Two months ago, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) appeared on a right-wing radio show and called for an investigation into “the president’s validity.” Two weeks ago, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) said he remained hopeful that a birther investigation may “get rid of everything” President Obama has done in office. Last week, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said he “believes” the birther conspiracy theory.
And then yesterday, for reasons I can’t explain, ABC’s “This Week” hosted arguably the nation’s most notorious birther, Donald Trump, giving him a platform to spew his nonsense all over again. Consider this exchange between Jonathan Karl and the clownish media personality:
KARL: You’ve said a lot of things over the years that people think make you not serious. One of the big things is on the birth certificate –
TRUMP: How does that make me not serious? I mean, I think that resonated with a lot of people.
KARL: But you don’t still question he was born in the United States, do you?
TRUMP: I have no idea…. I don’t know, was there a birth certificate? You tell me. You know some people say that was not his birth certificate. I’m saying, I don’t know. Nobody does. And you don’t know either, Jonathan. You’re a smart guy. You don’t know either.
When Karl pressed further, Trump added, “Let’s just see what happens over time, but it’s not my issue, Jonathan.”
Riiiiight. Donald Trump wants Americans to believe the hyper-insane conspiracy theory he’s invested money, time, and energy in – over the course of several years – is “not his issue.” Got it.
Regardless, let’s not brush past the larger context here: just over the last couple of months, three members of Congress and a prominent national buffoon have all talked up a borderline-racist conspiracy theory that was discredited six years ago. It’s one thing to lament the lack of progress in the national discourse, but for Republicans to still cling to birtherism, even now, is rather sickening.
Wait, it gets better. Trump isn’t just preoccupied with already answered questions about the president’s birth, he’s now also raising related questions about a Republican.
KARL: Let me ask you this, Ted Cruz, born in Canada, is he eligible to be president of the United States?
TRUMP: Well, if he was born in Canada, perhaps not. But I’m not sure where he was born. I –
KARL: He was definitely born in Canada.
TRUMP: OK. Well, then you’ll have to ask him that question. But perhaps not.
KARL: Ted Cruz’s mother was an American citizen. He was an American.
TRUMP: Look, that will be ironed out. I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada.
In this case, “somebody” was the guy sitting in front of him, a few seconds earlier, telling him Ted Cruz was born in Canada.
Trump, as is often the case, didn’t quite understand the question. Whether Cruz was born in Canada is not in doubt – he was. For Trump to respond, “if he was born in Canada…” and “I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada” doesn’t make sense.
In the same interview, ABC’s Karl asked Trump to say “the first word that pops to mind” when asked about various Republicans. Asked about Marco Rubio, Trump said, “Immigration.” Asked about Rand Paul, Trump replied, “Interesting.”
After a few more names Karl said, “Donald Trump,” to which the guest said, “Smart.”
I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.