Several times in this space, I’ve complained about Trump getting a free pass from the media on his disgraceful “birther” exploits. Here we have a major party’s presumptive nominee who has recently participated in an overtly racist and incandescently stupid crusade against a sitting president, and the media allows the candidate to wave it off with, “I don’t talk about it anymore.” Too bad Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch didn’t think of that!
Well, better late than never: The New York Times published a piece on Trump’s bizarre birther career yesterday. Some excerpts:
In the birther movement, Mr. Trump recognized an opportunity to connect with the electorate over an issue many considered taboo: the discomfort, in some quarters of American society, with the election of the nation’s first black president. He harnessed it for political gain, beginning his connection with the largely white Republican base that, in his 2016 campaign, helped clinch his party’s nomination.
“The appeal of the birther issue was, ‘I’m going to take this guy on, and I’m going to beat him,’” said Sam Nunberg, who was one of Mr. Trump’s advisers during that period but was fired from his current campaign. “It was a great niche and wedge issue.”
And starting in March 2011, when he first began to test the idea that a reality television star with no political experience could mount a campaign for the presidency, Mr. Trump could not stop talking about it. “Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” he asked on ABC’s “The View.” “I want to see his birth certificate,” he told Fox News’s “On the Record.” And on NBC’s “Today Show,” he declared, “I’m starting to think that he was not born here…”
Mr. Trump also said repeatedly that he had sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to unearth information about Mr. Obama’s birth records. “They cannot believe what they are finding,” Mr. Trump told ABC’s “The View.”
When Trump was promoting the birther sideshow, he mentioned the team of investigators he’d supposedly dispatched to Hawaii all the time. That was his go-to response when pressed about his blatantly racist obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate — he had a team looking into it, and they were finding unbelievable, shocking stuff. So whatever happened with that team?
But for all of his fascination with the president’s birth certificate, Mr. Trump apparently never dispatched investigators or made much of an effort to find the documents.
Dr. Alvin Onaka, the Hawaii state registrar who handled queries about Mr. Obama, said recently through a spokeswoman that he had no evidence or recollection of Mr. Trump or any of his representatives ever requesting the records from the Hawaii State Department of Health.
A bald-faced lie, then. You’d think as a major party candidate who repeatedly told a huge lie to TV audiences in connection with his racist crusade against a sitting president, Trump would be asked about the investigators, maybe pressed to name a member of the group. But I guaran-damn-tee you we’ll hear more about Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia sniper fire story over the next few months.
Still, kudos to the NYT for the birther retrospective. The story may not be as sexy as tales about email servers and chance encounters on airport tarmacs, but it seems kinda important to remind folks that a major party candidate for president has a long and well-documented history of racism and lying.
UPDATE: Trump just can’t quit white supremacists, y’all. He regularly retweets and swipes memes from them. Via valued commenter Rikyrah, here’s a link to a piece by internet sleuths who tracked down the origin of Trump’s infamous Star of David graphic: yep, white supremacists!