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Richard Carmona: Birther stunts symptom of larger problem

Richard Carmona was an independent who served as surgeon general under a Republican president, but is now running as a Democrat for Senate. (Photo courtesy the candidate)

A frightening symptom is caused by a major systematic problem – that’s true in medicine, and it’s true in politics.

This birther nonsense that has popped up in Arizona over the last few weeks isn’t really about the president’s citizenship. Even the candidates and elected officials who are pushing this stuff don’t seem to actually doubt that the president is a citizen.

There is a clear uneasiness in the language they use – a lack of clarity and confidence that belies their actual feelings on the issue. These politicians flail about in their reasons for asking the state of Hawaii for evidence proving the president is eligible for the ballot because they know how absurd their actions are.

So to get back to the medical analogy – I am a doctor after all – the symptom here is ridiculous behavior from people who should know better. The cause is our broken politics and public discourse that incentivizes the wrong things – rewarding this kind of bizarre behavior.

The good news is, there is a course of treatment.

When I travel around Arizona, I constantly hear how frustrated people are by a lack of leadership from our elected officials. Things have gotten so bad in our state that a lot of folks I meet have lost faith that our political process can get anything done.

We can get back to being a state that solves big problems. Arizona can be state with sustainable economic growth, first-rate public schools and a strong public health system – and we can do all that with significantly more fiscal discipline than we are seeing from the capitol today.

The potential is there. But first, we need to make some choices.

Our leaders need to make the simple choice for commonsense and core competency over bizarre publicity stunts that may get you on television, but are an embarrassment to our state. And as voters, we all need to make the decision that we’re going to reward behavior that moves this state forward and ignore the sideshows that block progress.

Unfortunately though, too many of our politicians are making the choices detrimental of our state.

We live in a world of YouTube moments and divisive partisan arguments. And because too many of our leaders are career politicians who focus on getting themselves reelected over serving the people, the folks we elect to represent our communities are instead trying to one-up each other in this strange game of pushing distractions, instead of issues, just to get on television.

It’s shameful. And it’s why political paralysis reigns today in Washington and at our state capitol.

Many observers have blamed this rash of birther “investigations” in Arizona on career politicians pandering to the extremes. They posit that it must be helping these guys get elected, because why else would they do it?

But here’s the thing: all this birther stuff is doing is turning people off to the political process. It’s not helping anybody.

It’s an embarrassment that the state of Hawaii recently needed to send our Secretary of State proof of the President’s birth. And it’s inexplicable that the same evidence that finally persuaded our Secretary of State is being ignored by the Maricopa County Sheriff — who feels it is necessary to send a deputy to Hawaii for his “investigation.”

Let’s do better Arizona.

Dr. Richard Carmona is the 17th Surgeon General of the United States and a candidate for the U.S. Senate.


  1. Dr. Carmona, You are a voice of reason, common sense and real knowledge. Thank you. Your comment is spot-on!

  2. Bruce Whitehouse

    Crazy as a outhouse rat is not what we should supporting with our Arizona politicians. That is why we support Rich and his goal to restore some sanity in our representation. Viva Carmona.

  3. no, the republicans have portraid them selfs as the alphamail, and demonstrating some form of domination adds gas to there fire.Thay will cut their nose off to spite their face to be in this club.I belive that the winning idea for are economy will win over the one’s thay admire and fallow. Compounding Interest has single handedly put us in this position.We should stop complaining about how thay are trying to controll us becouse that turns them on. Instead we should look at abolishing compounding interest, that would make their heads swim.

  4. One, just one independent, corroborative piece of evidence, unconnected to the Hawaiian Health Department record; can anyone supply that?

    I know it’s out there. The Hawaiian Health Department has verified that Obama’s birth certificates accurately reflect their information; so how did they do it? How did they prove Obama was born there?

    however they did it; there must be more evidence..OBGYN appointments; natal hospital registration records; natal hospital invoices sent out for services rendered, Accounts receivable, who paid for Barack Obama’s birth? These are all good, solid, independent, corroborative evidence that Obama was born when and where he states. The problem is, there is absolutely no corroborating evidence. None.

    Even the two contemporaneous Hawaiian newspaper birth announcements were directly copied from Hawaiian Health Department records.

    Any suggestions?

    ex animo

  5. David Farrar, I have the feeling that if ALL the proofs you apparently deem necessary to satisfy yourself (..OBGYN appointments; natal hospital registration records; natal hospital invoices sent out for services rendered, Accounts receivable, who paid for Barack Obama’s birth?)…were given you in person, the originals not photocopies, for you to presure at will…you would still NOT believe.

    The birther syndrome is not about concern over Pres.Obama’s American birth. It’s about something else, dark, unjust and nasty. I wish you and others would at least be honest about what it really is that bugs you about this president, and not try to cover it up with a red-herring concern that doesn’t really fool anybody.

  6. I think Secretary of State Bennett’s request has backfired on him and made him look foolish on the national stage. It appears that pandering to idiots does have a downside, although who could blame an AZ politician for attempting to follow such a well-beaten path. Richard Carmona, I really hope you get elected because you are a voice of reason and experience.

  7. Good thing this has been resolved. Now, on to Mr. Willard Mitt Romney’s birth certificate. Michigan needs to provide it to Arizona right away!

  8. I remain uncinvinced

  9. Refreshing and inspiring to hear clear concise common sense like this. An honest man of good character. You have my vote Dr. Carmona.

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