Obama releases his long-form birth certificate. Is the controversy over?

President Obama's long-form birth certificatePresident Obama's long-form birth certificateToday, President Barack Obama offered up for the nation's consideration the controversial long-form of his birth certificate. (Click here to see it as a PDF)

"Over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I've been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going," Obama said during a press conference today.

He said that he decided to request the long-form of his birth certificate and make it public because the controversy-which gained new traction thanks to Donald Trump's private investigation and a renewed focus on Sarah Palin's last pregnancy-has been drawing attention away from more important issues.

While debating the budget, discussing the deficit, and working to prevent a government shutdown earlier this month, "during that entire week the dominant news story wasn't about these huge, monumental choices that we're going to have to make as a nation," the president pointed out. "It was about my birth certificate."

"We've got some enormous challenges out there," Obama added. "We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve. And I'm confident we can solve them, but we're going to have to focus on them -- not on this."

During his campaign, Obama released the short-form of his birth certificate, which in Hawaii is called a "Certification of Live Birth" and which is what is routinely given out there and in almost every other state when a citizen requests his or her birth certificate (you can see Obama's here). As long as it shows the names of both parents, the short form can legally be used instead of the long-form in almost all circumstances, including establishing proof of citizenship. The information provided on long and short forms vary by state; some states, including Arizona, don't offer a long form at all anymore.

In an interview with CNN earlier this week, Arizona Senator Jan Brewer said that after two years, the birther issue has become "a huge distraction."

"It's just something I think is leading our country down a path of destruction and it just is not serving any good purpose," Brewer said. She recently vetoed Arizona House Bill 2177, known as the Birther Bill, which would have required all candidates for federal office to provide baptismal or circumcision certificates, hospital birth records, and other documents in lieu of birth certificates, something she called "a bridge too far."

Some pundits say that the president legitimized the birther issue by addressing it today. "He made an enormous tactical mistake" in releasing his long-form birth certificate, Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky said in a phone interview. "When you start playing defense, you draw attention away from what you want to talk about," she said. In her post today at Politico.com, she wrote: "The White House should have sat back and watched as the Trump side-show sank the Republican Party further into the fringe."

After the president's announcement, Trump took credit for Obama's decision to release his long-form birth certificate. "Today I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that no one else has been able to accomplish," the billionaire businessman said during a press conference in New Hampshire.

"I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully getting rid of this issue," he said before immediately opening the next chapter in the birther saga: "Now, we have to look at it, we have to see is it real, is it proper, what's on it....you're going to have many people looking at it and, obviously, they're going to have to make a decision, because it is rather amazing that all of a sudden it materializes."

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