With all this health care debate dominating our time for the last few weeks, can we please get back to the issues that matter? Like, what's up with Obama's Kenyan birth certificate?
Birthers, the folks who question whether Obama was born in Hawaii and is eligible to serve as president, experienced a bit of a second wind there for a little while in late July as cable TV and radio programs were abuzz over a group of Republican legislators who endorsed a bill that would require future presidential candidates to submit birth certificates to prove their citizenship.
Then the health care debate began in earnest, and the birthers were again relegated to the backburner. Right before the media light dimmed on birthers, however, birther attorney Orly Taitz made a bit of a splash — at least in the birther community — when she posted a birth certificate purported to be for Obama from the Republic of Kenya and filed a motion in federal court to determine its authenticity.
The conservative WorldNetDaily.com, which has long beaten the birther drum, quickly ran a story under the headline, "Is this really smoking gun of Obama's Kenyan birth?"
But even WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah later ran a column saying he doubted it was real.
Still, some PolitiFact readers asked about it, and so we decided to check it out.
We e-mailed the purported Kenyan birth certificate to Salim Lone, spokesman for Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to see what he thought.
Here was his three-sentence reply: "It's a forgery. Kenya only became a Republic in December, 1964. Other arguments could also be marshaled, but they are not needed."
Then came a crushing blow. An astute blogger, Steve Eddy of California, did a Google image search and came across an eerily similar-looking birth certificate posted on a genealogy Web site by a South Australia man named David Jeffrey Bomford. Eddy put it side-by-side with the Obama one. Same format. Same book and page number in the birth registry. Some of the officials' last names were even the same.
"At that point, it was pretty obvious the Kenyan one was a fake, that someone had used this real one from Australia to make their version," Eddy told us.
Eddy posted his finding on the Web, in a forum at Politijab.com .
An ABC News affiliate in Australia got wind of it, tracked down David Jeffrey Bomford and broke the news to him about his newfound Web fame.
"That is ridiculous," said Bomford, a 50-year-old public service clerk from Adelaide, Australia. "Little old person in Adelaide, the president of the United States. I don't know whether to laugh about it or not, be worried about it."
Bomford said he certainly didn't have anything to do with it.
"It's little old me and my mum and everything else up there," Bomford said. "Oh I definitely confirm that the birth certificate was mine. That was quite easy to see — my address, even the style of the birth certificate was an old South Australian one. So it's quite easy to identify that it's mine."
And what of the Kenyan birth certificate?
"It's definitely a copy of my certificate," Bomford said. "It's so laughable it's ridiculous."
Orly Taitz wasn't backing off so quickly, though. On her Web site, she suggested the South Australia birth certificate was more likely the fake, altered from the Obama one from Kenya to discredit the birthers.
Said Eddy: "There's no reasoning with some of these people."
But just to be sure, we fired off an e-mail to South Australian officials to see if they could set things straight.
We heard nothing. Until yesterday. (This is our sheepish explanation for why we are dropping a birther item into the middle of the health care debate.)
We got an e-mail response from Val Edyvean, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for South Australia, in which she said this:
"It appears that a South Australian loaded an image of his own birth certificate onto a family history website and that the format was used by others to 'create' a document which purported to be a Kenyan birth certificate for Barack Obama. As the South Australian man has now removed this image, and the date of his birth is in the period of certificates which are restricted from public access, I do not intend to add to speculation by commenting on details of either that certificate or any aspects of it."
Ms. Edyvean also made it clear she didn't want any follow-up questions. "I now advise that I am not prepared to comment further nor otherwise to enter into further correspondence on this matter," she wrote. Fair enough.
We think that's enough to definitively put this particular issue to rest. The purported Kenyan birth certificate posted by Taitz is a fake.
As always, we have no delusions this changes anyone's mind in the birther movement. So please, spare us the vitriolic e-mails. At PolitiFact, we have explored several of the birthers' claims, and have concluded that there is ample evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii. We simply post this item in case anyone came across the Kenyan birth certificate on the Internet and wondered what to make of it.
Obama's Kenyan birth certificate? Pants on Fire.