In the end, it took Donald Trump, billionaire CEO of Trump International and star of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” to get President Obama to release his original Certificate of Live Birth. But, of course, the story does not end there.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the President lashed out at his friends in the mainstream media:
“I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press,” Obama said. “We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do.”
But the question is: why did the President seemingly “cave in” to Trump, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, and why was he so “weird” about releasing this document in the first place – three years after the media-generated “birther” controversy began?
Here are a few possible explanations and some lingering issues:
#1. The President’s strategy of silence on the birth certificate controversy has been a public relations disaster. A growing number of Americans continue to be distrustful of him, leading to a continued downward spiral of his approval ratings in the polls.
After months of controversy, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama released a digitally scanned copy of a Certificate of Live Birth from the State of Hawaii in June of 2008. Unfortunately, the failure to produce the original certificate only created more suspicion about the President. In a CBS/New York Times poll released this week, one in four Americans said they thought Mr. Obama was not born in the United States. However, the public’s distrust of President Obama extends far beyond the birth certificate controversy.
The President and his policies have created a perfect storm of discontent. In a Rasmussen poll released on April 27, forty percent (40%) of the nation’s voters strongly disapprove of the way that Barack Obama has performed in his role as president with fifty-two (52%) percent disapproval overall.
It is not hard to understand why the President is failing in the polls: Obama’s force-fed excuse for healthcare reform, Obamacare, is still at a 59% disapproval; unemployment is at 9.2%; a record 18.4% of are dependent on Uncle Sam; oil prices are skyrocketing; and the S&P just downgraded its U.S. credit outlook.
We have been warned. But the question Americans continue to ask is whether or not President Obama even recognizes the problem. Or, if he recognizes it, does America’s decline as the world’s greatest economic superpower even concern him?
Now the dreaded “s” word comes into play: socialism.
According to a just-released Winthrop poll, seventy-eight (78%) of South Carolina Republicans and independents believe Barack Obama is a socialist. The poll also found that more than sixty (60%) percent see him as uncaring and more than seventy (70%) percent as dishonest. This is consistent with a poll released in July 2010 by James Carville’s Democracy Corps firm.When voters were asked if they thought the president was a socialist, fifty-five (55%) percent of likely voters said, “yes.”
Could this perception be rooted in the President’s attempts to enact laws and policies against the wishes of the American people? Policies that run counter to a nation that is center-right in its philosophy and perspective? Laws that are fundamentally at-odds with concepts of free-market capitalism and that inch us toward a European model of socialism?
Yes? Of course, yes.
The third rung of President Obama’s public approval problems stems from questions about his religious affiliation. In August 2010, a survey by Pew Research Center found that nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) said they believed Obama was a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009.
Could this perception be rooted in the President’s unwillingness to call soften the language of the war on terror? And his Administration’s sensitivity to “Islamaphobia?” Could it be because he supported the building of the mosque at Ground Zero? Or his “dithering” policies on the Middle East?
Yes? Of course, yes.
To recap, Americans disapprove of President Obama’s overall performance, both in his mishandling of the economy and bungled foreign policy. Americans also do not trust him and that translates into distrust of all aspects of his past – including his religious affiliation, allegiances, and, of course, that damn birth certificate.
If the President was honest and forthcoming, would there have been a controversy of this magnitude for three years? Is the controversy actually in his interest?
#2. The birth certificate controversy is one small part of a web of unanswered questions about President Obama, his background, his extreme political associations, and his campaign donations.
The mainstream media love the smokescreen of the “birther” controversy. The “birther” story was always just the tip of the iceberg. As a candidate, Obama was not properly vetted and any attempts to ask questions about the President’s history continue to be scoffed at by the media. They say: “Why is it relevant?” or “How dare you ask that – he’s the President!”
Yet these questions have always been relevant in presidential campaigns because the past is the best indication of who a candidate really is and what he or she really believes. Regardless, the fact that – three years later –
President Obama has never addressed these questions means that most Americans would probably not like his answers.
At this point, do we really need to know why President Obama chose Rev. Jeremiah Wright as his spiritual mentor? Or why he sought the counsel of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers? Or why he took money from convicted felon Tony Rezko? Or about his ties to National of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan? Or about his history with the now-disgraced ACORN? Or his connections with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge? Or his latest pastor problem with radical DC pastor Wallace Smith? Don’t we know the answers already? The real issue is not whether he had these associations but how much worse is it than we know?
Last week, the FEC announced a probe into Obama’s 2008 campaign and its record $750 million in fundraising. An analysis by Newsmax indicates that the probe may uncover answers about Obama donors who contributed over the $4600 limit and 37,000 other questionable contributions. The final results may finally yield some answers Americans have been searching for. Stay tuned.
#3. The “birther” issue has proved useful to President Obama as he struggles to control his progressive base. As for the media, they have benefited from the tabloid appeal of the “birther” storyline, misusing the issue as an opportunity to portray conservatives as “racists” and “whackjobs.”
President Obama has been a huge disappointment to his left-wing progressive base. The President’s failure to close Gitmo, missed opportunity for universal health care, inaction on gay rights, failure to end the Afghan war, his military involvement in Libya, and the Gulf Coast oil disaster have left him vulnerable to challenge in the 2011 primaries.
So how does he control his liberal base? In short, by perpetuating the racism media stereotype against his political opponents. The “birther” storyline and the media’s ongoing campaign to link the issue to racism has been one of the few weapons left in Obama’s political arsenal as 2012 looms.
#4. Hopefully, the document is legit.
I had to ask because – no doubt – someone will.
#5. The media frenzy surrounding Trump and the “birther” issue has distracted attention from other possible GOP presidential contenders. Will it ultimately help or hurt the GOP’s chances to retake the White House in 2012?
Now that Trump has been christened the “victor” on the birther issue, will his continued presence help or hurt the GOP’s chance to reclaim the White House in 2012? Does he really plan to run? Is it about publicity? Or is it serving the President’s interest to weaken the GOP field of other potential nominees?
In order to counter Trump’s brash populist message, TV appeal, money and name recognition, GOP front-runners like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Tim Pawlenty are going to have to finally “man-up” for the challenge. (Or “woman-up” in the case of Michele Bachmann) Ultimately, the Trump factor may finally force these presidential contenders to sharpen their economic message and shed the wishy washy political persona voters have been forcefully rejecting.
Indeed, if that is Trump’s task, he is most definitely hired.