Why Obama can't argue with a reality-show businessman who relies on bombast and subjectivity
President Obama's decision to release his long-form birth certificate is a reminder of the handicaps under which rational people labor when confronting the irrational. Facts are poor antidotes to irrational beliefs, as numerous analyses of birther madness (and other false beliefs) have noted and birther reaction to Obama's birth certificate demonstrates. But if you're naturally inclined to try reasoning with people, you keep presenting them with facts anyway, even until your impulse to reason becomes as reflexively unreasonable as the faith based conspiracy theories you seek to dispel.
And therein lies Donald Trump's great advantage. Whether or not he attended the "best schools and always did good," whether or not he was admitted for reasons having little to do with merit, he seems to owe very little to the academic tradition and its regard for reason and facts. Instead he owes his ascent on reality TV and in the increasingly unreal venue of Republican presidential politics largely to the popular development tradition -- its preference for subjective statements of belief over mere statements of fact and its celebration of utterly unmerited self-esteem.