FOK News Channel for Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
First Guess: Obama's Bridge Game: One No Trump
Video via FOK News Channel
Is Barack Obama, is anybody, actually smart enough to have tried this?
I'm Keith Olbermann in New York with the First Guess.
For a week now, even before the end of bin Laden, I have puzzled and struggled and wondered over one question. It has been in the front of my mind, it has been in the back of my mind. It has kept me awake and it has haunted my dreams. Not 'Why did the President release his birth certificate', but 'Why did he release it when he released it?'
My conclusion is that President Obama may have made the most single brilliant, most adept gesture of American political manipulation in decades. I think he saw a unique opportunity, the seam in football, the window in business, the mother lode in prospecting.
I wrote here last week that while the decision might dent the veneer of respectability surrounding the birthers, it certainly won't dissuade the diehards who rely upon the birther issue as a comforting rationale, a kind of euphemism for their inability to accept a black man in charge. These people are, as I wrote, carnival barkers. They don't stop selling tickets to the midway just because there is not a real mermaid back there - if you prove there is no mermaid, tomorrow they'll just tell you there's a Martian.
And yet the President chose last Wednesday to do what conceivably could have been done the first time this was brought up in 2007 or so. In releasing the certificate after the prolonged moronic bleating of Donald Trump, Mr. Obama did give Trump a kind of respectability, an aura, among the birthers, among the Tea Partiers, among the other members of the Republican cult. He made Trump look like the guy who could, in a small way at least, beat Barack Obama.
This was an inadvertent side effect to Mr. Obama's decision. Unless it wasn't inadvertent.
What if Trump was the reason the President released the long-form birth certificate last week? Look, even before bin Laden's death, the Republican presidential field was a disaster area. By this date in 2007, Obama and Hillary Clinton had already emerged as the favorites for the Democratic nomination. John Edwards, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson were already declared, and already pushing hard. The Republicans at the same point in 2011? Haley Barbour dropped out. Haley Barbour! After he went on the diet to look better during the campaign. After! He looked around at the field of clowns, and figured what apparently has occurred to most of the plausibly elected Republicans: that this crowd is so jam-packed with idiots that it's going to rub off on whoever gets nominated!
And suddenly the man who wears an otter on his head is the class of the field. Rasmussen reports, the crazy right-tilting polling company founded by the people who created and then lost ESPN, has as of last week Trump as the favorite among Republicans with 19%. Romney at 17, Huckabee at 15, Palin and Gingrich at 9, Ron Paul at 8, Tim Pawlenty at 5.
It is in Barack Obama's best political interest to keep Trump's poll numbers as high as possible, because the greatest gift the Republicans could give Obama would be a Trump run for president. The man is self-destructing. Trump is a self-inflating business man with a string of bankruptcies in his past and he appears in public at all times wearing either make up or a bronzing solution that makes him look orange in a way that John Boehner can only dream of. When they say he glows, it's not a compliment.
Just contemplate for a moment the Republican presidential debates. Giuliani, denied the sting of 9/11, having retired to a monastery and we're left with Romney and Gingrich and Bachmann and Paul and Palin and maybe Huntsman and Trump! Gingrich, denied the bogeyman of bin Laden, loses his cool and attacks Palin. Palin attacks Gingrich and Trump on the subject of multiple wives. Gingrich and Trump attack Romney and Huntsman on the subject of multiple wives. Trump makes a pass at Bachmann! Paul advocates a flat tax, Romney says Paul is no businessman, Trump says Romney is no businessman, Gingrich takes a swing at somebody.
The Republicans have a lousy presidential field. The George Bush types, the men with little or no past to encumber them, Mitch Daniels, John Thune, Jeb Bush, they're staying out for fear of contamination. Add Trump to the lousy mix and you get a nominee, whether it's him or anybody else, who could give rise to a third party candidacy from the far far right and who could give Barack Obama a ten point win in November of next year and who could hamstring the Republican party for decades to come.
And for all the idiocy you and I see in Donald Trump after the fiascos of the birth certificate, the swearing speech in Vegas, his vivisection by Seth Meyers and Katie Jacobs Stanton at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, many Americans see in Donald Trump the man who got Barack Obama to release his birth certificate. The stupidity of the result means nothing to them; they are too blinded by the giddiness of a triumph they don't realize is utterly shallow, self-defeating and meaningless. They need somebody dumb enough to challenge the man who just got bin Laden.
And foremost among them, the most impressed by what Donald Trump got Obama to do is... Donald Trump. If anything would convince him to sacrifice what little he has left for a disastrous presidential run that would take away everything, if anything would compliment his haircut and lick his ego, it would have been the President's decision to release the document. And after a week of mulling this over, I think the President knew that would be the outcome!
Well played, Obama.
I'm Keith Olbermann, see you on Current, June 20th.