Monday, July 13, 2009

All the President's Records

There have probably been conspiracy theories during every presidential administration. None have been so enduring, perhaps, as the theories which surrounded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but such theories will pop up in every time period, I think. During the Bush administration one of the most well-known was the theory that somehow the President knew about, or even orchestrated, the 9/11 attacks, for example, and in this current administration the whispers keep on circulating about the President's birth certificate:

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook filed a request last week in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and status as a conscientious objector with the intent to stall and eventually prevent an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

In the 20-page document — filed July 8 with the United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia — Cook’s California-based attorney, Orly Taitz, asks the court to consider granting his client’s request based upon Cook’s belief that President Barrack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of U.S Armed Forces.

Cook further states he “would be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside the United States under this President’s command, and that Plaintiff would thus be simultaneously unable to perform his duties in good Rule 65(b) Application for Temporary Restraining Order 22 conscience and yet be simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.”

I know that plenty of enterprising military members have used creative ways to try to get out of a deployment, and maybe Major Cook's lawsuit is just a new iteration of that sort of thing. Certainly only a handful of right-wing websites or blogs have continued to raise questions about whether Barack Obama was born in the United States and whether, if he was not, he is eligible to be president considering the "natural born citizen" requirement of the Constitution. Everyone else seems to consider the matter of Barack Obama's birth certificate a settled one.

And that's probably true. Except for one small detail: while plenty of people have seen Barack Obama's Certification of Live Birth, his actual birth certificate--the "long form" or "vault copy," as some call it--has not been publicly released.

Does that mean that the actual birth certificate would end up proving Major Cook's claim? Not necessarily. There are plenty of reasons why the Obama administration might not want the original birth certificate to become a matter of public record. It might, for instance, show some embarrassing fact or other about Obama's parents (such as their marital status) or some similar detail that Obama doesn't want to be in the public eye.

I can understand those sorts of considerations, even if I think the wiser tactic would be just to release the original birth certificate rather than fight lawsuit after lawsuit to keep the certificate sealed, as Obama's lawyers have done up to now. What's much odder to me is that this administration, which has promised to be an open book, has never released Obama's college records.

President Bush, after all, took a lot of grief from late-night comics and the media elite over his not-so-inspiring college grades. Other presidents have pointed to their academic records with pride, or at least with self-deprecation. But Barack Obama's college records are sealed. We don't know how well he did at Occidental College or Columbia University, let alone what his law school days at Harvard were like. We do know he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, though, so clearly Obama's not hiding bad grades there, though he wouldn't be the first person to coast through undergrad work and then buckle down and get serious post-grad, if that turned out to be the case.

Why the secrecy? Why not inspire young men and women--particularly young African-American men, who absorb all sorts of negative cultural messages about college and hard work--by showing how he managed to get through school and get a law degree? Why cover up something that really should be open to the public?

I really can't think of any reason why a sitting president would continue to demand that his college records be kept sealed. I'm certain this level of secrecy would never be tolerated in a Republican administration--the news media would demand access to these records, and hint darkly on evening newscasts that the president must be hiding something damaging enough to avoid the traditional step of making his college records public. But the media has been inclined to avoid asking Barack Obama how his college grades were--or why he's never revealed them to the public. And in an administraton that promised "change," this change toward secrecy and a cover-up of something that's routinely revealed during most candidacies seems more than strange.


Anonymous said...

Not only that Red, but check this out:

Mr Sammo said...

I find this rather annoying. If he is not hiding something (whether it be serious or petty), then it is a disturbing bit of haughtiness to keep secret his life, especially considering the intrusive governmental structures he is attempting to implement.

Anonymous said...

President Nixon's college records, grammar school grades, shoe size, monthly growth chart as a child, birth certificate, etc. were as irrelevant to the job he did as the proverbial red herring.

Prolly some past vice-presidents and presidents, as well as leaders in the free world didn't even attend college, nor serve as college instructors. Some did. Some were boastful about their success in the academic world. Calvin Coolidge was a college president, but doubt he wanted his college record available to all those that might want to make something of it.

I make it my policy to decline all requests from those that ask for my school grades. Making a big deal about grades or birth certificates is only of consequence to accountants and bookkeepers, those that dwell on numbers and what's the point? Superstitious people choose to see something relevant in numbers such as 666, 13 and other numerology myths to our present situation in life

Demanding that someone in public office publish details might be on par with attempting to analyze a pattern of freckles.

It's too bad that President Obama's refusal to release his school records and birth certificate is not interpreted as a public figure's freedom to refuse to kowtow to demands of detail-mongers.

Isn't it kind of crazy to interpret a person's right as 'good' or 'bad' in context of discussion of reluctance to reveal personal details, and judge decision of free choice provides 'evidence' that all books will be opened. How does revealing school grades equate with 'openness' (thus truthfulness) in comparing with a discussion of weapons of mass destruction? Or, should be consider the relevance of revealing the college class standing of President GW Bush or presidential candidate J McCain, or the fact that vice-presidential candidate S Palin attended more than one college before completing her degree, or just where did VP Biden attend college?

One might think that we should know from the start some books might not be appropriately randomly opened, because A.) people not in government might require interpretation and dumbing down, which opens up circular arguments and opening up books is better put off to times in which we're not in such a haste solve fundamental society issues such as bringing an end to wars, solving issues in securing financial institutions, ensuring access to health care to citizenry; B.) too much involvement in minutiae is a red herring to what needs to be accomplished.

We don't demand our physicians that care for us receive the top grades in medical school, nor do we require our lawyers have graduated first in their class.

For a lively discussion, listen to Richard Phillip Feynman's explanation of why magnets attract on YouTube.

The only reason I'm writing such a long post to this topic as I could only get talk radio on the way home last night and the host seemed to dwell interminably on the topic, so it's in effect a reply to the radio joker.

Greybeard said...

Yeah Zircon, that Constitution is such a joke, isn't it?!


Anonymous said...

I really don't want to spend mental energy figuring out who my president is and why he doesn’t release his college transcripts, all the way back to Occidental. I was required to submit mine just to get a part time job tutoring Kindergarteners in the local public school.

S, why the secrecy?

Could Barrack Obama have been classified as a foreign student? Could he have written papers which supported controversial political standpoints? Did he flunk a lot of undergraduate classes, thereby revealing that he was admitted into Harvard without merit? Without the records, I can only be left to think the worst.

We the people who have hired him should have demanded to see those basic records of his education.

I have two kids and a busy life.. but this just seems insulting that he doesn’t feel we deserve to see his college records. He seems to fancy himself to be above questioning.