Trump Denounces Birtherism As a ‘Smear,’ Calls Birthers ‘Nasty,’ ‘Vicious and Conniving’

61% of Trump supporters are birthers

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On Friday Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee for president, reluctantly admitted that the issue he’d used to launch his political career was a lie.

“Who should have been demanding answers about a nasty smear? If it’s bogus, nobody.”
– CNN host Michael Smerconish

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump said, in a sound bite at the end of 20-minute news conference at his new White-House adjacent hotel in Washington, D.C.

True to form, Trump refused to accept personal responsibility for the racially tinged falsehood that made him the darling of the GOP base, of course. Instead, he blamed someone else.

“She started it,” Trump said, in effect. Literally, he said, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” which is a lie.

And then he told another lie. “I finished it,” he said. “I finished it.” In fact, after the president released his long-form birth certificate, Trump refused to acknowledge its authenticity.

Trump’s announcement was preceded on Thursday by a bizarre, amateurishly constructed statement issued by his campaign (but likely written by the candidate himself) that laid the groundwork for blameshifting the rise of birtherism onto Clinton. In doing so, however, Trump inadvertently excoriated the birther movement and the 61 percent of his own followers who believe the president is foreign-born and thus ineligible to be president.

In the statement, he called birtherism a “smear” and an “ugly incident,” and described those who peddle it as “very nasty” and “vicious and conniving.”

What follows is, first, the statement from the campaign and, second, the takedown of it that demonstrates how Trump shot himself in the foot.

1. Sept. 15, 2016, statement from the Trump-Pence campaign renouncing birtherism:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.

In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.

Mr. Trump is now totally focused on bringing jobs back to America, defeating radical Islamic terrorism, taking care of our veterans, introducing school choice opportunities and rebuilding and making our inner cities safe again.” – Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor

Here’s the takedown of the statement from CNN host Michael Smerconish:

SMERCONISH: [Trump’s] handling of the so-called birther issue illustrates his lack of accountability. The statement that his campaign released the night before his acknowledgment of Obama’s birthplace is my exhibit A.

Will you put that up on the screen, please?

Take a look at the first paragraph and leave it up. It begins, “Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then candidate Barack Obama.” Smear. Why was it smear? Well, obviously because it was not true. So why was it a smear when raised by Clinton’s campaign, which by the way it wasn’t, according to fact checkers, but not a smear when raised so often by Mr. Trump?

Nasty is another word used. So too vicious and conniving. Why this characterization of the Clinton campaign? Arguably because it was relying on smears.

Again, see, Trump is alleging that Clinton engaged in the behavior we all know he employed and he’s admitting that such tactics are both a smear and nasty, not to mention vicious and conniving. But there’s more. He calls her weak for not getting an answer.

Well, an answer to what exactly, Mr. Trump? A nasty smear? Who should have been demanding answers about a nasty smear? If it’s bogus, nobody.

Put up the next paragraph. So here’s how this begins. “In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion.” Whoa. Stop the clock. What ugly incident? Well, the ugly incident of Trump asserting a nasty smear against the nation’s first African- American president so as to delegitimize him.

Let’s keep reading. “Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised.” I mean, this is now Kafkaesque. He is claiming that where he spread a nasty smear about the president, something he now characterizes as vicious and conniving, and then for five years refuses to retract it, he has somehow done the president and the nation a service because in his words he’s a closer. He was only the closer of a nasty smear that he himself initiated which he admits was vicious and conniving.

This ought to outrage Trump’s supporters, but it won’t, of course. As Trump famously said, he could shoot someone in the face on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote.

2 Comments

  • Joan
    September 19, 2016 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Don the con man, will always be just that.
    All this talk about him being a tough guy, and yet he got 5 deferments during Viet Nam, some for being a student, and when they ran out, he said he had a bone spur on his heel! Some tough guy, but he would send our kids into harms way (not his own two sons) after all the little people are expendable.

  • September 24, 2016 - 7:59 am | Permalink

    I’m with those who want to know what new information Trump uncovered that caused him to make this statement. He’s kept it going from 2011, when he says the proof was offered (although really, it was when Obama’s birth was announced in Hawaii papers) until now. So what changed? And why aren’t reporters asking Trump what new information has come to light?

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