The responses of most commentators to Donald Trump’s “important announcement” Friday were similar to my own. He “punked” or “played” the TV media exquisitely. As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post summed it up. “His great gift is the ability to draw attention — and then use that attention for his own, usually commercial, purposes. Trump may have outdone himself on Friday morning.”
When it comes to the manipulation of people and reality, he deserves the grand prize. I hate it, but I think his supporters like it because it implies to them he can beat others at what ever game he plays. Even very big, complicated games which American presidents must play.
Hooked by the prospect of an important announcement on birtherism, viewers like me soon realized we had been tricked into watching a half hour promo both for his newly opened hotel and for his candidacy, the latter in the form of a group of high level former military that he gathered purportedly to honor, but were obviously there to honor him.
Finally, he abruptly ended this little charade with a one sentence admission that “President Obama was born in the United States, period,” implying that now the issue is closed because he, Donald Trump, has just closed it.
Oh, and the piece de resistance, he managed to sneak in the notion that this birther thing was actually initiated by Clinton in her primary with Obama, talking points that his surrogates are now using when questioned about Trump’s waiting this long to admit he was wrong. Hey, Clinton started it, so don’t blame Trump as if the fact that some of her supporters did spread that rumor which she never embraced is equivalent to Trump’s pounding on the point over several years and still not admitting he was wrong until last Friday.
The last is a perfect example of false equivalency, but, hey, a large part of what Trump and his surrogates say is based on falsehoods, distortions and fantasy. Yes, common with politicians but he has taken this to a new level. He has overcome the lesser liars by being the greatest liar of them all able to weave together a separate reality that makes him look great and everyone else look small.
But Trump’s birther admission is a kernel of truth that might be cultivated to challenge Trump’s purported “authenticity,” his claim that he tells it like it is.
If you read my previous post you know I suggested the TV press just move on, that they lost their chance to dismiss the birther issue months ago. But I was wrong.
Instead of moving on the press should cling to questioning Trump on that statement like a Gila monster grabbing his hand. This is the first time Trump has ever admitted to being wrong about anything substantial and the TV press should not do what they normally do which is move on to the next ridiculous thing or things Trump throws out to bait them, so they never really dig into much of anything.
That moving on is what is now happening because Trump, as usual, has thrown out a typically outrageous statement suggesting Hillary’s security should not carry guns because she doesn’t want the rest of us to have the right to do so…..crap, crap and more crap. And the particular hook is that he’d like to see what happens to her if her security do go gun-less, which has both the Hillary camp and the TV media up in arms about Trump inciting violence once again.
How could he say something so terrible? AS A RUSE, that’s how, to turn media attention to another issue THAT’S WHY while maintaining control of the news cycle AS ALWAYS. The same thing he has done successfully for months. THAT’S HOW.
I was irritated that the first response of the TV press corps was to question whether Trump should apologize to President Obama and his family for not admitting this sooner, a question he could easily ignore as he never apologizes for anything. What they should have asked and should keep asking is when he changed his mind on the issue and why. And why even a few days ago he refused to admit it.
The obvious reason is birtherism was the calling card that attracted the sizeable portion of his base who believe Obama was born in Kenya. Trump won’t admit that, of course. He will be the artful dodger as usual, but somewhere in that admission of a change of mind on the issue is something solid for the press to glom onto and keep gnawing at.
Just keep holding on to this question: Mr. Trump, when did you change your mind on President Obama’s birth and why? Even if the TV press lets go, hopefully the moderators at the upcoming debates will bite hard.
P. S. – It should be clear by now that Donald Trump has successfully created his own version of reality that many Americans are buying into, to varying degrees but overall they like what he is selling. One of his backers captured this curious attraction by saying: “I don’t care what he says. I believe he’ll do it.” That “it” is pregnant with possible interpretations that I’ll leave up to you.
Karen Tamulty of the Washington Post tries to come to terms with this attraction in a an article titled: Trump: Never wrong, never sorry, never responsible. I liked it enough to read again.