It's hard not to like Barack Obama. All but his harshest and largely irrational critics find fault with a Presidential persona that quickly captivated not only a majority of Americans but a majority of *the world's population* We have not seen this level of enthusiasm for an American President since John Kennedy, and in Obama's case it's arguably more justified as Kennedy's hard line stances separated him more severely from the global "peasant class" than Obama.
The latest exhibit of the Obama charm is his perfect handling of the arrest of Professor Robert Gates of Harvard by the Cambridge Police. Gates and a friend forced entry into Gates' home due to a problem with a door, police were called, and although details are not entirely clear yet it appears Gates heaped verbal abuse on the arresting officer until the officer decided to arrest him for disorderly conduct. After initially calling the arrest "stupid" and helping to make the case national news, Obama took back this characterization, noted that both men probably overreacted to the situation, and invited them to the White House for a beer and handshake. This is both Presidential theater and politics and it's brilliant - with Obama effectively diffusing a simple but explosive situation with a simple act.
Enter the Republican Party and the anti Obama crowd, best represented by Rush Limbaugh and other right wing talk radio people and Fox news. Even as one can reasonably characterize Obama's budget busting stimulus as mistaken and dangerous these clowns are focusing on items of little interest to the general public and of almost no significance to an informed person.
First, the nonsense about Obama's birth certificate. The Right wing argument suggests that the "Mainstream Media" is burying the story *because it is real*. This of course is preposterous since 1) It's hardly buried - it's pretty much a regular lead story on right wing blogs and radio and perhaps soon even part of CNN's Lou Dobbs' increasingly nutty rants.
The story that Obama is not a citizen *if true* is a guaranteed Pultizer Prize for any legitimate reporter, so it takes a mind blinded by blathering conspiracy nonsense to think this is a cover up.
Of course it is curious that Obama has not allowed his team to produce the document, and I think it's very probably a lost / defaced / tampered certificate. Another possibility is that a perfectly normal certificate is sitting around and Obama is cleverly allowing the right to stick out it's head until the next election when he'll produce the document - effectively allowing the "enemy" to waste time and resources fighting for a lost cause.
Here's how I think this will play out over the next 3 years:
* Right wing gang will keep up the heat.
* Obama will eventually give in when the cost exceeds the cost of battling the next stage from the vast conspiracy crowd.
* The vault BC will be messed up or missing or defaced.
* The chant will shift again. What began as "Born in Kenya" and morphed to "Not born in USA" will become something like "Mother too young to be citizen" or "Obama can't be President with a defaced Document".
People should bother reading the constitution about this even though "Natural Born Citizen" is far too vague to be of help. Ironic that the Republicans are once again trying to use technicalities to take over. Perhaps after the Bush 2000 vote fiasco - where Gore won Florida but technicalities made that impossible to enforce - Republicans started to think presidential races should be determined on technicalities rather than by the consent of the governed.
But I'd caution them not to try to make that case to Washington, Adams, Jefferson, or Madison who would view the very differently. If there is ONE THING that is clear in the constition of the USA, "Consent of the Governed" matters, and the right wings attempts to thwart the will of the people should leave a bad taste in the mouth of even the staunchest Republican partisan.
Although almost every legitimate constitutional scholars will say the claims against Obama are preposterous, a handful of kooky lawyers plus the shrill and irrational voices of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh will keep making the case, hoping it will win votes in 2012.
Obama probably is vulnerable - and very legitimately so - in 2012 if the fight is about massive debt. Luckily for him it won't be. It'll be about "no birth certificate" for Obama and "No marriage certificate" for gays. These stupid talking points helped GW Bush win in the past, but there appears to be no Karl Rove waiting in the wings to help the next Republican challenger for the Presidency. The Republicans will knock themselves silly on culture war issues until they realize the country simply does not care that much about that stuff. They care about the economy, international challenges, health care, and massive debt.
My prediction: The Republicans have lost this before the campaign has even begun.