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There’s a popular saying in our newsroom we reporters utter more often than others and it has to do with begging for forgiveness being easier than asking permission.
It usually has to do with needing access to a story or information that may be behind police tape, on private property or even downright shady.
In politics, this is also the case—you know, the whole shoot first, ask questions later concept.
In fact, it’s political P.R. 101. Get the story out there—right or wrong—and see who bites. More often than not, there’s some questionable or even legitimate news source that will run with the story.
Dan Rather most immediately comes to mind, so do some local TV news stations.
But it works. People talk. Whatever it was you wanted out there will be circulating around the message boards and chain emails before the next TV newscast comes on.
These rumors can range from typically unfounded claims of epic proportions, to conspiracy theories.
For many different reasons, there are certain topics I try to avoid in this column—abortion, gay marriage, UNC athletics’ perpetual cheating—and, until now, the birthplace of President Barack Obama.
I’m talking about the birthers concept, which is sweeping the ranks of the Republican Party and, most notably, its Tea Party offspring.
Birthers, as they have been not so cleverly dubbed, believe that our commander-in-chief was not born within the borders of the United States of America, or even abroad to two American citizens as required in the Constitution.
I believe Obama’s most commonly accepted birthplace by the birthers is Kenya, though I’ve also heard Indonesia. I’m sure there have been others.
Their claims are simple and to the point: Not meeting the constitutional requirements to be president makes Obama ineligible to serve as president.
But here’s the thing, and it’s really going to make liberals squirm: It doesn’t matter if the birthers are right.
I do not subscribe to their theory. I do not believe Obama was born in Kenya. I believe he was born in Hawaii as he claims. Of course, if you read my last column you know that nothing surprises me anymore.
Obama has been smart to capitalize on the birther concept, marginalizing the folks who believe it as a political tool to question his opponents’ sanity. So have his staff and most of those in the media.
Most recently the is-he-or-isn’t-he presidential hopeful Donald Trump has offered up a resurgence of the birther theory as he continues on his political blitzkrieg.
But I digress. Here’s why it doesn’t matter if the birthers are right or not: The Constitution requires a person be born here (or the acceptable alternative of to two American citizens) to serve as president.
It’s simple, show your ID, in this case, your birth certificate.
The law requires you must have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle in North Carolina, and the law compels you to produce your driver’s license to the proper parties.
The law requires you to be 21 years old to purchase alcohol. I’m proud to say that at times I’m even asked to produce my ID to buy wine. And trust me, I gladly show it.
I can offer up several more examples, but I think we all get the point.
So, what’s the big deal, Mr. President? Your ID is a job requirement, and we’re your employers. We can hire and fire you; the least you can do is prove the one basic requirement to lead this country.
I’ll tell you something else I’ve learned to be true: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.