Advance Word

September 16, 2016 10:49 a.m.

The advance word we’re getting is that in his remarks this morning, Trump will follow the lead of his press release yesterday and claim that Hillary Clinton invented and advanced birtherism even though this claim has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked. It seems that Trump will seek to hang his hat on a confidential memo Clinton’s 2008 strategist Mark Penn wrote in which he said that Obama’s ‘exotic’ background was a liability not a strength. But Clinton never took up this advice, which is good because Penn is a notorious moron. (See my posts going back a decade on this point.) But more importantly, Penn never suggested Obama wasn’t born in the United States or wasn’t a US citizen. The fever swamp of Birtherism was already swamping at the time. Clinton had nothing to do with it. Even Trump had nothing to do with its origins, as far as I know. But he quickly became its greatest champion.

As I said, Penn is a fool. But this isn’t a seed he planted that somehow metastasized into birtherism. The whole fever swamp was heated up and brewing at the time. As I noted earlier, birtherism isn’t a factual error. It’s conscious and deliberate racist agitation. You don’t skate on that history by dropping a narrow factual claim or making up an attack against a rival.

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