By Tracy Dingmann
Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention to the birther issue, but Harry Moskos’ first-person explanation of exactly how birth certificates were handled in Hawaii at the same time Barack Obama was born (“Obama’s Birthers Should Check Out My Daughter’s Papers,”) is one of the most fact-based and credible accounts I have read regarding it. (Alas, I cannot find the link!)
Moskos, a former editor of The Albuquerque Tribune and The Knoxville News-Sentinel, had already worked in journalism for 50 years when he retired from the E.W. Scripps Company in 2001.
Shortly thereafter, Moskos went to work at the Albuquerque Journal, where he was a popular and personable presence in the newsroom.
Though he lives in Knoxville now, Moskos still works for the Journal, editing the Letters to the Editor page (thank him for the expanded Tuesday letters page!) and writing the occasional guest opinion piece or column for the Journal.
In his charmingly-detailed guest column of May 17, Moskos explains that he was motivated to relate his personal experience with birth certificates in Hawaii after hearing news that an Army doctor is challenging his deployment to Afghanistan because he believes Obama was not born in the U.S. and is neither legally president nor commander in chief.
Moskos’ long career as a journalist included a lengthy stint in Hawaii, where he worked in the Honolulu bureau of the Associated Press from 1963-69. News of the Army doctor’s challenge caused Moskos and his wife to go to the bank, open their safe-deposit box and inspect their daughters’ Hawaiian birth records.
Key to the argument of the “birthers,” as they are called, is their questioning of the validity of a “certificate of live birth,” which they don’t consider legitimate, versus a “birth certificate,” which they do.
Moskos writes that his two daughters were born at the same Honolulu hospital Obama was born, within a four-year period of his birth (and one of them was even delivered by the same doctor who delivered Obama). Moskos tells that both of his daughters were given State of Hawaii birth records that read “Certificate of Live Birth” – the words “birth certificate” were nowhere to be found.
Birthers have also taken issue with the format of Obama’s birth announcement, as it was published in the Honolulu papers. Moskos notes that his daughters’ announcements were printed exactly the same way.
There are other similarities that, in my opinion, give credence to the legality of Obama’s birth records but will do absolutely nothing to satisfy the birthers.
And he concludes:
But the name of a legitimate doctor, hospital, birth records and announcement uniformity, and an actual address should leave little doubt that our president is legitimately holding office. …Nevertheless, the debate will go on long after Obama leaves office. Perhaps a quote by Mark Twain from “Pudd’ nhead Wilson” best summarizes this controversy: “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
Thank goodness Moskos takes this tack, instead of relying on the official Journal editorial position, revealed in the August 3, 2009 editorial “Show Birth Certificate, Stop Nutty Rumor Mill,” in which the Journal’s editors advise the president to show his “real” birth certificate and silence the birthers once and for all. Journal Watch wrote about it at the time in the post “Birther Editorial Is An Embarassment” and called Journal editors out for casting in their lot with conspiracy theorists and lunatics.
I wish I could say this entirely sane piece by Moskos erases that hideous editorial from last summer. It doesn’t, but it was nice to read his credible, dissenting opinion on the Journal’s editorial page anyway.