In recent days, the Trump Obama birth certificate conspiracy theory has resurfaced with a vengeance. It started with an interview with the Washington Post in which Trump refused to acknowledge that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Now, Trump is suggesting that it was actually Hillary Clinton in 2008 that started the birther movement. So this seems like an ideal time for a Clinton birther fact check.
After initial denials by the campaign and an initial denial of the denials by Donald Trump, Trump finally announced on Friday that he did in fact believe that Obama was born in the United States. But perhaps Trump decided that if he had to give up one conspiracy, he would embrace another by blaming Clinton for the whole birth certificate fiasco.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy.”
As a matter of fact, while there are slight indications that some Clinton supporters embraced the idea of birtherism, several investigations by journalists have demonstrated that the Clinton campaign and Clinton herself had absolutely nothing to do with it. But this tiny piece of information is what Trump exaggerated into and anti-Obama birther movement in the Clinton campaign.
As pointed out by ABC News, an internal memo was written by Clinton campaign staffer Mark Penn suggesting that Obama’s foreign connections could be a weakness for him, but that was as far as it went. As for the Clinton supporters outside of the campaign who may have been associated with the birth certificate controversy, these people had no direct connections to the campaign.
The indisputable evidence makes clear that it was Donald Trump – and the Tea Party in general – that fully embraced the concept of birtherism. Trump quite literally Trumpeted his call for Obama’s birth certificate, and insinuated – without flatly stating it – that the birth certificate produced was a forgery.
Now, with Obama’s administration drawing to a close and with Donald Trump running in a general election where the birther argument doesn’t play so well, Trump is trying to back away from it and shift the blame for the entire idea to Hillary Clinton. But this idea doesn’t seem likely to fly.
As pointed out above, even a minimal fact checking of the goings on in his 2008 election proves that Trump’s contentions about Hillary Clinton birthing the birther movement are false. But just why is it that Trump is so desperate at this moment to distance himself from the birther movement he helped to found?
What do I have to lose? My dignity, black voters said last week in Detroit: https://t.co/1GDukREXuh— lesley clark (@lesleyclark) September 9, 2016
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Donald Trump making a concerted effort to reach out to black voters across the United States. Of course, the likelihood of him actually convincing black Americans to vote for him in significant numbers – considering some of the things he has said and done – is extraordinarily small.
Certainly, Black Americans deeply resent the birther movement, and blame Trump for it. But Trump – and the Trump campaign – may feel that it might just be possible to shift this blame onto Hillary Clinton.
Nothing Trump can say will ever erase the fact that for 5 years he tried to delegitimize America's 1st black President w/RACIST #BIRTHERISM.— Bill Madden (@activist360) September 16, 2016
The reasons for this strategy are fairly obvious. All of the demands for the Barack Obama birth certificate made by Trump and the Tea Party – as well as their refusal to accept the legitimacy of said birth certificate when it was presented – are closely related to an undercurrent of racism running through the whole argument.
Even for Donald Trump, brazenly suggesting that a black man should not be President of the United States might have been seen as too much. But by couching it in different terms – such as birth certificates, foreign nationality and Islamic influences – Trump and his cronies were able to make indirect racist arguments under the cover of talking about something else.
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