Will Romney trump ‘birtherism’?

Gerald Herbert AP Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in Las Vegas, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, to endorse Republican … Continued

Gerald Herbert


Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in Las Vegas, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, to endorse Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, center, accompanied by Romney’s wife Ann.

GOP candidate for president, Mitt Romney, has refused to repudiate Donald Trump, though the reputed billionaire continues to promote “birther” fantasies, the idea that President Obama was not born in the United States.

Romney’s apparent rationale for continuing to associate with Trump is “I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

What’s “good” about continuing to blow a racial dog-whistle in a presidential campaign? It is no secret that “birtherism” is racial code for “he’s not one of us.” More disturbing than Romney’s failure to disassociate himself with Trump and the birther fantasies, however, is labeling someone “good” who holds them. “Birtherism” itself is a troubling ethical failure that reveals how deeply divided Americans are on race despite their religious views that each person is created by God.

Despite decades of seeming progress on transcending racial divides, this racial gulf remains. Presidential campaigns expose this not only as candidates are selected and what those candidates say, but also through their “surrogates.” Trump’s function in the Romney campaign seems to be precisely to play the race card through birtherism. It speaks volumes to those whose ultimate choice in a Presidential candidate will be determined by the race of that candidate. Why aren’t we past this kind of division?

Men in Black 3” premiered this weekend, knocking the comic book romp, “The Avengers,” out of its number one spot. Men in Black is a series of very popular films starring Will Smith and “Tommy Lee Jones” as two agents of a secret organization that polices aliens. One of the continuing sources of edgy humor in this series of movies is Smith (Agent J) being African American, a “man in black”; in the current film, Agent J has to travel back in time to 1969 to save a young Tommy Lee Jones (played by Josh Brolin), aka Agent K. The Will Smith character is told, as he prepares to jump through time to 1969, to be careful because that era was not that good for “for your people.” Smith’s face portrays the irony of it all: How good is 2012 for African Americans? This “man in black” is subject to prejudice in either decade. It is a brilliant, and poignant moment.

Why can we not make more progress on race? In 1969, as a college religion major supporting the Civil Rights movement, I never believed the racial divide in this country would survive this long. It is incredibly frustrating that racism is not only surviving, but even thriving, morphing into other forms to send racial signals. As a pastor, as a teacher and as a citizen, I experience this failure as enormously frustrating.

Mainstream Republicans are also frustrated that the birther fantasies will not go away. Trump’s birther views being associated with the Romney campaign frustrates George Will, for example. Will expressed this in erudite fashion this weekend, wondering what could be the cost/benefit analysis for Mitt Romney in the Trump association. What is the advantage to Romney, wondered Will, in the Trump association? On Sunday, Will called Trump a “bloviating ignoramous.”

But my own frustrations transcend those of George Will. Trump himself is not the cause of the racial divides that birtherism reflects today. His trumpeting these views, and Romney’s refusal to repudiate him for expressing these views, are a symptom of a failure of our faith traditions. We are a nation that expresses overwhelming faith in God, by some counts over 90 percent. How can we continue to ignore the religious teachings that we are to treat each other equally because we are all created by God, as Judaism, Christianity and Islam all teach?

“Birtherism,” and the racial signals it sends that the president is ”not one of us,” must be repudiated from a faith perspective. It does not speak well of the values of the Romney campaign that it continues to associate itself with these views through Donald Trump.

  • hornitos4fun

    Susan Brooks, you have lost your mind! This is a race issue? Really? And “birtherisome”, as you refer to it, in quotes, as if to lend credibility, “must be repudiated from a faith perspective”????

    This is what happens when you’re addicted to crack. Please refer to the Post’s Wellness Program before you write another word.

  • RandomAnon

    What’s “good” about continuing to blow a racial dog-whistle in a presidential campaign? It is no secret that “birtherism” is racial code for “he’s not one of us.” More disturbing than Romney’s failure to disassociate himself with Trump and the birther fantasies, however, is labeling someone “good” who holds them.

  • bruce9432

    BHO perpetuated that he was born in Kenya for a decade. Obama is inept and incompetent and if you want proof just listen to the Charlie Gibson, Barack Obama exchange regarding taxation and revenues. What a fool.

  • plattitudes

    As usual, I agree with Ms. Thistlethwaite in her initial points, but she loses me as she builds her argument. I agree that the issue of the birthplace of President Obama has been overplayed, and that he’s proven (well enough for me, at least) that he was born in Hawai’i.

