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How to really shut up the Obama 'birthers'

July 22, 2009 |  2:24 pm

Dobbs Short answer: Amend the Constitution.

I say this because some of the commentary in reaction to the suddenly resurfacing movement to prove that President Obama isn't a natural-board citizen -- fueled in part by filthy-rich average guy Lou Dobbs -- has blamed the Internet for providing the outlet that hateful, xenophobic conspiracy theorists don't deserve. In his otherwise funny and effective column today on Dobbs, The Times' own James Rainey makes this rote statement: "I often hear from disgruntled readers that they don't pay attention to the dread 'Mainstream Media' because they can find 'the truth' on the Internet. Translation: Some blogger will please them by propping up just about any cockeyed theory that they hold."

Unacknowledged in the wake of the Dobbsian nuttiness is the real villain of the Obama birther movement: The Constitution. It's precisely this sacred document that seeds the conspiracy theories over where President Obama was really born. Sure, the Internet does indeed facilitate such craziness (just as it facilitates smart observations that don't have an outlet in newspapers), but none of this would be possible without the following part of Article II, Section 1 in the Constitution: "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."

So what should be completely irrelevant -- where Obama's parents were on a single day in 1961, an accident of history over which the president had no control but that could have disqualified him from office -- becomes legal cover for those who just want to "enforce the law." Witness Rep. John Campbell (R-California) using this defense to support a bill he sponsored to require presidential candidates to supply a birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

It's the Constitution that seeds this lunacy, and yes, the Internet allows it to grow. But amending the natural-born clause out of the Constitution (which The Times' editorial board supports) would remove that seed (plus be more fair to millions of naturalized U.S. citizens, and leave our country better off).

And no, I don't think Obama was born in Kenya.

Photo: Lou Dobbs in 2007 at the National Press Club in Washington. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

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