As an outside observer and consumer of political news, I have one plea to the media: More Donald Trump coverage!
Let’s back up:
For the second day in a row, real-estate-guy-turned-media-star has been a major presence in the news cycle due to his revival of the birther issue and the fact that he’s making Mitt Romney’s life incredibly awkward. Conservatives are wondering if Mitt Romney needs to repudiate Trump, while others in the media are just wishing he’d go away.
POLITICO’s Ben White captured the sentiment with this tweet:
Photo: Ben White
The idea seems to be: Trump’s raving is a total sideshow, and a distraction from the real issues we should be talking about (like unemployment! and foreign policy!).
Well, we disagree. Trumpism is the essence of the race.
See, elections are never really decided on the issues. They’re mostly about the economy. And sometimes they’re about how various candidates make people feel. In 2008, Barack Obama won easily because the economy collapsed under a Republican, and he made people feel incredibly good.
But one of the big driving forces behind the virulent anti-Obama backlash is a form of soft-birtherism, the idea that Barack Obama, though he was born in America, isn’t quite a real American.
Former GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich famously said Obama had a Kenyan anti-colonial worldview.
Mitt Romney once said: “Sometimes, I just don’t think that President Obama understands America.”
The popular conservative/libertarian blogger Glenn Reynolds basically admitted to this viewpoint, when he wrote the following after Obama released his birth certificate:
ANOTHER UPDATE: The White House may think it’s sprung a trap, but I think they waited too long. By now — as the polls from earlier this week showing how many independents thought Obama wasn’t born here, and which probably prompted the release decision, indicate — the damage is done. Even if people change their minds on the issue, for many the residual suspicion will remain: The thought that regardless of where he was born, there’s something shady about him.
This is just scratching the surface, but you get the idea.
Donald Trump, in tweet-length outbursts, is stirring up a big notion on the right.
So rather than ignoring it, the public should be exposed to it even more.
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