Arms-​​length Relationship?

Sometime’s it’s tough for a Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date to fig­ure out how closely to asso­ciate with others.

Vice-​​Presidential can­di­date Sarah Palin accused Pres­i­dent Obama of “pal[ling] around with ter­ror­ists” because he had been on the board of direc­tors for the Woods Fund for a cou­ple of years that over­lapped with for­mer Weather Under­ground mem­ber (and cur­rent edu­ca­tion pro­fes­sor) Bill Ayers’s term, because Ayers had donated $200 to Obama’s state sen­ate reëlec­tion cam­paign in 2001, and because one of Obama’s 2001 neigh­bor­hood cam­paign events was held at Ayers’s home. But, as far as any­one can tell (and many tried hard to find evi­dence to the con­trary) they never shared a stage together, and Obama never claimed any affil­i­a­tion with Ayers.

On the other hand, Mitt Rom­ney has spent a good amount of time on stages with Don­ald Trump. A few days ago, Trump had a fundraiser in Las Vegas for Mitt Rom­ney. On April 17, wife Ann Romney’s birth­day, he hosted another Mitt Rom­ney fundraiser at his Trump Tower home in New York. And Rom­ney has pub­licly been wel­com­ing the support.

At both events, Trump con­tin­ued to insin­u­ate that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Yes, even now. This time, it’s based on a hor­ri­bly mis­rep­re­sented brief biog­ra­phy pub­lished in a book­let. And, adding absur­dity to absur­dity, The Don­ald says, “It all wouldn’t mat­ter, except if you’re born in a for­eign coun­try, you’re not allowed to be Pres­i­dent, so you know this is a minor detail.” Why is this absurd? Because Sen­a­tor John McCain (remem­ber him?) was born in Panama, most cer­tainly a for­eign coun­try, and he is allowed to be President…or would be, if he could get enough votes.

To wit­ness some of the absur­dity your­self, you can watch Trump’s inter­view.

What’s remark­able in all of this is that Romney’s defense is, in essence, that he’ll do what­ever it takes to get elected.

I want to be per­fectly clear here: I don’t believe a can­di­date for office must be in lock­step with every sup­porter. It would be a lit­eral impos­si­bil­ity. But there must be a level of coör­di­na­tion that occurs among the top, highest-​​profile sup­port­ers. That is, if the can­di­date is going to attend a high-​​profile fundraiser, there needs to be an under­stand­ing between the two about what’s in and what’s out of scope.

In other words, Rom­ney could choose to truly keep Trump at arm’s length and unequiv­o­cally dis­avow the birtherism. Or he could demand that Trump fall in line with Romney’s pub­lic pol­icy as long as the can­di­date will be attend­ing Trump-​​headlined events.

But to do nei­ther is a tacit endorse­ment, and one that, frankly, he doesn’t need. On a day when he should be cel­e­brat­ing his “offi­cial” vic­tory by secur­ing (in the­ory, any­way) enough del­e­gates to win the first-​​round vote at the con­ven­tion, the news is about crack­pot birther theories.

Where’s Orly Taitz when you need her? Oh, that’s right…she’s run­ning against Dianne Feinstein.