Hawaii has had it. Ever since the first Hawaiian-born president of the United States took office, the state’s Department of Health has been bombarded with requests to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate, fuelled by persistently paranoid fantasies that Obama was not born on U.S. soil and therefore not constitutionally qualified to hold his current office. Last week, Hawaii’s Republican governor, Linda Lingle, signed a law granting state agencies an exemption from processing multiple Freedom of Information requests from the same person, which would stymie the small but determined group that sends dozens of requests every month—despite the fact that birth certificates in Hawaii are accessible only to the person named on the record, their immediate family and government officials.
Ever since Obama was a serious contender for the Democratic nomination in early 2008, a fringe element has claimed that he was not born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961. The Obama campaign produced a “certificate of live birth” during the campaign—a document legally recognized in the state of Hawaii and everywhere else in the U.S. The long-form birth certificate, containing additional details of the birth, is stored in Hawaiian state records. The director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, Chiyome Fukino, has repeatedly stated that she has seen the original record and it does indeed verify that Obama is a natural-born American citizen.
Last month, a poll by the Washington Post and ABC News found 14 per cent of all respondents—and 33 per cent of those who self-identified as Republicans or conservatives—believed Obama was not born in America. Curiously, the poll also states: “About a third of all those who say Obama might have been born in another country approve of how he’s handling his job as President, hold favourable views of him personally and prefer him over congressional Republicans when it comes to dealing with issue No.1, the economy.”