Friday, July 31, 2009

[Kizz] No Last Name

During the 2004 Presidential election I worked for a man with a lot of money. He decided, as he often does, to use that money to back certain politicians. In this particular year he also used whatever media presence he had (not miniscule, not huge) to endorse the candidate of his choice for the highest office in the land. As the lowest on his totem pole of personal assistants it was my job to answer unsolicited mail and phone calls. I was given a 5 figure bonus (low 5 but 5 nonetheless) at the end of the year because that part of my job alone should have broken me. I'm willing to bet that the only reason it didn't was because I was too busy to reflect on how ridiculously awful the experience was while I was in it.

I remember one woman in particular who called quite early on, [Edna]. First she wanted to talk to the boss but they all wanted to talk to the boss so that never flew. I told her (probably truthfully) that he was out. In that case she wanted to know if the boss had a US Passport. I'm not sure why they phrased it that way but I'd already had and continued to have that question a lot. He does so I told her. Was he a US Citizen? Yes. What about the fact that he was born in [Turkey]? Well he wasn't born in [Turkey] so I didn't see how it figured. Oh yes he was, she ranted! Then she yelled to her husband in the background to double check. I'm not sure which channel [Morty] was watching but the volume was up pretty high and it took her a couple of tries to get her question across. She came back to me more certain than ever. I reassured her as kindly as I could that he was not born in [Turkey]. She got hopping mad. Where was he born? I started to hesitate here. Whenever they started to get ranty or self-righteous it was a cue to keep my answers short, polite and as uninformative as possible. Engaging in unproductive conversations usually did more harm than good. I couldn't see a clear exit so I told her the truth again, he was born in [Belgium]. I did not point out that was a fact she could have checked with numerous other sources on the internet, the television, at the public library and, if she was terribly ambitious, probably the immigration department of the United States of America. Well, it still wasn't America and didn't I know he was trying to be President? No, ma'am, that was certainly not the case. In her defense, how was she to know that, she didn't have my insight into his other...intellectual pursuits. A stint as president was most certainly not among them. But he was supporting [presidential candidate] with a lot of money and many parties! (No! Not...parties!) True and that was because he wanted the candidate to be president. It was just a first step, she countered. Since engaging her was the very last thing on a list of smart tactics I might employ I didn't go to the internet and read to her from the qualifications required of a POTUS, I wouldn't have read all of them, just the part where s/he has to be a natural born citizen of the country in question.

Unable to provide that knockout blow we went a few rounds on the boss's intentions before she got frustrated and decided that conversion was her only hope. My conversion not hers, sadly. At her request I gave my first name. I refused to give my surname and made up on the spot an office policy that, for safety's sake, we did not reveal our full names. Was not that, she declared, proof that the boss was hiding something from me, from all of us, that his intentions were not pure and that by the time the votes were all counted he'd be Lord High Dictator of Our Beloved Stars and Stripes why oh why was I not doing something to halt his perfidious march immediately! OK, [Edna] wouldn't have used perfidious or lord or even beloved but that was her point. She saw in the (possibly misguided) passions of this old, rich dude the demise not only of her country but her family and her own frightened little person somewhere in the "heartland." I did a lot of travel itineraries in that job and, honestly, she needn't have worried, I never did a solitary one for the heartland, he just wasn't interested.

I tell you this not as stand alone blog content or even as a rant against people who dislike our current Commander in Chief but to say that, again, I am not surprised by the birthers and their inability to let go of this one item that has somehow grappled onto their fears and is now riding herd. I get the fear. I was mortally afraid for 8 years. I'm still afraid just with a side of curly Hope now. [Edna] didn't stand alone either. She was the first of many and she waited until we'd been chatting more than 20 minutes before she threatened my life and my immortal soul (not hyperbole, by the way, we both ended the call near tears) so she wasn't even the worst of what I put up with that year. These birthers will eventually be elbowed out of the spotlight by someone else with some other fear that hinders their ability to accept what has happened here. Let's just hope they aren't the equivalent, on a national level, of the guy who disguised himself as a messenger to sneak into our office and deliver a hand written threatening letter to me.


  1. I'm no Obama fan, but I do find these birthers to be ridiculous. He's a citizen of the United States. Period. End of story. In this regard, he is qualified to be President of the United States.

    I find myself agreeing, however, with Lou Dobbs in his take on the matter: "Yes, President Obama is a US citizen. However, if you want this issue to go away*, just produce your birth certificate and shut these whackjobs up."

    (* - I recognize that Obama may simply not care about this issue and, quite frankly, find it beneath him to even acknowledge. That, obviously, would be another reason why he hasn't produced his birth certificate. In fact, I believe his press secretary alluded to something along those lines a week or so ago.)

  2. I have to wonder - what does it mean to request that Obama "produce [his] birth certificate"?

    How does he "produce" it? What can he do that the state of Hawaii hasn't already done? Do some imagine that he has a document in his possession that is more than what the State of Hawaii has?

    I would ask 100 residents of the state of Hawaii whether they have in their possession a document that is any different than the document we've seen already.

    If my house burns down tomorrow, and I contact the state of Pennsylvania for a duplicate birth certificate, I am quite certain that what I will receive is pretty much the same as the Obama document we've already seen.

    Obama was issued a passport by the US government, long before he ever ran for public office. He was issued a drivers' license. If his documents are good enough for those officials, why are they not to be trusted?

  3. Interestingly enough I didn't think much of myself and my situation when I wrote this. I cannot locate my passport. I am not in possession of my birth certificate. I have no idea where my social security card is and since I got it when I was around 10 the signature does not match. I've asked my mother, for entirely nonpresidential reasons, to try to find my birth certificate but I'll be plenty surprised if she's able to produce it. I'll have to rely on the town government who issued it to give me a certified copy. I expect that all government and civilian agencies will accept that certified copy as proof of my identity.

  4. OK, so out of curiousity I took a look at the birth certificates my family has.

    My son's is the newest, and is the "original" document issued to us by the State of New York upon his birth. It is a "Certificate of Birth registration" and shows our son's name, my name, his father's name, and the date, the town, and the signature of an official called the "Register of Vital Statistics."

    My husband's is a photostat, white letters on black, "Certification of Live Birth" issued by California, with a tag at the bottom stating it's authenticity. It includes the hospital name and address and is signed by an attending physician.

    Mine - I actually have 2 copies, oddly. One is a clumsy photocopy - you can even seen it was laid on the copier glass and the cover placed over it. It is a "Notification of Birth Registration" from Pennsylvania, and it is handwritten, with my name and my parents' names, date, and name of town.

    Then in 1992 I got another copy, which is called a "Certification of Birth" that states only my name, gender, date of birth and county. Nothing else.

    I think folks should examine their own documents, and the wide variety of formats exhibited in this country, before going out on a limb about President Obama's.

    Sorry to go on at length, but your post made me go to the file drawer, Kiz!

  5. I sort of love that this drove you to your filing cabinet! Can you look in there and see if my effing passport is clipped to the back of one of those certificates, though? (I know it's in my house, I KNOW, but I don't know where.)

  6. Well, my filing cabinets are messy enough that anything could be in there! But I particularly looked for your passport and didn't find it!

    Your passport is probably in the same place as that little packet of pretty Czech glass buttons I bought last summer and hid away in a safe place I can't remember....if that's any consolation.


  7. I think it's all just so much distraction and a kind of pathetic hope that this "birther" nonsense will be able to return to them their feelings of safety and righteousness.

  8. I agree, Gypsy. The safety is something I can't see any of us ever feeling, with ANY president. And there's no shortage of righteousness with the lovers and haters of the current regime. It's mess.