So what do you do with someone who admits, sort of, to telling an egregious, racist lie by telling even more lies?
In the United States in 2016, you very much consider electing him president.
You’ve seen the clip by now. Donald Trump calls a news conference at his new D.C. Trump hotel – yep, the campaign is still all about the brand – to say what every sentient person already knew: that Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.
The news isn’t about Obama, who would say he was already aware he was born in the United States. It’s about Trump and why it took him so long to say the words and why he needed a news conference, at this late date, less than two months from Election Day, to state the obvious.
We know why.
If he tells the truth, he might as well admit that birtherism was nothing more than Trump’s pathway to winning the hearts of the fringe “deplorables” – you know, like the apologetic Mike “Obama’s Not an American in His Heart” Coffman. And once he admits that, he also admits that he was spreading a lie meant to delegitimize America’s first black president. And if he goes that far, he might as well go the full distance and admit to being the con man that everyone should know he is.
So, here’s the quote:
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
Let’s see. Hillary Clinton, whatever her faults, did not and would not start the birther controversy. As lies go, that’s nearly as big as the Obama-born-in-Kenya lie. Or the I’ve-sent-detectives-to-Hawaii-and-they-can’t-believe-what-they’ve-found lie. Or the lying insinuation that Obama had something to do with the death of Hawaii’s state health director who had verified Obama’s “birth certificate.” The scare quote marks are direct from a Trumpian tweet.
I covered that Clinton-Obama campaign in 2008. Some diehard Clinton supporters did question Obama’s citizenship. Clinton did not. Her campaign did not. (Yes, we know about the infamous Mark Penn memo in which he suggested Clinton should raise the issue of Obama’s otherness for having lived in a foreign country. Clinton wisely ignored the advice. And in any case, it had nothing to do with his citizenship.) Every fact-checker known to God and man has checked this. Every one comes to the same conclusion. Who you gonna believe, Trump or your lyin’ eyes?
The funny thing is that he’s trying to shift the blame (undeserved) to Clinton for bringing up the phones-baloney issue, while at the same time trying to give himself credit (undeserved) for resolving the non-issue issue.
Trump did not finish it. The scare quotes come from 2013, long after Obama released his long-form birth certificate. This year, Trump said in a CNN interview that he’d love to “keep talking” about the birth certificate, about which he had tweeted in 2012 and 2014.
He did not finish it with this news conference because, among other things, he didn’t apologize (of course) for being the most prominent advocate of a conspiracy that had no basis in fact, or even in evidence for that matter. And he didn’t say why, if he was wrong about Obama’s birth, he was so easily duped. Or if he wasn’t duped, what he had to gain by spreading this calumny.
And, of course, it’s worse than that.
We got to this point because Trump sat down in his airplane for an interview with the Washington Post’s Robert Costa, who asked if Trump finally believed, as his spokespeople had been saying, that Obama was born in Hawaii. Trump refused, saying, “I’ll answer that question at the right time. I don’t want to answer it yet.”
The right time was apparently the next day, five years – that’s right, years – after Obama had released his long-form birth certificate.
As he made his statement, which James Fallows described as not unlike a negotiated hostage statement, Trump was having his best week of the general-election campaign. When it looked as if the birther non-statement wasn’t playing well, Trump adviser Jason Miller put out a statement that Trump did, in fact, believe Obama was born in the United States. But, in the most amazing part of Miller’s argument, he then credited Trump for bringing “this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.”
So, that’s the story. Clinton brought this up. Trump, patriotically, carried “this ugly incident” forward to its conclusion so all America could rest easy. He’s right. It was an ugly incident, one that goes to the heart of racism that lingers still in America.
Of course Trump didn’t call it an “ugly incident.” And he didn’t apologize for all the lies and all the insinuations and all the grandstanding and for not having the cojones, political or otherwise, to say that he was wrong. So, for the record, let’s say it for him: Trump was shockingly, disturbingly, demagogically, unpatriotically, unrepentantly wrong.
Flickr photo by oSonoUnaFotoCamera