Trump, who has an uncanny ability to read an audience, intuited in the spring of 2011 that the birther calumny could help him form a powerful connection with party activists. He also figured out that the norms forbidding such behavior were not inviolable rules that carried a harsh penalty but rather sentiments of a nobler, bygone era, gossamer-thin and needlessly adhered to by politicians who lacked his willingness to defy them. He could violate them with impunity and pay no price for it. …Privately, what amused him the most, he later told a friend, was that no party official in a position of power dared to stand up to him.
August 18, 2017 at 12:37 PM EDT