The Trump Effect on Birtherism

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 1 2011 12:37 PM

The Trump Effect on Birtherism

Chris Barron, chairman of GOProud, writes at length about Donald Trump's newfound obsession with Barack Obama's citizenship. You'll recall that GOProud was at least partly responsible for Trump's buzzy appearance at CPAC; the tycoon/pundit/punchline's slow descent into birtherism had been raising questions about the gay group.

Let me be 100% clear – I am not a birther. I have never said I don’t believe Barack Obama was born in this country. Quite honestly, I haven’t spent much time worrying about or thinking about this issue, because I just don’t care about it. But there are a lot of issues that I don’t particularly care about that lots of other people do (take soccer for instance, for whatever reasons billions of people around the globe love it, I couldn’t give a rats ass about it).

On the question of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, while its not an issue I care about, clearly there are large segments of the population – and the Republican primary electorate in particular – that do care about this issue. Just because I don’t care about the issue or just because the press has decided that the issue is 'off limits’ doesn’t mean that a potential Presidential candidate can’t legitimately raise questions about the issue.

I do believe that Mr. Trump’s approach to this issue, like his approach to almost every issue he has spoken on, has been a "common sense" approach. If there are those who question President Obama’s birthplace, then why not just produce the birth certificate (not the certificate of live birth – there is a difference) and be done with it? To me, that sounds pretty common sense.

Advertisement

I tried to get at this in my piece about the "birther primary." The problem for Republicans, who are still slow-walking their entry into the race, is that they've got a media lightning rod who's reintroducing an issue that they'd hoped would either 1) go away or 2) come up only in town halls where they could dispatch it. And they would not save themselves with the Barron defense. In 2007, some conspiracy theorists gravitated to Ron Paul's presidential campaign, partly because when asked an open-ended question about 9/11, he didn't say outright that there was no need to investigate it again. That led to this:

(Gotta love the "many" line -- did someone poll them?) The comparison between trutherism and birtherism is so obvious, and truthers were such an annoyance for Paul, that Republicans can't possibly enjoy the new prominence of the birth "issue."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM What Happens When You Serve McDonald’s to Food Snobs and Tell Them It’s Organic
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 4:36 PM Vampire Porn Mindgeek is a cautionary tale of consolidating production and distribution in a single, monopolistic owner.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.