Imagine being the reporter who asked him about this, chumming the waters with a Birther question in the desperate hope that he’d take the bait, only to watch him lunge right at it.
It’d be the luckiest day of your life.
After all, he had every reason to shrug off the question. There’s not a man or woman alive who’ll enjoy the clip below and wasn’t voting for Trump already. It earns him nothing. Meanwhile, it’s an engraved invitation for Democrats and the media to call him a racist. He’s now had three political enemies over the past decade whose eligibility for the presidency he’s questioned, and coincidentally they all happen to be racial minorities. In 2011, when he first made a splash in politics, he accused Obama of lying about being born in Hawaii; in 2016, during the Republican primary, he wondered if Ted Cruz could be lawfully elected since he was born in Canada to a mother who’s an American citizen; and now, in 2020, he’s idly wondering if the Democrats’ VP nominee, who’s of Jamaican and Indian descent, might be disqualified too. Democrats will get much more political mileage from this than Republicans will.
But this is who Trump is and the reporter recognized so she tossed him this chum. And he bit.
He’s so lazy in making these insinuations that he doesn’t even get the claim against Harris right. No one, including the “very talented” lawyer whom he mentions, is alleging that she wasn’t born in the U.S. Watch, then read on:
President Trump on claims that :Kamala Harris isn't eligible to run for Vice President because she's an anchor baby: "I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements…I have no idea if that's right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out." pic.twitter.com/H887X43GJK
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 13, 2020
The claim, by law professor John Eastman, is that Harris is ineligible because neither of her parents was an American citizen when she was born in California. Border hawks have been pushing to reinterpret the Fourteenth Amendment that way for years, in order to take away the incentive of illegal aliens to cross the border, give birth on U.S. soil, then use their child’s natural-born citizenship to qualify for remaining here permanently as well. Eastman’s argument is that, under the law as it stood when Harris was born, and given that her parents were then temporary visitors to the U.S., she wasn’t “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States at her birth and therefore wasn’t a natural-born citizen. Needless to say, other legal scholars disagree and it’s farcical to think the Supreme Court would toss a major party’s VP nominee off the ballot in the home stretch of an election based on a narrow, hotly contested reading of the Fourteenth Amendment. Practically speaking the argument is a nonstarter, except as a talking point for people who want to insinuate that the black woman in the race is less American than the rest of us. Like Trump.
Tiana Lowe is correct that the stench of desperation around this is suffocating. Harris’s record is rich with targets for criticism, and instead this is the thing Trump and various social-media MAGA-bots are chattering on today.
As her spectacular flameout of the Democratic primary proved, Harris is a paper tiger — telegenic but rigid, vicious but largely ineffective in her attacks, and the bearer of plenty of baggage. The easiest line of attack for President Trump at the moment is to argue that the seemingly senile Biden will be a president in name only, whereas the corrupt cop Kamala will redirect law enforcement and the courts to come after your churches and your guns while rioters are given free rein to turn the rest of the nation into Portland, Oregon.
This is an argument that makes neither Harris’s race nor gender an issue. If anything, it appeals to people of color who have seen what the rage and rioting of woke whites have wrought for actual working-class communities of color. It might also appeal to women who may dislike Trump but still care about their rights to worship and carry. Instead, one of Trump’s most increasingly visible surrogates [legal advisor Jenna Ellis] is baiting him to revive his single most racist controversy in a move that will only re-enrage the swing voters revolted with his personality.
Bear in mind that one of his biggest liabilities with suburban swing voters is race relations. Kevin Williamson isn’t wrong when he says that Harris was put on the ticket not so much to appeal to black voters as to appeal to educated white ones. “Black voters do not naturally want to join a party with a bad reputation on race,” he writes. “But the more numerically significant fact is this: Neither do white voters.” In fact, one plausible explanation for why Biden’s lead over Trump swelled in June and July and then began to recede a bit this month is that Trump’s tone-deaf reactions to the George Floyd protests irritated some white voters who are open to voting GOP but are liberal-minded on race. Now that the protests have fallen off their radar, their irritation has eased. So here comes Trump floating Birther theories about Kamala Harris to give the media a new reason to remind those voters that maybe they don’t want to vote for a guy with a “bad reputation” on race.
It’s malpractice, especially coming at one of his coronavirus briefings, which are supposed to be more “focused” on the pandemic now. And because he’s gone to this well so many times before, it’ll be that much easier for people to dismiss the substance of the allegation against Harris out of hand. “What? He accused the black candidate of being a foreigner? Meh, that’s just sh*t Trump says. He’s a racist.” Big vote-getter.
I’ll leave you with another clip from the briefing. It tells you a lot about the “Resistance” that they were high-fiving on social media this afternoon over this grandstanding reporter. He had a chance to get some information from Trump, played to the cheap seats instead, and is being rewarded for it instead of scolded for blowing the opportunity. Very on-brand for America 2020.
Reporter: "After 3 1/2 years, do you regret, at all, all the lying you've done to the American people?" pic.twitter.com/JBvoue9VfF
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) August 13, 2020