Trump’s “Birther” Issue Now an Integrity Issue
Donald Trump says the “Birther” issue is dead. But, of course, it’s not dead. His recent announcement put it back into the headlines, and political discussions. You just can’t put that much energy into something for so many years, and just announce one day that it’s done. Especially if one of your own allies is still peddling the idea.
Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. . . appeared to dismiss the notion that Trump’s disavowal of his past birtherism played any role in his determination to keep investigating Obama’s birth certificate, an inquiry that began in August 2011, four months after the White House released the document.
“I know all the politicians say, ‘Sheriff, don’t talk about it,’” Arpaio said, according to the report. “But how can I back down when we started it? I’m not going to just forget it.”. . . Arpaio also added, “I’m not going to give up, and we’re looking into it … I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”
Besides, some don’t think Trump is telling the truth now, anyway, just ask Trump’s friend, Roger Stone, according to The Blaze.
Trump “has always had suspicions about this and to him it never added up.”. . .I think the bottom line is he doesn’t know. He’s not sure. That’s not the same as ‘I’m certain the president was born in Hawaii’ or ‘I’m certain that he was not,’” he added.
More of Stone’s comments were in the Boston Herald.
Trump long has been a champion of the “birther” movement, holding multiple press conferences during Obama’s first term questioning whether he was born in the United States, offering $5 million if the president released his birth certificate, and suggesting Obama may have “pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.”
Asked about Obama’s official Hawaii-issued Certificate of Live Birth, which was distributed to the press in April 2011, Stone said “there are many people who are far more knowledgeable than I am about the Internet and computerized graphics who have a belief the document produced was not real.”
In the Blaze article, Bernie Sanders has his own take on the “Birther” issue.
“My dad was born in Poland. Do you know how many people ever asked me whether or not I was born in America? Nobody ever asked me that,” Sanders said. “Maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin.”
Meanwhile, Lindsay Graham says Trump owes the country an apology for the whole mess.
Donald Trump should apologize for pushing the “unseemly” birther conspiracy regarding where President Barack Obama was born, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham indicated Tuesday. . .
“I would apologize,” Graham, a frequent and colorful Trump critic, told Bloomberg Politics on Tuesday. “I think the whole movement was unseemly. I had a lot of distaste for it. No factual basis. I think he would be taking the high ground, but that’s up to him.”
Graham referred to the birther conspiracy as a “fringe issue” that he didn’t take seriously and said Trump didn’t do “the country a service by pushing this.”
The Boston Globe says Trump may have not thought up the “Birther” issue, but he was solely responsible for bringing it into the mainstream.
Let’s review the history here: In 2011, when he began toying with a 2012 presidential campaign, Trump seized upon an issue that had been the stuff of fringe conspiracy theories and took it mainstream. He said there was real doubt about whether President Obama was born in Hawaii. (There wasn’t.) He even claimed to have sent investigators there to check things out.
“I have people that have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” Trump told NBC, adding that his investigators might just reveal “one of the greatest cons in the history of politics and beyond.” As others have, I asked Trump’s campaign to provide the names of those investigators and their report. No response. Imagine!. . .
But even [Obama released his long-form birth certificate], Trump. . .continued to raise doubts about even that birth certificate, maintaining that “a lot of people feel it wasn’t a proper certificate.” (Trump also said he’d make public his tax returns if Obama released his long-form birth certificate; pressed subsequently on that commitment, Trump dodged, saying he’d do so if he ran for president. So far, he has reneged on that promise.)
CNN also lists Trump statements questioning Obama’s birth, as late as January of this year, “Who knows about Obama? … Who knows, who knows? Who cares right now?… I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I will write a book, I will do another book, and it will do very successfully.” – January 6, 2016, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.”
Trump tried to refocus the controversy over to Hillary, claiming that she started the “Birther” movement in 2008, which is simply not true. For those of us alive and conscious then, there was no national debate over Obama’s birth until Trump started it in 2011. Up to then, it was just an obscure conspiracy theory.
Breitbart, which is usually pretty straight-forward in its articles, threw together a pile of mush, trying to defend Trump on this issue. First, it tried to claim that the “Birther” issue included claims that Obama was a Muslim—and at the same time, criticism of Obama’s Christian minister. Those are entirely different matters. The article mashes them all together into a porridge of confusion.
Apparently, the truth is that Clinton people investigated the opposition, which is one of the things campaigns are supposed to do. However, neither Hillary, nor her campaign ever made any “Birther” comments. The article says that “anonymous people” made a claim in an email. Later, Clinton advisor Mark Penn wrote a memo that the campaign should, “target Obama’s ‘lack of American roots.’” Roots are not the same as birth. Regardless, Penn was fired for even bringing it up.
There are reports that Sid Blumenthal tried to get media outlets to investigate Obama. But asking someone to investigate something is not the same as promoting it as fact.
The issue is debunked further by Snopes.com
Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal agrees, saying “there is no evidence that Mrs. Clinton or her 2008 campaign launched the birther movement.” — And offers five years of Trump’s statements on the issue.
We should remember why the “Birther” issue came up at all. The Constitution defines who may run for president. A careful reading of the passage makes it clear that none of the early presidents were legal, technically. But why put it in the Constitution at all? Primarily, it was not uncommon for European families to become head of a different country, through marriage or some means. We did not want to have any foreign leader become our president, just because they were popular here.
Changing the “Birther” discussion into a contested “who dunnit” certainly doesn’t end it. It “gives it legs.” Worse for The Donald is the way he said it. According to the conservative Washington Examiner, he seems to still be a “Birther,” but says he’s not.
“This announcement earlier this week with you saying that you believe President Obama was in fact born in the United States, after all the years where you’ve expressed some doubt, what changed?” reporter Ben Garbarek asked.
Trump responded, “Well I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign.”
“How pragmatic of him,” the Examiner comments. So the issue now is not about the conspiracy theory Trump pushed for many years, but instead, his own integrity. If he still believes the Birther issue, he should have said something like, “we’ll never know for sure, but it’s not an issue in this campaign.”
The fact that he obviously believes one thing (“no one knows”), but boldly says another (“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period”), for the sake of political expediency, is the problem for him now.