Why Is Trump Returning to Birther-Style Attacks on Obama?

Why Is Trump Returning to Birther-Style Attacks on Obama?

Attempts to delegitimize Barack Obama are a classic page in the Trump playbook.

Adrienne Lafrance | The Atlantic

Opinion - commentary -analysisIt was a long 25 hours. But the White House ended its silence Sunday morning with an official statement responding to a series of extraordinary tweets by President Donald Trump the day before.

Trump had claimed, without evidence or explanation, that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump’s phone lines during the 2016 election. The White House confirmed on Sunday that it would neither explain the basis for the president’s accusation or offer additional comment on the matter. The president is calling for a congressional investigation into the alleged wiretapping, the statement said.   

Guessing at a president’s motivations has long been a national pastime for political junkies and journalists, but never quite like this.

There is, however, an unmistakable familiarity to Trump’s latest accusations against Obama. Without knowing whether Trump’s tweets were based on an intelligence report, a news report, a conspiracy theory, or something else entirely — one must consider the possibility that the unsubstantiated claims are, in fact, a political strategy. Trump has peddled a lie as a way to delegitimize Obama in the past.

“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office,” Trump tweeted on August 6, 2012, “and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”

This was more than a year after Obama had publicly shared a copy of his birth certificate. The president was finally compelled to do so because of Trump’s birther crusade, a months-long attempt by Trump to convince people that Obama was born in Kenya and therefore not eligible to be president of the United States of America – President Obama was born in Hawaii.

It wasn’t surprising to see Trump revive birther claims despite evidence that he was wrong. And with three months before the presidential election, one Trump hoped Obama would lose, Trump reached for a classic tactic of his: Shock and Distract.

Are Trump’s wiretapping claims the new Birtherism?

It’s certainly understandable why Trump would want to change the narrative at this moment in his early presidency. The questions over Trump administration ties to Russia are growing louder. Trump was said to be incensed over the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into Russia’s role in the presidential election, according to reports in The New York Times and elsewhere.

When Trump gets mad, he tweets. He goes on the offensive. Trump is a master at whipping the press into a frenzy. By retraining the press corps’ focus on the wiretapping accusation, perhaps Trump and his advisors — one of whom is the former chairman of the right-wing news website that helped spread that accusation — are trying to dissipate attention on Russia.

After all, the White House’s statement on Sunday morning linked questions about Trump’s Russia ties with questions about a possible wiretap:“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”

A call for an investigation might otherwise signal the seriousness of an allegation. But past investigations of Trump’s charges have sometimes served to debunk his claims. At the height of Birtherism, for example, Trump dispatched investigators to Honolulu in search of Obama’s birth certificate, which had not yet been released.

“Today, I’m very proud of myself,” Trump said before a gaggle of reporters on the day Obama’s birth certificate was made public. Trump appeared to be proud of himself again, last year, when he finally admitted that Obama was born in the United States. “I finished it,” he said, claiming falsely that Hillary Clinton was to blame for a starting a controversy he’d somehow settled.

Trump has a favourite political reference he employs to insinuate that Obama is guilty of misconduct in office. “Why does the press protect him?” Trump had tweeted of Obama in May of 2012. “Is this another Watergate?”

Now, as critics ask the same question about Trump, he has chosen again to attack Obama. “This is Nixon/Watergate,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, under pressure, returning to his old playbook.


Former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was released by the White House April 2011

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  • Clyde Duncan  On March 6, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Trump Rages Over the Comparison of his WEAK Performance and the Accomplishments of President Obama

    Mark Sumner | Daily Kos

    Donald Trump is not even one turn of the screw away from crawling into the White House bunk and muttering about strawberries.

    When Trump ran into Christopher Ruddy on the golf course and later at dinner Saturday, he vented to his friend. “This will be investigated,” Ruddy recalled Trump telling him. “It will all come out. I will be proven right.”

    “He was pissed,” said Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax, a conservative media company. “I haven’t seen him this angry.”

    Not only is Trump obsessed over a conspiracy of persecution that includes non-existent phone taps, a cadre of “low life leakers,” and a press eager to display his every failure, he’s also being driven (more) snot-slinging crazy by the thought that he could be compared to President Obama.

    Gnawing at Trump, according to one of his advisers, is the comparison between his early track record and that of Obama in 2009, when amid the Great Recession he enacted an economic stimulus bill and other big-ticket items.

    Yes, by this point Obama had proposed, negotiated, renegotiated, and signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    That’s on top of getting the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed within the first two weeks of his administration.

    What has Trump accomplished? Well … he wrote a bunch of executive orders, one of which has already been blocked in court, and he signed a bill making it easier for energy companies to pollute both the air and water.

