Short-handed staff at the offices of the governor, attorney general and Health Department hope they can finally move on from spending untold hours devoted to the issue of President Barack Obama’s place of birth after he released copies of his "long form" birth certificate yesterday.
The move was an attempt to put to rest doubts that Obama was born in Hawaii, but it also catapulted the family of the late Dr. David A Sinclair into the glare of the national media because the document showed Sinclair was the physician who delivered the future president.
But so-called birther conspiracy theorists yesterday had already begun shifting their sights, raising questions about the president’s Social Security number. And Donald Trump, who is considering seeking the Republican nomination to run against Obama in 2012, continued to question Obama’s academic credentials.
"We’re realistic that nothing we do as a state will change their minds and that’s really unfortunate," said Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokeswoman for Gov. Neil Abercrombie. "We’re hopeful the staff that has carried the additional work load can now put all their efforts where they belong, and that’s serving the people of Hawaii."
Persistent questions about the president’s official birth certificate — and demands for the original "long form" document kept in state archives — had been taxing state officials going back to the administration of Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican who twice tried to put the issue to rest herself.
"A big portion of working hours — and after-work hours," were spent responding to continuing demands for Obama’s long-form birth certificate, Dela Cruz said.
At a time of deep cuts in government services in the islands, the single issue of Obama’s birth at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital "has taken up a lot of staff time … dealing with mail and phone calls from across the country from birther conspirators," she said.
On Friday, Obama sent a letter to state Health Director Loretta Fuddy, asking for two certified copies of his original Certificate of Live Birth. On Monday, Fuddy made an exception to state policies regarding the release of birth certificates and witnessed the copying of the original certificate and attested to the authenticity of the two copies, which were certified by state registrar Alvin Onaka, Abercrombie’s office said.
Original forms from the time of birth are used to produce computer-generated documents recognized as official birth certificates in the state of Hawaii.
Obama’s personal attorney, Judith Corley, showed up at the Health Department on Monday and paid $10 for the first certified copy of the state’s original certificate and $4 for the second copy.
"The exception made in this case to provide President Obama with a copy of his original Certificate of Live Birth was done according to the letter of the law," Attorney General David Louie said in a statement. "Director Fuddy exercised her legal authority in a completely appropriate manner in this unique circumstance. We will continue to maintain the strict confidentiality requirements afforded to vital statistics records, such as birth certificates. These requirements help protect the integrity of the records, and keep us all safe from crimes, such as identity theft."
Obama’s release of his long-form birth certificate took attending physician Sinclair’s widow, children and grandchildren by surprise.
Sinclair suffered from Alzheimer’s disease when he died of cardiac arrest in 2003 at the age of 81. He rarely spoke about his patients, or the thousands of babies he delivered from 1960 through 1988 — many of whom are named "David" after him, said Sinclair’s wife, Ivalee Sinclair, 82, who lives in Manoa Valley, and started the Learning Disabilities Association in Hawaii and works for the Community Children’s Council.
"For our family, it’s a historic footnote," Ivalee Sinclair said yesterday. "I consider it a great honor and a big surprise."
She said she instantly recognized her husband’s signature on Obama’s birth certificate — especially because it had no period after the middle initial "A."
"He was supposed to be named David Augustus, but his mother didn’t like Augustus," Sinclair said. "So he didn’t have a middle name. It was just ‘A.’
Sinclair was the son of former Territorial Engineer Karl Sinclair, who later became engineer for the City and County of Honolulu.
David A Sinclair, a lifelong Democrat, witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor as a 15-year-old boy and later became an Army Air Corps lieutenant, flying night missions in a P-61 over Asia, Ivalee Sinclair said.
She met him after the war in trigonometry class at the University of Hawaii in 1946 when Sinclair wanted to become a doctor.
"After dropping so many bombs, he wanted to do something that was positive in the world," she said. "He felt badly about all of the people he had killed and went into medicine to give back the lives he had taken."
Sinclair was a solo practitioner at the Dickson Bell medical offices on Bishop Street, with privileges at the three hospitals now known as Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, the Queen’s Medical Center and Straub Clinic & Hospital, when Obama was born, his widow said.
Sinclair’s medical career inspired one of his three sons, Brian, a 52-year-old neuroradiologist at Straub Clinic & Hospital, to pursue his own medical career.
Another son, Karl, 55, of Kailua, looked at a copy of Obama’s long- form birth certificate yesterday and also recognized his father’s signature.
Karl then imagined his dad — with his ever-present pipe in hand — chuckling over the discovery 50 years later that he had delivered America’s 44th president.
"My dad would have definitely thought it was funny," Karl said. "‘Imagine that: I delivered the president.’"