    What I don’t agree with the author on, is that this is a race issue at all. There aren’t that many prerequisites to being POTUS–1) Must be a natural-born citizen, 2) Must be 35+ years old, 3) Must have resided in the US for 14+ years. Oh, and 4) Must get elected, but no more than twice. That’s it. If one of these is in question, then his eligibility to be POTUS is also in doubt. That is the issue I see, and Ms. Thistlethwaite seems to be the one playing the race card.
    (The reports of President Obama allegedly purporting to be from Kenya for special interest benefit is worthy of being examined, as all suspected fraud should be, but that would not disqualify him as POTUS.)

    Now, I am not a huge fan of ‘The Donald,’ as I think his business practices are shady, and he could use a refresher course in ethics. However, I don’t think either I or the author have the standing wherewith to determine if he is a ‘good’ person. You see his actions, and read racism into it, but can offer no supporting evidence for that assumption. In the end, it appears that he has a different worldview than yours, and you judge it as evil–is that not playing into the ‘not one of us’ mentality you condemn? One of my favorite religious leaders once said “don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.” We are all trying, but are all human, and will err. Let’s not condemn others based on only one slanted view of a situation.


    The racist birther issue was planned and developed by strategists within the GOP. Those people are still IN the GOP, no one has disavowed them, therefore it is a reasonable presumption that the GOP is a racist organization with an agenda of lies like the birther nonsense. Their nominee will be a de facto racist (and in Roney’s case, he’s a stone cold racist from a religion of racists.)

  • Rubinesque

    You can’t determine whether Donald Trump is a good person?

  • persiflage

    Republicans in the Senate, notably Mitch MCConnell among others, were guilty of attempting to benefit during the phony birther issue early on. What was Romney thinking? A person of famously changeable character supported by a clown with a total character disorder is an excelllent way to get fired before you even get the job. For this purpose, Rmoney chose exactly the right person.

  • TopTurtle


    Yes, being born a citizen is a prerequisite for being President, but it’s not a coincidence that birthers are hounding a black President with a Muslim sounding name. That qualification held for previous Presidents as well, but I’ve never heard of anyone demanding to see their birth certificates.

  • plattitudes


    Unfortunately, your argument smacks of “post hoc ergo proctor hoc,” which we know to be a logical fallacy. Yes, President Obama is black; yes, he has a muslim-sounding name. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who questions him is racist or anti-muslim. I personally wish he had been quicker to produce his Birth Certificate, at the risk of giving credence to the rumor mill, as that would have stopped this nonsense from gaining the momentum it has. I also wish President Obama would speak to the surfacing reports of him having claimed to be born in Kenya in the past, but I’m not holding my breath for that either.

    Let me reiterate–I’m convinced that President Obama was born in Hawai’i, and that this ‘birtherism’ is a farce. It is frankly embarassing how it has been handled, but that doesn’t make it an illigitemate claim. Quite frankly, the President could seriously damage the credibility of those who hold the view by repudiating the rumors, but he hasn’t yet chosen to do so. Missed opportunity in my view, which unfortunatly confirms my opinion of his political naivete.

  • WmarkW

    Birtherism is stupid and I’ve never supported it. But Obama’s seeming “foreignness” is not. Most major party nominees have been familiar politicians for 20 years. Obama entered national consciousness as a presidential candidate, giving the 2004 convention speech at a time he’d never held higher office than Illinois legislator.

    We all understand what a nothing Sarah Palin is, right? After serving 2/3 of a term in major office, she was over-promoted to national opinion leader based on nothing but bringing diversity, and making scripted speeches on nice-sounding general themes, while lacking specific policy prescriptions and sounding unkowlegeable when off-script.

    What does Obama bring that Palin doesn’t? Other than being an empty vessel into which his party’s leaners project their idealizations.

  • Rubinesque

    Time as senator?

  • Rubinesque

    “Birtherism” does its own damage. It’s currently eroding away Romney’s claim to sensibility through his inability to address it. It is the same situation as when Tea Partiers say something racist, but when called out on it, a non-racist comrade of theirs steps in and says “I’M NOT RACIST!” and completely ignores the racist right next to them, that they (not so unwittingly) defended.

    Romney giving mealy-mouthed responses makes him a weasel, and little else.

  • WmarkW

    He was a Senator for 2/3 of a term. Palin was a Governor for 2/3 of one. Tie.

    BTW, I should have “Both are empty vessels into which their party’s leaners project their idealizations.”

  • ccnl1

    “A top Romney adviser said recently that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee believes Obama was born in the United States and the validity of his birth certificate, which has been released by the White House, should not be a campaign issue.”

    next topic

  • persiflage

    And Rmoney? Exactly what does this milquetoast Wall Street downsizer offer?? You want to talk empty suits, you’ve got a whole wardrobe of empty suits with Mitt.

