David Remnick, The New Yorker editor and the man who wrote “The Bridge” – Easily the best book I’ve ever read about Barack Obama:
Not long after the White House released the President’s birth certificate this morning, Donald Trump stepped off a helicopter, ambled up to a bank of microphones, and declared, “Today, I’m very proud of myself.” (One assumes this is a daily ritual for Trump, but today there were more cameras than usual.) Trump also declared himself relieved that “the press can stop asking me questions” about the birther issue and we can now move on to more important ones, such as “China ripping off this country.” What is there to say anymore about Donald Trump? That he is an irrepressible jackass who thinks of himself as a sly fox? That he is a buffoon with bathroom fixtures of gold? Why bother, after so many decades? There is no insulting someone who lives in a self-reinforcing fantasy world.
No matter. What is truly disturbing is the game Trump has been participating in, the conspiracy thinking he was playing with. And here the polls—to the extent that they can be taken as hard fact—tell a disturbing story, in which no small part of the country has believed in a variety of tales about Barack Obama. There is the birther fantasy; the fantasy that Bill Ayers wrote “Dreams from My Father”; the fantasy that the President has some other father, and not Barack Obama, Sr.; the fantasy that Obama got into Harvard Law School with the help of a Saudi prince and the Nation of Islam. There is a veritable fantasy industry at work online and in the book-publishing industry; there are dollars to be made.
The cynicism of the purveyors of these fantasies is that they know very well what they are playing at, the prejudices they are fanning: that Obama is foreign, a fake, incapable of writing a book, incapable of intellectual achievement. Let’s say what is plainly true (and what the President himself is reluctant to say): these rumors, this industry of fantasy, is designed to arouse a fear of the Other, of an African-American man with a white American mother and a black Kenyan father. Obama, as a politician, is clearly not a radical; he is a center-left pragmatist. If anything, he believes deeply in his capacity to lead with subtle diplomacy and political maneuvering, with a highly realistic sense of the possible; in fact, to many he is maddeningly pragmatic.
The one radical thing about Barack Obama is his race, his name. Of course, there is nothing innately radical about being black or having Hussein as middle name; what is radical is that he has those attributes and is sitting in the Oval Office. And even now, more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him. Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him? Perhaps now he will go away, satisfied that this passage has sufficiently restored his fame quotient and television ratings. The shame is that there are still many more around who, in the name of truth-telling, are prepared to pump the atmosphere full of poison/