In his speech to the 1988 Democratic convention, Rev. Jesse Jackson declared “keep hope alive.” On CNN today, presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s best political bud Donald Trump in essence argued keep birtherism alive.
In what will likely be shown for years as a classic interview on CNN, Trump refused to acknowledge facts as facts, inaccurately stated some things as facts, and went on the offensive against CNN’s Wolf Blitzer who did a non-Sean Hannity interview: Blitzer asked tough questions and follow up questions as trained journalists are supposed to do. Trump got in a few zingers about CNN’s low ratings along the way.
Watch it and judge for yourself:
Most fascinating: Trump did this birther rant before and he fizzled out as a GOP candidate. He’s not now just “remaking the wheel” — he’s reconstructing the looney bin. Some fitting music here and here. And Romney?
Romney is essentially enabling Trump, arguing that he can’t be responsible for what his followers say. The most likely explanation (which Howard Fineman also has, based on Fineman’s comments on MSNBC) is: Romney has noted that his goal is to get the 50.1 percent he needs to win so whoever Trump can get worked up and however Trump can do it, fine — as long as they vote against Obama and for him. It’s a classic case of the ends justify the means — any means. This would also would fit into the 2011-2012 incarnation of Mitt Romney who pulls out all stops to obliterate his opposition. He may not have decades long political positions, but he has the steel to do whatever it takes — no matter how it looks to pundits — to win. He has also been of saying things…at varience…with the truth.. to an extent not seen in American politics.
Will it play for independent voters? Some say indes won’t care. My prediction: he will lose a chunk of independent voters who yearn for a SERIOUS political discussion by SERIOUS candidates.
And how is this playing in the media? The Reuters article below is just one article that is not exactly the kind of image a candidate who wants to win over independent voters would want:
Controversy over the “birther” movement hung over a meeting in Las Vegas on Tuesday between Mitt Romney and high-profile supporter Donald Trump, whose comments about President Barack Obama have put the Republican presidential candidate in an awkward spot.
Trump has again raised doubts about whether Obama was born in the United States, an issue that is most passionately pursued by conspiracy theorists and which Romney has tried to avoid as he focuses on attacking the White House’s economy record.
“A lot of people are questioning his birth certificate,” Trump said on CNBC on Tuesday. “They’re questioning the authenticity of his birth certificate.
“I’ve been known as being a very smart guy for a long time. I don’t consider myself birther or not birther but there are some major questions here and the press doesn’t want to cover it,” he said.
Romney has said he believes Obama was born in the United States but he has drawn fire from Democrats for not distancing himself from Trump, who has alleged Obama was born in Kenya and is thus not eligible to be U.S. president.
Romney was to appear with Trump, who once had presidential ambitions of his own, at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. Romney also is likely to clinch the Republican nomination on Tuesday night at the Texas primary where he is expected to pick up scores of delegates and reach the target of 1,144 needed.
The LA Times’ headline is “Donald Trump rages in CNN meltdown over Obama ‘birther’ issue”:
Donald Trump is seething over the President Obama “birther” issue — and the latest target of his wrath is CNN.
In an interview Tuesday, the real estate magnate and “Celebrity Apprentice” overseer got into a war of words with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, castigating the network for what he dubbed “inaccurate” reporting and ridiculing its low ratings.
At one point, Blitzer said that Trump was beginning to sound ridiculous. “I think you sound ridiculous,” Trump shot back via telephone.
Trump has been a leading proponent of the theory that Obama either was not or may not have been born in the U.S. This view is a focal point of attacks on the administration from some critics, although the state of Hawaii has offered documents that say Obama was indeed born there. Most leading GOP politicians have shied away from the issue, but it persists, particularly at a grass-roots level. Trump is keeping the issue alive even as he brandishes his support for the presumed Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
Meanwhile, Romney inched into the birther waters a bit himself. The Huffington Post:
At an afternoon event at a furniture warehouse in Las Vegas, Romney did not mention Trump’s remarks, but also made a comment that touched on the topic of a president’s birth place.
He said that a local restaurant owner, in a conversation earlier in the day, told him that he’d like the change the Constitution.
“‘I’m not sure I could do it,’ he said. ‘I’d like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president, and the birth place of the president being set by the Constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he can get the job of president,'” Romney said the man told him.
Romney’s campaign message is that he understands the economy and Obama doesn’t. But this comment appeared to be an attempt by the Romney campaign to signal that it is not worried by Trump’s remarks.
In other words: let the birther demonization begin or, rather, resume?
And, also, let me get this straight:
Future Presidential candidates should be required to spend three years working in business?
What would that have done to someone like….Ronald Reagan?
So while Romney wants to require future Presidents to have background in business, Trump is giving the President — and voters who want to see candidates talk about the issues and challenges facing our country rather than hear talk radio show talking points or regurgitated blog posts — the business.
All I can say is that Romney’s embrace of Trump and passive letting go of Grenell are signs of personal weakness, not strength.
And I’m betting many independent voters will conclude just that.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.