Politics is all about timing. Donald Trump very effectively built up a ton of buzz about his maybe-presidential campaign by taking the birther conspiracy theory from rightwing message boards to the Today show. But he says he can't formally announce a campaign until after the season finale of his reality show Celebrity Apprentice. With the birther issue now settled, Trump can only make news, it seems, by getting made fun of or sued. Which is happening quite often. This is Trumpdate.
- Still Not a Racist Trump's first move after the birther issue was taking off the table was to make a not-so-subtle affirmative action charge implying that President Obama only got into Harvard because he's black. But he's not a racist! He's always been cool with "the blacks." Trump went on Fox & Friends Monday to again insist that "I am the least racist person there is." The colorblind proof? "Randal Pinkett won, as you know, on The Apprentice a little while ago, a couple of years ago. And Randall’s been outstanding in every way. So I am the least racist person." Randall Pinkett is black. He won Trump's show in December 2005. That's not a good enough record for J-Breezy, who tweeted, "Last week Obama interrupted Celebrity Apprentice...This week Trump fired ALL 3 black chicks in the same week.... #revenge."
- Still Clueless About His Base The Fox & Friends hosts asked Trump about Van Jones' appeal to Apprentice contestants Star Jones and Lil Jon to boycott the show for Trump's racially-tinged comments. In his answer, Trump betrayed an utter ignorance of Jones, Obam's former green czar and one of the right's biggest boogeymen. Of Jones, Trump asked, "He was the person thrown out of government, wasn't he?"
- Sore Loser Speaking of Celebrity Apprentice, let's look at what he had to contend with last night. NeNe Leakes was going to quit the show, but Trump's management abilities went on display when he tried to talk her out of it. "I've never called anybody but I'm calling you because I think you have great ability," Trump pleaded with her. When Leakes quit anyway, Trump said, "The fact is she left ... she quit, she gave up. To you, NeNe, I say, you're fired. And you’re a quitter. And Star Jones kicked your ass whether you like it or not." NeNe tweeted, "Mr Trump, Barack Obama is kicking yo ass! Now what?"
- Unveiling the Trump Doctrine As The Hill's Christian Heinze notes, Trump offered his foreign policy doctrine on Pakistan given Osama bin Laden's hideout being curiously close to the country's main military academy. "We don't give them any money unless they get rid of their nuclear weapons."
- Trump's First Presidential Debate Saturday Night Live imagined a Republican primary debate packed not with candidates you haven't heard of, as was the case in Thursday's debate, but with the ones you wish you knew less about: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jimmy The Rent Is Too Damn High McMillan, and, of course, Trump. Darrell Hammond brought back his classic Trump impression: "And if you criticize me, just remember, you're rubber and you're gold. So whatever you say doesn't matter because I'm gold and you're losers. Sarah Palin. I like you. If you want to be my vice president, all you have to do is sell more chili than NeNe Leakes on a hot summer day in Times Square."
- Update: Trump 'Doesn't Like Educated African-Americans Very Much' Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin talked to Kevin Allen, who competed on The Apprentice in 2004 and whose treatment at the hands of Trump drew charges of racism. When Allen appeared on the show, he had degrees from Wharton Business School, the University of Chicago, and Emory. "You're an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven't done anything... At some point you have to say 'That's enough,'" Trump told Allen. Allen says now, "Apparently he doesn't like educated African-Americans very much. ... What I thought was more interesting was that one of the knocks he had on me when he told me I was fired was that I was overeducated... I think it's important to note given his comment that racism is not about just making racial slurs or about what you say outwardly, it's also a mindset and how you feel about folks and how you compartmentalize. It's interesting, I read his comment when he referred to how he has a great relationship with 'the blacks,' like it was some sort of alien population, which is a bit odd."