The pres­i­dent got Trumped . . .

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Amaz­ing. I have never seen any­thing like the bizarre spec­ta­cle that un­folded on April 27, when the pres­i­dent of the United States was forced by a pri­vate cit­i­zen — nei­ther a jour­nal­ist nor (as yet) a politi­cian — to prove his sta­tus as nat­u­ral-born cit­i­zen, more than two years af­ter he was elected to the high­est of­fice in the land.

No mat­ter how the White House tries to spin this, Pres­i­dent Obama has been deeply dam­aged by this birth-cer­tifi­cate mess, dam­age that is en­tirely self-in­flicted. If his long-form birth cer­tifi­cate was avail­able to the pres­i­dent all along, why on earth did he not re­lease it years ago? In­stead, he stonewalled just enough for the whole mat­ter to ap­pear sus­pi­cious to large num­bers of Amer­i­cans, leav­ing a per­fect open­ing for a skilled op­por­tunist like Don­ald Trump, who has played the pres­i­dent like a well-worn vi­o­lin.

In­deed, Mr. Trump po­si­tioned Mr. Obama in such a man­ner that the lat­ter was faced with just two un­palat­able choices: 1) Keep the birth cer­tifi­cate un­der wraps, al­low­ing sus­pi­cion to grow and pos­si­bly un­der­mine his re-elec­tion chances, or 2) cave in to pres­sure and, by do­ing so, el­e­vate Mr. Trump (sup­pos­edly a clown, re­mem­ber?) to his level.

In choos­ing the sec­ond of the two op­tions, Mr. Obama thinks he at least has taken away the whole rai­son d’etre of the pre- sumed Trump can­di­dacy, and per­haps he has. Un­for­tu­nately, he also un­wit­tingly has proved one of Mr. Trump’s main cri­tiques of his pres­i­dency — that Mr. Obama is weak. Any­one who has lis­tened care­fully to Mr. Trump these past weeks has heard him say over and over again that Mr. Obama doesn’t know what he’s do­ing, that other world lead­ers (es­pe­cially China and the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries) are tak­ing ad­van­tage of him, that he is far from the tough, strong leader Amer­ica needs in these dan­ger­ous times. Noth­ing Mr. Obama has done in re­sponse to Mr. Trump has dis­proved this no­tion — in­deed, quite the con­trary.

It is not only the pres­i­dent whom Mr. Trump has made to ap­pear a fool. At his gloat­ing news con­fer­ence from a tar­mac in New Hamp­shire where he took de­served credit for forc­ing the pres­i­dent’s hand, Mr. Trump also threw a harsh light at the en­tire me­dia es­tab­lish­ment. He ridiculed them for fail­ing to hold the pres­i­dent to the same stan­dards they ap­ply to ev­ery­one else (in­clud­ing Mr. Trump), ba­si­cally say­ing to re­porters: “I’ve just done the job you should have done three years ago. You’re wel­come.”

Whether he will be a se­ri­ous can­di­date or not, Mr. Trump has proved three things be­yond

Mr. Obama un­wit­tingly has proved one of Mr. Trump’s main cri­tiques of his pres­i­dency — that Mr. Obama is weak. Any­one who has lis­tened care­fully to Mr. Trump has heard him say that Mr. Obama doesn’t know what he’s do­ing, that other world lead­ers (es­pe­cially China and the OPEC) are tak­ing ad­van­tage of him, that he is far from the tough, strong leader Amer­ica needs.

shadow of a doubt: One, he can move pub­lic opin­ion. The day be­fore Mr. Obama at last re­leased his birth cer­tifi­cate, a USA To­day poll found that just 38 per­cent of Amer­i­cans thought Mr. Obama “def­i­nitely” had been born in Amer­ica, doubt cer­tainly driven by Mr. Trump’s one-man cam­paign. Two, he can bully the most pow­er­ful man in the world. And three, the me­dia in the United States are a joke, com­pletely un­in­ter­ested in do­ing their due dili­gence by vet­ting Mr. Obama’s back­ground, though any­one re­mem­ber­ing the Dan Rather fi­asco will re­call that they were happy to in­vent things about Ge­orge W. Bush.

I am re­minded of the fa­mous com­mer­cial from last Novem­ber’s elec­tion wherein Delaware Se­nate can­di­date Christine O’Don­nell an­nounced, “I’m not a witch.” At the time, I thought: If you have to say that, you’ve al­ready lost the ar­gu­ment. Ditto with the pres­i­dent. If, af­ter two years, you’re still try­ing to per­suade a large seg­ment of the elec­torate that you meet the bare min­i­mum con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments for le­git­i­macy, you’ve al­ready lost.

Mr. Obama may have at last de­flated the is­sue once and for all, but by wait­ing so long to do so, he also has raised dis­turb­ing ques­tions about his char­ac­ter and judg­ment. How is that not a de­feat?

Matt Pat­ter­son is a con­trib­u­tor to “Proud to be Right: Voices of the Next Con­ser­va­tive Gen­er­a­tion”.

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