Donald Trump: Crazy, Cynical, Or Both?

Donald Trump, who may or may not be running for President, is continuing his strange obsession with the birther myth, and reminding Republicans that two years of silence in the face of lunacy may come back to bite them.

Donald Trump’s odd obsession with the long-debunked idea that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, or is otherwise in eligible to be President, is taking some pretty bizarre turns now:

He off-handedly questioned President Obama’s birthplace last week – a comment that drew strong rebukes from some quarters – but now business mogul Donald Trump says he’s more concerned than ever that the president was, in fact, not born in the United States.

Trump – who, however improbably, claims to be considering a presidential bid – said Monday that since his first public statement on the issue last week, “a lot of facts are emerging” that are making him question more seriously where Obama was born.

“I am really concerned,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox News. “You have no doctors, you have no nurses … that remember.”

“I brought it up just routinely, and all of the sudden a lot of facts are emerging, and I am starting to wonder myself whether he was born in this country,” he exclaimed.

Video:

Trump also said today that someone should investigate Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has said on more than one occasion that he personally knew Obama as a child growing up in Hawaii.

All of this leads David Frum to ask a question:

Is Donald Trump crazy? Or does he just hold a very, very, very low opinion of the Republican primary voter?

Is it possible that the answer is “both,” and that this is really nothing more than Trump’s latest way of being outrageous, garnering media attention, and keeping his name in the media? After all, it certainly can’t be a coincidence that the fourth season of The Celebrity Apprentice is garnering higher ratings than previous versions of the show have in the past. It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that Trump, who has been a master of self-promotion for decades now, is using all this speculation about whether or not he’ll run for President to feed the ratings of his show, and his bizarre attention to the birther issue is part of that. He may not need the money, but the attention, and the ratings all feed his monstrously large ego, and that’s got to be worth something.

And, at the risk of opening up a can of worms that should have been closed a long, long time, ago, someone ought to inform Trump that the evidence that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii is, in a word, overwhelming. We’ve got the Certification of Live Birth, which is clearly genuine. That COLB is the only document that the State of Hawaii issues to verify birth records. In addition to the COLB, we’ve got contemporaneous birth announcements from two Honolulu newspapers in August 1961 of a son born to Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama. That’s it, case closed. Barack Obama was born in the United States. He’s a natural born citizen. Now, can we finally, move on from this thing?

I’m left with one final thought, though, as the birther myth began to flourish in the early months of Barack Obama’s Presidency, there were several commentators who took note that the movement could pose a problem for the GOP in the coming years:

The birther movement may be premised on a fictional belief, but it is savvy: birthers now wear the term “birther” as badge of honor, as if they were a persecuted minority — which, come to think of it, is one mechanism for solidarity in the face of evidence to the contrary. (“Hitler had the “Untermenschen,” Pol Pot had the “Intelligentsia,” and now Obama has the “Birther.”) The most prominent birthers are Alan Keyes, the former presidential candidate and Obama Senate challenger; Orly Tait, a wonderfully named lawyer from California; Phil Berg, a Democrat; and Michael Reagan, son of Ronald Reagan, and a prominent radio talk show host. This is, at once, a fringe movement and something greater. It’s fringe because no important Republicans believe it, and most are offended by it. It’s greater because some fairly prominent local lawmakers are beginning to sign birther petitions.

At least nine members of Congress have cosponsored a birther bill that would require prospective presidents to affirm their U.S. citizenship. What we don’t know is how widespread the belief is among Republicans — and even if the belief is confined to a narrow minority, whether the belief will spread as Republicans begin to pay closer attention to electoral politics in 2010 and 2012. In the same way that Democrats in 2004 always got a stolen election question (which, to be fair, was at least closer to reality than the birther’s claims), Republican presidential candidates need to figure out how to diffuse angry birthers who are bound to show up and demand their attention. …. The buried lede to this post: Rush Limbaugh claimed today that Obama “has yet to prove that he’s a citizen.” Republicans have to be extra careful. If they give credence to the birthers, they’re (not only advancing ignorance but also) betraying the narrowness of their base. If they dismiss this growing movement, they might drive birthers to find more extreme candidates, which will fragment a Republican political coalition

Or, to the extent that they’re seen pandering to lunatics, the movement could harm the GOP in the eyes of general public. Republicans who would admit the birthers were crazy behind closed doors, however, refused to say much of anything in public. Now, two years later, it seems like these predictions are coming true, and that every candidate that runs for President is going to have to answer that embarrassing debate question about Barack Obama’s citizenship. Regardless of which way they answer, they’re going to look profoundly silly.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Elvis Elvisberg says:

    This post is entirely accurate, that the GOP is playing with fire. A recent poll found that a majority of GOP primary voters indulge in birtherism.

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The GOP base has no beliefs at all anymore, just a seies of resentments. (Honestly, what has the GOP proposed & enacted in the past 15 years that amounts to a consistent position? The importance of reducing government revenues regardless of context?)

