Monday September 19, 2016
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I was in New York City, this past Friday, to be on a CNN International Program titled "State
of the Race." We talked about Donald Trump's Birther ploy from the day before.
On the set with me (among others) was Charles Blow, a columnist for the New York Times. I want to say this carefully: Charles is Black and the rest of the panel was White.
One of the panelists was a Trump supporter. She tried to make the point that Trump's 65-second statement that Barack Obama had, indeed been born in the U.S., was sufficient to close the book on that multi-year nonsense.
To recount: Trump's campaign said he would have a major announcement Friday and the place of this announcement would be the new Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. He was 90 minutes late, had veterans (including Medal of Honor recipients) standing on a stage waiting for him before they pledged their allegiance to his campaign, talked about the magnificence of his new hotel, blasted through the birther business, then led the video crews through a tour of the hotel.
In short, he had conned the media into giving him a free infomercial for his hotel in the guise of his announcement.
He said: "President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period."
There were, by the way, no questions answered even as the press corps (placed behind about 100 Trump supporters between them and the stage) literally stood on chairs shouting at him to do so.
All right. Trump is a master showman. He knows how to manipulate the press - both the traveling press and the cable news channels which couldn't (or wouldn't) agree to cut-away and come back only if he said something of substance.
He also said that Hillary Clinton had started the birther business in 2008 when she was running against Senator Obama for the Democratic nomination and "I'm finishing it."
That, of course, wasn't true.
What did happen, according to most sources including a piece by reporter David Goldstein of the McClatchy news organization, was two supporters of Hillary Clinton pushed the rumor. According to Goldstein:
One was a volunteer in Iowa, who was fired, Clinton's former campaign manager said Friday. The other was Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal.
That would be like saying something I wrote in the mid-90's when I was out of politics should be attributed (for better or worse) to Newt Gingrich. I had no role in the Gingrich Revolution and anything I might have said or written should be ascribed only to me.
There are people in Washington who make a living - this is true - make a living going to lunches, dinners, receptions and meetings, picking up bits of information - some true, some not - and passing them along to clients who play to be on their email list. Many of these are sent along with the smug legend that it came from "an excellent source."
The excellent source might have a Hill staffer who overheard a conversation between their boss and another Member of Congress. First, the Hill staffer might not have heard the conversation correctly or in context, or (more likely) the two Members might not have known what they were talking about, either.
Back to the CNNi set.
My take was that true Trump supporters don't believe he backed off his birther claim. They heard the words, but they saw a wink and a nudge.
Then Charles (who is not without sin in political overreach) began to talk and I realized that for him and for African-Americans across America, the birther issue wasn't a political ploy; it was racism pure and simple.
I'm not asking you to agree with Charles but while I was enjoying the sound of my own voice (as usual), he was expressing a deeply held belief that Trump's only reason for repeating his libel over and over and over was to delegitimize the election of a Black man; Barack Obama.
The Trump campaign spent a good deal of the Sunday shows proclaiming the birther controversy at an end, but I'm not so sure.
If Trump's polls begin to drift down again, as I believe they will, people will point to Trump's lack of seriousness about trying to President Obama's Constitutional fitness for office - the birther claim - as a turning point.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Charles Blow bio and a link to the McClatchy piece.
The Mullfoto is of the Statue of Liberty. Never gets old.
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