Can we just lay the rumors to rest that Barack Obama is not an American citizen? He was born in Hawaii in 1961 -- two years after it became a state. Not Kenya. Hawaii. Even Glenn Beck has shut up about this, maybe because the claims are so ridiculous the Supreme Court doesn't want to waste its time.
But apparently that's not good enough for some members of the House Elections Committee out in Jefferson City who proposed a bill yesterday that would require anyone who wants to appear on the Missouri Presidential ballot to produce proof of citizenship. We are the bellwether, remember! Except for 2008, you couldn't win without us! Is it coincidental that that was the year Obama won?
Rep. Lyle Roland, a Republican from Cedar Creek, is sponsoring the bill. He has fifteen co-sponsors, all of whom, unsurprisingly, are also Republicans.
"At the federal level, there is no one checking the qualifications," Rowland told the Columbia Tribune. "Even though it is in the Constitution, no one is checking those references." (If he concluded this remark by whining "It's not faaaaiiiiir!" the Tribune did not record it.)
"It does close an important loophole," added Mitch Hubbard of Fulton, who was the Republican nominee for Missouri secretary of state in 2008. "Our military needs to know that their commander in chief is qualified. We have officers in the military who question whether their commander in chief is eligible" to be president.
(If he named the officers in the military who questioned Obama's competence, again, it was not recorded.)
Among those who testified about the viability of the bill was Darin Chappell, who told the committee he was an instructor at Missouri State University and that he would personally need to see Obama's birth certificate to determine whether he was qualified to be President. Afterward, however, Chappell admitted to the Tribune that he actually only taught at MSU on a per-course basis and that he also had no evidence that Obama wouldn't be qualified.
Tony Dugger (R-Hartville), the committee chair, has promised to send the measure to the House floor, perhaps embedded in a bill that would move Missouri's Presidential primary back a month.
It is interesting to note that the last time a President's citizenship was called into question was in 1880, when Chester Alan Arthur became commander in chief after the assassination of James Garfield. Arthur claimed he had been born in Fairfield, Vermont, in 1830. His political opponents claimed he'd actually been born across the border in Canada. Arthur denied the rumor, and nobody was able to produce any proof either way. Sort of like the Obama case. Oh, and by the way, Arthur was a Republican.
Another interesting fact about Chet Arthur: In 1930, historians got a chance to peruse the Arthur family Bible and discovered that his actual year of birth had been 1829. It made no difference either way by the time Arthur became President, but maybe we should start carding all our future leaders anyway.