The XX Factor

Obama Releases Birth Certificate; Nothing Changes

In response to a growing frenzy of coverage over claims that Obama isn’t a natural born citizen, the White House released the long form version of the President’s birth certificate. It was announced on Twitter this morning : “Obama’s long form birth certificate released so that America can move on to real issues that matter to our future”.  If Obama hopes that providing facts and evidence will shut up the birthers, he’ll be disappointed. It simply doesn’t work that way.

As I noted last week when writing about the conspiracy theory involving Sarah Palin’s last pregnancy , conspiracy theories don’t erupt because of logic or evidence, but because they speak to emotional desires in the people who believe them.  And, as the saying goes, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. The thread below that post on Palin demonstrates this amply.  In the face of evidence-including pictures!-that Palin was indeed pregnant in the months before Trig was born, commenters continued to insist that she faked the whole thing. People are going to believe what they want to believe.

The release of this birth certificate is not going to change anyone’s mind, but it will mutate the conspiracy theory.  Birthers will almost surely start claiming there’s something off about this long form birth certificate.  Other “questions” will be brought up about his past.  Birtherism 2.0 was already well underway before this certificate was released, with Donald Trump’s false statements about Obama’s education, and Mike Huckabee claiming Obama grew up in Kenya . There’s a million ways that birthers can twist this, as they’re only limited by their lurid imaginations. By releasing this birth certificate, the White House runs the very real danger of making things worse, in fact.  The conspiracy theorists have been validated by attention, which will only fuel their desire to get more.

On the plus side, this is going to result in awesome episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report .

Photograph of Donald Trump by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images