So now we have the long-form birth certificate. The 44th President of the United States is a natural-born citizen, and the document was produced amidst a fervor of speculation which has never gone away since being slyly introduced into the campaign arena by some disenchanted and bitter PUMAs. A large proportion of the GOP freshmen Congressmen elected last year doubted that the President was really an American citizen, and their Congressional leaders refused to disabuse them of such a silly notion.
The fact that the President was forced to end such insidious speculation by actually producing his birth document is an embarrassment for America and a blight upon the intellectual reputation of its citizens. The fact that it had to be produced after weeks of outright slander at the hands of a high-profiled American business mogul and reality television star, who’s, allegedly, mounting a run for the Office, himself, smacks of something else entirely.
Donald Trump has often mentioned briefly that he’d like to run for President, but such remarks were always incidental. Trump was too busy shedding wives and businesses to do anything serious in preparation for running for public office – like voting. Yet all of a sudden, for the past month, all we’ve seen is Trump on any and all television networks and chatshows, loudly declaiming doubt about the President’s citizenship. It didn’t matter that everything he was saying was an outright lie – that no one in Hawaii remembered the President as a child, no one admitted going to school with him, that Trump had sent investigators to Honolulu to seek out the elusive birth certificate, that the document was hiding something about who or what the President really was – something sinister.
The only thing that really mattered was that Trump was contributing to the Big Lie school of propaganda: repeating something often enough and loud enough so that eventually people hearing it would come to believe it. Since over 40% of Republicans already believed that the President wasn’t American, not only did these claims further ensconce their belief, they convinced this demographic that Donald Trump was the best and most qualified candidate to run for President from the Republican party.
Some people reckon this is all a publicity act, designed to garner viewers for his television show on NBC; others disagree. On Monday night, Bill Maher, guesting on The Late Show with David Letterman, bet Letterman a week’s wage that Trump was a serious candidate for President. He was doing this, reasoned Bill, simply because he could.
I’m wondering if Trump’s got other motives. I’m actually wondering if Trump isn’t a stalking horse, a smoke-and-mirrors man testing the waters for someone else.
True, since Trump’s emerged, no less than Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney have declared they’re setting up “exploratory committees” – sorta kinda like a cowardly way of wondering what people will make of them as candidates before they actually declare. If people like them, they’ll be bold and go for the prize; if they don’t, they’ll retreat to oblivion and lick their wounds. Ron Paul’s emerged with a committee of his own.
But something else has happened too.
Two days ago, Haley Barbour was the first of the wannabes to announce that he actually didn’t intend to run for President. The former RNC chair and current Mississippi governor has certainly run into some long-term memory problems with regard to the history of race relations in his home state, and he’s an ex-lobbyist and Washington insider, which would mean Haley would campaign, not for change in Washington, but for much of the same old same old. But Haley’s closing the door on his candidacy opens up a couple of other doors as well.
Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has often been pitched by the pundits as a viable Republican candidate for 2012 amidst a field full of hucksters, flip-floppers and certified batshit; yet Daniels repeatedly has said that he wasn’t interested in running, especially whilst Barbour, a personal friend, was thinking about a candidacy. Such was their friendship, that Daniels wouldn’t even think of opposing him on the campaign trail; rather, he’d put his full endorsement behind the Mississippian.
Now Barbour’s out of the race, closing the door of candidacy behind him, but graciously holding a door open for Daniels, should he be so obliged.
Not only that, but there’s also a grassroots movement afloat in certain areas of the Republican party. The Republicans are a party steeped in history, just as the Democrats are. The only difference is that the Republican Party is mindful of history and uses it as a guide, where the Democrats, since 1970, at least, have thrown historical caution to the wind. This particular tranche of the party is harkening back to the election of 1952, when it looked as though their only hope was the ueber-conservative Senator from Ohio, Robert Taft, son of the former President and Chief Justice. Horrified at the thought of such a Rightwinger being the front-runner (in those days, there were such things as moderate Republicans), various party operatives got a movement going that resulted in the drafting of war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, and the rest – as they say – is history.
Now there are rumours afloat of an effort to draft Jeb Bush, after looking over the flotsam and jetsam offering themselves up as sacrificial lambs.
What’s this all to do with Trump? I’ll tell you.
Trump blasted on the scene, preaching birtherism from all angles. He took it, shook it and threw it into the mainstream in a way it had never been done so previously. On his way, he managed to make enemies of three such important American icons as Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld and Robert de Niro. Whereas before, birthers were to be scorned and ridiculed, like the preposterous Orly Taitz, now an American business tycoon was echoing doubt and threatening all sorts of investigative action, dominating the conversation in and around serious political discussion shows, amongst other things.
The result is that the President produced the document: to stop the silly season behaviour and shut everyone the hell up. Trump trumpets victory, saying this was all he ever wanted the President to do, and he’s done it. The birthers skulk away to mutter their doubts to themselves and try to come up with something else with which to disqualify the President, searching for yet another euphemism to use in place of the word “black.” John Boehner breathes a sigh of relief, because he won’t have to slap wrists and compromise his principle of not telling people what to think (not that he ever really had any principles in the first place).
And into this somewhat saner arena could step a bona fide, viable and potentially strong candidate in the form of Mitch Daniels … or even a drafted Jeb Bush. Just remember that the last time the Republicans drafted a Presidential candidate, we got 8 years of GOP rule and an introduction to Richard Nixon.