Behold the damage Donald Trump hath wrought. Every credible fact check has established that Barack Obama was born in this country. Yet on Wednesday, a reality TV show ringmaster forced the president of the United States to prove it.
By asking why President Obama had not released his long-form birth certificate on numerous so-called news shows, Trump had even usually sensible people theorizing over lunch as to why the White House had not released the document. Was there something damning about the president's religion? His race? His parentage?
My theory was simpler. In 2008, Obama released a certificate of live birth. Why did he wait until Wednesday to release the long-form, which birth deniers demanded? Easy. Who doesn't like watching his political enemies look like complete dolts? Obamaland no doubt felt a warm rush of satisfaction every time some nut job right-winger put forth a contorted theory about the president's 18-year-old mother running off to a Third World delivery room to give birth and then, Manchurian-like, falsifying the paperwork. The debate debased conservative opposition.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer confirmed as much when he admitted in a press gaggle that it was probably in Obama's "long-term political interests to allow this birther debate to dominate discussion in the Republican Party for months to come."
Lo and behold, the percentage of people who believed Obama was not born in the United States kept rising. Most recently, a USA Today/Gallup poll found that only 38 percent of Americans thought Obama was "definitely" born in the United States. The media's obsession with this folly served to stoke public suspicion that where there is smoke, there must be fire.
Though some have faulted the president for letting the huckster Trump outmaneuver him, I think the White House has used the situation to its advantage.
As the budget wars heat up, Obama has reminded the country how reckless, rabid and resistant to fact some of his critics are. The whole trick to winning elections is getting the voters to hate the other side more. This round goes to the kid from Honolulu.