Trump: Grand wiz­ard of birtherism

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Analysis/opinion - Opin­ion Charles M. Blow

SO, on Fri­day the Grand Wiz­ard of Birtherism against Pres­i­dent Obama ad­mit­ted that birtherism was bunk, not by apol­o­gis­ing for his prom­i­nent role in the racist cam­paign — no, that would have been too right — but by sug­gest­ing that he de­served credit for dous­ing the flames he’d fanned. This man is so low that he’s sub­ter­ranean. Don­ald Trump said Fri­day: “Hil­lary Clin­ton and her cam­paign of 2008 started the birther con­tro­versy.”

That was a lie. There is no ev­i­dence Hil­lary Clin­ton and her cam­paign ei­ther started or took part in the ef­forts to ques­tion the lo­ca­tion of Barack Obama’s birth. He con­tin­ued: “I fin­ished it.” That was also a lie. Well af­ter it had been es­tab­lished that the pres­i­dent was born in this coun­try, Trump con­tin­ued to traf­fic in spec­u­la­tion to the con­trary, all the way up to and in­clud­ing this year.

Then Trump said, with­out elab­o­ra­tion or al­low­ing ques­tions: “Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was born in the United States. Pe­riod.”

Trump has a long his­tory of el­e­vat­ing the idiocy of con­spir­acy the­o­ries and nor­mal­is­ing the non­sen­si­cal.

Trump has claimed that Bill Ayers wrote the Pres­i­dent’s ac­claimed, best­selling mem­oir be­cause surely this black man could not have the tal­ent to write the book. As Tr u mp put it:

“I think

some­body else had a lot to do with that book. I think he wrote the sec­ond book, which was cer­tainly not a mas­ter­piece. I’m very good at books, and it cer­tainly wasn’t a mas­ter­piece.”

It should be noted that Trump’s own best seller, The Art of the Deal, was ghost­writ­ten by Tony Schwartz, who told The New Yorker in July, “I se­ri­ously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.”

Trump claimed in a 2011 in­ter­view with Sean Han­nity that Pres­i­dent Obama was “born Barry Soe­toro, some­where along the line, he changed his name.”

Soe­toro is the sur­name of Obama’s mother’s sec­ond hus­band, who she mar­ried when Obama was a young boy.

But Trump didn’t stop there. He strung to­gether more con­spir­acy the­o­ries, in­clud­ing com­ing back to his ob­vi­ous envy of the suc­cess and qual­ity of Obama’s first book:

“I heard he had ter­ri­ble marks and he ends up in Har­vard. He wrote a book that was bet­ter than Ernest Hem­ing­way, but his sec­ond book was writ­ten by an av­er­age per­son. He shouldn’t have writ­ten the sec­ond book.” Speak­ing of col­lege, Trump h a s in­sin­u­ated that Obama never at­tended Columbia Uni­ver­sity.

In 2011, Trump told the Con­ser­va­tive Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Con­fer­ence that “our cur­rent pres­i­dent came out of nowhere” and “In fact, I’ll go a step fur­ther: The peo­ple that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”

The fact-check­ing site Poli­tiFact rated this lie “Pants on Fire.”

He once sug­gested to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that maybe Obama hadn’t pro­duced a birth cer­tifi­cate be­cause it could re­veal that he’s a se­cret Mus­lim. He said:

“Peo­ple have birth cer­tifi­cates. He doesn’t have a birth cer­tifi­cate.

“He may have one but there’s some­thing on that, maybe re­li­gion, maybe it says he is a Mus­lim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that.”

In­deed, the list of con­spir­acy the­o­ries Trump has floated about Pres­i­dent Obama is long, but Obama has not been the only tar­get.

Trump has also en­ter­tained the sus­pi­cion that Supreme Court Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia was mur­dered, just as he sug­gests Vince Fos­ter was.

He has also in­ti­mated that Ted Cruz’s fa­ther was in­volved in the as­sas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy.

This is what Trump does: He ex­alts gos­sip and in­nu­endo, which has the di­rect and op­po­site ef­fect of de­grad­ing truth and hon­esty.

He finds a lie in which the de­praved have faith and he lifts it up as if it’s a se­cret that their op­po­nents fear.

This is an enor­mous dis­trac­tion, be­cause it means that time and at­ten­tion that could be put into ex­pos­ing that Trump’s poli­cies are ei­ther pa­per thin or laugh­ably un­work­able are in­stead di­verted to dis­prov­ing lies which usher forth from his mouth like wa­ter from a hose at full throt­tle. And even when con­fronted with proof pos­i­tive that his con­spir­a­cies are base­less, he of­ten doesn’t back down, or if he does, he does so with­out apol­ogy. He is not only bend­ing the truth, he is break­ing the no­tion that truth should mat­ter in the first place.

This is what is so baf­fling about the peo­ple sup­port­ing him: They know he’s ly­ing, but they so want to be­lieve the lies that they have pushed them­selves into a uni­verse of i r rat i ona l i ty that is de­void of logic.

So, his ad­mis­sion on Fri­day was too lit­tle, too late; too con­trived, too strate­gic and too lack­ing in con­text.

In fact, Trump has ped­dled so many lies about the pres­i­dent that this clearly elec­tion­driven, down-to-the-wire po­lit­i­cal ploy rang hol­low and felt like as much of an in­sult as the orig­i­nal claim.

No one who so proudly wears the mark of dis­hon­esty and defama­tion pos­sesses the power to grant the stamps of le­git­i­macy and ab­so­lu­tion. — New York Times

Don­ald Trump

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