If there was any doubt that Donald Trump — for all of his enormous potential as a high profile candidate with pizazz and an authenic business background — is the most reprehensible potential candidate of either party to have come on the scene, it has now been erased. In an interview with AP he in effect discreetly raises the racism card by saying Barack Obama was a “terrible student” — and (you guessed it) demanding Obama prove he was a good student.
No, this is not a joke or snark. Trump says that because Obama never released his college transcripts he must do so to prove he was a good student.
You learn something new every day: I never knew that the Harvard Law Review invited slackers.
There is a valid argument that when the old media, new media and even middle-sized websites such as this cover or comment on Trump they give him just what he wants and sucking the attention away from serious candidates.
But there is also a case to be made that by tracking what Trump is doing not just to his party but to a country with serious problems that doesn’t need more division, polarization and hatred, articles and posts are lifting up a rock to reveal a snake with a comb-over scurrying out into the daylight…forked tongue and all.
As I’ve noted and John Avlon have noted, all of this is a pity. Because the country could have used and welcomed another Ross Perot, either as a GOP Presidential candidate or independent candidate. And Trump ain’t it.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Trump loses some of his audience for his TV show in the long term. There are probably some voters who’d would rather watch a test pattern than anything associated with him from hereon in.
Here are some of the quotes, as run by The Politico:
“I heard he was a terrible student, terrible,” Trump told the Associated Press in an interview, a claim he’s made in the past but one he doubled down on by suggesting he’s probing that area of the president’s life.
“How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records,” he said, without providing backup for his claim.
Trump added, “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard.”
“We don’t know a thing about this guy,” Trump said. “There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president.”
Obama transferred to Columbia University in 1981 from Occidental College, and graduated two years later. He graduated Harvard Law magna cum laude in 1991, after serving as editor of the prestigious Law Review.
Forget about the comb-over. Trump is the dandruff of American politics.
1. If biography-based attacks were going to work, they were going to work in 2008. In other words, when one runs for the presidency for the first time, one’s biography gets special scrutiny but when one runs for re-election the main issue is one’s record….
2. Attacks on academic records are weak anyway. Since when do we, as a public, actually care about academic achievement in our presidents?
3. Trump appear to be pulling these claims out of his posterior. “I’ve heard”? What kind of claim is that?
4. Quite frankly, this strikes me as a not especially subtle racial jab. Specifically, when one says about a person of color that they weren’t good students and then asks how they got into a good school, the suggestion is that the student in question was an affirmative action admission, and an undeserving one at that.
5. Trump’s main campaign strategy seems to be that Obama is some sort of cypher.
Same song, slightly different lyrics: Donald Trump is trying to take a new talking point out for a spin, telling the Associated Press that he thinks there might be something shady at play behind President Barack Obama’s acceptances into Ivy League schools.
Like a junkie huffing his own glue, Donald Trump throws in the affirmative action card to pump up the GOP base even more. This one really stretches credulity: the man who edited the Harvard Law Review was not qualified to get into Columbia or Harvard. And then a totally fabricated notion that the president’s long-form birth certificate is missing.
We can and should dismiss this man as a clown. But what’s so riveting is that he is testing just how powerful a clown can be when pressing every populist, racist button the GOP has deployed for years – and doing it with a crudeness that Karl Rove would never quite deploy.
My fear is the following: that by merely trumpeting these claims and stirring these fears, Trump gets more and more media platforms to promote them. And they slowly penetrate the culture, delegitimizing the president even more deeply among the Fox News base. And we might as well concede it: these are racist smears, based on fear of the cultural “other”. And the reason why Trump isn’t Al Sharpton, pace Charles Krauthammer, is that he’s white, and therefore commands much more immediate attention from the ageing, white GOP base than Sharpton ever could with the Democrats.
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.