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
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- The week's best photojournalism
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
Subscribe to the Week