The Answer to Birther Claims? Dick Cheney.

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REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


Of course Donald Trump is just doing the birther thing to get publicity. But for those of us who find birtherism a sad and tedious spectacle rather than a cause for curiosity is there anyone who can end the idiocy once and for all? It turns out one man has the credibility, the standing, the firepower: Dick Cheney.

Bear with me. The entire birther charade is built on the absence of a photocopy of Obama’s original birth certificate. There is a reason such a photocopy does not exist—the law. By law, original birth certificates in the state of Hawaii can only be inspected by a specific and circumscribed group of people. The state can issue those people a certified copy. But the original document itself cannot be photocopied by anyone. Here’s the law:

(a)  To protect the integrity of vital statistics records, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure the efficient and proper administration of the vital statistics system, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital statistics records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any such record, except as authorized by this part or by rules adopted by the department of health.

(b)  The department shall not permit inspection of public health statistics records, or issue a certified copy of any such record or part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record.  The following persons shall be considered to have a direct and tangible interest in a public health statistics record:

I’ll get to the authorized persons in a second, but first, let’s review. Section (a) of Hawaii’s law on vital records explicitly says it is unlawful to copy a vital statistics record. Section (b) authorizes specific individuals to inspect the document and the state can issue them a certified copy. But it provides no option for photocopying by anyone.

Obama has made public an authorized copy of the document issued by the state and complete with a raised seal. That didn’t get him very far. Neither have the multiple statements by people who have inspected the original document.

So if you can’t issue a photocopy of the original and birthers don’t believe the state-issued certified copy or the officials who have inspected the original, there is only one option: find someone authorized to inspect the original whom birthers will believe. Which brings us to Dick Cheney.

Here is the list of those who are allowed to inspect the document, from the same law:

(1)  The registrant;

(2)  The spouse of the registrant;

(3)  A parent of the registrant;

(4)  A descendant of the registrant;

(5)  A person having a common ancestor with the registrant;

(6)  A legal guardian of the registrant;

(7)  A person or agency acting on behalf of the registrant;

(8)  A personal representative of the registrant’s estate;

(9)  A person whose right to inspect or obtain a certified copy of the record is established by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(10)  Adoptive parents who have filed a petition for adoption and who need to determine the death of one or more of the prospective adopted child’s natural or legal parents;

(11)  A person who needs to determine the marital status of a former spouse in order to determine the payment of alimony;

(12)  A person who needs to determine the death of a nonrelated co-owner of property purchased under a joint tenancy agreement; and

(13)  A person who needs a death certificate for the determination of payments under a credit insurance policy.

As you no doubt remember, Dick Cheney and Barack Obama are 8th cousins. Lynne Cheney, who discovered the fact researching a book a few years ago, said (at 8:15) to Nora O’Donnell in 2008, “If you go back eight generations they have a common ancestor.”

So instead of hiring Magnum PI to look into it, why doesn’t Donald Trump just ask Dick Cheney to make a trip to Hawaii and inspect the document and testify to its validity? Alternatively, Trump could ask Cheney’s daughter Liz, who was sympathetic to the birthers on Larry King a while back, to do it herself.

Better yet, with all the money he’s got, Trump could hire an army of genealogists to find him a common ancestor with Obama and satisfy himself.

Updated 5:40 p.m.

Actually, Donald Trump could do something even easier and cheaper than recruiting Dick Cheney, daughter Liz Cheney or an army of genealogists if he wants to get to the bottom of this whole birther business and put the rest of us out of our misery.

I mistakenly said above that photocopies of original birth certificates are disallowed by law in Hawaii. In fact, the law as I cited it says that the state’s department of health can create rules regarding the copying of vital statistics records. And if you click through to the Hawaii DoH webpage of FAQs regarding Obama’s birth certificate, at item 5 (pdf) you can download those rules. At chapter 8B, paragraph 2.4(B)(1a), you will find this:

Standard copies of vital records may be prepared by photographic, dry copy
reproduction process or by typing.

At paragraph 2.5 (A)(1) the rules say that a standard copy (including either a photographic copy or a dry copy) may be issued to:

The registrant, his descendants, his authorized agent or upon order of a court
of competent jurisdiction.

So those with common ancestors to Obama can look at his original birth certificate and get a certified copy of it (per the Hawaii state law), but not a photocopy (per the DoH rules).

However, according to paragraph 2.5 (A)(3), anyone—this means you Chris Matthews—can request that a photocopy of the original be sent to Obama himself:

In all other cases where a person may wish to apply for an official birth
certificate copy on behalf of any of the individuals named on the original
birth record, provided that the copy is mailed directly to the person in whose
behalf the application is made.

The cost, according to the rules, is $3.