Almost as soon as the president released his long-form birth certificate at a Wednesday press conference, potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed credit for accomplishing something "nobody else was able to accomplish... I am really honored," Trump said, " to have played such a big role in hopefully getting rid of this issue." Many political insiders dismiss Trump as a publicity-seeking sideshow candidate, but his trumpeting of the birther issue arguably pushed the conspiracy theory into the mainstream. Did Trump force Obama's hand?
Trump's self-congratulation is justified: "It is quite interesting that President Obama felt the need to punch down at Donald Trump by invoking 'carnival barkers,'" says Taylor Marsh at her blog. That sly insult at Wednesday's press conference — clearly aimed at Trump — is the sort of presidential shout-out that should make the real estate mogul happy, because "no matter what President Obama says, he still ended up releasing information he hadn’t before Trump started his campaign." In the end, "Donald Trump got what he wanted."
"Pres. Obama rescues Donald Trump who claims a win"
Trump even managed to make the White House look foolish: "From a tactical perspective, what Trump did was astounding," says Andrea Tantaros at the New York Daily News. He elevated what had been a fringe issue into mainstream discourse — and made Obama look bad in the process. "Having the president commit his office's prestige to a national response at the podium was most unwise." And by springing his announcement on the same day as two important national-security appointments, Obama lent the issue far more weight than it deserved.
"Donald Trump won by forcing Obama to release birth certificate but he, GOP must return to policy"
All Trump created was a sad, humiliating spectacle: Wednesday was "a day that should embarrass anyone with human decency and love of country," says Andy Ostroy at The Huffington Post. "It's a shame and a disgrace to our great nation that the birther movement existed in the first place, as it is little more than a thinly veiled disguise for the obvious racism behind it." The fact that the president chose to indulge Trump, "the King of the Racist Crazies," means that "the office of the United States Presidency lost some of its respect and prestige."
"Obama releases his birth certificate, and America loses"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
Subscribe to the Week