Donald Trump, the reality-show judge who is not running for President but would very much like you to believe that he is—see my colleague Alex Altman’s explanation as to why—went on Anderson Cooper 360 last night to enable America to pay attention to him on TV. The show had done a yet-again debunking of the claim that President Obama was born not in Hawaii but Kenya, making him ineligible for the Presidency, and Trump went on the air to prove that there is no reportage or evidence that cannot be overruled by Donald Trump talking loudly over an interviewer.
The preceding CNN piece, for instance, showed that when a Hawaiian citizen goes to the state office to request a birth certificate, he gets not an original certificate but a “certificate of live birth” (a legal document Trump and other birthers say is insufficient); it proved this by taking an actual Hawaiian citizen to get a certificate. Minutes later, Trump blustered to Cooper that what we had just seen on video was not true. Trump again cited the claim that Obama’s grandmother said she was present when he was born in Kenya. Cooper played the actual audiotape showing that the phrase “in Kenya” was from a leading question in an interview done through a translator (“Was she present when he was born in Kenya?” “Yes, she says yes she was, she was present when Obama was born”). Trump appeared irritated that Cooper had the temerity to play the tape.
But the kicker, and no doubt the headline, came when Trump upped the ante with a new claim: that someone—presumably one of his “investigators”—told him two days before that Obama’s birth certificate was missing. Who told him? On what basis? “I don’t want to say who”; it would not be appropriate. That Donald—always a model of discretion!
So: on the one hand you have a theoretical Constitutional fraud dating back to 1961, requiring premeditated subterfuge by Obama’s family as soon he was born, an elaborate secret forgery and the collusion of a wide range of Hawaiian government officials, of both parties, both today and in the past. Nonetheless, this far-fetched plot must be taken as plausible, unless Obama definitively proves otherwise in some way that cannot be invalidated by a subsequent conspiracy theory—say, that the original Hawaiian birth certificate is itself a fraud, has been stolen by death-panel stormtroopers and replaced with a fake, the Hawaiian officials vouching for Obama’s authenticity are in fact imposters cloned using stolen DNA in Planned Parenthood labs, &c. (If the government has a secret time machine, this would be a good time to use it, Mr. President. Unless you have something to hide!)
And on the other hand: you have Donald Trump, saying that some guy, you don’t need to know who, told him a couple of days ago that Obama’s birth certificate has apparently been disappeared. This, unlike Obama’s not-being-President-via-massive-conspiracy, does not require a name, or evidence, or any substantiation. You just have to take Trump’s word for it. Because come on! He’s Donald Trump! Would he lie to you?
In any event, the Trump interview was proceeded by a CNN re-investigation of the birther claim, which no one determined to embrace the conspiracy will believe. In it Gary Tuchman went with a Hawaiian born the same day as Obama to get a Certificate of Live Birth, the proof of birth the state issues to all Hawaiians. Who, of course, were all probably born in Indonesia or Africa or something: