To folks who've been paying only casual attention over the past three years - and when it comes to the morass of American politics, that's a lot of people - there was something truly shocking on President Obama's birth certificate released yesterday.

It had nothing to do with Obama or his U.S. citizenship, though.

His mother was named "Stanley"? Really?


Army Pvt. Stanley A. Dunham had been really, really hoping for a son when his first child was born in Wichita, Kan., on Nov. 29, 1942. The fact that it was a girl didn't stop him from naming his daughter Stanley Ann Dunham.

Amazingly, the bright future anthropologist went by "Stanley" all the way through high school. Wrote Time magazine in a 2008 profile of Obama's mother, who died of uterine cancer in 1995: "She endured the expected teasing over this indignity, but dutifully lugged the name through high school, apologizing for it each time she introduced herself in a new town."

By the 1960s - after moving with her family to Honolulu and attending the University of Hawaii - Dunham decided to start calling herself by her middle name, Ann. She also met a student from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama. The rest, as they say, is history.

- Will Bunch