    They resent higher learning, so they argue that evolution and climate change aren’t real. (See this post for data on the widespread nature of these views among Republicans: http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/03/you_want_more_epistemic_closur.html ). They resent Democrats, so they have convinced themselves the health insurance reform proposal that the Heritage Foundation created and Bob Dole proposed has now become socialist, Kenyan, and unconstitutional because Democrats passed it.

    Birtherism is the steroids of the Republican Party– good for short-term performance, not great for the long term. The 2010 elections were the equivalent of Mark McGwire in 1998. It’s not obvious when the cowering before Congress moment is coming for them, but probably quicker than it did for McGwire.




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  2. Hey Norm says:

    Palin/Trump ’12




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  3. Dustin says:

    I like how he tries to assert that he’s the one who really opened the bag on this at the end. “I brought it up just routinely and now all of these facts are emerging!” In fact it more sounds like he made the comment, saw it got some traction and then actually went to find out what the talking points are. Just because you finally went to see what the “facts” have been for some time, doesn’t make them new emerging “facts”.




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  4. mantis says:

    Is it possible that the answer is “both,” and that this is really nothing more than Trump’s latest way of being outrageous, garnering media attention, and keeping his name in the media?

    I would put the probability of this being the correct assessment somewhere around 100%.




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  5. Pug says:

    Well, I find Trump’s incoherent raving about birth certificates less annoying than listening to him constantly talk about a smart and rich he is.0

    Trump is an out of control megalomianiac.




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  6. David says:

    I remember those happy days when people were questioning McCain’s eligibility for the Presidency because he was, in fact, born overseas, and the question of Obama’s birthplace hadn’t really taken root.

    Oh, those happy, happy days…




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  7. michael reynolds says:

    Trump has correctly analyzed his audience — GOP voters — as imbeciles and is treating them accordingly.




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  8. Elvis Elvisberg says:

    Here’s more fuel for the “cynical, and accurate” theory.

    People with policy preferences abandoned the Republican Party during the Bush Jr. era. There’s nothing left but tribalism. Trump is playing it exactly right. Your original question is Poe’s Law in action.




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  9. Neo says:

    I just know that this is leading up to an election night proclamation of …
    YOU’RE FIRED.




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  10. Kylopod says:

    >I remember those happy days when people were questioning McCain’s eligibility for the Presidency because he was, in fact, born overseas

    That’s what’s so ironic about the whole birther controversy: Obama’s opponent was in fact the first major-party nominee in history to have been born outside the U.S.




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  11. Bleev K says:

    If you want to be elected by a moron, you have to behave like one.




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  12. mattb says:

    All Trump is doing is proving how astute he is as self-promotion. He’s serious in the same way that Limaugh is. Meaning I have little doubt he skews conservative on most financial issues, but ultimately, what he knows how to do (as Doug notes) is stir up controversy. Plus, I think he’s internalized the following idea that has been associated with El Rushbo:

    “Rush once told me, “The only way to make millions is for half the nation to hate you.”
    Source: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2009/04/01/rush_limbaugh




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  13. MM says:

    That’s what’s so ironic about the whole birther controversy: Obama’s opponent was in fact the first major-party nominee in history to have been born outside the U.S

    Well, there were the ones who were born before there was a US.




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  14. Murray says:

    Nobody will make me believe he’s interested in the presidency. The free publicity on the other hand seems much more interesting to make some cash rather than earn it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he found a loophole in campaign finance laws and intends milking the morons for all they are worth. From that point of view the birther crowd is interesting because they are easily aroused and he would be assured not to get the job.




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  15. Kylopod says:

    >I wouldn’t be surprised if he found a loophole in campaign finance laws and intends milking the morons for all they are worth.

    Sort of like a political version of The Producers?

    Springtime for birtherism and bigotry….




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  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    They resent higher learning, so they argue that evolution and climate change aren’t real.

    sigh………..




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  17. Wiley Stoner says:

    Doug, a certiicate of live birth in Hawaii took only someone asking for one. No attending Doc, no hospital. You seem to have a problem with those who would like the President of the United States to produce something as simple as a birth certificate. If he was born in Hawaii, in a hospital, and there was a delivering doctor, that would all be documented on a birth certificate. The certificate of live birth shows none of that information. If you were not afraid of the answer, you could do a little research to see what it took to get the document they seem to want to pass off as proof. What are they afraid of? All we have ever gotten is rhetoric. That seems to be all your side has. Kind of like the war in Libya. If this is a no fly zone, why are they attacking tanks and artillery? They don’t fly. If Bush had done this the left would be howling impeachment.




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  18. mantis says:

    Wiley,

    Don’t you ever stop before hitting the “Post Comment” button and think, “Wait, I’m making a complete fool of myself?”




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  19. mantis says:

    Tell you what, stoner boy. Go get yourself a Hawaiian COLB that says you were born in Honolulu. Anyone can do it, right? They just hand those things out!

