“Well, I’ll be damned. It looks OK!”
That was Chicago’s own Andy Martin ― self-proclaimed “King of the Birthers” ― on the phone with a reporter for Mother Jones magazine after the White House released a copy of President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate on Wednesday.
Martin, who announced in December that he’s running for president on the Obama-wasn’t-born-here ticket, brags that he started this birther business. “I wrote the first expose on Obama,” he says in an already released commercial aimed at New Hampshire primary voters.
If you think Team Obama kicked the legs out from under Martin’s campaign by posting the birth certificate on the Internet, guess again. Martin pronounced it a “tremendous triumph,” adding that he is now running “as the guy who forced Obama” to produce the goods.
Well, not so fast.
Sarah Palin, who hasn’t ruled out a run for the White House, was quick to give props to Donald Trump, who’s spent the last several weeks beating the birther drum and musing aloud about what a great president he’d be.
“Media, admit it: Trump forced the issue,” Palin tweeted first thing Wednesday.
Trump was already on the air taking a victory lap. “I’m very proud of myself,” he said. “I’ve accomplished something nobody else was able to accomplish.”
We think a case could be made that the credit belongs to Tommy Tuberville, head football coach at Texas Tech University. After all those months of refusing to dignify the bleatings of Martin, Trump and others, Obama relented the very day after Tuberville chimed in on Fox News.
“I don’t know why he wouldn’t just step up and say, ‘Here it is,’” the coach told “Great American Panel” host Sean Hannity. “I think it just continues to divide the country.”
Next thing you know, the Hawaii Department of Health has retrieved the original document from its archives and birthers all over America are high-fiving, as if having your pretend controversy debunked is somehow a big win. Finally we can put this issue behind us and concentrate on our real problems, they say, conveniently forgetting who invented the distraction.
So what’s next? Trump wants to see Obama’s college grades because he’s heard the president was “a terrible student.” We must have missed the clause in the Constitution that sets minimum GPA standards for presidential candidates. Martin wants transcripts and admissions documents and an investigation into claims that a black nationalist Muslim lawyer bankrolled Obama’s education. Hoo boy.
So far there are no signs of end-zone dancing at Texas Tech. Tommy Tuberville, we like to think, is focused on the real problems: whether to pass or run the ball more, how to build a team that can convert more third downs. Not everyone has time to run for president.
(The Chicago Tribune, April 28)