There has been much buzz lately concerning whether or not Donald Trump will run for president. Trump, a master of self-promotion, has blatantly courted the Tea Party by aligning himself with the little group of crazies that just won’t go away, the “birthers.”
Trump’s shameless pandering to this group of idiots seems to be paying off. Not only does a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll show Trump tied with Mike Huckabee at 17% for second place behind Mitt Romney, the ratings for his NBC show, Celebrity Apprentice, are up. (I’ll admit to Apprentice being one of my guilty pleasures. It’s a fun show.) He’s a smart businessman and a good promoter.
However, when he uses the birther controversy, a non-issue that has been repeatedly debunked, to garner attention and generate publicity, it is impossible to take him seriously. He spouts the typical nonsense about how a certificate of live birth is not the equivalent of a birth certificate; he states that Obama’s grandmother in Kenya says she was a witness to the birth, although it has been shown that that was due to a translation error; he maintains that Obama’s mother didn’t have the money to put birth announcements in not one but two Hawaiian papers, although most newspapers publish such announcements at no charge. It’s a silly argument, and Trump makes himself look silly for climbing onto the birther bandwagon.
Trump doesn’t just make himself look foolish. He diminishes the stature of the office of the presidency. While he certainly has the right to run for president if he so chooses, his pursuit of the birthers is ludicrous and laughable. Former entertainers can certainly take being elected seriously, and approach the job with the appropriate gravitas. Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Bono, even Fred Grandy (Gopher from The Love Boat), for pete’s sake, made the transition from entertainment to politics. While they all occasionally had non-serious moments, they embraced nothing so ridiculous as the birther nonsense. One could make the argument that trickle-down economics was every bit as ridiculous, but that is a topic for another day. I suspect that the GOP is not thrilled with this development; when they are struggling to field a serious candidate who has a chance against Obama, this clown is talking birther blather. When even Glenn Beck says you’ve taken it too far, you might need to realize that you’ve got a credibility problem.
If Trump’s goal is to garner attention and generate publicity, he has succeeded. If his goal is really to be taken seriously as a possible presidential candidate, he is failing miserably, except with a small and deluded minority of the population. Astonishingly, a significant portion of Republicans (51%) don’t believe Obama was born in America. That portion of the population isn’t enough to win an election; Independent voters will be key, and they want no part of the birther silliness.
Nor should any thinking American.