David Remnick on the disturbing undertone of reality star’s “birther” barrage
Barack Obama's extraordinary decision to release his Hawaiian birth certificate — and his condemnation of "sideshows," "carnival barkers" and the press that gave them a platform — set off the expected volcano of media reactions, ranging from the self-critical ("Too many in the media have treated this crap as if it's subject for debate and not just a a falsehood," as ABC senior white House correspondent Jake Tapper wrote on Twitter) to the bemused ("Fascinating how many of Obama's birther remarks were aimed at the media for stoking this," as Howard Kurtz put it) and defensive ("We challenged Donald Trump," to paraphrase what "Meet The Press" host David Gregory said on Wednesday's "Today" show).
But thankfully the bulk of the media kept its finger pointed at the biggest sideshow and carnival barker of them all: Donald Trump.
David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, churned out one of the sharpest pieces of criticism I saw. Here's his lede:
Not long after the White House released the President’s birth certificate this morning, Donald Trump stepped off a helicopter, ambled up to a bank of microphones, and declared, “Today, I’m very proud of myself.” (One assumes this is a daily ritual for Trump, but today there were more cameras than usual.) Trump also declared himself relieved that “the press can stop asking me questions” about the birther issue and we can now move on to more important ones, such as “China ripping off this country.” What is there to say anymore about Donald Trump? That he is an irrepressible jackass who thinks of himself as a sly fox? That he is a buffoon with bathroom fixtures of gold? Why bother, after so many decades? There is no insulting someone who lives in a self-reinforcing fantasy world.
Remnick pivoted to the racial implications of Trump's birthed barrage:
The one radical thing about Barack Obama is his race, his name. Of course, there is nothing innately radical about being black or having Hussein as middle name; what is radical is that he has those attributes and is sitting in the Oval Office. And even now, more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him. Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him? Perhaps now he will go away, satisfied that this passage has sufficiently restored his fame quotient and television ratings. The shame is that there are still many more around who, in the name of truth-telling, are prepared to pump the atmosphere full of poison.
The other great piece of Trump thrashing was from Baratunde Thurston, digital director at The Onion, who uploaded a sobering monologue ("Klansman Trump Reminds Blacks They Will Never Be American") to YouTube.
Here's his introduction:
As I walked to work this morning, I got a text message from the @jjpolitics account on Twitter announcing that President Obama would release his long form birth certificate. I stopped in my tracks as my immediate thought became, "It's happening again. This White House is caving in to extremism."
And if you didn't catch Trump's press conference reacting to Obama's release, it's must-see delusional TV:
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