CNN reports this weekend with hand-wringing concern:
Donald Trump declined to use his Sunday show opportunities to clarify his thoughts on President Barack Obama’s birthplace and repeatedly avoided direct answers on the subject.
One explanation: Those at the base of his support are the same who question the president’s legitimacy — and playing to that fringe has been Trump’s ticket to success so far.
He stoked those inaccurate beliefs on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when he was asked whether he’d be comfortable with a Muslim president.
“Some people have said it already happened, frankly,” Trump responded in a clear reference to Obama. [Pols emphasis] “But of course you won’t agree with that.”
Given Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s willingness, even eagerness to offend just about anyone–and lest you quibble with the designation “frontrunner,” here’s the latest poll–it’s really no surprise whatsoever to see him unapologetically courting the persistent segment of Republican primary voters still unconvinced that President Barack Obama is a religious Christian and a natural-born citizen of the United States.
After all, Trump makes jokes about Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle and his numbers go up.
Everybody is watching to see what the straw to break the proverbial camel’s back will be in terms of Trump finally saying something to disqualify himself in the GOP presidential primary. In any general election sense, he arguably has done so over and over–but Trump has proven dismayingly resilient in polling through the summer, keeping well ahead of all the “legitimate” Republican presidential primary candidates.
If local experience is any guide, it won’t be “birtherism” that knocks Trump out of contention for the GOP presidential nomination. In 2012, Rep. Mike Coffman was caught on tape flatly asserting at an Elbert County GOP fundraiser that President Obama “is just not an American.” Coffman compounded his optics problems days later when he went robotic on a reporter who cornered him on the subject, reciting his canned “I misspoke” apology over and over like he was being interrogated at Camp Bucca.
It shouldn’t be necessary for us to point out that Mike Coffman is still a Congressman. To be fair, Coffman did apologize fairly quickly after the comments were exposed by news media, saying he “misspoke” when he very unambiguously stated that President Obama “is not an American.” We expect that as soon as Trump starts to feel pain in the polls (if ever) he’ll issue some kind of statement that he too, you know, “misspoke.”
If you’re looking for some kind of “long arc of justice” ray of hope here, we don’t actually have one for you. It may not say much about our collective character, but in today’s Republican politics, which is granted seemingly endless leeway from the press to make racially, culturally, and religiously bigoted statements about the first black President of the United States, you really apparently can get away with it.
At least they have so far.