Essay: Obama vs. 'Birther' Trump? Advantage, The Donald

Today, President Barack Obama took a bold stand and released his long-form birth certificate. Or, as bold a stand as could be since he waited over three years to put an end to (the admittedly ridiculous) speculation over whether he was a natural-born American. What began as a Hillary Clinton campaign rumor spiraled into a full-fledged conspiracy theory and nobody enjoyed the show more than our president. As I recently wrote on this site:

Let's face it: Obama loves when people question his place of birth. Every minute we spend discussing if Obama was born in Kenya is a minute we don't spend saying that our weakling, perpetually golfing president has only made our economy worse and led us into a third war with nary a word of discussion. It's time spent not pointing out that Obama promised the most outrageous things in the world - oceans would lower!--and delivered on exactly zero of those promises. Trump dragging this issue back into the spotlight is only good for one person: the American-born Barack Obama.

So why has the president decided that now is the time to finally squelch the rumors? The president said:

"I just want to make a larger point. We've got some enormous challenges out there" and the nation won't be able to confront them if it gets distracted by "sideshows and carnival barkers."

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," the president added.

We've been facing enormous challenges for the entirety of the time Barack Obama has been in office. The only difference today is that one of the carnival barkers is a media darling who keeps pushing the issue. I still want Donald Trump off the national stage, and he's a ridiculous person to represent any conservative opinion, but anyone who doesn't agree that Trump won today is not paying attention.

Trump might be a bully and sure, the release of the certificate will be a good, temporary bump for Obama. He gets to seem above the silliness. But in the longer term Obama is at a disadvantage. Now perhaps people will focus on his misguided policies and wrongheaded politics instead of the place of his birth. Yes, Obama took a major distraction off the table. Unfortunately for the president, the distraction had been a big help to him.

As for Trump, he might have lost his calling card issue but he's still a sideshow and the media will still cover him. Does he have a chance at being our next president? Of course not. But his ability to get our president to cower and give in makes him a winner today.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.