Will the real Donald Trump please stand up, please stand up.
Those slightly tweaked words from Eminem’s hit song, “The Real Slim Shady,” kept bouncing around my head over the weekend after we learned that Trump had used not one, but likely two different alias in the past: John Miller and John Barron. The most intriguing part of this, though, was that Trump had pretended to be his own publicist in the 1990’s by the name of “John Miller” who would speak to reporters about himself in the third person.
There’s really no dispute over this. As People magazine reported in 1991, an audio recoding of “John Miller” was played for Marla Maples, who was in a relationship with Trump at the time, and she confirmed it was Trump. Plus New York Post columnist Cindy Adams also confirmed in 1991 it was Trump, as did a voice expert last week on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
Look we have all used fake names at one time or another. Of course, for working class people like myself the fake names were typically used to avoid a bill collector on the phone. They would ask, “Is this Dean?” and I’d respond that I was Dean’s roommate and Dean was out of town for a few months.
So all Trump had to do say, “Yes, John Miller was me and I was joking around.” The story would’ve been over in a day or two. But no, Trump had to lie about it when asked on the Today Show Thursday.
Trump probably calculated that since he easily got away with past lies, this would be no different. The most glaring example was Trump claiming he saw thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on 9/11. No video evidence was found but still the story faded and did no damage.
In contrast, this scandal is likely going to stick. Why? For two reasons. First, we all get it––there’s no complex policy issues involved to grapple over. And two, which is more important, it’s inherently funny. That’s a lethal combo in terms of political controversies.
Need an example? Well, remember when Sarah Palin was asked by Katie Couric: “I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?”
Palin of course gave an answer that caused comedians to cheer but Republicans to hang their heads: “Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.” And it got worse when Couric followed up: “Can you name any of them?” to which Palin responded, “I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.”
Well it’s eight years later and we still all remember that as one of the most defining moments for Palin. That’s what this Trump-John Miller fiasco has written all over it.
In fact, SNL kicked off its show Saturday with Darrell Hammond as Trump pretending to be Trump’s publicist as he bragged to a reporter on the phone: “Mr. Trump is the real-life inspiration for Iron Man.” Hammond added: “Who am I? I’m his publicist Joey Pepperoni. No, I’m not Donald Trump in disguise.“
Even when headlines fade for this fiasco, the story won’t be forgotten – it will be a running joke on late night TV comedy shows and even his Democratic opponent will likely use it to ridicule Trump.
If Trump is reading this, which is possible since he barley sleeps and loves to scan the Internet, here’s my advice to end this once and for all:
1. Admit it was you and that you lied. That’s the easiest option. Story ends in days.
However, as we all know you hate admitting mistakes. So here’s option number two:
2. Produce John Miller. You wanted President Obama’s birth certificate to be produced, so produce Miller.
And if you can’t find him, then as a former trial lawyer let me suggest some other forms of evidence you can produce that will help make your case:
A. John Miller’s canceled paychecks – No one works for free as a publicist, believe me I know. Just ask your accountant for the records. Even though you are being audited, you can certainly release these records.
B. Produce your contract with John Miller- the PR people I have dealt with all make you sign a contract. Lets see it.
C. Show us photos of John Miller- you love to take photos with people so you must have some palling around with Miller.
D. What was John Miller’s PR firm’s name address, and phone number?
In reality Trump will try to wait out the storm hoping we will forget it. But this scandal is unlike the others. Everyone – even some fellow Republicans — are laughing at Trump and that’s not good for his candidacy. Americans may elect a sexist and a bigot as President, but I’m confident they will never elect a punchline.
Dean Obeidallah is a former lawyer turned comedian and writer. He is the host of SiriusXM radio’s “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and co-directed the comedy documentary, “The Muslims Are Coming!“
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.