Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 27, 2011

'WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS KIND OF SILLINESS'.... After the White House released President Obama's long-form birth certificate to the press this morning, the president took five minutes to speak to reporters. Obama spoke without notes, and spoke with the tone of an annoyed parent, frustrated that children can't get their act together -- a tone that struck me as entirely appropriate given the incessant stupidity that passes for our political discourse in 2011.

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I've posted the transcript after the jump, but what struck me about the president's comments was the intended audience -- Obama wasn't talking to the public so much as he was directing his concerns at the media.

Indeed, at the outset, a bemused president joked, "Now let me just comment, first of all, on the fact that I can't get the networks to break in on all kinds of other discussions." Reporters in the briefing room laughed, but Obama wasn't necessarily kidding -- his point was that the media's priorities are badly flawed, and he's right.

The president went on to say that he felt like this was necessary after seeing last week that, instead of talking about the budget fight and the radical qualities of the Republican agenda, major outlets were preoccupied with covering conspiracy theories.

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said. "We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We got big problems to solve, and I'm confident we can solve them, but we're going to have to focus on them, not on this."

He wasn't talking to the public, which has never much cared about this -- he was talking to news organizations that need to know better and, for all of our sakes, must show better judgment.

The transcript:

Hello, everybody. Now let me just comment, first of all, on the fact that I can't get the networks to break in on all kinds of other discussions. I was just back there listening to Chuck. He was saying, "It's amazing that he's not going to be talking about national security."

I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it.

As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth.

Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I have been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going.

We've had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii August 4th, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital. We've posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate.

And yet this thing just keeps on going.

Now, normally, I would not comment on something like this, because, obviously, there's a lot of stuff swirling in the press at any given day and I've got other things to do.

But two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week, the dominant news story wasn't about these huge, monumental choices that we're going to have to make as a nation, it was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.

And so I just want to make a larger point here. We've got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices. We're going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future, but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt -- how do we do that in a balanced way.

And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements. And that's good; that's how democracy is supposed to work.

And I'm confident that the American people and America's political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have.

But we're not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We're not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other.

We're not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.

We live in a serious time right now, and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have. But we're going to have to get serious to do it.

Now, I know that there's going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I'm speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press.

We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We got big problems to solve, and I'm confident we can solve them, but we're going to have to focus on them, not on this.

Thanks very much, everybody.

Steve Benen 10:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Fantastic. And yes, he was talking to the children who run our media.

Posted by: Brian on April 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich wants to know why he waited so long to release it - I want to know why no one in the MSM - or Trump's crack investigators - has never found it? It's almost like there are people who profited from the controversy more than the truth ... just sayin'.

Obama did the right thing, sitting on it until it had the most potential impact. Master stroke. Kudos.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on April 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, and here's Trump saying 'it's rather amazing that it's 'materialized' at this time'......

It will never stop .. and the corporate goons that is our media will never stop either ..it's WHAT THEY ARE PAID TO DO ...

Posted by: stormskies on April 27, 2011 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

"We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."

More, please.

Posted by: Viceroy Matt on April 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"We're not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts."

Take THAT, Michele Bachmann and John Kyle and John Boehnor and Eric Cantor.

More, please.

Posted by: Eeyore on April 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Carnival Barkers." Nailed it.

Posted by: sue on April 27, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I get a kick out of the fact that MSNBC thought Donald Trump was the carnival barker. Isn't the carnival barker the guy who introduces the clowns? And wouldn't that make the media the barkers?

Posted by: Danp on April 27, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you stated it simply & brilliantly: "incessant stupidity that passes for political discourse"

Posted by: S. Holland on April 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

I'm of the opinion that Fox News was the barker.

Posted by: Jamie on April 27, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

You hear that? You hear that?
It's the sound of hundreds of thousands of birther's, right-wing rant-radio jockey's and carnival barker's puddin' heads all exploding at one time!

Posted by: Bo on April 27, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that this won't quiet the anti-Obamaites for more than a week.

Posted by: Jamie on April 27, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

It was the perfect response: “We have more important things to do. I have more important things to do.” And walk out of the room.

