The Birth Certificate

Donald Trump has re-raised the matter of the President’s birth certificate, and has been castigated and celebrated for it. Although I have no doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii (and two of my college classmates taught him at Punahou (sp?) School), I do share with The Donald the wonderment as to why he just doesn’t produce the certificate and get it out of the way. I think it is more a matter of bull-headedness, or arrogance, than it is anything being concealed.

Let me speak of my own tale of misery on a birth certificate. I was born in 1935 in NYC of “green card” parents (they lived out their lives here as green carders by choice). My name, on the certificate is Alan Jonathan Wyman Murphy, a name I used until the ’70s when the computer had finally become the primary record keeper for business and government. The system designers, in their wisdom, allowed for three names, usually First, M.I., Last. I had been using Alan J. W. Murphy on official forms (passport, bank account, etc.). I have always been called Jon, or Jonathan, but the “J.” initial showed that.

In order to fit the forms I dropped the Alan (informally, no court order as I still considered my name to be the full four). Wyman is a family name and the Alan meant nothing to me. New York State DMV had no problem with that, nor did Social Security or the Passport office – or any others.

Then in 1995 I moved to New Jersey and went to get a driver’s license – I had my valid NYS license, my Social Security card, my passport and other things. But they wanted my birth certificate, or naturalization papers. I had a copy of the certificate, the original copy given to my parents. But in 1935 copying wasn’t as advanced as today – it was a “negative image”, and not certified a “true copy”. They demanded “the original”. I drove to NYC, sat in line for hours, and got a certified copy (NYC keeps the actual original in its files). I brought that to the Jersey DMV.

Oops, “your name isn’t Jonathan W. Murphy, it is Alan J. Murphy”. I pointed out that it was actually Alan Jonathan Wyman Murphy on the birth certificate. “We can’t use four names, we need First, M.I. and Last”. “I don’t have a M.I., there is no middle to four”. “You have to use your real name as it is on your birth certificate”. “But that is four names, can’t I pick which one I want to drop?”. We went back and forth over several visits and interviews with supervisors – amounting to probably about 20 hours total over some days.

Finally I gave up and drove illegally on my NYS license, renewing it at my former address in the city. Luckily Gov. McGreevey did at least one good thing, he outsourced the DMV and they made a more flexible set of regulations regarding “proof of self”. I was able to get the NJ license in the name I use.

What does this have to do with the matter of the President’s birth certificate? I had to make major efforts to prove who I am for a driver’s license, he refuses to make the minor effort of showing a copy of his birth certificate to allay the suspicions (which I think are not well founded) as to his naturalĀ  born citizenship. I’ll not contribute to conspiracy theories, but as Trump said, there may be something other than the place of birth he wants to conceal. I have no idea what that might be, nor do I care. I am not a fan of the President, but only for his political philosophy – I do not suspect his qualifications other than those regarding his experience and viewpoints.

I had to drive to NYC, pay to park my car, and wait in an interminable line to get a true copy of my birth certificate to show to the DMV for a driver’s license. The President need only ask some agent to get a copy from the primary records in Hawaii and send it to him. Is it too much to demand of him that he do for the office of President what I had to do for a driver’s license?

Do remember that there was an issue on John McCain’s qualifications, he was born in Panama. It went on for months even though it is clear law that a military base overseas is considered U.S. jurisdiction. This is not, as Whoopie said, a matter of a black man – and she was wrong as to a white man’s qualifications being questioned as to birth. I think it was William Henry Harrison who had that issue first.

So is it an arrogance, a bull-headedness – or is it some other issue? I don’t know and I don’t care – except to the extent that it seems to be one or the other.

Best, Jon