None of that stopped Berg from stoking the conspiracy theorists. On Oct. 16, an Anabaptist minister named Ron McRae called Sarah Hussein Obama, the president-elect's 86-year-old paternal step-grandmother, at her home in Kenya. Two translators were on the line when McRae asked if the elder Obama was "present" when the president-elect was born. One of the translators says "yes." McRae contacted Berg and gave him a partial transcript of the call with a signed affidavit. He opted not to include the rest of the call, in which he asks the question more directly—"Was he born in Mombassa?"—and the translators, finally understanding him, tell him repeatedly that the president-elect was born in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian documentation, the 1961 newspaper announcement, the phony evidence from Sarah Obama—all of that aside, the idea that Obama wasn't born in Honolulu goes against everything we know about his rather well-documented life. Barack Obama Sr. came to America as part of a 1959 program for Kenyan students—he did not return home until 1965, years after he left his wife and son. Ann Dunham was three months pregnant when she married Obama Sr. and 18 years old when she gave birth. There is no record of Dunham ever traveling to Kenya, much less the year after the Mau Mau rebellion ended, when she was pregnant and when she had no disposable income to speak of. "Ann's mother would have gone ballistic if her daughter had even mentioned traveling to Kenya in the final stages of pregnancy," says David Mendell, author of the biography Obama: From Promise to Power.
Reached by phone, Ron McRae doesn't claim to know when or how Dunham got to Kenya, only that she gave birth in a Third World country because "she didn't want to take a chance on that flight back" and that "everyone in Kenya" knows this. If so, they've kept it a pretty solid secret from the international reporters who've visited the country since Obama rose to prominence. But the story is good enough for Gary Kreep, the conservative head of the United States Justice Foundation, who filed suit against Obama on behalf of Alan Keyes, the unstoppable fringe candidate who was on the ballot in California on the American Independent Party ticket. "If he's got nothing to hide," says Kreep, "why not give us access?"
That's the same argument made by Bob Schultz, the founder of the paleoconservative We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education. On Monday and Wednesday, Schultz gave the Obama conspiracy its biggest burst of attention—at least since Rush Limbaugh speculated that this was the real reason Obama visited his dying grandmother—by purchasing full-page ads in the Chicago Tribune. In the "open letters" to Obama, Schultz asserts that Obama's certificate of live birth is "forged," that his "grandmother is record[ed] on tape saying she attended your birth in Kenya," and that Obama would have lost his citizenship anyway when Ann Dunham married her second, Indonesian husband, Lolo Soetoro. (Lou Dobbs would be delighted to discover that the 14th Amendment can be nullified so easily.)
Schultz has asked Obama to allow forensic investigators to inspect Obama's files in Hawaii's Department of State. "Have one guy go in and do his thing," explains Schultz. "Have another guy go in, do his thing, put the certificate back in the envelope. These are scientists. They should all come to the same conclusion."
If Obama doesn't submit to the investigation—and so far, Obama and Democratic National Committee lawyers have ignored or waited for dismissal of the lawsuits and complaints—Schultz will go ahead and send packages of the key anti-Obama complaints to every Electoral College voter. "They're going to be warned that if they go ahead and cast their votes for Mr. Obama, then they've committed treason to the Constitution," Schultz told me on Wednesday.
Schultz, like every Obama-citizenship skeptic, is watching the Supreme Court on Friday and Monday to see whether it will decide to hear Leo Donofrio's lawsuit. "They should at least delay the Electoral College vote," suggests Schultz. More likely, the justices will consider the lawsuit—which claims that Obama Sr. made his son a dual citizen of the British Empire and thus ineligible for the presidency—frivolous, decide that Donofrio lacked the standing to sue Obama anyway, and move on.
How much further will the fight to de-certify Obama go? It won't stop if the Electoral College votes for Obama, as the skeptics will try to get a congressman or senator to officially challenge the result. Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah was willing to believe that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father, so the skeptics might have a chance.
And if every vote certification goes off without a hitch and Obama is inaugurated on Jan. 20? Gary Kreep is ready for that.
"When Obama starts signing executive orders and legislation," Kreep says, "I'll be filing lawsuits unless and until he proves he's an American citizen. Some judge, someday, is going to want this proved on the merits. You can run, but you can't hide."