Personally, I think any who doubt the President was born in the “United States” are too stupid to vote, and should not be allowed to do so.

Posted by: Ten Bears on April 27, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Pres. Obama, ""We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."

FOX - Carnival workers offended. Plan major work stoppage. "Why does the president not want little Johnny to ride the Ferris Wheel," wonders all-American soccer mom?

Posted by: David on April 27, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Actually I disagree. If Trump is running for President then the question of whether or not his opponent meets the Constitutional requirements of office is a legitimate one for him to raise.

For example, regardless of whether or not you thought that Rahm Emanuel was eligible to run for mayor of Chicago, it was not "silly" for his opponents to ask the question because there were LEGITIMATE questions.

The problem with the birthers is that they do not have LEGITIMATE questions about Obama's birthplace. Their conspiratorial claims are nothing but speculation built on conjecture on top of lies and forgeries. All borne out of racism and xenophobia.

Obama treats this issue as "silly", as if it were another example of the media focusing on a Democrat's haircut (e.g. Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, etc.).

Apparently Obama believes that he can't push back against GOP racism. Whether he fears the GOP counter-attacking against "playing the race card" or not, I can only guess. But I am surprised at how weak Team Obama's response has been to flat-out racist GOP smears. During the Dem primaries, Obama and his supporters seemed to have little problem insinuating that the Clintons were engaging in race-baiting. This would appear to be yet another example of Obama going easier on the GOP than he does on his own party.

Posted by: square1 on April 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

This would work great if his intended audience, the media, weren't overwhelmingly populated by egotistical and shameless opportunists of every stripe. You can't shame the shameless or reason with stunted adolescent psyches.

Posted by: Jon on April 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

What we must all understand is that news organizations are all large corporation and overpaid news people who have no interest in us. There main concern is their wealth and in paying no or as little in taxes as possible. They will never need either social security or medicaid. They view both as something for the losers, and they are winners. No longer part of the many but members of the few class. They view us as a luxury they can no longer afford. We need to learn how to respond in kind.

Posted by: iyoumeweus on April 27, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

It would be pretty to think that the media will take Obama's message and change their ways, but I fear that the message they will take away is that they can control the agenda, and make even the President of the United States dance to whatever stupid tune they choose. So they will choose others, and Fox will make sure they are just as stupid.

And no one who was a birther yesterday will not be one tomorrow. They will all just convert to "long-form Birthers" imagining conspiracies about this form and the "unusual" timing of its release.

Posted by: biggerbox on April 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

The birther controversy was generated by Obama himself to distract from the fact that he's a socialist muslim bent on destroying our American way of life. No true republican or tea partier ever fell for it.

Posted by: John Q. Mouthbreather on April 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent remarks from the Prez.

Posted by: June on April 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

PuH-Leeze, can we move on to the truly monumental question of "How were you able to get into Columbia?"

So many in this land are waiting for that answer before they complete their resumes for jobs which will never be available for them.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

And where are the Republicans who privately note Trump is a clown, yet refuse to speak out on the utter nonsense of the issue? As Chuck Todd pointed out, it's getting easier and easier to have conspiracy theories and lies churned out, covered as real news and believed in.

Trump won't stop..he'll go on like Buchanan did yesterday (god, any talking head who still lets him espouse his lies is a co-conspirator IMO)about Obama's grades, questioning his ability to rise to Harvard and the Law Review, etc.

Questioning his legitimacy, objectifying and marginalizing him as a non-human, a fake, someone to destroy.

It's mostly racism IMO. But what is exacerbating this disturbing trend is the very thing Obama spoke to: the country is in dire straits. When things are this bad, people are much more angry, anxious and prone to believe any sound byte that they can project their fears and anger onto.

It's much easier to believe lies than to deal with the reality before us.

Posted by: Many opt for denial/ lies/ damning the President to copeing with hopelessness, anger and fear on April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

this is why we can't have a functional government

Posted by: Jamie on April 27, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Jamie: I'm sure that this won't quiet the anti-Obamaites for more than a week.

