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Obama's Birth Certificate and the Unsinkable Donald

It takes a special kind of person to be smug about conclusive proof of one's idiocy, but Donald Trump has practice. He was smug about the disastrous bankruptcy that resulted from his hubristic overreach; he was smug about refusing to pay unknown millions to European creditors after the real estate market crash. Now that Barack Obama has released his birth certificate, proving that Trump's months of breathless conspiracy-theorizing were a waste of thought and airtime, he has attained a level of virtuosic smuggery that may be unrivaled in the history of rich assholedom.

To be sure: Barack Obama's decision to release his birth certificate now, on April 27, 2011, is a brilliant bit of political brinksmanship. Obama has some experience in allowing politically fraught situations to degrade almost unto collapse before swooping in, sane and suave, and providing the clarity that eluded his noisier, sweatier fellow politicians -- that was the general strategy that resulted in the legislation now known as "Obamacare." But even by Obama's standards, today's birth-certificate release was a masterstroke. A less cool dude would have observed the bitching of the chattering classes, observed even his supporters beginning to wonder exactly what he was hiding, and caved weeks ago. Maybe years.

But Obama knew three things.

1) He knew that his birth certificate was nobody's business.

2) He knew that it was nobody's business especially because catering to paranoiacs is a losing game, and only paranoiacs seriously thought the certificate might contain some ugly irregularity that Hillary Clinton's trained killers failed to sniff out in 2008.

3) And Obama knew that if he could hold onto his certificate just long enough for some cynical politician to bank his credibility on the president's refusal to release it, Obama could torpedo an unscrupulous political foe without lifting a finger.

Obama knew all of this, and he was right. Except he didn't count on Trump. Trump is no ordinary politician. He's not even an ordinary celebrity billionaire. The man's utter absence of shame is pathological, his sense of self-promotion Mozartian in its genius. He insults his audience's intelligence so volubly, with such brio, that half the time, we're unaware of the assault. We can only marvel, slack-jawed, at the dumbfounding spectacle of Trump's unending carnival of Trumpiness.

And so "The Donald" didn't miss a beat when Obama revealed his birth certificate -- he may, in fact, have had his responses ready weeks ago. Speaking in Washington, D.C., this morning, Trump took credit for Obama's big reveal, saying:

Today I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that no one else has been able to accomplish.

Yes -- he's elicited a bit more proof that the most famous, scrutinized, and thoroughly vetted human being on the planet was born where he says he was born. All it cost was days' worth of media time diverted from the coverage of three American wars and an unfolding disaster in Japan and the pointless further erosion of America's faith in her elected leaders.

Also, to be fair, Trump has uncovered one fact that somebody may find useful down the line -- that arrogance and volume are the greatest weapons against Barack Obama's preternatural coolness and androidal strategizing. The Donald groks this intuitively and has already figured out the subject of his next barrage of anti-Obamisms. Now, he says, he intends to go after the president's academic performance as an undergrad.

If he must, he must. Money is one hell of a megaphone, so I guess we'll have to resign ourselves to taking it in the ear for a while longer.

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Brandon K. Thorp

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