Deplorables IIIa – Birtherism
This blog will say more on the birther issue than you will ever want to know.
The bottom line is that Donald Trump and his surrogates are distorters, deflectors, dissemblers and, most of all, outright liars. Trump Two-Two in an interview with his shill, Sean Hannity, on Fox News on 14 April 2011, when the Donald was being questioned about whether he would run against Barack Obama in the 2012 election, noted, “if I run, I will have to disclose my…finances.” He never fulfilled that forecast. Yesterday, I wrote about his insistence that he was not and never has been a racist. Yet he engaged in some racist practices and, more importantly, took initiatives to support structural racism. The birther issue discussed in this blog is related to the issue of race because Barack Obama is a Black president whose place of birth and legitimacy to hold high office was repeatedly questioned by Trump Two-Two. On Friday, he broke his vow to no longer discuss the issue. He caved this past Friday, But far too little and far too late.
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”
What is the birther issue and what does it have to do with racism? Birtherism is the claim that a political candidate was not born in the United States. It went beyond a mere political tool used by a rival to a widespread movement with the widespread belief that Barack Obama was not, or may not have been, born in the United States; if he wasn’t born in the US, he would be ineligible to be president of the United States.
Birtherism did not start with Barack Obama. The issue was raised with respect to Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico, yet served as Governor of Michigan and was himself once a Republican presidential candidate running against Richard Nixon in the 1968 contest when the birther controversy first arose.
Note the American constitution does not require that a presidential candidate be born on American soil, only that the person be a “natural born citizen.” That in itself needs deciphering since one readily asks what an unnatural born citizen could be. But “nature” is not being used in the ordinary sense of the natural world, but in the sense of “regular” and consistent with past practices. Regular means in accordance with American citizenship norms. In an article in The New York Law Journal at the time of George Romney’s bid to be the Republican presidential candidate, the author examining the issue concluded that anyone born to a U.S. parent was a natural American and did not need to be naturalized. And, therefore, was eligible to be president. The authoritative Congressional Research Service concurred. The legal meaning of “natural born citizen” refers not only to anyone born on U.S. soil, but anyone born overseas of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen. End of story. As George Romney wrote years ago, “I am a natural born citizen. My parents were American citizens. I was a citizen at birth.”
This became clear because John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone and, more pointedly, Ted Cruz was not even born on American controlled territory but in Calgary, Canada on 22 December 1970. His father was not even an American citizen at the time; his mother was. Which would have put him in the same position as Barack Obama even if he had been born in Kenya, which he was not. Obama’s mother was born in Kansas. Ted Cruz was deemed to be a natural born American because his mother too was born in America. Nevertheless, in January in the primary season when Trump Two-Two had already become the frontrunner, he “attacked Ted Cruz over his birth in Canada, saying it raises questions about his presidential eligibility.” Trump was an equal opportunity swinger. But the question of Ted Cruz’s place of birth never became a movement. Further, though questioned on the law, there was no challenge on factual grounds.
So how did the birth certificate ever become an issue for Barack Obama? Not because it was relevant to his eligibility to run. Not because there was no birth certificate – there was. Why did it continue after President Barack Obama even produced his long form birth certificate and the Republican official in Hawaii authenticated that the certificate was real and that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on 4 August 1961? And it did continue. It did not end because Trump Two-Two claimed he had forced Obama to produce the birth certificate. Trump did not end the issue in 2011. Trump continued to raise the issue and question the authenticity of the birth certificate. “I heard from a very reliable source that the birth certificate was a fraud.”
Did Hillary Clinton or senior personnel in the Clinton campaign initiate the issue in the 2008 run for the presidency against Barack Obama as Trump Two-Two continued to claim? Hillary never raised it, never endorsed it and explicitly condemned even the effort to question Obama as a presidential candidate on the grounds that he did not have American experience in growing up. One connection to the Clinton campaign took place when, in December 2007, a volunteer coordinator in Iowa forwarded another email which was not even about Obama’s place of birth, but about his heritage.
Did Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster and Clinton 2008 strategist, question the President’s birth in a March 2007 memo as Kellyanne Conway tried to argue in defence of the claim that the Clinton campaign in the 2007-08 election first raised the birther issue? Kellyanne insisted that Mark Penn “put President Obama’s citizenship in question when he wrote a famous memo in March of 2007 questioning Obama’s “American roots.” (http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/trump-campaign-manager-birther-clinton-228331) The memo was stupid enough, but it did not mention the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship. It was not about Obama’s place of birth and eligibility to be president.
Penn offered Clinton bad advice in suggesting the possibility that Hillary raise the issue of Obama’s American experience. Clinton did not take that advice. She not only rejected it, but went on to apologize to Barack for anyone in her campaign raising the issue in the first place. And the issue, to repeat, was not the legitimacy of his place of birth and Obama’s eligibility to run, but whether he had sufficient sense of American having grown up abroad. Clinton told Obama she did not accept the advice and it nowhere made any appearance in the campaign. It was a terrible idea and irrelevant, but it had nothing to do with where Obama was born.
So there is not one iota of evidence that Obama’s birthplace was part of the Clinton campaign when she ran against him. What is the evidence that Trump took the lead in the birther campaign? He was by far the most prominent person to continually raise the issue. But Donald Trump did so, and did so repeatedly:
March 23, 2011
“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate. And you know, I wish he would.
April 7, 2011. Meredith Viera One-on-One with Donald Trump on the To-day Show
“I’ve had very smart people say stay on the China issue, stay on the Saudi Arabia issue, stay on the India issue taking our jobs, stay on the Mexico issue. Get off the birth certificate issue.”
Why don’t you?
“Because, three weeks ago when I started this issue (my italics and bold), I really thought he was born in this country and now I have a much bigger doubt than I ever had before.”
“His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth.”
[Meredith arguably lost her job and her $11 million dollar contract because she never challenged Trump for perpetuating this fraudulent conspiracy theory for which Trump then accepted leadership.]
April 28 2011
“I don’t make up anything. Let me tell you something. I have done a great service to the American people.
[CNN has broadcast a series of clips showing Donald Trump questioning Obama’s citizenship in the years Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011.
Dec. 16 2015
I don’t answer because if I do answer, that’s all people want to talk about. Once I answer the question, they don’t want to talk about the economy…
May 4, 2016
“The whole birther thing. Where do you stand?
I don’t talk about it anymore because every time I talk about it, it becomes a story, so I don’t want to waste my time. Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther issue. I ended it by forcing Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate.
The birther issue is irrelevant except as an insight into Donald Trump as a fabulist and about his attraction to material produced by conspiracy theorists. The birther issue is a fabrication alleging Hillary Clinton or her associates initiated the issue. The birther issue became a problem for Trump, because of the reality that Donald Trump promoted it. The birther issue remained alive because Trump did not end the issue after Obama produced his long form birth certificate. The issue continued long after because Trump kept raising it. And even when he finally acknowledged it was a lie, he never took responsibility for his role, never apologized, blamed Democrats and took credit himself for its demise when he kept it alive. The performance was disgusting and insulting to Barack Obama and to Black Americans sensitive to efforts over American history to deprive Blacks of their citizenship rights.
Next: A Black Trump surrogate on the issue