By DIANA WEST
Almost exactly one year ago -- with Donald Trump on top of presidential polls and author Jerome Corsi on top of Amazon's best-seller list, both for asking where President Barack Obama's "real" birth certificate was -- Judith Corley, the president's personal attorney, flew to Hawaii. She went there to pick up two certified copies of the president's long-form birth certificate from the Hawaii Department of Health.
At least, that's what then-White House Counsel Robert Bauer told us last April 27 at a White House press briefing called to unveil the new, certified document. Multiple copies were passed out to the press, while NBC's Savannah Guthrie became the one witness I know of to touch the certified document. (She reported she "felt the raised seal.") A computer image of this Obama long-form birth certificate appeared on the White House website, where now you and I can download it for ourselves as proof of the president's bona fides.
Or is it?
It is this same Internet image that the Cold Case Posse, a group of lawyers and former law enforcement professionals assembled by Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio to vet Obama's identity documents, has concluded is most likely a forgery. At its March 1 press conference (viewable online), the posse further explained that it believed the online image originated as a computer file. In other words, a paper document did not exist before the image appeared on the White House website.
If the posse's mind-blowing findings are correct, what is it that Judith Corley couriered back to Washington? And what is it that Savannah Guthrie touched?
I find such questions most intriguing -- even if the rest of the media do not -- particularly after last week's court hearing into Obama's eligibility to appear on the ballot in the New Jersey presidential primary. After literally dozens of such eligibility cases since 2008 (evidently, the media are waiting for a discernible story trend to emerge before they pounce), I can report, having watched a video of the New Jersey hearing online, that the president's team is making progress. Only now it's away from his long-form birth certificate.
The curious fact is, President Obama's attorney, Alexandra Hill, couldn't have been more adamant about not citing the online birth certificate as a means of proving the president's identity in this recent challenge -- and after everyone went to so much trouble to get it! Indeed, she called the Internet image "legally irrelevant," arguing that New Jersey law doesn't specifically call for a birth certificate to qualify a presidential candidate for the ballot.
Exactly how a presidential candidate demonstrates he is at least 35 years old and "natural born," the constitutional requirement New Jersey upholds, Hill didn't say, but Administrative Law Judge Jeff Masin found her arguments persuasive to the point of preventing an expert witness from offering testimony that the online image is a forgery.
Even though the Obama team entered no documentation of the president's identity into the record -- not even that "certified" birth document Obama's personal lawyer traveled so far to retrieve -- Judge Masin managed to find that the president was both born in Hawaii and "natural born."
Neat, huh? But note the shift in legal tactics. If, in New Jersey, the online birth certificate was "legally irrelevant," in January's Georgia eligibility hearing, the president's lawyer, Michael Jablonski, considered it legally decisive. Jablonski cited "the documents evidencing the birth of President Obama" that are available online to try to quash a subpoena that "commanded" Obama to come to court and bring "any and all birth records" with him (among other documents).
A golden opportunity to show off that certified, hand-couriered birth doc from Hawaii, and be done with it, no? No. When Administrative Law Judge Michael Malihi refused to quash the subpoena, Jablonski and Obama ignored the subpoena. They just didn't show up. Not to worry: Flouted subpoena and all, and without any evidence from the Obama team, Judge Malihi found that the president was both born in Hawaii and "natural born," too.
Amazing how that works, and no matter what the president's lawyers do -- so long as they don't enter tangible evidence of the president's identity into the court record.
As for that new birth certificate that came online last April? Since government and media have abdicated their responsibility to help determine whether it's the real McCoy or a forgery, what else is there to do but wish it a happy first birthday?
Diana West is the author of "The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization," and blogs at dianawest.net. She can be contacted via email@example.com.