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In April 2011, on the Saturday night that U.S. Special Forces were about to kill Osama bin Laden in a daring raid ordered by President Obama, the president was telling jokes at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. It was near the end of peak "birther" fever, right after the State of Hawaii released Obama's long-form birth certificate, as demanded by one Donald Trump, who was then exploring a presidential bid himself. Obama roasted him, among many others:
In that video, it appears that Trump is more or less rolling with the punchlines. But New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, who was at the dinner, remembers Trump's reaction as more like this:
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It wasn't so remarkable that Obama "took apart Donald Trump, plastic piece by orange part, and then refused to put him back together again," Gopnik said — that's sort of how Washington's "nerd prom" works. "What was really memorable about the event," he recalled, "was Trump's response":
Gopnik goes on to imagine a future "micro-history of that night" that either revolves around "the double life of Barack Obama as cool comedian and quiet commander" or, if Trump is elected, the moment "Trump's ambitions suddenly turned over to the potent politics of shame and vengeance," leading to the unleashing of his particular brand of ugly "populist nationalism" on the American body politic. Well, it's a thought. You can read the rest at The New Yorker.
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