    Get to it, stoner. I demand to see your Hawaiian COLB.




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  20. Elvis Elvisberg says:

    DON’T BELIEVE WILEY STONER!!!1!!!!

    HEW iS An AGENT OF THE SOCIOFASCIST KEnyane!!!!

    Karl ROVE tole US What the STORY IS about LIES!=

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201103280016 : the White House “strategy” is to get conservatives and Republicans to keep talking up the debunked conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in America in an effort to make his opponents look a little nutty. Even Rove concedes the birther nonsense turns off independent voters, which is why he’s so sure the White House is somehow promoting the birther brigade: It’s a distraction from the real issues at hand.

    only the DHIMMITCRatS want to sa the birth ceritficate so dont saying it




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  21. anjin-san says:

    Trump is an egomaniac who is far more interested in building his personal brand than what is good for the country. A pretty good fit for today’s GOP.




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  22. Tlaloc says:

    Is it possible that the answer is “both,”

    There is nothing crazy about having a low opinion of GOP primary voters.




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  23. MarkedMan says:

    OK, I stand before you awed and humbled. I thought our birther brethren here was as dumb as you could get. But I just visited Ben Smith’s site where he was gently poking fun by questioning Trump’s BC. And then I read the comments. The dumb-i-tude was just awe inspiring. The birthers there are just all up and over ours for stupid. GUYS! GET TO WORK!




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  24. G.A.Phillips says:

    mediamatters

    lol…………….




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  25. jukeboxgrad says:

    stoner:

    You seem to have a problem with those who would like the President of the United States to produce something as simple as a birth certificate.

    For some strange reason, WSJ said this:

    Obama has already provided a legal birth certificate demonstrating that he was born in Hawaii.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204619004574320190095246658.html

    I wonder why.

    The irony here is that this particular President of the United States has indeed produced his birth certificate, even though this is the number of other recent presidents who have done so: zero. Trump claimed that Reagan and Bush did, but like lots of other claims from Trump, that claim is false. (Reagan’s was ultimately shown, but not until after he left office.)

    Here’s what I have a problem with: those who would like only this particular President of the United States to produce a birth certificate, even though they never asked for such a thing or saw such a thing for any prior president or candidate. I wonder what this means.




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  26. jukeboxgrad says:

    Elvis, thank you for citing John Cole, because I hadn’t seen this. I can’t imagine a better summary of the current state of the GOP:

    It seriously is like David Lynch was asked to re-imagine the train wreck in The Greatest Show on Earth, and it really resembles a clown car pileup while on acid. Strewn across the littered, smoking landscape are disemboweled rubber chickens, deflated whoopie cushions, crushed toy cars smeared with old cotton candy and dingy clown white makeup, all the while some circus geeks run around using Harpo clown horns and screaming about textual analysis. It’s so much awesome I can barely control myself.

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/03/28/every-day-i-write-the-book/




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  27. sam says:

    @mantis

    Wiley,

    Don’t you ever stop before hitting the “Post Comment” button and think, “Wait, I’m making a complete fool of myself?”

    No. As I once said, Zels with a better grasp of syntax.




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  28. mantis says:

    Where is Wiley Stoner’s Hawaiian COLB? Anyone can get one! What is he hiding?!




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  29. MarkedMan says:

    Wiley, the challenge is out there. You have this belief that anyone can get a COLB from Hawaii and that it will say “Born in Hawaii” as Obama’s does. Prove it. Surely one of your birther brethren must have done so by now?




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  30. matt says:

    As far as I can tell you used to be able to get a COLB in Hawaii from anywhere but those COLBs would have clearly visible marks that it was a COLB for a non Hawaii resident and the birth place would be outside HAWAII..




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  31. mantis says:

    What is Wiley Stoner afraid of? He could put all the questions to rest so easily! Just release your Hawaiian COLB that anyone can get, Wiley!

    Also, we’d like to see everything you’ve ever written down in your life. If you don’t produce all of it immediately it is proof you are a communist/fascist/Islamist/dadaist/Wiccan. What are you hiding????!!!?!?!?!!




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  32. mannning says:

    The Birther Syndrome–Real or False?
    Mr. Obama is our 44th President. He will remain so until at least January, 2013, if not until January, 2017. The resurgent “Birther” syndrome has at its base, the provisions in our Constitution that the President must be a natural born citizen. Obama’s Certificate of Live Birth from Hawaii is set forth to answer this requirement.

    No one in any capacity has been able to prove otherwise, despite all manner of lawsuits or requests for information. Whether the truth lies in Hawaii or Kenya, we will still have Obama as President until his terms run out. This is what we must deal with today.

    Should the truth lie in Kenya, it would undoubtedly take years and years of litigation to reach some kind of conclusion and corrective actions. Meanwhile, there is a fine opportunity to make the issue moot by simply not reelecting him to office in 2012. Mr. Trump will not succeed!




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