By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
I fear for my son's political viability. Granted he's a couple of weeks shy of three months old, but it's never too soon for a father to worry, right?
I started to ponder his political future the other day when his birth certificate came in the mail from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Birth certificates of course have been a major topic of political discourse this summer, ever since some incensed Delawarian held hers up (in a Howard Hughes-ian protective plastic bag) in a town hall meeting with GOP Rep. Mike Castle. "I have a birth certificate here, from the United States of America, saying I'm an American citizen, with a seal on it, signed by a doctor, with a hospital administrator's name, my parents, my date of birth, the time, the date," the agitated constituent vented in a moment repeatedly replayed on YouTube.
But my infant—and anyone else born in the Commonwealth of Virginia—would have problems meeting that standard.
First of all, the document the commonwealth (not, for what it's worth, the United States of America) issued to me was not a "birth certificate," but a "certificate of live birth." It may seem to the rational among us a distinction without difference, but ... well, not everyone's rational. And while it has a seal, it's not signed by a doctor. In fact no doctor, hospital administrator or hospital is named! There's no signature at all! And no time of birth!
Who's to say that my son was born in Virginia at all? Sure, a local newspaper ran an item mentioning his birth (although his name is not, as an earlier version of the item reported, James Tiberius). And yes, this is an official certification of his Virginia birth by the state of Virginia. But if he decides to run for president in 50 years will he have to prove his American-itude? Probably not. Presumably by then people will have gotten their minds around living in a digital age. And perhaps be somewhat more rational. Maybe not.