Going into this week’s Sunday shows, it was an absolute given that Donald Trump’s lackeys were going to push the narrative that Hillary Clinton and her 2008 campaign were entirely responsible for birtherism as a way to deflect Trump’s five-year crusade as the country’s leading birther. And on pretty much every network’s show, we were treated to supporters and staffers going through laughably great lengths to deflect from Trump’s original political sin while spreading lies about Clinton.
One of those surrogates was Alex Castellanos, a longtime Republican operative who has now boarded the Trump Train. During a panel discussion on NBC’s Meet the Press, Castellanos stayed true to the Trump playbook by bringing up Mark Penn, a Clinton strategist who floated the notion in 2007 of emphasizing Obama’s multicultural upbringing as a negative in the heartland. The Trump campaign has attempted to use Penn’s suggestion, which was never acted upon and didn’t mention anything about Obama being born in Kenya, as proof of Clinton’s role in birtherism.
After Alex went down that route, fellow panelist Cornell Belcher and host Chuck Todd pressed him on Trump’s five-plus year full embrace of birtherism and how that measures with a former staffer unsuccessfully pitching a strategy that was sorta kinda on the fringes of questioning Obama’s background. (Once again, Hillary Clinton has never publicly questioned Obama’s birthplace or citizenship. Not. One. Time.) When he tried to claim there was a double-standard on how the two candidates were being treated on this issue, which caused more pushback from the panel.
Eventually, Castellanos decided to just come out and say what he and other Republicans have felt all along — there is an otherness to Obama, which is why the birther issue has gained so much traction over the years.
“And by the way — there isn’t — there’s an answer here. I think the big question about Obama is not where he was born or his faith. The big question about Obama has been, has he been — has he considered himself more of a globalist than an American? There is an otherness to this president. And people have tried to exploit that politically in different ways. The Clinton campaign tried to exploit it this way. The way their strategist said, by saying his lack of American roots is an issue.”
Yep. There you have it. In his attempt to defend Trump and blame Clinton for birtherism, Castellanos instead just pulled the veil back on Republican obstructionism of Obama. Even those GOPers who unequivocally believe POTUS was born in the United States still don’t think he’s a ‘real’ American. He’s an ‘other,’ whether it’s due to his Muslim-y last name, his dark skin, his intellectual manner or his “globalism.”
No amount of deflection or projection is going to remove this stain from Trump and the rest of the GOP. They stoked it, they emboldened it and they embraced it. This is on the Republican Party, not any unpaid volunteers or ambitious strategists from Clinton’s campaign eight-plus years ago.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of NBC News:
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 18, 2016