Second Thoughts on Trump’s Birther Announcement Friday

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.

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NEWS FLASH: Trump Confirms Obama was born in the U. S. A.

Seduced into watching what was billed as a major statement by Donald Trump on the birther issue, I soon realized this was a photo op for Trump’s new hotel in Washington, the site of the event.  Also, it was a presidential promo provided by testimony from various former military – medal of honor winners, generals and admirals – in support of the Donald’s presidential candidacy.  There should have been a “Paid Advertisement” notice at the bottom of the screen.  Except the advertising was free.

And the big announcement?  That was Trump providing one more example of how easily he manipulates our media into promoting himself.  I felt like I was watching a matador trifling with a bull before skewering it.   (The media is the bull, just to be clear).

I realize how crazy it sounds that I would be drawn to what turns out to be a free political advertisement for Trump by the question of Obama’s birthplace, but in recent days the issue has been reborn because of statements by spokesmen in his campaign that Trump finally does accept Obama’s American birth.  However, when asked Donald Trump had refused to confirm that belief.   So, I admit it, I was curious.

And the major statement?   After puffing himself up for a half hour as a great builder and a great patriot, implying such a combination would make a great president, he finally got to the issue of Obama’s birth.  And this was the statement viewers had been waiting for:  “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

That was it, though he prefaced it with blaming Hillary Clinton for initiating the birther issue in her primary race with Obama (actually, it appears some of her supporters did that, but her campaign never embraced it) and then Trump ended with something about let’s get back to making America great again.

The media having made such a big issue of this announcement will act as if it still has great importance and peck away with more questions regarding Trump’s (supposed) change of mind (I never believed he believed it, just a marvelously effective manipulative tool for him).

But Trump will ignore them, as frankly he should.   It was always a ridiculous issue that was allowed to flourish because the media failed to pin him down on any facts he purportedly had found, while the Republican party was happy to remain mum on the issue figuring that anything that was anti-Obama was O.K. with them.

The birther issue has been a miraculous triumph of B. S. over reality. Trump has ridden that horse a long way… to death so to speak.  This was an opportune time to change horses, and so he did.   The press should stop beating the dead horse by dwelling on silly things like whether Trump should apologize to whomever, and move on to one of the many issues that actually merit consideration.  They lost their chance to be relevant on this issue many months ago.

Frankly, the skill in which Trump has handled this birther vehicle of self-promotion is enough for me to fantasize what he might do as president, but then I remind myself that self-promotion is his genius.  It is unclear to me what else he is really good at.   That genius has served him well in the real estate game and the presidential race, but the role of president is not primarily based on self-promotion.

As president one must actually do things as opposed to promising to do things.  Trump’s promises are endless, but the only thing I am convinced he can do is promote himself, like the little wizzard hiding behind the big screen pretending to be the Great Oz.

Donald Trump: King of the Birthers

I began to think of Donald Trump as a clown when he became king of the birthers several years ago.  Prior to that I thought of him as a publicity hound who got plenty of what he wanted.  But when he pushed the birther agenda he went beyond his own life and added to the distorted political consciousness of our nation.  And it was distorted aplenty before that.

That also raised my contempt for the Republican leaders who acted like innocents as to whether Obama was Kenyan born, as if they thought he might be. I also was disgusted with journalists who allowed Trump to get away with implications of what his crack investigators learned about Obama’s birth.  Always implying solid information, while never producing any, and never pressed to do so.

Now Trump refers to the great scholars who question that the 14th amendment really includes what he calls “anchor babies,” but once again the press doesn’t press for names.  That’s how falsehoods are allowed to stand and blossom into the “truthiness,” that Steven Colbert has mocked so well.

A recent poll concludes that 61% of Trump fans believe Obama was born in Kenya, while 62% think he’s a secret Muslim.  Other polls are considerably lower.  What seems more believable to me is is 30 to 40% in those categories.  (In these ornery times I can imagine some respondents giving false answers to screw with the pollsters).  Whatever the exact per cent is, it’s a lot of people who believe in nonsense, nonsense that is having a surprisingly big impact on our presidential race.

This morning I did some googling in search of an understanding of how so many people could still be convinced Obama was born in Kenya.  Well, there is plenty of information on the net to support that idea if you want to find it.  Nothing that I find credible, though.

My favorite is a video which claims to be Obama admitting to his Kenyan birth, which actually is Obama mocking the idea at a White House Correspondents dinner. There he said he had a birther video of his own and then played a segment from The Lion King.  I’m sitting here wondering just how low an I. Q. level it takes to miss the joke.

There is also a Kenyan birth certificate which upon examination seems to have the authenticity of a three dollar bill.

The most convincing bit of evidence that I could find was that: “A 1991 literary client list booklet listed Barack Obama as having been born in Kenya.”   I checked it on Snopes.com and they said it was “true”.   But they said much more, that the folks at the (right wing) Britebart News prefaced their providing the information by saying that while they believed Obama was born in Hawaii, they wanted to share the information as an indication of Obama’s misrepresentation of his ideology.

As if to say:  It’s not our fault if others use this to distort the truth.  As Snopes goes on to detail, the woman who edited that bio-pic later said that the Kenya birth was a “fact checking error” by her tied to her having little information on Obama at the time.   I suggest you read the Snopes piece as the details illuminate how truthiness is generated.

So, for those who can’t stand President Obama, you can find “evidence” he was born in Kenya, as long as you take the spurious information at face value.

By the way, I have long wondered why neither side of the birther debate has tried to establish where Obama’s mom was at his birth.  I have never seen anyone try to prove she was in Kenya at the time, only that he was born there.   Wouldn’t she have had to be there, too.?