I'm sure it wasn't intended to make them quiet for even an instant! Of course, it's true that Obama really does have better things to do. Hell, even Trump has better things to do. But I think the point here was to get the birther-barkers to quintuple down. We'll know by the time tomorrow's Fox and Friends airs whether or not the gambit was accepted.

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

And no true birther will ever forget or forgive that this President is not a white male. Outrageous.

Posted by: Steve on April 27, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Attention!! All media outlets report to the principal's office.

Posted by: Tom W on April 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you President Andy Shepard

Posted by: Mark on April 27, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

This looks good. It is ultimately futile, but the words were right-on.

Anyone who has dealt with young-Earth Creationists is familiar with dealing with this level of bullet proof stupidity and willful ignorance. To illustrate: Science has shown that the fossil record gives strong evidence for the mechanisms of change that account for the rise of new species. Creationists insist that there are too many gaps in the fossil record, and so there is cause for doubt. Whenever a new fossil is discovered that gives further evidence for evolutionary processes, creationists take it as a victory. You see, instead of having a gap between two different species, you now have *two* gaps!

After a while, you realize that you must either ignore them, or hit them with sticks.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on April 27, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

OK, now that this is settled, perhaps we can all write scathing and sarcastic letters to any and all 'news' outlets that give any attention and credence to Birtherism in any form. Perhaps Steve can make up a form letter and post it on this blog, to make it easier. Then we can just send them out whenever the subject comes up.

I think such a letter should have a place to list any relevant sponsors for the news outlet, indicating that we are not only displeased, but also know who paid for this displeasure.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on April 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Let me be the first one to call this Obama's "Alan Shepherd Moment."

Posted by: Ted Frier on April 27, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Yes Donald, you should be proud of the fact that you brought the "art of the con" to a new height. Now lets's see if you have enough honor to apologize for listening and giving credence to conspiracy nuts like Corsi and Farah.

Oh, and what was it your "investigators" found that they "…cannot believe what they're finding"…? Or were you talking totally out of your a@@?

Posted by: Ed, Watertown MA on April 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

The honey badger does not care. The honey badger just keeps going.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on April 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

My first thought; Dude, why did you wait so long?
My second thought; Dude, you nailed it. This wouldn't have worked so long ago. Not that it will now, but it will get the attention of most of the people in the middle, like independents.

Posted by: Schtick on April 27, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Steve @ 10:59 - You say the president is not a white male. That's interesting, because if you look at the long form, it shows his race as "White."

Posted by: James at home on April 27, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry for posting twice, but some people should also have been reminded, back in the sixties a white woman married to a black guy would not have been given the time of day. So who conspired and how? They didn't know back in '61 what the attitudes would be today about black and white.

Posted by: Schtick on April 27, 2011 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove was nicknamed Turd Blossom by W! Limbaugh got out of Vietnam because of a boil on his ass!

Both share the dubious distinction of fouling up our American society with turd and butt-boil strategies to hold on to white privilege in the early 21st century! Both are proven vilians to a democratic way of life!

I don't see Rove as much a racist as I do Limbaugh, but both have undermined a common decency needed for a healthy democratic society!

By the way, where is Orly Tate today, and does she have yet another copy, besides her other two, of fake birth certificates? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 27, 2011 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

And the sad thing is, this doesn't solve a thing. Obama has now given Donald Trump "credibility," that Trump had the power to force the President to do this.

The old constitutional republic we all thought we lived in is gone. More and more, the relevant document to study in order to understand our "politics" is "The Twelve Caesars" by Suetonius.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 27, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

1) In addition to the "Twelve Caesars" I would recommend "Plunkett of Tammany Hall" as the most perfect book on how to operate in a system flooded by corruption and graft.

This especially is useful if you live in AZ where they plan to eliminate fhe merit system.

Who would have thught Cicero would be the very model of a modern major American politician.

2) The release of the birth certificate is simply irrelevant. The racist republicans will not believe it.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 27, 2011 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I turned on CNN, which I never do, just to see their reaction to this, given how they have pushed and pushed this ridiculous notion.

