President Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate today, thus proving ... absolutely nothing, since the conspiracy-nuts peddling the "birther" nonsense are not amenable to rational discourse.
But it does raise the interesting question -- why now?
In terms of why President Obama had refrained from releasing the certificate to this point, a couple of reasons had been floated. First, the simple fact that he shouldn't have to -- the President of the United States should not have to dance to the tune of conspiratorial lunatics. Second, that it wouldn't do any good -- and lo and behold, birthers are still birthers. Third, a political calculation that allowing the birthers to burble around in GOP circles was a political boon -- the GOP couldn't fully disavow them without infuriating their base, yet the publicity over the issue was radioactive with the center.
Okay -- so what changed? It's hard to know. The closest answer I can give -- and it strikes me as a little 8-dimensional chess-ish -- is that it helps raise the political profile of Donald Trump, who can embarrass the GOP in new and exciting ways. Trump is already taking credit for the revelation -- even though it reveals him as a pathological liar since he had just claimed the certificate didn't exist -- and Sarah Palin agrees. The more that Trump is seen as a stand in for "Republican leader", the more the media might have to take seriously his presidential bid. And a Trump nomination would be a gift-wrapped present for this president.
Still -- it strikes me as a little convoluted, no? Other theories welcome in the comments.