Arizona unleashes birthers for amusement

In these harsh and bitter times when the air is thick with acrimony, we owe a vote of thanks to the state of Arizona for stepping into the spotlight to offer some light relief.

In these harsh and bitter times when the air is thick with acrimony, we owe a vote of thanks to the state of Arizona for stepping into the spotlight to offer some light relief.

It's a role for which the state seems well-suited. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts wrote, "We've long been the land of crackpottery and lunacy."

Unfortunately, Arizona's secretary of state, Ken Bennett, pulled the plug on his threat to keep President Barack Obama's name off the November ballot unless the president produced a birth certificate that satisfied Bennett's high standards for such documents.

Never mind that this issue has long been put to rest in the mind of every rational American. Bennett perhaps began to have second thoughts when he found himself denounced by national news organizations as pandering to crackpots, the tool of half-baked clowns, a practitioner of political buffoonery and a legitimizer of lunatic leanings.

That's not what you want on your resume if you're planning, as Bennett apparently is, to run for governor in two years.


He finally did what any state official could do and asked Hawaii for a copy of Obama's birth certificate. Hawaii complied, and his office quickly and quietly dropped its effort to prove that Obama was an illegal immigrant who sneaked across the Rio Grande to take jobs from Arizonans.

Still undeterred was Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. We outside the state can't tell how good at law enforcement Arpaio is. The U.S. Department of Justice apparently doesn't think he's all that good because it is suing him. In any event, the limelight-loving lawman seems to spend an inordinate amount of time on issues outside his jurisdiction.

And one of those is -- yes! -- Obama's birth certificate. Arpaio is also after Obama's draft records, which would seem to be beside the point because, as president, Obama is commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces, including the state militias. It says so in the Constitution, although Arpaio might want to demand that the National Archives prove that its copy is not a forgery.

Crime and budget issues apparently not being pressing issues in Phoenix, Arpaio dispatched a deputy and an investigator to Hawaii. (Why two? "Security issues that I can't get into," Arpaio said cryptically.)

There, Arpaio said, his minions could not get past the lobby of the state's Department of Health. "We were stonewalled," he said.

However, Hawaiian officials -- who have never struck me as a particularly devious bunch (I have kids stationed there) -- said that the Arizonans met with the deputy director of health, the director being away, and a deputy attorney general and that they were provided with all the relevant documentation.

Arpaio pronounced, "We feel this document is a forgery. We're trying to figure out who did it. That's good police work." Well, if the sheriff says so, but calling your hosts forgers seems unlikely to guarantee much in the way of future cooperation.

Arpaio's deputies are certainly likely to see the need for further investigation. It was 108 degrees when they left Phoenix and in the low 80s with gentle trade winds when they arrived in Oahu.


Remember last year when Donald Trump sent his own birther investigators to Hawaii? ("And they can't believe what they're finding. And I'm serious.") We haven't heard from those investigators since.

I'm no expert on law enforcement, but Arpaio's deputies might want to broaden their investigation to Roy's in Hawaii Kai. Get there for Aloha Hour and order the butterfish. They're going to come back to Phoenix empty-handed, in any case. No sense returning on an empty stomach as well.

McFeatters is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service.

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