With no other Republican hopefuls gaining traction, Trump has become a blinking neon stand-in for a candidate who will go beyond mainstream boundaries and make the case for why Obama isn’t just a bad president presiding over a declining America but perhaps an illegitimate one.
Trump’s mastery of media culture is what’s landed him at least 24 interviews on national network and cable television since his effective debut as a candidate at CPAC in February, providing him with the blanket media attention that his past presidential flirtations never quite enjoyed. But it’s Birtherism that serves as the rocket fuel launching Trump into presidential orbit.
But then Jim Rutenberg, summarizing a New York Times/CBS News poll on the GOP field, cools Trump's jets:
While that might indicate that there is a receptive audience for the real estate mogul Donald J. Trump as he raises questions about Mr. Obama’s citizenship, the poll also pointed to potential roadblocks for him should he pursue a formal candidacy.
Mr. Trump has been getting considerable attention as a possibly strong contender, but just about as many Republicans view him favorably as view him unfavorably — 35 percent favorably and 32 percent unfavorably— and nearly 60 percent of Republicans interviewed said they did not believe he was a serious candidate. (Far more of all voters view him unfavorably — 46 percent — than view him favorably, 25 percent.)
So birtherism hasn't gotten Trump much traction after all. But now that he's taken it mainstream, all those who have taken the birther pledge should at least be held accountable for what they're really saying. They're accusing Barack Obama of the impeachable offense of stealing the presidency by means of fraud and other crimes. They're telling the world that the U.S. doesn't have a legitimate president.
I suppose that it could be construed as some kind of a well-meaning if totally misguided act of patriotism if a sophisticated elite like Trump really believed it, but if not -- if he or anyone else is just saying it to gain an advantage with the 47% of Republicans who have convinced themselves that Obama is a fraud and usurper -- then they should be kept as far from power as possible. The U.S. doesn't need a home-grown version of the big lie.