Obama’s Birth Certificate Press Conference

In an effort to squelch growing doubts about his nation of birth, President Obama released his long-form birth certificate this morning.

Here’s my question: What took so long?

I don’t say that from the perspective of those in the “birther” movement. I’ve never questioned the President’s American citizenship, and I find questions about his citizenship distasteful, at best.

Rather, I question the White House’s media strategy that allowed this controversy to last so long and take such deep root. How deep? A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that a plurality of Republican voters do not believe President Obama was born in the United States (45 percent believe he was not; only 33 percent do).

In his press conference today, the President blamed the media for fueling this controversy, and he’s right that they did. But the signs have long been there, and the White House should have seen that the political winds most recently exploited by Donald Trump have been blowing in that direction for months.

I suspect that the White House viewed the birther movement as a helpful ally, one that could help it paint Republicans as extreme. I also suspect that when their overly-clever media strategy got away from them, they realized they needed a new strategy.

I’m sympathetic to those who ask why President Obama should have to release his birth certificate at all, and share their frustration. But Mr. Obama lost more than he gained by waiting, and a more sound media strategy could have prevented the unfounded doubts from growing so broadly.

As President Obama said, the release of the birth certificate won’t satisfy skeptics. His main target appears to be the mainstream media, which he hopes will reduce the airtime on this issue to focus on more serious issues. It will be interesting to see whether the press lavishes attention onto a high-profile book called “Where’s The Birth Certificate” being released next month, or whether Mr. Obama’s strategy encourages them to exercise more restraint.

Given that the White House waited this long, they did the right thing by releasing the birth certificate today. But I wish the Obama campaign had authorized the release of the long-form birth certificate long ago. Instead of rising to the presidential level, his press secretary could have dealt with this issue months – or years – ago.