As Obama acknowledged, he won’t ever satisfy a certain “segment of people.” For racial and other sinister reasons, they are determined to view him as illegitimate. Indeed, Trump, who held a victory news conference minutes before Obama’s appearance, shifted cynically and seamlessly to a new line of attack on Obama’s legitimacy.
At a stop in New Hampshire, he first congratulated himself for forcing Obama to release the birth certificate (“I am very proud of myself”), then raised suspicions that it might be a forgery (“Experts will look at it”) before pivoting to suggest that Obama is an academic fraud. “The word is, according to what I’ve read, was that he was a terrible student,” Trump alleged. “I don’t know why he doesn’t release his records.”
Dana Milbank writes a regular column on politics.
Obama has potentially released Republicans from a trap: The birther issue had been splitting the party and turning the GOP presidential race into a circus. In a briefing preceding Obama’s statement, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, accompanied by the White House counsel and press secretary, allowed that it was in Obama’s “long-term political interests to allow this birther debate to dominate discussion in the Republican Party.” But, Pfeiffer said, Obama “thought it was bad for the country.”
Reporters, who hadn’t been expecting a dump of vital records, asked questions as if they were notaries. “You’ve got two certified copies? . . . “Does that have a stamp?”
Then came a better question: “Why does this rise to the level of a presidential statement?”
Pfeiffer, like his boss, blamed the press rather than The Donald. “It’s not for me to say why mainstream media organizations began to cover this debate,” he said. “They’ll have to answer that for themselves.”
On the same podium a few minutes later, Obama picked up the same theme when he urged his listeners not to “get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.”
Speaking to “the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press,” the president said: “We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do.”
The president then flew off to Chicago to be on Oprah.