[The Telegraph, U.K.]

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Der Spiegel, Germany

Donald Trump and the 2012 'Campaign of Lunacy'


"In the gestating Republican primary campaign, the real estate shark has quickly taken the lead - as a political clown and caricature of himself. But what’s not so funny is this: Trump is setting the tone. The fact that an airhead like Trump is able to determine the content of news reports says a lot about the political state of America."


By Marc Pitzke


Translated By Stephanie Martin


April 29, 2011


Germany - Der Spiegel - Original Article (German)

Donald Trump - otherwise known as "The Donald," arrives at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he was a guest of The Washington Post.

NEW MEDIA ANIMATION, TAIWAN: Is Donald Trump destroying the GOP's chances for 2012?, 00:01:25, Apr. 27.RealVideo

New York: Donald Trump is running for president - and picking a fight with Barack Obama. First, he questioned the fact that the latter was born in the United States, and now he's questioning his academic background. Behind all the mischief is a calculated gamble - the real estate shark is flirting with far-right, racist voters. The election campaign of 2012 promises to be vicious.


Donald Trump isn’t backing down. Undeterred, he’s barnstorming his way through New Hampshire, ground zero for every U.S. election campaign. With a black helicopter and a black stretch limousine, he has completed the compulsory tour for would-be politicians and combed through the valleys of the “Granite State” on a relentless hunt for votes and free publicity.


He drops in unexpectedly at the Roundabout Diner in Portsmouth and puts his hand on the shoulders of startled customers. Here, before employees of military equipment company Wilcox, he rails against the malevolent industrial power of China. Then he drops in at Popovers, a cake and coffee house, the deli in Maine-ly, New Hampshire, and of course, at the nearby Bellman Jewelers. And armies of reporters and photographers, along with TV broadcast vans, follow him wherever he goes. “Tell me if you’ve ever seen anything like it,” he says triumphantly about the high journalist turnout. “I feel very honored.”


That’s typical Trump hype. And it's a dubious honor - because the U.S. media is hardly interested in Trump’s political positions. Or in the irony of the fact that he accuses China of “raping” the United States, even though most of his own products (shirts, ties, teddy bears) proudly carry the “Made in China” label.


No. The media here are hungry for something else: the next Trump absurdity.


In the gestating Republican primary campaign, the real estate shark and speculator has quickly taken the lead - as a political clown, comedy act and caricature of himself. But what’s not so funny is this: Trump is setting the tone. The fact that an airhead like Trump is able to determine the content of news reports says a lot about the political state of America.


Without having formally declared himself a candidate, Trump, with the help of an obliging media, has already succeeded in dragging the race for the White House deep into the mud. His absurd contention that President Obama may not have been born in the United States prompted the latter to present his birth certificate. “A low-point for American politics,” opined The New York Times. “Embarrassing” and “worrisome,” seconded The Washington Post.


But that was only the beginning. No sooner is the "birth debate" over, the next outrage begins: Now Trump wants to dig through Obama’s college years in search of inconsistencies. The president, he’s been told, was a “terrible student” - how on earth did that kind of student get into law school?


There’s something sinister behind all the mischief. Trump’s most recent assertion that Obama isn't “smart enough" to have attended Harvard can only be considered “ugly racism.” Legendary CBS anchorman Bob Schieffer rumbles: “That’s just code for the accusation that he only got into law school because he’s Black.”


Welcome to the U.S. presidential election, or at least its flashy overture. For those who thought the last episode four years ago had fallen far enough below the belt, with its escalating tirades and racist overtones, it is time to prepare for more record lows.


Because Trump openly says what the angry far-right minority thinks; without filter, without shame, or any sense of decorum. Cheerfully, he stabs at a hornet’s nest, catering to the racist stereotypes of Americans who still haven’t accepted the fact that a Black man was elected president.


The abstruse debate about Obama’s origin - really no more than cold coffee from 2008 that Trump has reheated for his own purposes - was just the beginning, the first warning shot in a battle that is likely to be vicious. Ever so transparently, the Republicans are cheerfully playing along with the game: Sarah Palin called the long-resolved birth issue “legitimate,” and Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to consider Obama’s U.S. birth a closed issue: “The American people have the right to think what they want to think.”


’Why did that take so long?’



And they will continue to do so, in spite of all rational evidence. After all, the most recent Gallup poll this week showed that only 38 percent of respondents said they were “sure” that Obama was born in the United States. An odd footnote: In the very same Gallup poll, only a slightly larger number expressed the same level of certainty about whether Trump was born in the United States. Conspiracy theories proliferate everywhere.


Sure, that is nothing new in America. The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: For every national trauma, an “alternative scenario” is quickly devised. And for the right-wing swamp, Obama’s election to the presidency was precisely such a trauma.


A belief in dark machinations unites these groups. "It becomes part of the believer’s identity,” writes Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post. So much so that it cannot be changed even by clear evidence to the contrary - in this case, Obama’s real birth certificate. And so the circus goes on, even after Obama’s humiliating revelation. The reaction of his opponents is typical.


“Why did this take so long?” grumbled Newt Gingrich, also a presidential candidate in waiting, sowing new doubts about Obama’s legitimacy: “The whole thing is so strange.” Others, like Texas Republican Leo Berman, assert that the document was forged, doctored or tampered with. Joseph Farrah, editor-in-chief of the right-wing Web site WorldNetDaily, and a leading figure in the strident “birther” movement, thinks it, "raises more questions than it answers."


“I was shocked.”


It is no coincidence that California Republican Party official and Tea Party activist Marilyn Davenport sent an e-mail last week with an Obama “family portrait,” depicting chimpanzees and the tagline: “Now you know why - no birth certificate.”


Davenport has since apologized. She claims it was just intended as “satire.” But the recipients clearly got the message. U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson speaks of “coded and subtle rhetoric to stir up racist fear.” Earlier assertions that Obama is Muslim were along the same lines. Before long, those assertions will no doubt be recycled as well.


Whether Trump is aware of the implications of his words remains unclear. He is a political novice and inexperienced in the rhetorical subtleties of the business. At any rate, he denies being a racist - with the hackneyed assurance that his best friends "are Blacks." For instance, Charles Blow, a Black columnist with The New York Times, tells of his first meeting with Trump: He was introduced to Trump at a party, at which point the latter immediately confided “how beloved he was among Blacks.” “I was stunned - a smirk frozen on my face,” writes Blow. “Why this speech?  Why me?”     



And it should be noted that there are voices of caution among the chorus of the crass. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican who is now Independent, protested against the Obama smear campaign. “I think the Republicans are making a terrible mistake,” he said on Fox News. “We have immigration. We have the deficit. We have the economy. Those are things the public cares about.”


But Bloomberg recognized the crux of the matter. “Anybody can run for president.”


Welcome to the election campaign of lunacy.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US May 4, 1:38pm]


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