The Washington Post

Perry, Trump, Obama and grades

So, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tx.) has ceased his noxious dance with birthers. Something Donald Trump — the Fred Astaire of the issue — thinks is good politically for him. But in jettisoning one racist argument against President Obama, Perry has adopted another: the one calling on the Columbia-and Harvard-educated president of the United States to release his transcripts.

Perry did it in an interview with John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times published Tuesday.

HARWOOD: Why did you choose to keep the birther issue alive?
PERRY: It’s a good issue to keep alive. You know, Donald [Trump] has got to have some fun. It’s fun to poke him a little bit and say, “Hey, let’s see your grades and your birth certificate.” I don’t have a clue about where the president — and what this birth certificate says. But it’s also a great distraction. I’m not distracted by it.

And he did it again during an interview with Adam C. Smith for Bay News 9 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The interview was taped yesterday and will air on Sunday.

Adam: Jeb Bush said the other day, the Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that Barack Obama was not born in America. This came after you expressed doubts about that.. what would you say to him?
Perry: I don’t think I was expressing doubts. I was just having some fun with Donald Trump. So I...
Adam: Are you comfortable that he's an American citizen?
Perry: Oh yeah. It’s fun to... ya know lighten up a little bit..
Adam: So you have no doubt he's an American citizen?
Perry: I have no doubt about it. But here's the more interesting thing. Let’s lay out our income taxes. Let’s lay our our college transcripts. Mine’s been on the front page of the paper. So if we’re going to lay out all these things, let’s lay them all out. So, whether it’s college transcripts or income tax, lay them all out. Let the people take a look at them.

In both instances the grades thing is tucked into Perry’s answer like a last-minute addition to the suitcase before racing to the airport. But there’s nothing unintentional about this. Trump did this same thing when his own birther gambit lost steam in April. And it’s as insulting now as it was then. Obama’s opponents will stoop to any specious and baseless argument to cast doubt on his qualifications for sitting in the Oval Office and on the legitimacy of his presidency. With all that’s going on, y’all can’t do better than this?

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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