Aug 16, 2009 (The Spokesman-Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Bad news for "birthers," those people who think Barack Obama isn't legally president because he wasn't born in the United States: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers isn't on your side.
Birthers may have briefly harbored hope -- and people who think the whole idea is crazy may have arched an eyebrow -- about two weeks ago when the Eastern Washington Republican gave a wishy-washy answer to a blogger from the Huffington Post while hurrying up the Capitol steps.
Asked if she thought Obama was a natural-born citizen, constitutionally permitted to be president, she replied: "We're all going to find out."
Asked what she believed personally, she said: "Oh, I'd like to see the documents."
The video was up on YouTube, and many other Web sites, including the one for this column. It features other House Republicans giving ambiguous answers to questions of Obama's citizenship qualifications, too, but McMorris Rodgers is second in the clip.
The birther issue came to the Inland Northwest last spring, when Chief Justice John Roberts was asked about a court case regarding Obama's birth certificate during a visit to the University of Idaho. The questioner was Orly Taitz, a dentist and lawyer from California, who asked Roberts about papers she had filed months earlier.
Some people in the movement regard Taitz as a cross between Paul Revere and Joan of Arc. Some outside the movement regard her as bonkers. Spin Control will only say that she can talk very fast, long and passionately about the whole thing, so don't call her if you're pressed for time.
The controversy thrived for months on the Internet, but most news outlets ignored it until recently. In July, however, it hit big on the 24-hour cable news shows, which apparently had time to fill in the summer doldrums.
McMorris Rodgers is back in the district during the summer recess and held her first public events Wednesday in Colville -- where, it should be noted, no one in the audiences asked her about Obama's citizenship. But between town hall appearances, we did.
Spin Control: Do you have any doubts that Barack Obama is a citizen of the United States and constitutionally entitled to be president?
McMorris Rodgers: I have looked into it further. There's a reality that it's been in the courts, the courts have ruled that he is indeed a legal citizen, born in the country, and I think it's a nonissue.
SC: Should Congress take up the issue?
McM R: No. Absolutely not. The people elected him president, the courts have looked at the issue. It's settled. We need to move on.
When she told the Huffington Post "we're going to find out," she added, she meant she was trying to get some information herself, not that Congress needed to look into it. She hasn't seen the pictures of Obama's certification of live birth on the Internet -- which birthers say doesn't prove anything, anyway -- but she does know his birth was reported in the Honolulu newspapers back in 1961 and thinks it's legitimate.
And she's received "quite a bit" of blowback from constituents over her appearance on the Huffington Post video.
She isn't signing on to what some call a "birther bill," which requires all presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate to prove they are natural-born citizens.
H.R. 1503, drafted by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., isn't going anywhere, anyway, as it has 10 Republican co-sponsors in a Democrat-controlled House. Because, after all, the fix is in and Democrats don't want their president knocked out of office by anything that could, you know, expose the truth.
Spin Control is a weekly political column that also appears online with daily posts, videos and reader comments at www. spokesman.com/blogs/ spincontrol. See the McMorris Rodgers video and hear audio from her Colville interview on the blog.
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