Trump, Obama & birthers: An ugly spectacle


What a sad and ugly split-screen day for the country.

On one side, we saw Barack Obama release his long-form birth certificate to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an American citizen and legitimately the president of the United States. On the other side, we saw Donald Trump, who has clawed his way to the top of the GOP presidential polls based on a lie, taking credit for Obama having done so. Both were enraging spectacles for different reasons.


That Obama had to do this is despicable. That the belief in a known lie was nurtured by too many Republican leaders who chose to promote cynical politics over truth is beyond deplorable.

Equally deplorable was the ugly spectacle of Trump taking credit for the president’s move while promoting his faux flirtation with a run for the GOP presidential nomination and his television show.

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To a certain extent, Trump is right to crow. Before he latched onto the birther lie it was the chew toy of the lunatic right. Now, poll after poll shows that belief in the birther fallacy — and support for Trump — is gaining not losing momentum.

But everything else Trump did during his presser in New Hampshire — questioning the veracity of the long-form birth certificate; questioning Obama’s qualifications to go to Columbia and Harvard; his mindless solutions to the nation’s problems — made a mockery of American politics. And made a chump of the Republican Party, which is now saddled with this narcissistic showman that has taken a far-right party to the edge of irrelevance with this issue.

Both Trump and Obama called the birther issue a distraction. “We can get on to issues,” said the reality television star. “We’ve got big problems to solve,” said the president, who called the whole birther issue “silliness.” But Obama also said, “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.” An insult Trump will surely take as a compliment.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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