Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Re: We Win, Trump Loses

I agree with your excellent post, Abe. I’d simply add that it’s perfectly in character for Donald Trump to pat himself on the back (“Today I’m very proud of myself”) after having been shown to be even more of a clownish figure than we imagined.

Remember, Trump was saying on Monday, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, that unnamed sources were telling him that the original birth certificate didn’t exist and he was now doubtful that the president was born in the United States, despite the overwhelming evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii. Yet Trump is interpreting the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate as a triumph, which goes to show that even successful businessmen can live in alternate universes.

The other thing to notice is how Trump has in the last few days portrayed himself as a victim of an irresponsible media. In his comments this morning Trump went so far as to say that he’s happy the White House released the president’s birth certificate “so the press can stop asking me questions” about it. This after Trump has spent the better part of the month obsessing on this issue and raising it in every forum imaginable.

One does not have to be naïve about American politics to believe that it is a serious enterprise, a forum in which we debate and decide on matters of justice and what constitutes a good society. Sometimes we do better than other times. But for the last few weeks a buffoon was allowed to hijack political discourse in America and mainstream an issue that was once relegated to the fever swamps. The public’s view of politics and politicians was already at low ebb; this whole episode will make things even worse.

For those of us who care about politics and the ideas and philosophies informing politics—who believe that politics is, in the words of the Scottish novelist John Buchan, an “honourable adventure”—the last few weeks have been discouraging, to say the least.