Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Flake to Birthers: "Get Off This Kick" and "Accept Reality"

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In what may come as a shock to many, the issue of whether or not President Barack Obama is a "natural born citizen" of the United States as mandated by Article II of the Constitution has been decided once and for all.

Just ask Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake (picture, left). The six-term Republican lawmaker made this newsworthy proclamation during an interview with CNN. When asked by the host to respond to a poll indicating that a majority of Republican primary voters do not believe that President Obama was born in the United States, Representative Flake responded:

Well, I have a hard time believing that poll. I think that most people understand and accept the reality. The reality is that, yes, he was born in the United States.

While the reality of the true location of the Presidents nativity may be simple for Congressman Flake to accept, many of his own constituents and members of his own party are not quite so confident.

Disparaging the belief sincerely held by many that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, Flake told CNN that Barack Obama is a citizen of the country. We ought to get off this kick. And there are plenty of differences we have with the president between Republicans and Democrats than to spend time on something like this."

Regardless, there are many who claim that President Obama is ineligible to hold the office of President because he was born abroad. Those holding such a belief called birthers in the media maintain that the birth record of Barack Obama presented by Hawaiian Health Department officials is a fake and that the President was actually born in Kenya, the homeland of his father.

Among the compelling evidence produced by skeptics is President Obamas Kenyan paternal grandmother's claim that she was present at his birth, supposedly in Mombasa, Kenya. Based on a reading of the transcript of the conversation in which that alleged claim appeared, however, it seems likely to have been the result of a misunderstanding. 

Adding fuel to the controversy has been Obama's apparent reluctance to produce documentation that would put the issue to rest. That reluctance has been taken as a sign in many quarters that the President must have something to hide. 

We see, then, that despite Congressman Flake's reassuring words, there are many Americans who refuse to get off this kick of whether or not Barack Obama is qualified to be President under the terms of Article II.

Following the announcement last week by incumbent Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that he intends to retire from the Senate, Representative Flake wasted no time in revealing his own intention to fill the seat, becoming the first to officially confirm his candidacy for the office.

Although noted for being a dedicated conservative (including receiving a perfect score from the American Conservative Union), Flake voted twice this year in favor of the extension of the USA PATRIOT Act.

In another unusual stance, Flake joined only 14 other members of his party in voting to repeal the militarys Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy that prevented openly homosexual individuals from serving in the armed forces.

Regarding immigration, Representative Flake penned a guest worker bill advocating the creation of a temporary work visa. The principal aspects of his measure were co-opted by President George W. Bush and incorporated in his own 2004 guest worker proposal.

Furthermore, his decision to remove his support for comprehensive immigration reform has led to some dubbing him a flip flopper, as he previously advocated a broad range of federal legislative efforts to solve the problem of rampant illegal entry along the southern border.

In spite of his perceived campaign conversion on this key issue, Congressman Flakes senate campaign has received the endorsement of several Tea Party organizations. 

Freedom Works, a group founded by the former GOP leader of the House of Representatives Dick Armey, enthusiastically threw its weight behind Flake:

Endorsing Jeff Flake is a no-brainer. He's principled, he's consistent, and he's fearless in the fight for lower taxes, less government, and more individual freedom. If the Tea Party is going to reduce the size of government, it will need more Jeff Flakes in the United States Senate.

In light of Flakes dismissive comments regarding the birther controversy, it will be interesting to see if Arizona constitutionalists, many of whom refuse to back down from their demand that President Obama release a long-form birth certificate, will set aside their disagreement on this vital issue and unite behind Flakes quest for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.

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