For the longest time, it seemed that all Trump cared about was Obama’s birth certificate. As he was considering a campaign for President in 2011, Trump joined those who had raised questions about Obama’s birth. He said, “I have some real doubts” about whether he was born in the US. He constantly got news coverage for public doubts about Obama’s birth.
When Obama produced both the standard and the long form birth certificate, Trump wasn’t satisfied. He claimed to have his own investigators in Hawaii. “I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding.” What did they find? Nothing. Were there really any Trump people in Hawaii? No evidence of that.
Trump seemed to care about all kinds of documentary records. In 2011, he also demanded that Obama produce his college transcript. “I heard he was a terrible student, terrible,” Trump told the AP, “How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records.”
After more investigations, he made up this story in early 2015: “They have nothing. They have nothing. They don’t even have any records at all. They have no record of names. They have no record he went there. And of course the president spent $3.2 million to make sure they don’t have any records.” By August 2015, that number was not enough, so he claimed that Obama had spent $4 million to conceal his college records.
This was in stark contrast to Trump’s achievements in college, as he tells it. He let the media think he was valedictorian of his class at University of Pennsylvania. He repeatedly bragged about how smart he was. Trump told “Meet the Press” in August 2015: “Look, if I were a liberal Democrat, people would say I'm the super genius of all time. The super genius of all time.”
In fact, Obama’s Harvard Law School professors remember him as an outstanding student. He was elected president of the Harvard Law Review. Nobody at Wharton has any memory of Trump as a good student. He earned no honors in college. When the Guardian newspaper asked for Trump’s college records in 2012, one of his spokesmen said the request was “stupid”. “Mr. Trump’s not the President of the United States and he’s not running for the presidency.” Now he is running for President, but the request for his college records is still stupid, because he doesn’t care to produce them.
Trump appears to care a lot about asserting that he is very rich, very charitable, and very clever financially. He says those things at every opportunity. But he doesn’t care about proving it.
People who run for President produce their tax returns for public view. Every candidate for the past 40 years has made their tax returns public. In 2011, he said he would release his tax returns when President Obama released his birth certificate. When Obama showed the world his birth certificate, Trump dropped out of the presidential race.
He was asked by Hugh Hewitt in February 2015 about releasing his tax returns: “Yeah, I would do it. I have no objection to certainly showing tax returns.” Nothing happened. This January, Trump said about releasing his returns: “We're working on that now.” In February, Trump said he would release his returns in a few months. But he also said, “You don’t learn anything from a tax return.” Then he said he couldn’t release them, even from 5 years ago, because he was being audited. The IRS said there was nothing preventing him from releasing the returns.
Trump doesn’t care about documents and doesn’t think we should either. When George Stephanopoulos asked him this month on ABC’s “Good Morning America” whether he thought voters had a right to see his returns, he replied, “I don’t think they do.” Stephanopoulos asked what effective tax rate he pays, and Trump said, “It’s none of your business.” Last week, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort said he would be surprised if Trump released the returns at all. “It's not really an issue for the people we are appealing to.”
Trump’s “investigation” of Obama’s birth uncovered no truth. His attitude toward his own life is to hide the truth, because it’s none of our business. Trump doesn’t care about truth.
What does he care about? He wants people to think he’s great. When he was asked about his phony investigation of Obama’s birth, he explained what he cares about. “I don't think I went overboard. Actually, I think it made me very popular. I do think I know what I'm doing.”
He cares most about himself and his image, carefully constructed out of exaggerations and lies. His campaign chair believes his supporters don’t care about the truth either. So far it’s worked. Maybe he is the super genius of all time.
Published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, May 31, 2016