Just as David Frum says “Republicans should be ashamed of ‘birther’ campaign,” I have to confess that conservatives should be — and are — ashamed of David Frum. Frum’s latest column in the National Post claims not only that ‘birtherism’ — the movement devoted to nullifying Barack Obama’s presidency on account of the Constitutional requirement that the President be born in the United States, and thus refudiating (yes, I said it) his American birth certificate — is a widespread movement in the United States, but that it is one stemming from the Republican Party’s base.
Frum asks (and attempts to answer):
How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party?I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Donald Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt the president’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”
In a way, by writing this, the typical accusations of birtherism will follow, despite the fact that I’ve publicly stated on numerous occasions that I
take the President at his word trust the public records of Hawaii. In intellectual conservative circles, the question at hand has never been Obama’s citizenship; but rather his inability to make public information that all of his predecessors did without hesitation. Obama’s refusal for several years to release his long form birth certificate was was example of this. The Republican candidates that Frum besmirches (all of whom are actual conservatives, people he didn’t like anyway) had never seen the President’s birth certificate, so his “word” was all they had to go on. No mainstream Republican candidate every questioned the President’s citizenship. In fact, all of them were sick of the media using the “birther question” as a tool to delegitimize Republicans.
As for Donald Trump, his success in the polls happened long before his focus on the birther issue. To say that Fox, Drudge and Breitbart “indulged” the birthers in any way is a gross overstatement. The Leftist media gave far more focus to the birthers, even trying to link them with the Republican Party — a task David Frum has now taken upon himself. (Also, I find the inference that Donald Trump is a part of the Republican Party by any force greater than his own media campaign.)
Trump has moved from the birth certificate to questioning the president’s academic qualifications for the Harvard Law School. Trump himself was a troubled student (at one point he attended a military school) who nonetheless gained admission to Wharton. His father’s wealth and business success cannot have hurt with that application. Yet he feels himself qualified to pronounce on who is and who is not smart enough to attend Harvard Law. Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude. (And to anticipate a new line of attack – yes, Harvard Law School exams were blind-graded.) He was elected editor of the law review. And his classmates, left and right, universally admired his abilities.
Apart of Donald Trump, David Frum has yet to name a single Republican candidate or official who has questioned Barack Obama’s birth place or citizenship. Obama’s time at Harvard is yet another example of the President’s inability to disclose information about his past. In addition to withholding transcripts and grades from his time at Harvard, nothing written by the President while he edited the Harvard Law Review has been publicized — something that one would think would be a source of pride.
By manufacturing a link between the Republican Party and the birther “movement,” Frum has not identified a thorn in the side of the GOP, but rather added another reason to his growing list of attacks on the conservative movement.