15 Aug 2008

“Obama’s School Registration is Real, So What?”

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Bob Owens, who blogs as Confederate Yankee, informs us that Jack Stokes, Associated Press manager of media relations confirmed the authenticity of the photograph of Barack Obama’s school registration in Indonesia.

Owens then proceeds to discount totally the document’s significance, point by point:

Did Barack Obama have Indonesian citizenship? We don’t know anything from this picture other than that his stepfather Lolo Soetoro apparently claimed that he did. Would it impact Barack Obama’s current viability as a U.S. presidential candidate if Lolo Soetoro or Obama’s mother changed Obama’s citizenship to Indonesian? Not according to the U.S. State Department, which states plainly, “In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship.” As Barack Obama was a child, not of legal age to surrender his citizenship, then all further discussion of this point is irrelevant.

The way this kind of thing works is that foreign governments commonly have one perspective on citizenship, and the US has another. Many countries recognize dual citizenship, the US does not. It is most likely that Barack Obama enjoys Kenyan citizenship and Indonesian citizenship from the perspectives of those countries.

Mr. Owens is correct enough is arguing that the circumstances of his birth and childhood adoption were not Obama’s choice, and there is no rational reason to hold his inadvertent possession of dual citizenship with other countries against him. But, these little details are factual parts of his life history which is a highly exotic one. Voters are entitled to the facts, and are entitled to make of them whatever they choose. It is not the privilege of Senator Obama or his media allies to decide exactly what facts of Barack Obama’s life, family background, and upbringing are and aren’t relevant and to edit out the details they prefer to conceal.

Was Barack Obama’s name actually changed to Barry Soetoro? Again, all we see is that this was what his stepfather allegedly wrote on his school registration, a document of far less formality than a birth certificate, passport, adoption form, or citizenship papers.

Give me a break. That Barack Obama was formerly known as Barry seems to be general knowledge. Second husbands often adopt their stepchildren, and in many cases stepchildren do take that second husband’s name. When the second marriage doesn’t work out, or a breach in relations with the stepfather occurs, they sometimes change back. It ought hardly to be thought remarkable that somebody living in everyday America in the 1960s and 1970s would prefer to be known as “Barry.” And it isn’t altogether surprising either that a young man of college age with fashionable attitudes in post late-1960s America might want to emphasize an African identity and resume the full “Barack.”

Name changes in America occur all the time without benefit of formal processes. It is particularly common for young people to change the way they like to be addresses at watershed moments like college. There’s really no point is disputing the obvious fact that he used to be called Barry Soetero, especially since the name change is unlikely to cause much political difficulty for him.

Perhaps Obama can be fairly accused of misrepresenting himself by failing to note his name was once Soetoro in the Illinois attorney’s registration record, but it would most likely be viewed as a technical faux pas, not a mortal sin. The purpose of the name change form in the Illinois bar is to accurately reflect name changes associated with marriages and divorces of attorneys already registered on the roll of attorneys admitted to the practice of law in Illinois. Far from being a major offense, this charge is a perversion of the intent of why the roll of attorneys is maintained.

Maybe so, but in a country in which allegations that somebody might have missed a National Guard meeting 30 years earlier can become a significant presidential campaign issue, Senator Obama will have to face the music for ancient errors and omissions just like anybody else.

Was Barack Obama a Muslim? Again, just because his stepfather allegedly wrote that in the blank does not necessarily mean that he was.

This picture of a school registration page is a photo of something that is not a legal document. At best, it indicates the possibility that Lolo Soetoro considered Barack Obama his adoptive son, that Obama had Indonesian citizenship, and that Soetoro considered Obama a Muslim.

At this point, Mr. Owens goes too far.

There’s this parochial school registration certificate out there somewhere as well saying I was Roman Catholic in 1954, and guess what? it’s perfectly correct.

Kids attending elementary school really do tend to belong to the religion favored by their parents, or in a case like Mr. & Mrs. Soetero’s, to the religion of the more religiously committed parent. Stanley Dunham Obama Soetero was a red-diaper baby and an atheist, so it’s perfectly natural that young Barry Soetero would be raised in the religion of his adopted father.

There is not an iota of a reason to believe that as a boy Obama had any personal loyalty to Christianity, or any connection to it whatsoever, beyond attending a Catholic school, doubtless on the basis of instructional quality.

Of course, this does not prove that Barack Obama is the Twelfth Imam, or even a Muslim, today. But, face it, Mitt Romney had trouble with his Mormon background in the GOP primaries this year, and the Mormons didn’t fly airplanes into the World Trade Center. Obama obviously really did have an officially Muslim childhood. He attended a mosque where he banged his forehead on the floor. He received instructions at the local Islamic religious school called a madrassa.

Those facts have whatever relevance the voters choose to place upon them. Obama’s skin color and mellifluous voice are inherited assets he didn’t choose which have been of great political benefit to him. His religious background wasn’t choosen either, and it may harm him politically, but what I think is even more likely to harm him to a much greater degree is his manifest willingness to lie, and his inevitably getting caught lying.

3 Feedbacks on "“Obama’s School Registration is Real, So What?”"

Robert Lewis

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Robert Lewis

Obama’s mother’s original Social Security Number Application



I don’t understand why anyone cares what his parents called him or what religion they said he was. It’s his actions as an adult that matter, right?

If not disclosing his name might have once been legally Barry Soetoro had any relevance to his ability to be POTUS, I’d say he should have done so. But if his name was Barry Soetoro for a couple of years and then he went back to Barack Obama as a teen/young adult… where’s the scandal?

Similarily his religion. He’s attended a non islamic church for 20 years. I think that answers any questions about whether he’s a closet islamist. Now, I do question his judgement for attending the “church” he chose, but that’s another post.

If his parents actions caused him to be a dual citizen of Kenya and/or Indonesia I do think he should own up to that and take whatever steps are necessary to resign those citizenships.


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