Donald Trump is a shameless self-promoter. His prowess as a developer and businessman has been greatly exaggerated. He has crawled around in the muck and mire of what now passes for popular culture, and deserves at least some of the blame for tawdry's victory over grace in that sphere. He is an outsized egotist (about on a par with Obama) whose passion for self-congratulation is the only reliable thing we know about him. And that his future candidacy for president may soon be taken seriously owes to no one so much as it does Barack Obama, whose own candidacy seriously eroded the standards for presidential qualification.
But Trump has achieved something important. His decision to focus like a laser on Obama's failure to produce a birth certificate has highlighted the absolute corruption of the American media on the subject of Obama, and the dangers of power granted in the absence of an unaligned press.
Given that Obama's primary claim to the presidency has been his compelling life story -- his biracialism, his international upbringing, especially the time he spent in Muslim lands -- the media has shown shockingly little interest in several pieces of information about Obama's life which might legitimately concern voters. Nowhere in his biographies, for example, does Obama mention his 1981 trip to Pakistan, where he stayed with influential political leaders from that country at a time when a State Department advisory warned U.S. citizens against travel to Pakistan. There has also been a strange disinterest in Obama's 2006 trip to Kenya where, as a sitting U.S. senator, Obama criticized the incumbent government (a U.S. ally) and barnstormed with a Marxist candidate he supported. So too, there has been nary a peep among media elites over Obama's funding of the radical "education" work of bomb thrower Bill Ayers, or his own work on behalf of the activist group ACORN, the now defunct largest purveyor of voter registration fraud in American history (and, apparently, an enabler of under aged prostitution.).
One of the functions of the media is to protect the public from fraudulent statements made by public figures. The unwillingness of the media to fulfill this role in the case of Obama has led to significant, and probably needless, public tension. Obama's resistance to releasing the long version of his birth certificate, has served not only to raise legitimate speculation about the circumstances surrounding his birth, but to give fodder to anti-Obama extremists.
Gail Collins, the New York Times's most reliably uninteresting liberal attack dog, questioned Trump's sanity just for raising the birth certificate issue. But would she say the same about famed black Vanderbilt University Law Professor and Obama supporter Carol Swain? Swain has said "I think that by not releasing it [the full birth certificate], it makes people much more passionately opposed to the president. Moreover, for a president who was elected on the basis of his personal background, it is troubling that Obama himself would want to withhold such basic information."
The media's curiosity about the background of those running for national office seemed to know no bounds when it came to George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard or the sexual behavior of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's daughter. But during and since the 2008 campaign a virtual wall of silence has been constructed around Obama.
This has important implications for the country. Questions about Obama's family and his relationship to Islam, for example, and hence his world view, remain subjects of speculation. Former CIA officer Larry Johnson, for example, believes that the full birth record from the State of Hawaii was probably amended in 1968 to show Obama was adopted by his step father, the Indonesian Muslim Lolo Soetoro, that he became formally known for a time as "Barry Soetoro," and may even have his religion listed as Muslim. This would completely change what Obama has said about his past and represent a public fraud of a very significant magnitude.
At the very least the full record might help explain Obama's strange discomfort with exercising American power against radical Muslim regimes in Libya and elsewhere, where he has farmed out the defense of American interests to the United Nations, and his insistence on "dialogue" with rogue Muslim regimes in Syria and Iran. All of this while touting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Al Qaeda associated Muslim opposition groups in Libya as democracy craving freedom fighters.
Some of the missing details of Obama's life are doubtlessly trivial. Obama probably has benign explanations for not providing more information about them. Even Trump admits that the evidence strongly suggests Obama was born in Hawaii and is an American citizen. But that Obama has not yet released this information, and that the media refuses to criticize him for not doing so, is a testament not to the insanity of the "birthers," but to Obama's penchant for secrecy, and the dangerous amount of latitude the media has been willing to cede him.
See also: Trumped-Up
Seth Forman is author of American Obsession: Race and Conflict in the Age of Obama (forthcoming, Booklocker), and blogs at