April 27th, 2011
03:34 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama pulled the pin from the birther hand grenade, lobbed it into the White House briefing room, and bolted for Chicago to chat things up with the queen of talk Oprah Winfrey.
“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” the president said, less than an hour after top aides dropped a bombshell by releasing the long-form birth certificate proving once and for all Obama was born in the U.S.A.
It was completely unexpected. “I’m just stunned,” exclaimed one reporter.
Wednesday morning promised to be busy but not dramatic. Sources were beginning to confirm a Washington Post report that President Obama would soon be announcing a reshuffling of his national security team.
The 8:45am off-camera briefing was running a few minutes late when out walked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, White House counsel Bob Bauer, and other aides.
That large entourage raised suspicions that something was up, and even more puzzling was a stack of documents an aide began handing out.
Were they about to announce that CIA Director Leon Panetta was headed to the Pentagon? Or that General David Petraeus, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, would be nominated to take Panetta's place? Maybe those documents were background information on why the president was launching his national security makeover.
But in a matter of seconds, the truth was sitting in the laps of every reporter in the room.
There on the front page of the handout was a copy of Barack Hussein Obama the second’s Hawaii long-form birth certificate. Birth date: August 4, 1961. Hour: 7:24pm. Place of birth: Honolulu. Island: Oahu.
“You can read the paperwork we just handed out in a minute. Let me just get started,” said Carney to a group of stunned reporters.
He soon handed off to Pfeiffer, who asked reporters to “indulge me a second to walk through a little of the history here.”
“What you have in front of you now is a packet of papers that includes the president’s long-form birth certificate from the state of Hawaii, the original birth certificate that the president requested and we posted in 2008, and then the correspondence between the president’s counsel and the Hawaii State Department of Health.”
As the briefing was underway, the White House sent around an email updating the president’s schedule. He was now going to enter the briefing room at 9:45am to explain why he had finally decided to request and release the controversial document.
The so-called "birther" issue Mr. Obama said, “just keeps on going,” and that it was taking attention away from the real problems facing the country. “We're not gonna be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers,” he said.
That appeared to be a shot at billionaire developer and Republican presidential tease Donald Trump, who had not missed an opportunity to question the president’s birthplace.
A senior administration official defended the roll out and the decision for the president to make public remarks on what they’ve called a “fake controversy.”
“We knew there would be a lot of questions,” the official said, so it was decided to have the president explain the why.
It was a dramatic and surreal moment. More than two years into his administration, there was the president standing behind a podium with the presidential seal telling the nation that his aides had just provided information “about the site of my birth.”
“Now normally I would not comment on something like this," Obama said. But the president suggested he had no choice, given the now mainstream focus on this controversy.
Questions may persist about timing, and even the president has admitted that the birth certificate may still not be enough to convince doubters. But it was a dramatic turn, the kind of revelation that would draw huge ratings on Oprah Winfrey. Oh wait…