Now can we put away the whole Obama-was-born-in-Kenya thing or wherever it is the crackpot fringe thinks he was delivered into this world? Perhaps not, but whatever Donald Trump and the rest of the birther conspiracy crowd believe, President Obama, himself, delivered what ought to be coup de grace to this pathetic tale of political desperation.
Other proof should already have put this story to bed. There were newspaper birth announcements and a certification of live birth, then recently the Associated Press found what anyone else could have if only they'd looked: a government binder in Hawaii's vital records office listing the 1961 birth of one Barack Hussein Obama II. The name is surrounded by the alphabetized last names of all other children born in the state between 1960 and 1964.
On Wednesday, Obama released the long form of his birth certificate -- the one whose absence stoked the not-born-in-the-U.S.A. hysteria. Within minutes, the accusations of forgery began flying. What will it take to put this claim to rest?
In truth, probably nothing will work for the far right fringe that, for whatever reason, refuses to accept Obama's legitimacy as president. What is more, it's hard to help wondering if the president -- as crafty a politician as ever held the White House -- wasn't banking on that. He offers the rock-solid proof the birthers wanted and if the Republican right still doesn't accept it, the party risks appearing to be too nutty to lead the nation.
Trump doesn't help their cause. The would-be Republican presidential candidate immediately took credit for "forcing" Obama to release the birth certificate -- as though it really mattered. It's like taking credit for forcing the pope to prove he's Catholic.
It's hard to know exactly what is driving this movement. Some would say it's racism on the part of those who cannot tolerate the fact of an African-American president. That's certainly possible, and maybe even likely among some segments of this crowd.
But so is a less-virulent conclusion: rejection of anyone who isn't a conservative Republican. In that, it would be an echo of the far-right's determination to undermine Bill Clinton when he was president, though Clinton, it must be said, did far more to arm his political opponents.
Ultimately, Clinton gained political stature because of the nature of the attacks on him. If the birthers continue, they could do the same for Obama.
By allowing Democrats to paint the president's opponents as kooks for whom no evidence is good enough, Obama could gain sympathy and strength. Such are the risks of playing your hand when you don't have all the high cards.