A new constitutional amendment from House Republicans, ostensibly written to protect voters from fraud, is actually a vehicle for the Capitol Crazies to peddle fraudulent conspiracy theories about President Obama.
Rep. Robert Cooper's Voter ID proposal includes language that would require the Missouri Secretary of State to request the official birth certificate of presidential candidates to independently verify their authenticity. And not just future candidates -- Cooper wants the Secretary of State to independently verify the citizenship status of every previous presidential candidate.
Of course, Cooper and his 15 co-sponsors only really care about the birth certificate of one presidential candidate: Barack Obama. Right-wing Republicans have been obsessed with Obama's birth certificate and citizenship for months, but their half-baked ideas keep geting shot down again and again and again. The facts haven't slowed them down yet, though, and Cooper is hoping to make Missouri the first state to actually write the insanity into our constitution.
Here are the key parts of Cooper's proposed bill:
The secretary of state shall determine that each person is qualified for the office he or she seeks, according to the law, before placing his or her name on the ballot.
For candidates who are required by the Constitution of the United States to be natural born citizens, the secretary of state shall request an official copy of the candidate’s birth certificate.
Other certifications, such as a certificate of live birth, shall not be accepted.
Should any candidate fail to provide an official birth certificate within thirty days of the request by the secretary of state, his or her name shall not be placed on the ballot.
The secretary of state shall verify the qualifications of any elected officeholder who was previously placed on a Missouri ballot. Should any elected officeholder fail to provide the required documentation or birth certificate within thirty days of the request by the secretary of state, the secretary of state shall turn the matter over to the attorney general who shall within twenty days file suit to obtain the required documentation.
This is obviously targeted at the Presidency -- it's the only office to require natural born citizenship. And while Barack Obama has provided an official, certified copy of his birth certificate, it's been tough to satisfy these fringe groups with the facts.
Out of the gaze of the mainstream and even the conservative media is a flourishing culture of advocates, theorists and lawyers, all devoted to proving that Barack Obama isn't eligible to be president of the United States. Viewed as irrelevant by the White House, and as embarrassing by much of the Republican Party, the subculture still thrives from the conservative website WorldNetDaily, which claims that some 300,000 people have signed a petition demanding more information on Obama's birth, to Cullman, Alabama, where Sen. Richard Shelby took a question on the subject at a town hall meeting last week...
A quick reality check, before we dive in: The challenges to Obama's eligibility have no grounding in evidence. Courts across the country have summarily rejected the movement's theory — that Obama can't be a citizen because his father wasn't —as a misreading of U.S. law; and Hawaii officials, along with contemporary birth announcements, affirm that Obama was in fact born in Honolulu in 1961.
But belief in obscure, discredited theories is a constant in a country with a history of partisan division — a country in which, a recent survey showed, 34 percent of the public believes in UFOs and 24 percent believes in witches.
I feel confident that no amount of fact-checking is going to convince Rep. Cooper that his Obama-ain't-a-citizen theory is bogus. But we're happy to try.