Last week the New York Times came right out and called Trump a liar. No journalistic hedging, no mitigating adjectives, just “lie.”
The headline: Donald Trump Clung to ‘Birther’ Lie for Years, and Still Isn’t Apologetic.
People who cling to lies are liars.
It was not true in 2011, when Donald J. Trump mischievously began to question President Obama’s birthplace aloud in television interviews. “I’m starting to think that he was not born here,” he said at the time.
It was not true in 2012, when he took to Twitter to declare that “an ‘extremely credible source’” had called his office to inform him that Mr. Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud.”
It was not true in 2014, when Mr. Trump invited hackers to “please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check ‘place of birth.’”
It was never true, any of it. Mr. Obama’s citizenship was never in question. No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.
It was never true, and it was, of course, racist and xenophobic. It was a filthy, malevolent, racist lie, the kind of lie Goebbels used to peddle. I ignored it at the time because Trump was just some loudmouth tv personality, and life is too short for that. Who could have possibly imagined we would end up here?
Yet it took Mr. Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally, on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president.
And undermine it because he’s black. Trump is the golf course racist, swollen to monstrous proportions.
He nurtured the conspiracy like a poisonous flower, watering and feeding it with an ardor that still baffles and embarrasses many around him.
Mr. Trump called up like-minded sowers of the same corrosive rumor, asking them for advice on how to take a falsehood and make it mainstream in 2011, as he weighed his own run for the White House.
It’s interesting that it baffles many around him. Do they not realize what a bad man he is? Does he not make it obvious enough? Does he not shout it from the rooftops?
He used Twitter and television to spread the lie.
“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” Mr. Trump asked on ABC’s “The View.” “I want to see his birth certificate,” he told Fox News’s “On the Record.”
And so it went.
The essential question — Why promote a lie? — may be unanswerable. Was it sport? Was it his lifelong quest to court media attention? Was it racism? Was it the cynical start of his eventual campaign for president?
Maybe all those; anyway it was malevolent and evil, because he is malevolent and evil. He’s a bad man.
And then, around 11 a.m. Friday in Washington, he gave up the lie. But he conjured up a bizarre new deception, congratulating himself for putting to rest the doubts about Mr. Obama that he had fanned since 2011. “I finished it,’’ he declared, unapologetically. “President Obama was born in the United States — period.’’
Surrounded by, and in many ways shielded by, decorated veterans in his new Washington hotel, he could not resist indulging in another falsehood — that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had started the so-called birther movement. She did not.
Much has been made of Mr. Trump’s casual elasticity with the truth; he has exhausted an army of fact-checkers with his mischaracterizations, exaggerations and fabrications. But this lie was different from the start, an insidious, calculated calumny that sought to undo the embrace of an African-American president by the 69 million voters who elected him in 2008.
Because he’s a terrible human being.
It’s unusual to see the conformist media saying so.