Conservative columnist explains how Trump's Obamagate is really just another word for birtherism

Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin explained in her Monday piece that President Donald Trump's latest conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama is really just another attempt to bring back birtherism to distract from his coronavirus failures.


"On Sunday, the president who dawdled while a pandemic spread across the country, got into a no-win trade war with China, hired a slew of incompetent and ethically challenged advisers and presided over the worst economic crash in 90 years decided to call Obama 'grossly incompetent.' Talk about projection," Rubin began.

She explained that it's clear Trump is attempting to distract from his failures and clamoring to find someone else to blame. She said that Obama is a natural target for two main reasons.

"First, Trump has been in a juvenile competition with his predecessor since the day he took office," wrote Rubin. "Trump insisted the economy was stronger under him than under Obama. (That was false then and is now, well, self-evidently ludicrous.) Trump tore up the Iran deal and backed out of the Paris accords in part because Obama was associated with them. As it becomes patently obvious that Trump’s presidency will go down as one of the worst in history and that his achievements are minuscule compared with Obama’s, Trump becomes even more frantic to position himself as a superior president. It is the sort of thing a narcissist crumbling under the pressure of his own humiliation would do."

But the new round of Obama-bashing is a whole other issue than Americans have seen before.

"It goes back to the original sin of Trump’s political career — birtherism — and to his campaign, which channeled cultural and racial animosity among whites against elites, nonwhites and immigrants," wrote Rubin.

It's more of an attempt to delegitimize the only African-American president in United States history and "convince his followers that they are victims has been central to his political identity and to the bond with his cult." When in crisis, Trump always turns to racism, she explained, citing the 2018 election when he invented a "caravan" of migrants attempting to invade the United States.

"Just as birtherism made no sense but became a totem of the MAGA crowd, 'Obamagate' now provides the same function of unifying, energizing and enraging Trump’s camp," she explained. The same can be said for Trump's anti-Asian attacks when it became clear that the coronavirus was causing him problems. Instead of holding it as a global problem the world is facing together, he attacked it as a "Chinese" virus.

Rubin cited CNN reporter Jake Tapper's Twitter thread saying that the recent conspiracy theories on former Vice President Joe Biden have reached a whole new level of absurdity as Donald Trump Jr. makes allegations about pedophilia and murder. Tapper noted it was just another distraction from the Trump team amid a horrifying pandemic that is expected to kill over 100,000 Americans by the end of the month. There are typically just 24,000 to 62,000 seasonal flu deaths annually. Obama's pandemic, the H1N1 flu, killed just 12,469 Americans in a year and Ebola killed just 2 people in the United States and 11,323 in West Africa.

When all of Trump's attacks fail to work, his touchstone is always racism directed against people of color. He thinks if he works his base up into a fury of "us vs. them," he can pull out another win.

"And prepare yourself: Should Biden select an African American vice president (as I think he should), the grotesque racism that will ooze from the right will make birtherism seem innocuous," Rubin closed.

Read the full editorial at the Washington Post.