Abortion on demand has become sacrosanct and faith is scorned. New limits are pushed daily on radio and television even as political discourse through the same channels becomes more and more inane and narrow.No laws suffice to tame a nation that has thrown off the yoke of Heaven. We find this truth in sorrow as we survey the daunting challenges faced by our children.

I do not see the struggle over Obamas constitutional fitness to be a part of this struggle. It does however establish the disturbing precedent of America;s highest court being afraid to enforce the nation’s laws. In the long run, this weakens our constitution and diminishes its honour. It seems to be a decision made out of fear. I live in an area where this fear is felt strongly.

There are other battles to be fought.The Supreme Court is a critical issue. Perhaps through a miracle, Obama will appoint a justice who disappoints the liberals the way David Souter disappointed the conservatives.

Then there is the Senate and the House of Representatives, for which there will be elections in two years.

What is most important is the daily battle for America’s hearts and minds. Because ultimately, a political system runs not by the genius of its design but the goodness of its citizens.

Our press has gone asleep on its job as America’s watchdog. Our Supreme court has covered its eyes. We, the people must do as well as possible with the government we have inflicted upon ourselves. These are strange and trying times with no clear answers and no easy solutions.

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