I have long maintained that the birther movement that was spawned by President Barack Obama’s quest for the White House and which has endured throughout his tenure was never about his citizenship but all about his race.
Now my argument is being bolstered by the deafening silence of the birther movement to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential candidacy.
Mr. Cruz, who announced he is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, was born in Canada. His father is a native of Cuba and his mother, a U.S. citizen, was born in Wilmington, Delaware.
So why is Mr. Cruz able to vie for the presidency, when he was clearly not born in the United States or any of its territories?
Well, according to the supporters of this congressional tea party darling, the good senator’s candidacy is legitimized by the Constitution, which says that in addition to being 35 years of age and a resident of the United States for 14 years, a presidential candidate must be a “natural born citizen.”
Being “natural born,” they say, can be conveyed on children born abroad to U.S. citizens.
This argument is supported by the Congressional Research Service, which noted that the term “natural born” citizen is not defined in the Constitution.
“The weight of legal and historical authority,” according to the organization, “indicates that the term ‘natural born’ citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship ‘by birth’ or ‘at birth,’ either by being born ‘in’ the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship ‘at birth.’”
So, essentially, it really didn’t matter whether President Obama was born in Hawaii, as his birth certificate asserts, or in Kenya as the birthers have insisted. His father was born in Kenya and his mother in Kansas.
Nevertheless, even after the president made public the short form and the long form of his birth certificate, birthers - and let’s remember that it isn’t just the fringe element of the Republican Party enabling the birther movement - continue to churn out their conspiracy theories.
During an interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner in 2011, David Gregory of “Meet the Press” gave us a sobering look at how the birther movement had become Republican strategy to de-legitimize Mr. Obama.
Mr. Gregory repeatedly gave Mr. Boehner the opportunity to denounce the “craziness” of the birther movement, but was rebuffed each time.
GREGORY: Do you not think it’s your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?
BOEHNER: David, it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That’s good enough for me. The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word.
GREGORY: But isn’t that a little bit fast and loose? I mean, you are the leader in Congress and you are not standing up to obvious facts and saying these are facts, and if you don’t believe that, it’s nonsense?
BOEHNER: I just outlined the facts as I understand them. I believe that the president is a citizen. I believe the president is a Christian, I’ll take him at his word.
GREGORY: But that kind of ignorance over whether he’s a Muslim doesn’t concern you?
BOEHNER: Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can’t — it’s not my job to tell them.
GREGORY: Why isn’t it your job to stand up and say, no, the facts are these? You shouldn’t stand up to misinformation or stereotypes?
BOEHNER: I’ve made clear what I believe the facts are.
GREGORY: But is it because it weakens the president politically, it seeks to de-legitimize him, that you sort of want to let it stay out there?
BOEHNER: No! What I’m trying to do is to do my job…
We know you are doing your job, Mr. Speaker: the job of trying to de-legitimize a president who will likely go down as one of the most influential in the country’s history.

Clive McFarlane writes for The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.