On Thursday, the Trump birther issue once again jumped into the headlines, with Donald Trump refusing to admit in an interview that Barack Obama was born in the United States and constitutionally qualified to be President. On Friday morning, Trump finally said, reluctantly, that he did in fact believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States, but is it too late to avoid major damage to his own campaign from his most recent gaffe?
Over the last 24 hours, the desperate Trump campaign has once again been engaged in a massive damage control effort to deal with the problems caused by their own wayward, and often irrational sounding candidate. During an interview on Thursday with the Washington Post, Trump made it clear at that time that he was still unwilling to turn his back on the birther movement by saying that President Obama was born in the United States.
“I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, on Thursday night the Trump campaign released a remarkable message in which they contradicted the assertions of their own candidate earlier in the day. This statement essentially said that Trump did believe Obama was born in the United States. Yet in the hours following this later statement, Trump was still reluctant to agree with his campaign handlers that this is what he actually thought.
Trump falsely accused Clinton of having first raised questions about President Obama’s birthplace in 2008 https://t.co/8EGLAhjLBN— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) September 16, 2016
One of the reasons that this issue is so significant is that Donald Trump was the principal voice for the so-called birther movement of 2008 and onward, which sought to delegitimize President Barack Obama by insisting that he was born in Kenya, and, therefore, not a natural-born citizen of the United States. If this had been true, which it definitely isn’t, Obama, under the Constitution, would not have been qualified to be president.
Trump’s role as the virtual leader behind the birther issue is undisputed. In fact, even in his statements on Thursday and Friday, Trump takes great pride in the fact that he forced Barack Obama to release his birth certificate to prove his citizenship.
Trump ignores the fact that he and other birther conspiracy theorists then proceeded to suggest that the birth certificate was falsified in some way and that the state of Hawaii colluded with Barack Obama to hide the truth, despite the fact any objective, rational observer would accept that Obama has provided more than sufficient proof of his citizenship. Of course, rationality and Donald Trump don’t necessarily belong in the same sentence.
To a large extent, the entire birther issue is founded on the racist apprehensions that many people have about the idea of a black man sitting in the Oval Office. By discussing nationality and Barack Obama’s supposed embrace of Islam, right-wing Republicans and Tea Party members can covertly talk about race without seeming to do so.
Donald Trump’s initial decision on Thursday to refuse to turn his back on the birther issue is quite similar to the problem he had last year with David Duke. Instead of denouncing the former KKK member, Trump refused to acknowledge that he even knew who he was – although there is clear evidence that he did.
Another aspect of this resurrected Trump birther issue is that the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself, has been trying desperately over the last 24 hours to again suggest that it was actually the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2008 that created the birther conspiracy theory to begin with.
In fact, several investigations have proven that – while some supporters of the Clinton campaign may have been involved early on – it was actually Donald Trump who took the lead in the birther movement. Whether the Trump campaign will now be able to put out the latest fire caused by their bloviating candidate remains to be seen.
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