Hillary falls into Trump’s birther trap
Once again, Donald Trump has outsmarted his opponents in multiple dimensions. Trump haters are in high dudgeon over yesterday’s repudiation of the notion that Obama was born outside the United States. John Hinderaker of Powerline explains the first dimension of the outwitting:
[Friday] morning, Trump himself tweeted:
I am now going to the brand new Trump International, Hotel D.C. for a major statement.
Reporters assumed the statement would be about Obama’s birthplace, and, sensing an opportunity to halt Hilary’s decline in the polls, hurried to the Trump International en masse, with camera crews in tow. The cable news networks cleared time to broadcast the anticipated Trump humiliation live.
Instead, they were treated to 20 minutes of military figures endorsing Trump. Live, on CNN and MSNBC!
Note the characteristic Trumpian jiu-jitsu: he uses their anti-Trump momentum against his enemies. So eager to turn the conversation to what they thought was favorable ground for Hillary, the nets gave up their most precious commodity, unfiltered airtime.
Having been had, they were not gracious:
This is a f--king disgrace... https://t.co/YtSjlt57Os— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) September 16, 2016
This allusion to obscenity was accompanied by even more disgraceful media behavior.
But wait, there’s more!
Hillary Clinton took the bait:
Hillary Clinton said Friday there’s no “erasing” the “birther” issue for Donald Trump, saying the GOP presidential nominee’s campaign was founded on the “outrageous lie” that President Obama was not born in the United States.
“We know who Donald is. For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,” Mrs. Clinton said at an event in Washington, D.C.
“His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie,” she said. “There is no erasing it in history. Just yesterday, Trump again refused to say with his own words that the president was born in the United States. Now, Donald’s advisers have a temerity to say he’s doing the country a service by pushing these lies.
“No, he isn’t,” she said. “He is feeding into the worst impulses — the bigotry and bias that lurks in our country.”
“Barack Obama was born in America, plain and simple, and Donald Trump owes him and the American people an apology,” she said.
“Donald Trump looks at President Obama after eight years as our president — he still doesn’t see him as an American. Think of how dangerous that is,” she said. “Imagine a person in the Oval Office who traffics in conspiracy theories and refuses to let them go no matter what the facts are.”
There is only one teensy-weensy problem with this self-righteousness. Hillary’s 2008 campaign against Obama for the nomination was the source of the original birtherism. And they exploited it in the characteristic Clintonian fashion: indirectly, passing along rumors in private. David Goldstein of McClatchy:
Two supporters of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign reportedly shared the claim that then-rival Barack Obama was not born in the United States and thus was not eligible to be president.
One was a volunteer in Iowa, who was fired, Clinton’s former campaign manager said Friday. The other was Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, according to a former McClatchy Washington Bureau chief.
The issue arose Friday as Donald Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S. Trump, a leading champion of the debunked “birther” conspiracy theory for years, attempted to blame Clinton for starting it when she ran against Obama in 2008 for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In fact, there were several people publicly pushing the theory, which was repeated extensively on conservative news outlets. There were the two Clinton supporters, but there is no evidence that Clinton herself or her campaign spread the story.
Of course there is "no evidence." Hillary wants deniability. But unfortunately for her, the DNC hack revealed an incriminating memo from campaign strategist Mark Penn that gave away the game. In addressing what could hold Obama back, number two on a list of four items is Obama's "Lack of American roots." And a bit later in the memo comes this: "We are never going to say anything about his background" – while using it against him.
This is Clinton’s strategy, and Sid Blumenthal implemented it.
Update: It was known at the time that the Hillary Camp was pushing these rumors. On August 11, 2008, CNN wrote:
Sen. Hillary Clinton's one-time chief strategist wanted to attack Sen. Barack Obama for lacking "American roots" during the Democratic primary battle, according to a magazine article set to be published online Monday evening.
"All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light. Save it for 2050," Mark Penn, then Clinton's chief strategist, wrote in a March 2007 memo, according to an article to be published in the September edition of The Atlantic magazine.
If Hillary Clinton is going to demand that Trump apologize, then Trump can demand she apologize for her campaign's sneaky introduction of the issue while hiding her own campaign's role. Keep in mind that Hillary is already distrusted, so this kind of thrust on Trump's part would confirm that negative appraisal.