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May 10, 2011

As You Suspected, Trump No Longer Threat To Fire Obama

I think we all knew this without knowing this. No one talked about Trump last week. A lot of his momentum was just momentum, if you know what I mean.

Momentum arrested, and then reversed.

Donald Trump has had one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of Presidential politics. Last month we found him leading the Republican field with 26%. In the space of just four weeks he's dropped all the way down to 8%, putting him in a tie for fifth place with Ron Paul.

Why? Well, the obvious:

Trump really made hay out of the 'birther' issue and as the resonance of that has declined, so has his standing. In February we found that 51% of Republican primary voters thought Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Now with the release of his birth certificate only 34% of GOP partisans fall into that camp, and Trump's only in fifth place with that now smaller group of the electorate at 9%.

Another poll says the number of birthers was cut in half.

And, as Allah notes, a lot of birthers weren't, and aren't, really birthers. "Birthers" may talk about the birth certificate for a lot of reasons:

1. They really believe the conspiracy theory.

2. They do not really believe the conspiracy theory, but also are not very trusting of Obama and the media, and take a "Prove it" stance.

3. They became sort of surprised (as many were) that there seems to be no clear mechanism for enforcing the Constitution's requirement of "natural born citizen," and for reasons I call "hygienic," wished to make sure this particular part of the Constitution was not ignored as dead-letter and some clear mechanism of enforcement was either created, or an informal method (public pressure) was brought to bear.

4. They generally are sick of Obama getting a pass on everything in life and decided to draw the line here, for whatever reason.

5. They generally want him to produce background information and finally get the vetting Joe the Plumper did, and figured, let's start from birth.

6. They figure any tool to dig up negative information on Obama is a useful catspaw which should be encouraged, not restrained, by conservatives.

Where the mix is now, I don't know. I don't know if the remaining believers are now mostly true believers, or still a mix of people who think there is some kind of hygienic reason or partisan-catspaw reason to push this.

I suspect it's still more the latter kind, the not-really-believers-in-the-theory but believers-in-its-usefulness types. I think they're wrong about that -- I don't think it's useful any longer, and in fact is where the establishment previously thought it was: damaging to those who push it.

It's not so much that he's damaged by the implosion of this issue, so much as he was only elevated by it, and now that it's more or less gone, so too his elevation.

Of course he is also damaged. If you build a house on shaky ground, it's going to collapse, and you'll look like a foolish builder.

Candidates still can learn a lot from Trump: The party is eager to embrace a tough-talking candidate who treats Obama as what he is, and what he always has been: A professional politician, remarkable only for his ambition and narcissism.

I do not believe that any old attack will work. Some attacks are easier to sell, some are harder; some will resonate, and some will mostly just damage the candidate offering them. But the stronger attacks can and should be made.

Question: Did Trump's profanity-laced speech hurt him too? I know a lot of people thought it would. I actually didn't think it would hurt him much, given the crowd's positive reaction, and given, too, the base's strong desire to hear Obama treated dismissively. (Yes, I know I'm confusing two things, because Trump's f-bombs were about pressuring the Saudis and Chinese.) So I thought he'd be given a pass, even by those who normally reject profanity.

Not a full pass. More like Chris Rock's joke about O.J. killing his wife: "I'm not saying he should have done it. I'm not saying any man should kill his wife. I'm just saying -- I understand."

But I could be wrong. Hell, look, based on my track record: I probably am wrong.

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posted by Ace at 02:41 PM

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