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Keli Goff

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With Trump, GOP Waves the White Flag Before the 2012 Race Has Even Begun

Posted: 04/26/11 09:37 AM ET

In 2001 Elodie Gossuin lived every woman's nightmare. No, she didn't find out that the love of her life was cheating on her. Nor did she find out that she was losing her job.

She did find out, however, that someone was going to great lengths to convince the world that she was really a man.

Now while this may seem worthy of a chuckle to the rest of us it wasn't a laughing matter for Ms. Gossuin. The reason? She was a beauty pageant contestant and apparently being born a female is considered a requirement in many corners of the beauty queen business. But after coming across coverage of the affair I started thinking that in a weird way she should have been slightly flattered. Because just like a high school clique that starts mean rumors about a new girl they are worried has caught the eye of the captain of the football team, Gossuin's anonymous foes essentially admitted that they thought themselves incapable of beating her fair and square in the interview, evening gown or swimsuit competitions. They obviously felt that the only way to even the playing field and have a shot was to plant a seed of doubt about her gender to get her disqualified from the competition altogether.

Welcome to the wonderful world of birthers.

Donald Trump is not only the best thing to happen to the birther movement since Barack Obama, but he's the best thing to happen to Barack Obama since George W. Bush.

See "the Donald" is setting up the president as the Lance Armstrong of the 2012 campaign; the guy who seems to be cruising ahead so effortlessly -- while others pant just to keep up -- until eventually all everyone else can do is accuse him of using steroids and hope that gets him thrown out of the race so he can't keep embarrassing them.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. President Obama has struggled in the polls since the term "Obamacare" entered the American (or more specifically American media) lexicon. But despite the Tea Party's best efforts and empty threats, the anti-Obama revolution that was supposed to sweep him out of office with ease in 2012 has landed with more of a thud than a bang. Part of the credit must go to the prez himself. Despite his policies not being popular with certain corners of the electorate, he and his family still are. His likability numbers have held steady, even when his job approval numbers have not. I think he would be the first to admit that the first family, comprised of a photogenic wife and kids, and even Bo, the first dog, deserve some of the credit for this. They present a fairly likable package in a way that, say someone like Newt Gingrich and his three different families may not.

Which brings me to the biggest impediment to the anti-Obama 2012 groundswell that has not materialized as advertised. It doesn't help that the Republican starting lineup is looking more and more like the political equivalent of the Seven Dwarfs every day, with most of the contenders vying for the role of Dopey to Sarah Palin's Snow White. (Click here to see the GOP starting lineup.)

Mitt Romney, who appears to be both a credible chief executive and general election contender, so far seems unable to figure out how to turn himself into a credible primary contender, thanks to this little blip on his resume regarding a certain health care law in a certain state he once ran.

So along comes Donald Trump to save the day.

The fact that that statement is no longer as laughable as it should be to conservatives pretty much tells you all you need to know about the sorry state of affairs in the GOP primary race.

Now for those who assume that I have a vested interest in seeing the president cakewalk to reelection, think again. Like every other member of the media who's honest, the truth is that I have a vested interest in seeing -- and writing about -- a real race. But when Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann are emerging as "credible" candidates, that possibility becomes less and less likely.

But I didn't realize just how unlikely until I listened to Trump's wife issue her stamp of approval regarding her husband's current quest to be crowned "Birth Certificate Hunter in Chief." When I realized that neither she, nor he, seem to understand that their target audience -- voters obsessed with the president's national origin -- won't vote for a First Lady who, to put it diplomatically, sounds like she does, it became clear that their combined level of delusion would prevent him from winning a city council seat, let alone a presidential primary contest. Which is almost too bad because goodness knows he'd certainly be more "interesting" to write about than some of the other dwarfs, but of course therein lies the problem for the GOP.

In the last seven days the two Republicans who have garnered the most national coverage have been a woman who thinks monkey jokes about the First family are funny and a man whose most credible attacks on the president consist of demanding to see his birth certificate.

Which brings me back to the bullied beauty queen.

If Donald Trump thought that he or any other GOP presidential contender had a decent shot at beating president Obama on the issues -- the economy, foreign affairs or any other substantive subject -- he would be talking about those issues instead of "the birth certificate."

But alas, he's essentially waving the white flag from the get-go and acknowledging that he can't go toe-to-toe with the president -- or maybe anyone else -- intellectually on policy, so instead he's going straight for the lowest common denominator, rumor mongering to give himself -- and perhaps his party -- a shot. This should not only make the president feel more confident about the campaign, but flattered that "the Donald" feels so intimidated by him that he must resort to such tactics.

After all, intimidating the Donald is quite an accomplishment -- especially for, as Donald likes to say -- one of "the blacks."

This piece originally appeared on TheLoop21.com for which Goff is a Contributing Editor.

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