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A losing Trump card

5/3/2011, 2:21 p.m.
“Man, I know who needs to be fired.”

A losing Trump card

President Barack Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961 in Hawaii, the 50th state of this nation. According to the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

Section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution established as a qualification for president that “no person except a natural born citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President …” The so-called “birthers” insist that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not qualified to serve as president.

A valid birth certificate should normally be enough to resolve such an issue, but that was never enough for the “birthers.” Their real objective was to challenge the legitimacy of Obama as president by any means necessary. While they continued to foment controversy, with the aid of the press, their cause was generally discredited until the advent of Donald Trump as their champion.

Americans have a fascination with business moguls. Enormous business success is the dream of many Americans. Trump understands this obsession and he has built an eponymous brand based on conspicuous consumption. He understands the mood of the people and he has developed an ability to manipulate the media.

Trump is a keenly intelligent man with an adroit awareness of opportunity. He could see that none of the potential candidates for president from the Republican Party were gaining much traction. That is because extreme conservatives had created uncustomary political chaos in the party. Trump saw the opportunity to burnish his brand.

By becoming the spokesman for the “birthers,” Trump was able to become prominent in the media. In a relatively short time, Trump topped the polls as Republican candidate for president. He has promised to announce his political intentions soon.

Whatever his personal intentions, Trump certainly does not place the interests of the country first. A major problem for the nation is to move beyond the abhorrent history of slavery, racial oppression and racial discrimination. Regardless of one’s political views, the election of an African American as president is an enormous cultural achievement. It is therefore not patriotic to couch political opposition in racist terms, and bestir old enmities.

This is a difficult time. Citizens can reasonably find fault with policies of the president. The nation is involved in three wars, there is high unemployment, economic growth is at a slower pace than what is needed, the national budget deficit is too high, the cost of health care and other services are too expensive and the gap in the distribution of wealth in the society is widening. This is no time to revive racial conflicts.

Trump knew that there was no question about Obama’s American birth. Certainly the news media had investigated the issue and knew of Obama’s legitimacy. Yet the media allowed themselves to be seduced by Trump to collaborate on the disgraceful public “birther” episode.

By disrespecting the office of the president of the United States, Trump has sullied his own reputation. And the press must learn to resist the temptation to cater to absurdity, just because it is lively and colorful.