Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Anyone who thinks Trump-style birtherism is going to go away in the next few days or weeks ought to mosey on over to the Drudge Report (click to enlarge screenshot):

Did you catch the line at the top of that page? It reads, "'MISSING RECORDS IN HAWAII, MISSING RECORDS IN KENYA, MISSING RECORDS IN INDONESIA'..." This is what's going to happen to birtherism, I think: It's going to mutate. It's going to stop being just about whether the birth story is accurate; it's going to morph into a narrative in which an inaccessible document or two in Hawaii get lumped together with (I assume) a larger number of inaccessible documents in Indonesia and Kenya to create an impression (at least to wingnuts) of a president hiding secrets that are too horrible and evil to comprehend.

Look, it seems likely that Corsi and his crew can fail to find certain bits of paper they say should exist in Indonesia and Kenya (it will turn out that there was never any reason for these documents to exist, or that they're imprecise or misplaced for perfectly innocent reasons, but that'll be after Corsi's book hits #1 on the best-seller list). And so that will be the birther narrative. The birth certificate part of the birther narrative will become the tip of the iceberg. And even though everything we'll be told will be utter bollocks, it'll keep the whole issue alive in Wingnut America.

And we won't reach this new Peak Birther Mania until mid-May, as Drudge's "flash" explains -- and it all ties in to Trump:

... The street date is a LONG month away, and author Jerome Corsi, the man who torpedoed John Kerry's presidential dreams with SWIFT BOAT, has gone underground and is holding his new findings thisclose.

"It's utterly devastating," reveals a source close to the publisher. "Obama may learn things he didn't even know about himself!"

... Does Corsi definitively declare the location of Obama's birth?

... Will the book finally -- once and for all -- put an end to the growing controversy?

... "When Donald Trump said he sent PIs to Hawaii to get to the bottom of all this, he meant this book," declares an insider.

The book, according to Amazon, comes out on May 17.

Recall Trump's statement about a possible announcement five days later:

"On the May 22nd Season Finale of Celebrity Apprentice, Mr. Trump may announce the time and place of a press conference at which time he will make a statement as to whether or not he will run for President of the United States."

So I think the book's publication date and Trump's announcement are going to be two parts of the same event. (Trump probably won't announce his candidacy -- he may kick the can down the road or just withdraw his name -- and I don't think he'll talk birtherism on The Apprentice, but he will in the inevitable marathon round of interviews that will follow.)

Now, can Corsi come up with anything that will be believable to anyone but the most gullible rubes? It may not matter, because, as Ed Kilgore notes in The New Republic, the GOP base largely consists of the most gullible rubes:

... last Friday, Public Policy Polling released a survey that showed Trump not only running ahead of the entire 2012 field, but registering numbers higher than such prior leaders as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. That caused the Republican Powers That Be to stop dismissing him and launch [a] sustained attack....

But a closer look at the PPP findings should reveal the weakness of this elite strategy. What they show is not a desire to support the faux tycoon per se, but a raging right-wing, anti-establishment fever that has only gotten stronger in recent months. Ending or mortally wounding a Trump candidacy would only address its symptoms, rather than curing a condition in which voters will follow whichever candidate is willing to outdo his or her opponents at wingnuttery. According to PPP, fully 23 percent of self-identified Republicans say they could not vote for any candidates who "who firmly stated they believed Barack Obama was born in the United States.” Another 39 percent weren't sure they could vote for such Birther-defying candidates.

Kilgore's larger point is that the GOP base wants the Republican establishment to be crazier and even more right-wing -- by, for instance, taking a meat ax to the federal budget. (I'm sure this is true -- for instance, failure to shut down the government is really going to infuriate these people.) So Corsi and Trump will keep riding this because it satisfies an insatiable hatred. How much this will affect the rest of us, I can't tell you.


By the way, Drudge notes that the book "ranked #1,341 on AMAZON's hitparade late Wednesday morning." It's now at #2.


UPDATE, THURSDAY: CNN has this now:

Possibly-serious Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is giving few details about the investigation he claims to have launched in Hawaii to get to the bottom of where President Obama was born, but the business mogul told CNN Thursday Americans will be "very surprised" by what he has found.

"We're looking into it very, very strongly. At a certain point in time I'll be revealing some interesting things," Trump said on CNN's American Morning....

Trump says, "I'll be revealing some interesting things." Drudge's "source close to the publisher" says, "Obama may learn things he didn't even know about himself!" I'll say it again: the plan is to turn this into A Conspiracy So Vast, an attempt to hide aspects of Obama's youth, in which the birth certificate plays a relatively small part. I'm not saying it'll work -- I'm just saying that's the scheme to keep this fresh and continue gulling the rubes (and, if they play it flawlessly, the mainstream media).

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