Thursday, April 7, 2011

Obama, Birthers, and Donald Trump

The political chattering class is abuzz about Donald Trump's surprising strength among those seeking, or who may seek, the Republican presidential nomination.  Now I find Trump as entertaining as the next guy, and his surprise 17 percent showing, good enough for a tie at second place for the GOP nomination pool, is almost as much fun as him apparently sending investigators to Hawaii to see if Barack Obama was really born there.

Birthers, those who doubt Obama was born in the U.S., are equally entertaining.  But don't underestimate their numbers.  One recent poll found as many as 20 percent believe he was born somewhere other than the U.S., and 31 percent of Republicans think so.  In other words, one-in-five Americans are a bit kooky on this topic, and nearly one-third of Republicans are.  The Donald is on to something.  Not necessarily the truth, mind you, but a shameless play to his audience, those likely to participate in a Republican nomination.  I really see Trump surprising some folks.

By the way, the whole where was Obama born thing was settled long ago by that terrific web site devoted to debunking urban myths -- snopes.  Trump could have saved money by just clicking on the web site rather than "sending" investigators to Hawii to interview, I dunno, no one.  But he's got money to spare.  If he'd like to send me to Hawii to investigate then I'm willing to go on his dime too.

Yo Donald.  Call me.

From a theoretical perspective -- yeah, you knew I'd go there -- belief in the birther movement is reminiscent of those who believe Obama is Muslim. Basically these are people who want to believe the worst in a guy they politically disagree with.  No amount of correcting information will change this (I've blogged on this before, just search for it or motivated reasoning on my blog).  Even corrections will move the partisans further to the edge of sanity (far left, far right, you pick it).

Still, Donald.  Call me.

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