Great to see that National Review Online has an improved feed that lets one read formatted posts in Google Reader, and that the archives page for The Corner has a really cool feature that lets you read full posts that drop down when you click on the entry. It’s easier than ever to follow the conversation — kudos to whoever made that tech improvement, and may it spread elsewhere in the blogosphere, especially to other group blogs.
One interesting exchange concerns Andy McCarthy’s long piece calling for Barack Obama to release his birth certificate. He writes:
Who cares that Hawaii’s full state records would doubtless confirm what we already know about Obama’s birthplace? They would also reveal interesting facts about Obama’s life: the delivering doctor, how his parents described themselves, which of them provided the pertinent information, etc. Wasn’t the press once in the business of interesting — and even not-so-interesting — news?
This passage undermines Mr. McCarthy’s argument. The identity of the doctor who delivered President Obama is hardly an “interesting fact” about his life. Who delivered George W. Bush? Bill Clinton? Who delivered Jesus Christ? Who delivered your own father and mother? It is notable that there isn’t any birth I can think of where the identity of the delivering doctor is interesting enough to seek it out.
Nor do I find “how his parents described themselves” or “which of them provided the pertinent information” relevant in the least. What percentage of Americans know how their parents described themselves on their birth certificate, or which parent provided the information for it? The irrelevance of this information is amply demonstrated by the fact that there isn’t any other case where anyone cares about it. This is the best Andy McCarthy can do as he argues that this controversy is worthy of our time and attention?
He goes on to write:
There’s speculation out there from the former CIA officer Larry Johnson — who is no right-winger and is convinced the president was born in Hawaii — that the full state records would probably show Obama was adopted by the Indonesian Muslim Lolo Soetoro and became formally known as “Barry Soetoro.” Obama may have wanted that suppressed for a host of reasons: issues about his citizenship, questions about his name (it’s been claimed that Obama represented in his application to the Illinois bar that he had never been known by any name other than Barack Obama), and the undermining of his (false) claim of remoteness from Islam. Is that true? I don’t know and neither do you.
But we should know. The point has little to do with whether Obama was born in Hawaii. I’m quite confident that he was. The issue is: What is the true personal history of the man who has been sold to us based on nothing but his personal history? On that issue, Obama has demonstrated himself to be an unreliable source and, sadly, we can’t trust the media to get to the bottom of it. What’s wrong with saying, to a president who promised unprecedented “transparency”: Give us all the raw data and we’ll figure it out for ourselves?
At The Corner, Kevin D. Williams ably critiques the conspiracy mongering and irresponsible speculation in that excerpt. So I’ll focus on showing how absurd Mr. McCarthy’s interest is even given the truth of his speculation. What we’ve got is two possible scenarios. In both, a young Barack Obama lived in Indonesia, attended the same school, lived with the same guardians, and left that country at a young age. The only difference is this: the unlikely scenario is that a Mr. Soetoro formally adopted the young Obama, whereas the likely scenario is that he didn’t. Implicit in Mr. McCarthy’s argument is the weird idea that whether or not a legal adoption took place tells us something relevant about “the true personal history of the man who has been sold to us based on nothing but his personal history.” Perhaps I missed the part of Campaign ’08 where candidate Obama ran on having never been adopted? Or I am missing the aspect of his presidency that I’d understand better if only I knew that a man with whom his mother had a romantic relationship did or didn’t briefly become his legal guardian?
Mr. McCarthy asks:
…why would Obama not welcome Hawaii’s release of any record in its possession about the facts and circumstances of his birth? Isn’t that kind of weird? It would, after all, make the whole issue go away and, if there’s nothing there, make those who’ve obsessed over it look like fools.
Apparently he’s missed the fact that so long as the issue persists, those obsessing over it look like fools. Elsewhere Mark Steyn notes that “a true conspiracy theorist would surely believe that Obama deliberately started the birth-certificate business in order to make it easier to dismiss his opponents as deranged.” I don’t believe that Obama started the birth certificate business, but I sure do think he’s strategically pleased by its endurance.