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The rightwing media wants birtherism to go away as an issue. Gee, I wonder why



Hugh Hewitt is a bombastic rightwing talk show host, so rightwing in fact that he is pro-Trump even though Trump tore him a new one last year by calling him “a third rate radio announcer,” thus proving that, like a broken clock, even Donald Trump can occasionally be right. For some bizarre reason (perhaps because NBC is owned by the most hated corporation in America, Comcast), MSNBC has chosen to make Hewitt a regular commentator on their news segments. I think this is because Hewitt—handsome, well-groomed, articulate—has created a reputation for himself, quite falsely, as an independent analyst, which, as I say, is entirely incorrect, because he’s a tea party propagandist. But he can be clever, in that he couches his real views within statements that, taken on their face, can seem objectively fair. But advancing a rightwing agenda is always his hidden aim.

For example, the other day, following Trump’s fiasco during Monday’s debate, Hewitt told one of MSNBC’s hosts, who had asked him to give advice for the next debate (and I paraphrase): “The hosts of the next debate should move beyond birtherism and ask Trump about real issues, like the economy, trade and terrorism. Nobody cares about birtherism anymore.”

Well, when I heard this piece of propaganda, which reminded me of the old Soviet-style disinformation campaigns, I just about upchucked. Birtherism should be one of the primary issues of this campaign, and every future debate moderator should follow Lester Holt’s example and grill Trump about it, over and over and over, not allowing him to lie or insult his way out of it. Because birtherism is at the heart of Trump’s character, his vile personality, his intellectual dishonesty, and his utter unfitness to be President of the United States of America.

In case you’ve been on Mars for the last seven years, Donald Trump was the lead “birther” in America. He insisted, as recently as last January, that Obama was born in Kenya, is not a U.S. citizen, and that a vast leftwing conspiracy has kept Americans from learning the truth. A few weeks ago, his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway—a political hack, but a smart one—convinced him, against his better judgment, that he had to admit Obama is an American. So Trump did, grudgingly, and evidently in the hope that he can now put his outrageous lie behind him. Unfortunately (for Trump), Lester Holt wouldn’t let him.

I salute Mr. Holt. For the past year, no American journalist has pressed Trump on the birther issue, much to their shame. Why is Trump’s birtherism so important? Because by promulgating this falsehood, this massive smear against the President of the United States, this frontal assault on reality, we can conclude about Trump only one of two things: either that he is so willfully stupid and biased that he—unlike the rest of us—actually believed Obama was not a citizen, or that Trump knew full well that Obama was born in America, but deliberately chose to lie about it, because he knew that there are millions of haters who are so racist and stupid—the “basket of deplorables”—that they would believe him, and more: that they would form the vanguard of a movement to elevate him to the White House.

We can’t know which of those is true—whether Trump is willfully stupid, or the biggest liar in the history of American politics. What we can know is that, either way, the man is mentally, morally and intellectually incompetent to hold power. A normal human being never would have gone down the birther road to begin with. After Obama produced his birth certificate, in April, 2011, a normal person would have apologized for being wrong, and moved on.

But Donald Trump is not a normal person. Not being a clinical psychologist, I cannot define what his mental problems are. Narcissism, certainly. A pathological liar, for sure. Perhaps a mild sociopath. Or just suffering from an older white man’s resentments at the colorization of America. But whatever the diagnosis is, you know, I know, and even most of his supporters know that there’s something wrong inside him—dreadfully wrong, troublingly wrong. Anyone can make a mistake. Anyone can come to a wrong conclusion despite evidence to the contrary. But to so blatantly make such an egregiously false statement, for so long, even after Obama produced the birth certificate, even when his fellow Republicans were embarrassed by Trump’s lies, even when Trump’s own campaign staff rued the day their man volunteered to lead the birther movement—to have persisted in such insanity for so long obviously is a complete disqualifier for Trump to hold office.

Hugh Hewitt knows all this. And he doesn’t care. Through his methodology—devious, obfuscating, misleading—he hopes to distract opinion-makers away from Trump’s dangerousness. All Hewitt cares about is getting a Republican in the White House. Which Republican doesn’t matter. If that Republican is thoroughly without a moral compass, Hugh Hewitt doesn’t give a damn, presumably because Hugh Hewitt is himself amoral. If that Republican is in many respects insane, Hugh Hewitt couldn’t care less. And so, when this Limbaugh wannabe tells future debate moderators to “move past the birther thing,” their red alerts should go off with loud sirens and klaxons.

No! Don’t listen to Hugh Hewitt, who wants Trump’s birtherism to go away because he knows it is lethal to his candidacy. Journalists must keep pressing Trump on this. Why did it take him five years to acknowledge Obama is an American? Why will he not apologize for lying to the American people for years? This goes straight to the heart of Trump’s character, and the moderators for the Oct. 9 debate—Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN—really need to hear from us on this. I don’t know anything about Ms. Raddatz because I never watch ABC News. As for Mr. Cooper, he seems to care more about the way his biceps flex in a tight black T-shirt than about being a real journalist. I hope both of them will do the right thing, if for no other reason than to preserve their reputations, or what’s left of them, and not let themselves suffer the embarrassment that Matt Lauer did, when he pitifully revealed himself to be nothing more than a T.V. celebrity stooge.

  1. “Not being a clinical psychologist, I cannot define what his mental problems are.”

    Here’s how a clinical psychologist addressed this issue:

    “A Professional Opinion: You Don’t Need a Psychiatrist to Know There’s Something Wrong with Donald Trump”

    By Matthew Goldenberg
    Assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.


    “. . . the American Psychiatric Assn. issued a statement this month [August] reminding its physician members, myself included, to avoid psychoanalyzing the presidential candidates.

    “That ethical standard has been in place for decades. In 1964, thousands of psychiatrists, in response to a magazine survey, openly questioned then-GOP nominee Barry Goldwater’s fitness for White House duty. Several psychiatrists offered specific diagnoses. The fact that so many psychiatrists were willing to casually diagnose a person they’d never met embarrassed the profession and led to the codification of the so-called Goldwater Rule — no professional opinions on people we have not personally examined.

    “. . . there are several reasons why we should resist using a psychiatric framework to describe Trump. . . .”

    [And Goldenberg goes on to elaborate those reasons. ~~ Bob]

  2. Erratum.

    “Here’s how a clinical PSYCHIATRIST addressed this issue:”

  3. From The Atlantic
    (June 2016):

    “A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump’s Personality””

    By Dan P. McAdams
    Professor of psychology and the director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives at Northwestern University.

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