“Her storytelling ability and word usage (coming from me, who has written many bestsellers), is not at a very high level,” he penned.
Although Trump and I have had our differences in the past, I never felt it was personal. In fact, until now, I have refrained from noting that I once got an aggrieved message from him in which he misspelled the word “too.”
But about the letter. Mainly, it’s a list of alleged evidence that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Trump has made this the centerpiece of his faux presidential campaign, falling further and further into the land of the lunatic fringe. I find this a disturbing spectacle — a little like seeing a guy you know from the neighborhood suddenly turn up in the middle of Times Square with his face painted blue and yelling about space aliens.
“Bill Ayers wrote ‘Dreams From My Father,’ I have no doubt about it,” Trump told Joe Scarborough, who reported on Politico.com.
Ayers is the former ’60s radical who became a huge Republican talking point in 2008 because he had once given a house party for Obama when he was running for state senate. It’s a pretty big jump from coffee and cookies to writing an entire book, but I guess that’s what neighbors are for.
“That first book was total genius and helped get him elected,” Trump continued. “But you can tell Obama did the second book himself because it read like it was written by somebody of average intelligence with a high school education.”
Did I mention that, in his letter, Trump complained about my calling him a “birther” because the word was “very derogatory and meant in a derogatory way”? Obama, of course, graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School — if you can believe Columbia and Harvard Law.
“Three weeks ago I thought he was born in this country. Right now I have some real doubts. I have people that actually have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they’re finding,” Trump announced on “Today.”
Trump does not actually seem to have people studying, or even Googling. Still, he sounds very self-assured. This is because before he was a reality-show host, he was in the New York real estate business, a profession in which it is vital to be able to say imaginary things with total certainty. (“I have five other people who are begging me to sell them this property. Begging.”)
Let’s run over some of his arguments:
THE GRANDMOTHER STORY “His grandmother in Kenya stated, on tape, that he was born in Kenya and she was there to watch the birth,” Trump wrote. This goes back to a trans-Atlantic telephone call that was made in 2008 by Ron McRae, an Anabaptist bishop and birther, to Sarah Obama, the president’s 86-year-old stepgrandmother.
He asked her, through an interpreter whether she was “present when he was born in Kenya.” The translator responded: “She says, yes, she was. She was present when Obama was born.”
It is at this point that some of the tapes floating around the Web stop, which means that the listener doesn’t get to hear the follow-up, which makes it very clear that Sarah Obama misunderstood. The full conversation ends with the interpreter saying, for the umpteenth time:
“Hawaii. She says he was born in Hawaii. In the state of Hawaii, where his father, his father was learning there. The state of Hawaii.”
THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE If only Hawaii made its birth records public, and charged people a thousand dollars a pop to look at them, the state’s budget problems would be solved by the conspiracy theorists.
However, it doesn’t. If you were born in Hawaii and request a copy of your birth certificate, you get a certification of live birth, which the federal government accepts for passports. Barack Obama requested his in 2007, and his campaign posted it on the Internet.
“A certificate of live birth is not even signed by anybody. I saw his. I read it very carefully. It doesn’t have a serial number. It doesn’t have a signature,” said Trump on “Today.”
The document has the stamped signature of the state registrar. The University of Pennsylvania’s FactCheck.org made a pilgrimage to the Obama campaign headquarters, examined the document, felt the seal, checked the serial number and reported that it looked fine.
THE EMPTY PHOTO ALBUM “Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere,” Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference to great applause. “In fact, I’ll go a step further. The people that went to school with him, they never saw him; they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”
This week on CNN, Suzanne Malveaux played Trump clips of Hawaiians reminiscing about the schoolchild Obama for a documentary the network had done on the president.
“Look, I didn’t say that ... If he was 3 years old or 2 years old or 1 year old and people remember him, that’s irrelevant,” Trump responded. “You have to be born in this country.”
Recent polls have shown Trump running second among potential Republican primary voters. I believe this is not so much an indication of popularity as a desperate plea to be delivered from Mitt Romney.