[Ed. note: Before the world learned that Osama bin Laden died at the order of President Obama and at the hand of Navy SEAL Team Six, the national news obsession was over Obama’s birthplace and whether Donald Trump had a place in politics. Oh, how I long for those days. It was a simpler time. A time of absurd arguments that had absolutely no grounding or deserving of our attention. A time of brash demagoguery and speaking off-the-cuff without the slightest regard for factual accuracy. Sigh. Will we ever get back to those carefree cable news hours and rabid radio talk shows? I’m not sure, so I feel like I better savor the aftertaste. Also, I wrote most of this before Osama slept with the fishes. Hence, what follows…]
Hats (or is it toupees?) off to Donald Trump. His “carnival barking” was the straw that broke the camel’s back and swayed President Obama to ask the Hawaii State Department of Health to release his long-form birth certificate, which he made available a week ago Wednesday. Wednesday also marked the end of Trump’s presidential campaign. He just doesn’t know it yet. Well, after last Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner (more on that later), he might have had an inkling. (If he has any political instincts, the strike on bin Laden sealed the deal.)
My biggest fear coming out of the release is that Obama is going to lose the carnival lobby. With that snide remark, plus his support of safety regulations forcing ferris wheel and pirate ship operators to stay awake on the job, it’s in danger. And everyone knows, carnies vote. Oh boy, do carnies vote. We can only hope the carnies approve of bin Laden being plopped in the water like so many a dunk tank victim.
In true Colbert Report fashion, Stephen soon showed that the long-form is actually shorter than the “small-form,” the certificate of live birth that on its own suffices in all legal and electoral matters.
Although Trump hasn’t officially announced (apparently nobody does that anymore until the night before Election Day), he was inserting himself into the process.
Trump, and probably my frenemy Roger Stone, will say, “Don’t you see how influential we are? All it took was a month and we got them to cave.” Yeah, but you’ve shown us that’s all you got in your tank. Your opening salvo was a gun that shoots a “BANG!” flag. I can’t imagine the wallop your recovery fire will pack, oh Great Trump. Indeed, as the intrepid and thorough Dave Weigel wrote, “There’s really no way to spin this that doesn’t reveal Trump as a buffoon or a conspiracy theorist.”
“Today I’m very proud of myself,” Trump said at a press conference the day of the release. “I feel I’ve accomplished something really, really important.” You haven’t. What you did was make a guy who showed you the report card he got from his teacher prove the grades were right by making the teacher show you his essays and tests. From that, I guess it’s no surprise that Trump started in on Obama’s grades from Occidental College, where he attended before he transferred to Columbia. Y’know, Donald, some people come into their own during their college years, and find character and intelligence they didn’t know they had to make it on their own. We aren’t all born into wealthy, cocky families.
Last week, I was going to predict that Trump’s numbers would see a brief bump up 2-6% in the ensuing few days, based on impressed hardcore Tea Partiers, and then recede from there, like his natural hairline. But it seems they had already started to putter, as the fake tan wears off. Yet even in the first trickling of polls that were conducted during that Wednesday he had already started to slip. He came in fourth place in a Fox News poll in which some interviews were conducted after the president released his birth certificate, compared to another poll a couple days earlier which had him in the lead. He would likely lose in battleground states. Oh yeah, and plus, 63 percent of Americans say they will definitely not vote for The Donald. That’s Palin territory. By this week, in a post-bin Laden world, odds are he will falter further. (Oh, this just in: 75% of New Yorkers do not want him to run, including two-thirds of Republicans.)
The president, although he never wanted to get into this stupidity, handled it well. In his unannounced appearance to the press corps, he exhibited seriousness, poise, and congeniality, saying, we can’t “pretend that facts are not facts.” He elaborated: “I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this.”
Then, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD), Obama and, (despite Saturday Night Live’s lackluster standing), Seth Meyers got Trump real good, but only because he left himself wide open. To add insult to, well, insult, Trump was in the room, because for some reason The Washington Post invited him, and for some reason, he decided to go. You could tell the chum was already in the briney when Obama came to the podium on the heels of a prepared introductory video set to the Rick Derringer tune, “I Am a Real American,” complete with the long-form birth certificate pulsating to the beat, juxtaposed next to images of the stars and stripes, Rocky, the Karate Kid, Optimus Prime, and Hulk Hogan. It was sublime. Obama began his remarks with a deliberately emphasized, “My fellow Americans.”
Obama set ’em up:
“Donald Trump is here tonight. Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
“All kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled.”
And Meyers knocked ’em down:
“Donald Trump said recently he had a ‘great relationship with the blacks.’ Though unless ‘the Blacks’ are a family of white people, I bet he’s mistaken.” (Obama lost it on this one.)
“Donald Trump said that he was running for president as a Republican. That’s funny, because I thought he was running as a joke.”
Damn, I had thought that the Roast of Donald Trump aired in March on Comedy Central.
Attendees have said it was beyond awkward to be at (or near) his table.
In fact, reports say that Trump was caught off-guard eating an entrée of heavily poop-flavored organic crow resting on a bed of runny poached eggs. He got some of that egg on his face.
He may be wealthier than many of the well-heeled who were in that room, but wide shots showed a belittled man biting his lip: poor, sad, and done.
Which reminds me, I was close to calling this piece “Birth of the Fool,” but I don’t think this is the first time Trump’s looked foolish, and because I fear knowledge of Miles Davis albums is not what it once was.
The recent obsession with Trump in some ways parallels when former Senator and character actor Fred Thompson ran. For months, the abstract idea of a Thompson run sounded nice to many Republicans. But once he joined the race, he was not up to the task of a credible campaign, let alone a formidable presidency. The closer people like that get to the reality of being president, the farther they are from its likelihood.
Trump’s case is no different, if not more pronounced. He simply does not exhibit or possess basic pre-requisites for the job. Arguably, “The most important task for a president is knowing how to set priorities and maintain a sense of perspective. By founding his candidacy around the question of Obama’s birth, Trump fails this basic test.”
The next unofficial pre-requisite for the presidency: seriousness. Dropping mother-F-bombs at flirtatious fundraisers in battleground states does not exude that quality. Plus it’s easy to say fuck. See?
And say what you will about the far out guys in the Democratic party (Kucinich, et al.), they never led the polls.
Pre-req number three, at least in modern times, is being compassionate, polite, and kind. Presidents, from Reagan to Clinton, H.W. Bush to Obama, pay compliments, exhibit modesty, and thank people. This maintains relations, shows respect, and moves the ball forward. Trump does not do this.
When you add this all together, plus the fact that he chose Bret Michaels to win The Celebrity Apprentice last year, you’re left with a final pre-requisite Trump does not display: he’s not prudent.