For all of the Obama supporters I heard storming the Capital last November I'm sure you first laugh, and then get angry, when you hear conservatives question Obama's citizenship. You're probably thinking, ""well clearly he's a US citizen, how else could he have filled out the W2 tax forms when he became President? Doesn't he need a passport to travel out of the country and meet world leaders? How would he get through customs? Jokes aside, for Obama supporters, his status as a US citizen is a non issue. We can see a copy of his birth certificate and Hawaiian officials have verified its authenticity. The Supreme Court refused to hear a major lawsuit regarding Obama's citizenship. And most importantly, with no substantial evidence, it is simply unreasonable to assume we are dealing with a massive conspiracy.
Any of the reasons listed above should have killed the issue of the President's citizenship. So why are we still talking about it months later? The delay in American perceptions of reality is a direct result of Obama's response to the situation. For those who do not support Obama, the internet and a failing mainstream media allow his unconcerned attitude regarding his citizenship to be perceived in two vastly different ways.
Since questions regarding his citizenship first surfaced, Obama has been nonchalant about the whole situation. When he was visiting England, and was asked about the allegations, rather than give a straight forward answer, the President simply smiled. For months it seemed like his tactic was to simply ignore the question as if he refused to validate it with a response. For his supporters this is the correct move. By ignoring, or even making light of questions regarding his status as an American, Obama is not allowing the national spotlight to focus on something so silly and at the same time making his critics look like quacks. In addition those who would wish to slow down his political momentum are wasting their energy on a topic that makes them look foolish. Politically, it makes sense for Obama to let the issue bounce around the 24 hour news channels and talk shows while he fries bigger fish.
But how does Barack's strategy of ignoring the situation look to those who don't support him? It makes him look both guilty and unconcerned about dissent. A quick survey of the public arena reveals numerous theories in which the president is not a citizen, held dual citizenship, was born out of the country, and the list goes on. It can be difficult for Americans who don't trust the president and wish to investigate these claims. The sources and arguments seem, at least on the surface, to make sense. In addition, there are hundreds of blogs, websites, radio stations, talk shows and news programs that agree we can't rule out these accusations. Those who look at all this information and then want to see what their president has to say about it are met with a smile and silence. Besides a few remarks and some administration comments there was no definitive action to end the debate. Obama's tactic of ignoring the issue of his citizenship while critics such as Rush Limbaugh spun their tires made the president look guilty.
And so, America is left divided over another issue. Those who support Obama are left laughing at those who do not. Even as it becomes clear there is scant evidence for the theories about his citizenship, a large portion of the population still wonders why the president didn't just deal with this right away. Why let the issue simmer? Obama was willing to trade national unity for political points. And now he is getting ready to ignore his opponents on the more important issue of health care. His attitude represents a disregard for his opponents criticisms. Once again Obama is forging ahead despite Republican concerns. For all his rhetoric about change, it seems we can expect the same political games that fail to take the other side seriously. This leaves groups feeling ignored and Obama in political peril, as he achieves change but not necessarily progress.
Andrew Carpenter is a senior majoring in psychology and communication arts. Send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.