    Hows that hatey-wally thingy south of the border going for Trump voters?

    Trump’s young presidency has existed in a perpetual state of chaos.

    Trump made a huge number of promises about what he would accomplish day one, but real governing has turned out to be harder than just screaming at a receptive crowd.

    Is there a term limits amendment, either signed or working its way through Congress? Nope.

    A ban on former congressmen becoming lobbyists? Nope.

    How about a ban on foreign lobbying and on foreign lobbyists being involved in US elections?

    Actually, one of the first executive orders Trump signed was to make it easier for American companies to make payoffs to foreign governments in secret — an invitation to bribery that’s beloved of the oil and gas industry.

    Even with an all-Republican, all-compliant Congress just waiting for his instructions on how high to jump, Trump has proven singularly inept in getting any legislation started, much less passed.

    In general, Trump has come through on persecuting immigrants and protecting pollution, and … not much else.

    Trump’s team is trying again to reboot this week, with the president expected to sign a new executive order Monday implementing an entry ban for some countries after the initial one was blocked in federal court.

    The administration also intends to introduce a legislative plan later in the week to repeal and replace Obama’s health-care law, officials said.

    The rest of Trump’s legislative plan, from tax reform to infrastructure spending, is effectively on hold until Congress first tackles the Affordable Care Act.

    Another reboot? Already? Just how many boots do these people own? And what better way to start than by tackling an issue where Republicans have made zero progress in seven years – Healthcare.

    Anything Trump does is likely to be drowned by his biggest problem. That’s not Trump’s ever-simmering connection to Russia and the slowly gathering investigations.

    It is Trump’s ABSOLUTE OBSESSION with President Obama, an obsession that’s driving Trump to purge competent people from government and making his problems worse.

    Trump, meanwhile, has been feeling besieged, believing that his presidency is being tormented in ways known and unknown by a group of Obama-aligned critics, federal bureaucrats and intelligence figures — not to mention the media, which he has called “the enemy of the American people.”

    Ahh, but the phone taps that’s … that’s where he has them. They laughed at him and made jokes but he’ll prove beyond the shadow of a doubt and with … geometric logic … that the phone taps in Trump Tower did exist, and he’d have produced that evidence if it wasn’t for …

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 6, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Ben Carson calls slaves “involuntary immigrants”

    My paraphrasing from The Washington Post | Tracy Jan and Jose A DelReal

    This idiot-savant, Dr. Ben Carson, compared slaves to immigrants seeking a better life in his first official address Monday as Housing and Urban Development secretary, setting off an uproar on social media.

    In what appears to be an embarrassing pattern of missteps on race for the Trump administration, Carson told a room packed with hundreds of federal workers that the Africans captured, sold and transported to America against their will had the same hopes and dreams as early immigrants.

    “That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,” said Carson, speaking extemporaneously as he paced the room with a microphone. “But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

    His comments were broadcast live to all of HUD’s regional field offices as well as to the public.

    A senior HUD official who spoke on condition of anonymity said no one in the room interpreted Carson’s comments as anything but a “heartfelt introduction to the HUD family.”

    “He was making a point about people who came to this country for a better life for their kids,” the official said. “Nobody in that room put two and two together and came to five. Only the most cynical interpretation would conflate voluntary immigration to this country with involuntary servitude.”

    Near the end of the town hall event, during a question-and-answer session, one HUD staffer took the microphone and thanked Carson for addressing the staff, noting that many in attendance had been worried about how the Trump administration would approach HUD and its work. The staffer said that she had been reassured by Carson’s comments as others clapped.

    But the reaction on social media was swift and unforgiving.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 7, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    “I think some of the problems the GOP is having with the Affordable Care Act come from its success,” a reader writes.

    “Several million Americans know they or someone they know doesn’t have to die because they can’t afford health insurance.

    There still are those who can’t pay for the kind of health care they want ….. but people now know you don’t need to die for lack of a liver transplant because you don’t have money ….. People now know they can manage their diabetes if they have health insurance, etc., etc. Any winning solution must provide more health care to more people than fewer.”

    “Doing it cheaply is one of those messy details Congress doesn’t like to consider.”

    The 5: You’ve identified a key part of the problem. As we’ve said before, the GOP doesn’t want headlines going into the midterm elections next year about “X Million People Lose Health Insurance.”

    Even if it’s crappy and expensive insurance…

    Best regards,

    Dave Gonigam
    The 5 Min. Forecast

    P.S. Thank you for reading The 5 Min. Forecast! We greatly value your questions and comments. Please send all feedback to 5minforecast@agorafinancial.com

    By the way, make a note of the date of the mid-term elections: 06 No 2018

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