Even before the news that Barack Obama's birth certificate was being released to the public, I wanted to write a piece on why Donald Trump's potential candidacy for the GOP nomination was a joke at best and intentionally harmful to the conservative movement at worst. Now he's claiming credit for Obama's release of the birth certificate and says he's "proud" and "honored".
Donald Trump, whose popularity as a possible Republican presidential contender shot up after he started questioning the whereabouts of President Obama's birth certificate, said Wednesday he is "so proud" the president has finally released the forms.
"I am so proud of myself because I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," Trump said from Portsmouth, N.H., where he was giving early primary voters a close-up look at a potential presidential campaign.
"I feel I've accomplished something really, really important and I'm honored for it," Trump said.
The billionaire real estate mogul and host of "Celebrity Apprentice" brought the issue of the president's birth certificate to the forefront after years of complaints from a small segment of society, come to be known as "birthers," who said it is not satisfied with the short-form version of the president's certificate provided during the 2008 presidential campaign.
There is only one reason why Barack Obama would release his birth certificate now after more than three years since Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign brought it up: Because it benefits him politically to do so.
Since the "Birther" issue came up, Barack Obama, the Democrats and the Leftist media have milked it for all it's worth. Despite the small number of vocal proponents of the idea that Obama was born outside the United States, the Left has made political hay of the derranged individuals who cling to the idea that if, somehow, some way, Obama could be proved not a U.S. citizen, he could be removed from office! The fact that his mother was a U.S. citizen which gives him birthright citizenship is meaningless! These people are on a mission!
The Birthers, of course, are quite different from regular skeptics. After the question was raised and after the months and years dragged on without a birth certificate, it was healthy to simply wonder about whether Barack Obama was actually born in the United States. Once again, however, his mother was a U.S. citizen, so even if he'd been born in Kenya or Indonesia or Bhutan or on the planet Vulcan, he's still be a birthright U.S. citizen by virtue of his mother's citizenship.
None of that has mattered to the Birthers, nor did it matter to Donald Trump whilst he cavorted about the evening news programs, bringing back to the forefront an issue that had long-since faded into the background. After declaring his interest in the Republican Party nomination, the media happily gave him every opportunity to talk about the issue as though it actually mattered. This allowed them to paint the Republican Party and conservatives as a fringe element incapable of rational thought and allowed them to portray (once again) Obama as a victim.
So now the birth certificate has been released, and The Donald is just so happy to take credit for it. He can, of course, take some of the credit for its release. His statements to the press put the issue back in front of everybody, conveniently distracting Americans from some other important issues, like the Debt Ceiling, Libya, Syria, Federal Reserve announcements and the down-grading of the United States' credit rating. Trump doesn't realize or doesn't care, however, that he's been played.
In a move that would make Machiavelli proud, Obama has given new political credibility to the well-known but politically weak Donald Trump. He made it seem as though The Donald did what no one else could do. The Donald pushed Barack Obama and Obama gave up the goat!
In reality, Obama has pushed back, and hard! Releasing the birth certificate now serves Obama's motives since Trump is politically inexperienced and is likely to make a great many mistakes should he win the nomination and face Obama in the general election. In particular, the Birther stance will harm Trump's credibility among centerists and the Left; but his previous actions as an eminent domain abuser will harm him among the conservative base. Further, no matter what happens to his candidacy, Trump harms the GOP in the general, since the GOP will now have a clear association with the Birther movement.
Talk Radio News Washington Bureau chief and Fox News contributor Ellen Ratner agrees with this analysis:
Wednesday's decision by President Obama to release his long form birth certificate was anything but a response to political pressure applied against him by Donald Trump and other "birthers." Obama's team has obviously had this in their quiver for the last two plus years. Like a black widow spider weaving its web, the Obama political army has been sitting, waiting for its prey.
Trump, the wealthiest of the potential 2012 Republican candidates, has loudly questioned Obama's birthplace, attempting to use his popular brand to bring the "birther" movement into the mainstream. Thanks to Trump, the issue has taken center stage, and recent polls have shown that a fair amount of voters believe that Trump is right to doubt the president's citizenship.
Obama's move this morning makes the "birthers" look like the fringe group that they are. The news will satisfy the swinging independent bloc, and in this upcoming election that's all that matters.
Trump has a lot of demons to overcome. His attempt to trademark the statement "You're fired!" is just one of the more amusing examples of how unhinged he can sometimes be. Add to this the Birther stance and he'll lose the center. Then add the failed marriages and other personal demons and the social conservatives will eventually abandon him, or at least fail to support him. His abuse of New Jersey's eminent domain laws and his many financial transgressions (how many times do you have to declare bankruptcy before banks will stop lending you money?) will hurt him among the constitutionalists and fiscally-motivated conservatives.
Already Democrat pollster and operative Brad Bannon has made his opinions known about The Donald and given a clue as to what the Democrats will harp on in 2012, thanks to his Birtherist behavior:
Donald Trump is the king of the birthers. He is the front runner in the GOP race because his party, like him, is a joke. The voters who will select a nominee for the GOP in primaries and caucuses are blinded by hatred and ideological hot flashes. The Tea Partyers and the Christian conservatives don't want to win; they just want to be right. And since Trump can’t win, he would be the perfect right-wing candidate.
Trump has great credentials for dealing with the economic problems that would test his presidency. He has had companies go bankrupt three times and he owns casinos so he understands the culture of the high rollers on Wall Street who gambled away the jobs and homes of millions of working families.
But Trump’s expertise goes far beyond financial acumen. He clearly understands the role of traditional marriage in American life since he has been married three times. And he is skilled in foreign affairs since two of his three wives have been foreign born. By the way, did he check their birth certificates before the ceremonies?
The fact is, Trump isn't a conservative. Since I'm convinced he's not actually an idiot and have no evidence he's a Democrat Party plant, I conclude that he must be a Populist. Whatever has people talking today will be Trump's issue du-jour tomorrow. With gasoline prices soaring, look for Trump to attach himself to the "Drill here, drill now" or "Punish Big Oil" or some other Fix-It bandwagon. He may find an oppositional stance on Libya or wonder aloud about our lack of involvement in Syria. If health care or taxes head the next new cycle, expect him to take the stance of the group with the loudest voices. Whatever he does, it will be because it's popular and grows his support among some constituency, not because he believes it to be the right position.
So why would conservatives support Trump now? Simply put, there's a lot ot be said for early momentum, even for bad candidates. While dark horse candidates have appeared in the past (that's why we have the term "dark horse", after all), most eventual nominess start with strong early support and build upon it throughout the primaries. Early momentum means name recognition, media, organization and most importantly money! After all, as wealthy as he is Trump doesn't have $1 billion laying around to spend on a political campaign, and that's the sum the Democrats have been claiming they'll raise for 2012.
In short, Trump is a terrible candidate for the GOP nomination and the Obama campaign would be thrilled to face him in 2012. By releasing the birth certificate now, when it benefits Donald Trump most, Obama is injecting himself into the GOP campaign before it has even started and given potentially its worst candidate a push toward the nomination.
Cross-posted at The Minority Report Blog.