The birther and his basket of lies

    President Barack Obama is shown laughing as he comments to reporters on the controversy over his birth certificate in an April 2011 White House press conference. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

    President Barack Obama is shown laughing as he comments to reporters on the controversy over his birth certificate in an April 2011 White House press conference. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

    Isn’t it awesome to have the real Trump back in action?

    Teleprompter Trump, reticent Trump, conciliatory Trump, modulated Trump with the NPR voice — those faux personas just didn’t cut it. How bracing it is to again behold the racist demagogue unleashing lie after lie.

    Until last night, when the birther “issue” inexplicably surged once more into the news, I thought we’d be talking about his dissing of the black pastor who had hosted him in Flint on Wednesday. During his remarks he had tried to attack Hillary Clinton, but pastor Faith Green Timmons had interrupted, urging him to speak instead about local issues.  So yesterday, on Fox News show, he ridiculed Timmons, calling her “a nervous mess,” and claimed that the church audience had sided with him, not Timmons. Which was a lie, of course, because the church audience had sided with Timmons and in fact had heckled him.

    But this guy’s lies comes so fast that the incident in Flint now feels like ancient history.

    What took precedence, last night, was his latest detestable dance with birtherism. It all started when The Washington Post asked him, in an interview, whether he was finally ready to acknowledge that Barack Obama was born in America and was thus a legitimate president. He refused. Instead he said, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore …. I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.” Even now, in the midst of his purported presidential “pivot,” he’s afraid to tick off the white racist deplorables who helped power his ascent.

    But after the Post interview went public yesterday, Trump’s spin team apparently realized that it was probably bad politics for the boss to revert to who he really is — a demagogue who’s most comfortable in the fever swamp, communing with trolls. So the spinners crafted a statement that is breathtaking in its serial mendacity. It goes like this:

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised the issue, not Donald J. Trump.

    In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States …

    I’m not sure what planet these dangerous people inhabit — perhaps Bizarro World, the comic book planet where everything is done backwards. But here on Earth, I am reminded of what the writer Mary McCarthy once said of her rival Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the.”

    Let’s assess the lies in the order that they appear: Hillary Clinton did not invent the birther smear, nor did she propogate it. Trump did not “compel” Obama to release his birth certificate in 2011 — because Obama had posted it online in 2009. And Trump certainly didn’t bring “closure” in 2011— because he spent the ensuing years trying to keep the phony issue alive, claiming in a series of tweets that Obama might still be an illegitimate president. A few examples:

    Aug. 6, 2012: “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”

    Aug. 27, 2012: “Why do Republicans keep apologizing on the so-called ‘birther’ issue? No more apologies — take the offensive!”

    Sept. 10, 2013: “The birth certificate that you forced Obama to show is a computer generated forgery.”

    Sept. 6, 2014: “Attention all hackers: You are hacking everything else, so please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and ‘place of birth'”

    Nov. 23, 2014: “Obama also fabricated his own birth certificate after being pressured to produce one by @realDonald Trump”

    If my life-math is correct, 2012 and 2013 and 2014 came after 2011 — the year when Trump supposedly brought “this ugly incident to its conclusion.” But perhaps they count differently on Bizarro World. Perhaps, on Bizarro World, smearing the commander-in-chief with serial lies about illegitimacy is truly viewed as “a great service.”

    By the way, Trump lied again this morning — stating falsely on Fox News that Clinton created the birther thing (“she is the one that started it”) — apparently as part of his prepartion to finally state on camera that Obama is an American. Which he proceeded to do at the noon hour, when he declared that, yes, Obama is an American. He didn’t apologize for five years of lies, he didn’t explain the evidentiary basis for his change of mind, and he again repeated his lie that Clinton started the birther thing.

    As they say in war and football, the best defense is a good offense. Especially when the mainstream media is so bad at fact-checking the offensive.

    Clinton herself wondered last night, “This man wants to be our president? When will we stop this ugliness, this bigotry?” Get your act together, sister. The clock to doomsday is ticking.

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal