What the Republicans wanted was a replay of Reagan. What they settled on is a replay of Bush II.
There was never any doubt on the authenticity of the credentials of Obama’s birthplace—from the perspective of the right wing. They knew from day one that it wasn’t an issue. It would be the stuff of a bad spy novel for someone to make it through so many levels of vetting without being caught. So why did the Republicans bring it up, and why did they cling to it so tenaciously?
The answer lies in the late 1960s, when they began grooming a Hollywood actor for high office. They impatiently waited, even gutting the chances of an incumbent from their own party who was by most accounts a decent person (at least on the grade curve of US chief executives) who may have set wheels in motion for healthcare reform and alternative energy back in 1976 had he been elected to a full term.
Instead, they wanted someone to play a role, during which time there was heretofore unprecedented corruption (like selling weapons to an enemy that later turned their aim toward the USA), creating the homeless problem by throwing sick veterans on the street for being “too lazy to work” and enabling massive increases in cocaine addiction by encouraging a culture where salespeople took precedence over the people doing the actual work).
They wanted a replay. They had someone in place—the same place! A Republican Governor of California, a former actor, someone who would have wide cross-party appeal. He had a Kennedy wife!
The problem? He wasn’t a US-born citizen.
How to get around that? Spread a rumour, and make it stick, that the Democratic president wasn’t born in America. It would be a win-win: if he performed poorly or if he was a success, they could claim with equal weight, “Obama wasn’t an American citizen, and he was President. This is an antiquated qualification that should be removed from US law.”
People were floored over the fact that a Simpsons episode “predicted” Trump’s presidency. The buried lede is that The Simpsons Movie depicted the president (by NAME) as “President Schwarzenegger”. (A character made clearly distinct from the Schwarzenegger parody Rainier Wolfcastle.)
Then someone broke the story that Arnold fathered a child with the help.
Which is why Trump is now President-Elect, and Schwarzenegger is host of Celebrity Apprentice.