    The man is not only unqualified, he’s hazardous to the health of a nation that is crawling out of very deep economic hole – neither Romney nor the rest of the republican party have a solitary idea to assist with that recovery…..other than lowering taxes for corporations and rich folks, while gutting social benefits for the rest of the country. This will not create jobs – as everyone knows.

    While there are major changes needed, the GOP is not the party to make them happen in a fair and equitable manner. The reason is that the GOP is driven by an inflexible ideology that is so nutso that the Grover Norquist ‘no tax’ pledge was mandatory for congressional House members that wanted to be validated as ‘real’ republicans – otherwise, you were considered an outcast.

    There will be tax increase aplenty in 2013 ….. that much is guaranteed. It’s just that no one dares mention it before November.

  • WmarkW

    It is most certainly NOT my position that the current Republican party is the answer to all our hopes.

    But the Republicans have the right first step — we have to cut spending to a level appropriate to current tax receipts. Then AFTER that, we can see how much taxes can rise. If we raise the taxes first, spending won’t get cut to necessary levels.

    Everything has to be on the cutting board, including Defense which never will unless both sides force it.

  • persiflage

    Hey horny, which part of your brain are you thinking with today?

    I’m thinking medulla oblongata…………….you know, that bony protuberance in the back.

  • Poster2

    “Birtherism” as a negative term just died when it was revealed that Obama’s publisher stated for 16 years that Obama was born in Kenya. That’s impossible to straight-facedly pass off as a “mistake”. I used to think that the “birthers” might be tin-foil cap wearers, but now I’m of the other mind: anyone who ignores Obama’s personally-approved bio that was published for 16 years is being intellectually dishonest.

  • DavidJ9

    What lies you repeat.

  • DavidJ9

    The only evidence shows that President Obama was born of an American mother in Hawaii. That is why the birthers are just repeating lies motivated by their racism.

  • DavidJ9

    Birthers are overwhelmingly racist, the rest are ignorant fools who have no informed opinions about anything.

  • Rubinesque

    Senator > Governor

  • Rubinesque

    Show your proof instead of parroting more half-truths ignorantly. You’re just like the people that chide Obama’s grandma, “we only take the first response” what do you think this is, Jeopardy?

  • gwilt1

    What does this issue have to do with racial discrimination? It has NOTHING to do with race. It has everything to do with the validity of our President’s birth. Was he born in the United States or not? That is the question. If he wasn’t born in the United States he shouldn’t have been allowed to run as President of the country. Period.

  • HughAkston

    If only Romney would do fundraisers w/more mainstream donors like Bill Ayers, Jon Corzine, Bill Maher, and Hamas.

  • AgentFoxMulder

    Excellent point.

  • youngmindoldbody

    Poster2, your tin foil hat is in the mail.

  • persiflage

    Birtherism isn’t just your garden variety idiocy – it’s ‘stupid with a vengeance’.

    Trump’s willingness to continue with this absurdity only points to his full-blown narcissism…..he can’t help but draw attention to himself. He’s not entertaining, but he is completely obnoxious. The fact that Romney is willing to stand by while Trump preens indicates a flawed character that shares some of the same misbegotten traits. Currying favor is what Romney’s compaign has been all about from the beginning.

    This is a guy that goes on and on about ‘living the American Dream’ while he abides in the lap of luxury and pays 15% on 20 mllion dollars of unearned annual income.

    His ideas on economics amounts to lowering taxes on the rich and corporations, salvaging defense spending in order to preserve profits for huge defense contractors, and sqeezing federal and state benefits for the rest of the nation. Noted goofball Paul Ryan is his economic mentor.

  • persiflage

    Go ahead, elect Romney – the American Dream will quickly become the American Nightmare. A mere 4 years after the last republican administration brought the economy to it’s knees and put it on life support, voters should want another dose?? Apparently the GOP is in a complete state of denial.

    When applied to political outcomes, this is what’s called an profound short term memory deficit. Unfortunately, it’s about as treatable as a gambling addiction and with the same inevitable result.

  • shidisurber

    Show me who you are with and I will tell you who you are.

    Birtherism is a racist Rovian Fox News lie.

    Romney now stinks of the dogs he lies with.

  • shidisurber

    It has everything to do with race. Did white neochristians call McCain a Latino Panamanian because he actually was born there?

    Lies of an African birth is a racist dog whistle and you know it.