Thursday, April 21, 2011

Birthers And The Big Lie

Two perspectives on Donald Trump, his accusations against the president, and the latest polls. First, from Jonathan Martin at Politico:

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.


Shivaun Wilkinson said...

Yet another example of a debate that does not have two legitimate sides, yet the media keeps the story going. The fact that he has so many interviews shows that America is more interested in stupidity than fact. Obama's birth location has been proven and addressed countless times. Could the country go back to actual issues again?

Fr. John said...

Thanks, Shivaun. To a certain extent, it is an actual issue -- the refusal of a significant percentage of Americans to accept the results of a free election and Trump's decision, whether sincerely or opportunistically, to try to use them to get power for himself. Worrisome!

If I'm awake at 2:30 a.m. Easter morning, I'll be praying about Miriam Hope, your family, and Roger+. Will your folks be with you?

Mr. Dobolena said...

This is, perhaps, the unintended consequence of our rights to free speech. These folks can talk about the President's place of birth all they want and be protected. It's only when they take the next step of trying to "make something out of it" that there are responses and remedies other than rhetorical ones.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about this whole citizenship issue. The constitution says you have to be a natural born citizen, my question is what makes a natural born citizen. Aren't you considered a citizen if your parents are US citizens, even if you are not actually born in the US.

Fr. John said...

Thanks for your comment, anonymous. While I'm not sure what the answer to your question is, it doesn't apply to the president, who was born in the great state of Hawaii. Thanks again.

MK said...

Symptomatic of a larger problem: avoidance. Don't like an outcome? No need to face it, to deal with it like an adult. For too many Americans, that's become SOP. Even if something such as an election result. It's a sign of a very troubling weakness. "Mom, make it go away!" Find a way to "disappear it." Demonize the individual; make him or her seem alien. Same thing on policy debates. Exaggerate the other side's characteristics in a negative way; puff out your chest and convince yourself you are good by contrast. Cover your ears and shout lalalala if anyone pushes back against the tactics. Retreat to feel good echo chambers. That's how some of these voters come across to me.

That's not what either party needs to be showing to Independents such as I. We're looking for solutions based on realism not emotivism. And signs of at least a little bit of moral compass. Birtherism sesnds a terrible metamessage that threatens to swamp any other messaging. I doubt RN, the pragmatist, ever could have predicted his party would be mired in stuff like this!

Fr. John said...

Well said, MK. I don't see how a (I'll just say it) liberal Republican like Nixon, even one as shrewd as he, could have navigated in today's environment. Our FB friend Rick Perlstein accused him of igniting the culture wars by using law and order as an anchor in the center-right. Trump's move is to call the president a crook. Strange times.