But they shocked even me, who is used to the ludicrous tactics of the msm. The talking head, a woman with long hair, was screaming at the person she was inteviewing: "Don't you think this is a political mistake for Obama? I mean he CAVED to them, and he's brought himself down to their level, hasn't he?" The interviewee was completely taken aback and could hardly speak for a moment.

So is this where the Obama caves meme started? Good G-d! To call this 'caving'! She should have said, "he's brought himself down to our level." And what business does a news anchor have trying to force someone she interviews to say something like that, putting words in his mouth? I was absolutely astounded.

Posted by: jjm on April 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hate to say it but, it's about fucking time. I think he should have laid into the media idiots a lot more heavily, something like "How about you guys try some "investigative journalism" in this 21st century"?.. "The public relies on you to provide "investigative journalism", to "get to the facts, no matter how umpopular they may appear".. Fucking press got off with a glare instead of a trouncing.

Posted by: Trollop on April 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

In fact Danp is right on the nose , or schonze and schnose .
We report we decide .
Pink Ponies or some other ride

Posted by: FRP on April 27, 2011 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I love that the president used this opportunity to shame the "serious" press for covering the ridiculous rantings of a shameless blowhard. Trump shows himself to be a very little man. And only interested in self promotion.

In turn, the president did NOT make this about himself, he made it about the country and the people, the real, huge problems. And especially how the press is not doing its job.

Chris Matthews has taking Trump down hard the past bunch of days/last week - to the point that I wish he would just drop it because even though he's criticizing the birthers & Trump, he's still adding to the fray. Still, I wonder what he'll have to say today.

Posted by: Hannah on April 27, 2011 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff in OH,

LMAO. Thank gawd for Randall!

Posted by: Trollop on April 27, 2011 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I'm falling in love with Candidate Obama again.

Sure, this press conference won't make an impression with the dedicated Looney Wing - nothing can. Everyone else, however, will be assured that yes, indeed - the "Grown-Ups" are at last in charge.

Regular Americans really are more concerned about their vanished jobs, their foreclosed mortgages, the cutbacks in municipal and state services that they find they depend on, now that they can't afford to run their SUV for regular commuting, or don't have medical care. "We do not have time for this kind of silliness" indeed.

The President has been hitting them out of the park ever since his big Budget speech.

Posted by: zandru on April 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

To think more news space is being devoted to a birth certificate filled out in Honolulu 50 years ago, than to a nuclear disaster that will last for centuries; and quite possibly alter (some of) the human genome irrevocably.

Guess we really are a stupid species.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on April 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Nicholson posits "Guess we really are a stupid species".

Well, the whole species doesn't produce the network news. I don't intend to be some sort of Pollyanna about this, but let's give credit where it's due.

Posted by: zandru on April 27, 2011 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

But when will he release the results of his Apgar test? What is he hiding?

Posted by: Chris S. on April 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Operation De-legitimization" can't be stopped with paper and PDF documents. It's bigger than that. Wait, let me rephrase that: Some people are just too stupid and bigoted to let it end here...

Posted by: Ranger Jay on April 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Holy mother of crap, check out the comments on FoxNews.com!
And yet, not so much.

Posted by: Wilco on April 27, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

The timing was perfect - everybody's paying attention to this now. And it helps shape the political battlefield. Trump was making Bachmann and the rest of the moronic Republican cast of characters appear sane.

Posted by: Math Teacher on April 27, 2011 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ultimately, citizenship doesn't matter when a presidential candidate wins election. If the majority that voted for that candidate voted to elect, they've granted citizenship with their vote.

To put it absurdly, if a visitor from another galaxy arrived and won a majority of votes for president in an American election, they implied by their vote that they accepted that candidate as a citizen.

Obama won with a clear majority in 2008, won the majority of hearts and minds of qualified electors. His citizenship was no longer a question.

Posted by: NealB on April 27, 2011 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, really very informative content is this, great stuff you just discussed; keep it up.

Posted by: keylogger on April 28, 2011 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

Does that confer legitimacy to cheenie ?

Posted by: FRP on April 29, 2011 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK
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