Brexit’s Biggest Fan: Trump weighs in ahead of Theresa May speech

I was on France24’s “The Debate“, talking about Brexit, Trump and Michael Gove, on Monday 16th of January 2017. You can find me here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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President Obama releases long form birth certificate, hoping to put an end to ‘birther’ rumours

Since the presidential primary season in 2008, rumours have been swimming around the internet that President Obama’s real birthplace was Kenya and not Hawaii, that he is a Muslim, and all manner of other wonderful conspiracy theories that have since been picked up by the nuttiest of America’s citizens. Many state legislatures have even passed laws and resolutions expressing doubt about the president’s citizenship. Most recently, Donald Trump, real estate mogul and potential 2012 contender, has been seriously questioning the ‘real’ birthplace of the Commander-in-Chief.

Despite the fact that Barack Obama released his certificate of live birth in June 2008, that both the former (republican) and current (democratic) governors of Hawaii have confirmed that they have seen the birth certificate, and that there has been no proof of the president being born outside the United States, this myth refused to die, with a recent poll suggesting that 45% of republicans think he was born overseas. That’s why I hope that today’s release of President Obama’s full, long-form birth certificate (the original copy) will satisfy doubters. TPM has more:

Hoping to end a long-running “controversy” over whether he was born in the United States, the White House released President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate on Wednesday. “The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country,” the White House’s Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a blog post. “Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate,” wrote Pfeiffer. “They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting.”

You can see it here. I’m sure, however, that the most paranoid of the paranoid will still not be satisfied – assuming whatever bizarre news sources they follow cover the news. There are some people that are just too insane to believe the truth.

Romney: nominee by default?

I’ve written before about how weak and divided the republican presidential field is at the moment. It seems, however, that there’s a new media narrative going around at the moment: that most of the heavyweights will stay out of the race, leaving the 2012 primary battle to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich… and a handful of people that analysts agree are no-hopers, like Ambassador to China and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee looks more and more likely to stay out of the race. Sarah Palin (who needs no introduction)? Who knows, but it increasingly seems like the establishment and the right-wing press have turned against her, meaning that while she could do well in primaries, she would probably have little chance of winning the nomination. We may also have another far-right candidate like Reps. Michele Bachmann and/or Steve King, but neither of those two individuals will come anywhere close to being the republican nominee. Oh, and then there’s Donald Trump, who’s about as likely to become president as I am.

With that in mind, Mitt Romney is the clear frontrunner, with the most establishment support, the best organisation and the most money. But could he win, bearing in mind his moderate record as governor and his frankly rather liberal positions back in the 1990s? I’m not just talking about his passing healthcare reform (‘Romneycare’) in Massachusetts – I’m also talking about his past support for abortion and gay rights when he ran for the Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy, best illustrated by this wonderful video:

Conventional wisdom would suggest that all of the anti-Romney forces would eventually coalesce around a candidate to the right of the former Massachusetts governor, who would go on to win the nomination. That could very well be Tim Pawlenty, who has low visibility at the moment but lots of money, a promising campaign staff, and a lot of goodwill from the establishment – Pawlenty talks like a moderate, but is actually quite conservative on both economic and social issues, and is an evangelical Christian. It could also be Newt Gingrich, who’s said some very repulsive things about the current president, Muslims and other people and groups in recent months.

At the same time, though, consider 2008. John McCain was seen as the ‘moderate’ candidate who could not be trusted by the right. Yet he still managed to trounce more conservative opponents in ’08, and win the nomination surprisingly early. And Romney has been even more deft than John McCain in flip-flopping on past statements and talking like a true red-blooded conservative – perhaps best illustrated by the title of his 2010 book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness“. While there’s still time for someone more authentically conservative, with enough establishment support and money to have a serious shot at the nomination, yet without the total lack of charisma from which Tim Pawlenty suffers, to enter the race, Ross Douthat argues in the New York Times that this might just be one of those elections where the best candidates decide not to take the plunge, and the GOP ends up with a lacklustre nominee:

…sometimes the “person who can win” decides not to run, and you’re left to choose between people who can’t. The last time the Republicans made big gains in the mid-term elections [1994] and then faced a vulnerable-but-formidable Democratic incumbent two years later, they found themselves choosing between Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander and Pat Buchanan in the primaries, while figures like Colin Powell and Dick Cheney (now there would have been a primary campaign!) stayed on the sidelines. It could happen again: Just because the Republicans seem to need a better candidate than Mitt Romney doesn’t mean they’ll get one.

I think that’s right. And while I still have trouble seeing how republicans could possibly nominate Mitt Romney, I have even more trouble imagining any of the other probable candidates winning their party’s nomination. So, right now, it’s Romney – unless Mike Huckabee proves the pundits wrong and decides to actually run.

President… Trump?

I’ll confess right away that I feel guilty for not writing about Egypt tonight. The world’s eyes are on Cairo, and I’m writing about American politics. But as I’ve said before, you can find far more useful and interesting commentary elsewhere on the blogosphere and the twittersphere.

Instead, I bring you future President Trump at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC):

Donald Trump wanted the crowd of activists at the Conservative Political Action Committee to know just who he thinks has the skills, smarts and guts to be president: Donald Trump, of course.

He bragged that he had beaten “many people and companies” and “earned billions of dollars,” earning him the title of the world’s most competitive businessman, he said. He contrasted himself with President Obama, who he said “came out of nowhere… With no track record. There was no record. Nothing to criticize,” Mr. Trump said. “Nobody knew who the hell he was.”

Mr. Obama has turned America into the “laughing stock” of the world, Mr. Trump said. “The United States has become a whipping post for the rest of the world.” By contrast, he said that a President Trump would move quickly to restore respect of America. He said he is pro-life, against gun control and will work to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care plan. “If I decide to run, I will not be raising taxes,” he said. Under his administration, Mr. Trump said America will be “taking in hundreds of millions of dollars from countries that are screwing us.”

I really hope he runs – and he says that he’ll let us know by June of this year. He’s toyed with presidential runs in the past, but this one actually seems serious. And he’d be the perfect republican candidate, honestly. He’s bankrupted companies. He’s a jerk. He’s been married five times. And he has wonderful hair:

Truly, truly, a God among men – and God’s gift to women. And it’s all so amazingly insincere. How do you think this would play with the republican base, for example?