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Getting Past the 'Birther' Myth

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The 'birther' controversy is one of those political myths that just will not go away.

Missing in the debate is the fact that the president's mother was a U.S. citizen and his birth meets the statutory requirements to make him a natural born citizen Constitutionally eligible to be president, irrespective of whether his birth was in Hawaii or not.

The extent to which the 'birther' myth has penetrated U.S. political thinking is revealed in a New York Times/CBS poll released on April 21, 2011 which revealed that 25 percent of the adults surveyed nationwide believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. The survey also found that 45 percent of those who identified themselves as Republicans believed that he was born in another country, and thus presumably ineligible to be president.

The Constitution requires that the president be a natural born citizen and 35 years of age when the person takes Office. Being born in another country, however, is not a bar to being a natural born citizen. Senator John McCain, the GOP Presidential candidate in 2008, for instance, was born in Panama, where his father was serving in the Navy. John McCain is, by statute, a naturally born citizen.

As to President Obama's age, no one seems to contest that he was born in 1961 and thus meets the Constitutional requirement that the President must be 35 years of age when sworn into Office.

As to the location of Barack Obama's birth, it is irrelevant, as with Senator McCain, because the president's mother was an American citizen when he as born. The statutory requirements by parentage, are that:

If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is not, the child is a citizen if the U.S. citizen/parent has been "physically present" in the U.S. before the child's birth for a total period of at least five years, and at least two of those five years were after the U.S. citizen/parent's fourteenth birthday.

President Obama's mother was an American citizen. No one contests that. Nor does anyone contest that his mother was physically present in the United States at least five years before her child's birth. She was living with her parents in the U.S. and in Hawaii. Many people can attest to that. And no one contests that at least two of those five years were after his mother's 14th birthday.

Barack Obama, therefore, is a natural born citizen of the United States. It does not matter if he were born in Kenya, Kansas, Hawaii or the North Pole. He meets the Constitutional and statutory requirements for those who would be president.

The great risk in all this is not to President Obama's Constitutional eligibility for the Office, but to the Republican Party, which is being made to look racist, irresponsible and loony by those of its candidates and supporters who persist in their 'birther' delusions.

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