Orly Taitz is a leader among those who question President Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president. For three years, the California dentist/lawyer and others have filled the Internet and courts with demands that the president produce his original, long-form birth certificate to prove he was born in Hawaii, not Kenya.
With that document's release Wednesday, the issue is finally settled, right?
"When I look at it, a few things jump out at me from the page as suspect," Taitz said in a phone interview.
For one, she said, Obama's father's race is listed as "African." At the time, she said, the choices for race would have been "White, Asian or Negro." Identifying him as "African" is adopting the more politically correct terminology of today, she said. It's also fishy, she said, that he was called Barack Hussein Obama II, instead of "Jr." People just didn't do that back then, she said. Taitz also wonders why the certificate lists Obama's grandparents' address instead of his parents' university housing.
Even if he was born in Hawaii, Taitz isn't convinced Obama meets the constitutional requirement of "natural born citizen" because his father was Kenyan. And why hasn't Obama released his college transcripts from Occidental College or Columbia? What is he hiding?
In a brief statement to reporters, Obama acknowledged the release likely won't convince everyone. "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," Obama said. "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."
Once a fringe element, the birth certificate doubters got a toe-hold on a broad group of citizens through an endless stream of chain e-mails and Internet stories (and lately, the musings of Donald Trump). Recent polls have shown that about a quarter of Americans doubt Obama was born in the United States (including more than four in 10 Republicans).
PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times' fact-checking website, has examined the issue of Obama's citizenship over the past three years, viewing the Certification of Live Birth, talking to Health Department officials in Hawaii, examining newspaper birth announcements, even investigating a purported Kenyan birth certificate (a hoax). All evidence pointed to one conclusion: Obama was born in Honolulu.
Every story was met with a wave of angry e-mails and new sets of theories about why the president was perpetrating one of the biggest hoaxes in American history. Were they convinced by the long-form document?
"I prefer to wait a little while to see whether or not what was presented as Obama's real birth certificate proves to be authentic. Why? Because what comes out of this man's mouth, and his deeds, are suspicious and questionable," said Jo Maniaci, 77, a retiree from Mayfield Heights, Ohio, who said she recently dropped her longtime Republican affiliation and is an independent who thinks the "tea party folks are on the right track."
"Just because he presented 'something' is no indication of its authenticity," Maniaci said. "His very presidency, in my mind and heart, is not authentic. He is a Trojan horse."
Carol Tabor, president of Family Security Matters, said that whatever has been released must be "forensically tested." James Diffley, 75, of Glendale, Calif., said he was "pretty much" satisfied with the document — but not completely.
"All I know is what people have sent to me (via e-mail), and someone sent this Kenyan birth certificate to me, and I felt like, 'Hmm, something's not right here,' " he said. "I'd like to see the other documentation discredited."
Diffley, a registered Republican who considers himself more of an independent, said the birth certificate has been a constant source of debate within his family, most of whom are Democrats. "My sister-in-law will not speak to me over this," he said.
Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, studies political beliefs and factual evidence. He has found that when people are fiercely partisan, they are less likely to change their minds when presented with factual evidence that contradicts their views.
Nyhan said he was surprised and discouraged that Obama took the extra step of releasing the long-form. "The fact that the president has to go to these lengths to prove that he's qualified to hold office is an amazing and disturbing thing," he said. "This is a defeat, it is not a victory. It's going to encourage people who want to promote these sorts of things."
That certainly seems to be the case for Jerome Corsi, whose book, Where's the Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama is Not Eligible to be President, is set to be released in mid May. Based on pre-sales, it's set to be a bestseller. "Now the game begins," Corsi said via WorldNetDaily, a conservative news website that has served as a venue for news and commentary about the birth certificate controversy. "Nixon thought he could stop the Watergate scandal from unfolding by releasing a few tapes. All that did was fuel the fire."
Corsi renewed his call for the release of other Obama documents, including his school, medical and passport records.
"Is it going to end the controversy? I don't think it will," said Andy Martin, the self-proclaimed "King of the Birthers" and a Republican 2012 presidential candidate. Martin said the document released by the White House "is probably good enough for me. I don't see any evidence of forgery … yet."
He blames Obama for "creating his own monster," by not releasing the document sooner. The release, Martin said, validates the accusations made by him, Trump and others, and will only encourage them to demand more documents. "I don't know many monsters that once they've tasted blood just go away."