After spending the last few weeks dodging questions about the racist birther campaign he led in 2011—an effort to delegitimize President Obama by claiming he was actually born in Kenya and was not eligible to be president—Trump said Friday morning that he would address the issue once and for all.
At the brand new hotel he was opening in Washington, D.C.
The conference was scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. eastern, but Trump showed up an hour late. Before that, the dead space of the press conference, streamed live online and broadcast in full on cable news, was a tableau of veterans hanging out on stage at the Republican nominee's newest business venture. In other words, it was hours of free press for the Trump Organization disguised as political news.
When Trump finally took the stage, the first words out of his mouth were, "Nice hotel!"
Then, without explanation, several male veterans who support Trump came to the podium to say how much they supported Trump. They thanked him and blessed him and talked about "leading from the front."
After nearly an hour of this, Trump addressed the racist birther movement, ostensibly the entire point of the news conference—by lying that Hillary Clinton started "the birther controversy." (This claim has been vetted multiple times and ruled entirely false.)
"I finished it," he said. "You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again. Thank you."
Then he walked off stage. He did not take questions from the press, but he did give a tour of the hotel.
In the last 24 hours, Trump talked "wellness" and fast food with Dr. Oz—which the campaign billed as a serious and transparent disclosure of his medical records. He had his head patted by Jimmy Fallon. And then he conned the political press into streaming a two-hour commercial for his brand new hotel.
And here I am writing about it because it was the news of the morning.
Good fucking luck to us all.