Who said birtherism was bad for your political health? Potential 2012 candidate Donald Trump has wholeheartedly embraced the conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and, despite a barrage of criticism from conservative figures like Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, the strategy appears to be paying off. A new national poll shows that Trump is now second only to Mitt Romney in the GOP field. On Thursday morning, the real estate magnate was at it again, claiming on NBC's Today that he has "real doubts" the president was born in the U.S. Could Trump's immigration to the right-wing fringe help him in the GOP primaries?
Sadly, a growing number of GOP voters are birthers: Trump's campaign is nothing but an "elaborate publicity stunt" to promote his NBC show, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. "The real story here is the madness that's overcome a few too many Republican voters." On the evidence of this poll, a "sizeable contingent of the GOP base" has decided that simply whining about the president's birth certificate makes a candidate worthy of their support. Let's hope other presidential hopefuls don't follow suit.
"A publicity stunt gone horribly awry"
Birther or not, Trump can't win: The Donald's Obama-bashing is proving particularly attractive to "birthers and Tea Party sympathizers," says Steve Kornacki at Salon, which explains his popularity in the polls. But Trump, with his "dirty laundry" and "ideological apostasies", is "spectacularly ill-suited" for an actual campaign. He can carry on saying things Republicans want to hear, but he won't run in 2012.
"Why is Donald Trump polling so well in New Hampshire?"
Plus, this poll simply shows that Trump is famous: Trump's success in the polls has three possible causes, say Chris Cilizza and Aaron Blake at The Washington Post, and birtherism isn't one of them. Republican voters like his business credentials, they admire his "willingness to take the fight to Obama," and — crucially — they recognize his name. "In a field filled with political unknowns," a TV star will always do well.
"Donald Trump. Seriously?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- California's epic drought
- How to develop and defend smart opinions
Subscribe to the Week