MSNBC's Chris Matthews got into a heated exchange with a congressman on his show Tuesday as he revisited the question of President Barack Obama's birth certificate — or lack of one.
Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., is a co-sponsor of the so-called "birther bill," which would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificates.
“Birthers” are those who believe Obama is not qualified to be president, based on a belief that he was not born in the United States.
Campbell is not a “birther” and never has claimed that Obama was born outside the United States or should be disqualified from being president.
On the show, Matthews seemingly undermined claims by some that Obama never has released his birth certificate, producing what Matthews said was a true copy of it.
But Matthews made a false claim. Obama never has released his actual birth certificate. He has released another document, which state authorities often provide in lieu of a birth certificate, called a certification of live birth.
Matthews on Tuesday said Campbell was "playing to the crazies" by supporting the "crazy" bill, and the congressman shot back that it was all about "putting the matter to rest."
Matthews also accused Campbell of "feeding the wacko wing of your party," and held up what he called a copy of the supposed Obama birth certificate.
The indisputable fact is that Obama has not released his birth certificate, which the state of Hawaii issues for all citizens born there.
Instead, his campaign has released only his certification of live birth from the state of Hawaii, which is a document that offers a summarized version of the birth certificate.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, GOP nominee Sen. John McCain quickly released his birth certificate when liberal bloggers raised questions about his eligibility to be president. McCain was born at a military hospital in Panama.
Obama likewise could put the matter to rest by releasing his actual birth certificate, which would show, among other things, the place of his birth and the doctor who performed the birth procedure. This information is not provided on the certification of live birth.
As it stands, Obama is the only president in history whose birthplace is unknown to the public – a fact that would be stated on the actual birth certificate. Interestingly, his family has mentioned two different hospitals in Hawaii as the place of birth.
The fact that Obama has refused to release his actual birth certificate does not mean conspiracy theorists are right when they claim he was born in Kenya and therefore not eligible to be president. Investigators who have reviewed the claims have found no evidence Obama was born outside of Hawaii.
But Obama’s refusal to release his birth certificate does mean that Obama remains one of America’s most mysterious and opaque presidents ever.
Obama, for example, has not released many other documents regarding his public and private life.
Many of these documents were sought by reporters, who easily acquiesced when Obama said he would not release them – though most presidential candidates release them as a perfunctory matter.
Among the key documents that Obama continues to shield from the public:Obama released just one brief document detailing his personal health. McCain, on the other hand, released what he said was his complete medical file, totaling more than 1,500 pages.Obama refused to offer his official papers as a state legislator in Illinois. Nor did he produce correspondence, such as his schedules of appointments or letters from lobbyists, from his days in the Illinois state Senate.Obama did not release his client list as an attorney or his billing records. He maintained that he performed only a few hours of legal work for a nonprofit organization with ties to Tony Rezko, the Chicago businessman convicted of fraud in June 2008 but did not release billing records that would prove this assertion.Obama ignored requests for his records from Occidental College, where he studied for two years before transferring to Columbia University.Obama’s campaign refused to give Columbia, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science, permission to release his transcripts. Former President George W. Bush and presidential contenders Al Gore and John Kerry all released their college transcripts.Obama did not agree to the release of his application to the Illinois State Bar, which would have cleared up intermittent allegations that his application may have been inaccurate.Obama did not release records from his time at Harvard Law School.During the presidential campaign, McCain’s campaign released a full list of all online donors. Obama’s campaign still has not released the names of those who donated at least one-third of the $750 million he raised.
Ironically, Obama accused the Bush White House of being "one of the most secretive administrations in our history," and chided then-Sen. Hillary Clinton for not releasing her White House schedules.
Chris Matthews, get your facts straight and demand full disclosure — that’s the best way to keep an honest government.
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