Birtherism, bullshit, and Donald Trump
The leader of the Birthers, judging simply by celebrity status and media attention, isn't Jerome Corsi or Orly Taitz but rather, as you probably know, Donald Trump, who in his quest for ever more self-aggrandizing publicity, if not for the Republican presidential nomination, has been pushing the Birther lie with extreme prejudice in recent weeks.
In a way, it's become his political claim to fame, or rather his claim to political credibility on the right and with the Republican base, and with the 45 percent of Republicans who don't think Obama was born in the U.S. despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Needless to say, Trump doesn't have any evidence, but he's nonetheless continuing to tantalize not just Republicans but the media with his assertions of some terribly sinister conspiracy. He was at it again on Thursday:
Possibly-serious Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is giving few details about the investigation he claims to have launched in Hawaii to get to the bottom of where President Obama was born, but the business mogul told CNN Thursday Americans will be "very surprised" by what he has found.
"We're looking into it very, very strongly. At a certain point in time I'll be revealing some interesting things," Trump said on CNN's American Morning.
Trump first claimed earlier this month he had sent investigators to Obama's home state in an effort to find out if the president was indeed born there, as he says he was and several media organization's independent investigations have confirmed.
"I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding," Trump told NBC then.
But Trump has since offered few details about the on-the-ground investigation and, in the interview with CNN Thursday, wouldn't specifically say if it had uncovered new details.
"You'll be very surprised," he said when asked by CNN's Ali Velshi if his investigators have found anything.
It's rather amusing that CNN describes him as "possibly-serious." I think that's actually giving him too much credibility, and too much legitimacy. But what's key here is that Trump isn't providing any details because there just aren't any details to provide. Saying he has investigators on the job is like O.J. saying he's trying to find the "real" killers. Sure, Trump may come up with something, something to advance a Birther conspiracy theory or another, but the way to keep the story going, the way to bring himself even more publicity and to please/appease the GOP's Birther base, is not to provide any new facts, let alone to bring closure to the story, but to keep the media guessing. Whatever you think of Trump, he's a savvy guy and he knows how to play the media. And that's just what he's doing.
At No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. explains what's going on:
This is what's going to happen to birtherism, I think: It's going to mutate. It's going to stop being just about whether the birth story is accurate; it's going to morph into a narrative in which an inaccessible document or two in Hawaii get lumped together with (I assume) a larger number of inaccessible documents in Indonesia and Kenya to create an impression (at least to wingnuts) of a president hiding secrets that are too horrible and evil to comprehend.
Trump says, "I'll be revealing some interesting things." Drudge's "source close to the publisher" says, "Obama may learn things he didn't even know about himself!" I'll say it again: the plan is to turn this into A Conspiracy So Vast, an attempt to hide aspects of Obama's youth, in which the birth certificate plays a relatively small part. I'm not saying it'll work -- I'm just saying that's the scheme to keep this fresh and continue gulling the rubes (and, if they play it flawlessly, the mainstream media).
It's not really clear to me what Trump's endgame is. He surely isn't running, and wouldn't win if he did. Is he stupid enough to believe otherwise? And would he really want to open himself up to such scrutiny? Is is just about publicity? Maybe, but how is it beneficial to him as a celebrity businessman to be so blatantly partisan, not to mention to embrace the conspiracy theories of the crazy wing of the GOP?
I'm just not sure, but there seems to be little doubt that his massive ego is driving him, and something else he said on CNN reveals a lot about how he views himself in relation to everyone else. Discussing his net worth, and refuting Forbes magazine's claim that it's $2.7 billion, Trump said this:
I can tell you that's a very low number," Trump said of the Forbes estimate. "It's much more than that. And if I decide to run, which I very well may surprise people, but if I decide to run, I will give a net worth statement essentially. As you know, we have to fill out very detailed forms for the federal government. And I think people will be extremely impressed."
Yes, it's the money, stupid. Trump thinks that it's his wealth that impresses people, that what truly sets him apart from most everyone else is his money. It's like he thinks he can do no wrong because he has so much money. Forget how many times he's been bailed out, or how many of his enterprises have failed. He's a rich man, a richer man than you think, and that, he thinks, makes him better than you -- and it's what apparently gives him automatic political credibility and a shot at the presidency. In other words, he apparently thinks he's invulnerable, that nothing can bring him down, that anything he touches, including crazy conspiracy theories, turns to gold.
In this respect, he's like any of those disgraced CEOs who stole from shareholders and destroyed their companies, except that he's got a lust for the spotlight that far surpasses most and that the media, and especially the right-leaning business media, think he can do no wrong.