Obama Passport and College Transcripts: Donald Trumps October Surprise Contained No Trick or Treat

The Donald is at it again. In his latest attempt at self-promotion, Donald Trump’s “major announcement” on Twitter amounted to not a bang but a fizzle. The Donald had stirred up some mild interest that he would release some major announcement concerning Obama. The Donald had teased his “October surprise” by appearing on Fox and Friends where he said he “knows something very, very big concerning the President of the United States." The New York Daily News contacted the Obama campaign, and their response was to direct people to a website with an Obama bumper sticker that said “Made in The USA.”

The Donald’s announcement is the latest evidence of a celebrity using their brand to influence politics through social media.. Politicians have always known the power of celebrity as a means of persuasion and communication. And celebrities have always used the  technology available to draw attention to their cause. Social media and celebrity brand power and influence are the perfect combination of direct, targeted  marketing and mass distribution. Celebrities wield tremendous influence with their fan base, especially young impressionable minds (and some not so young ones as well) and social media gives them instant and direct access to hundreds of thousands of potential donors and voters. Berkeley Political Review staff writer Christina Avalos, calls it “Celebolitics,” or celebrities using their high-profile status to publicize their political views. Avalos writes that “with millions of people following the famous’ tweets and threads, celebrities may have the ability to spark political consciousness where others have struggled to do so in the past.” UnlimitedWhispers.com is a website that captures the tweets of celebrities on a variety of subjects including politics.

Ted Nugent announced his endorsement of Romney on Twitter, telling his 44,000 followers "after a long heart&soul conversation with Mitt Romney today I concluded this good man will properly represent we the people & I endorsed him." Two weeks ago actress Stacy Dash announced her support for Romney via Twitter. Back in December, singer Kelly Clarkson tweeted to her 1.1 million followers "I love Ron Paul, I liked him a lot during the last Republican nomination, and no one gave him a chance. If he wins the nomination for the Republican Party in 2012, he's got my vote. Too bad he probably won't."  Pop star Michelle Branch, re-tweeted Clarkson’s Ron Paul support, "@kelly_clarkson I wholeheartedly agree. #RonPaul." Back in January legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry joined the Ron Paul love fest and tweeted "Obama hasn't done anything close to what he promised he'd do. Didn't get my vote and I got lotta grief. Well, my votes for Ron Paul."

This election season the distinction between celebrity and politician has been blurred. Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institute in Washington, told CBSNews.com, “You have celebrities who raise money and endorse candidates. You have politicians who appear on entertainment shows. And so there's a lot of interchange between Hollywood and national politics.” Obama has developed a strategy around his appearances on TV talk shows. Obama has appeared recently on ABC’s The View, Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and CBS’ The David Letterman Show. Obama feels that this outreach strategy provides information and access to the population of people who don’t spend their time watching cable news, watching Sunday morning news shows and following political blog sites. It is not that this part of the electorate is uninformed or disinterested in politics, they just don’t happen to be diehard political wonks and prefer to digest their political news in a lighter format. UC Berkeley professor Jack Citrin said, “Why do you think President Obama goes on The David Letterman Show? The idea is that it humanizes you, you’re reaching a lot of people, a lot of people who probably don’t pay that much attention to politics.”

Both the Romney campaign and the Obama campaign has enlisted and benefitted from star power. The Republican National Convention brought Clint Eastwood to the convention, while Obama has had fundraisers hosted by George Clooney, and Sara Jessica Parker amongst others. Obama hobnobs with Jay-Z and Beyoncé in the Oval Office, while Romney has pulled in the endorsement of country music superstar Trace Adkins and rock stars Kid Rock and Gene Simmons. Both campaigns have heavyweight Hollywood producers in their corner. Steven Spielberg is a major contributor to Obama, while Jerry Bruckheimer supports Romney. Romney trails Obama by far in celebrity endorsements, but of course his A-list of supporters is filled with scions of the finance and business world. However both, Romney and Obama have received support from the world of pornography. Ex-porn star Jenna Jameson, with a net worth of $30 million, who famously said, "When you're rich, you want a Republican in office," endorses Romney. The Daily News wrote, “Ron Jeremy, who was named the No. 1 Porn Star Of All Time by Adult Video News, recently told the Boston Herald that while Romney is a "good man" and an "amazing father," he'll be casting his vote for President Obama come November.”

The Donald had released this message via Facebook, “This is not a media event or about Donald J. Trump, this is about the United States of America. It turns out that the big news was all about Trump. Trump announced that he would donate $5 million dollars to charity if Obama releases his college transcripts and passport records by the end of the month. Obama’s college transcript records are about as relevant to the election at this point as is Romney’s tax returns. The Village Voice was disappointed as they had asked, “Has Trump finally found the nonexistent proof that the president is a Kenyan version of the Manchurian Candidate sent to the U.S. by his Muslim brothers to destroy the country?”

Last night the Twitter verse reacted with mixed emotion to the impending announcement:

Concern

Sarcasm

Humor

And of course the most important prognostication

 Zarling’s prognostication proved correct.

Mashable.com captured some of the funnier tweets from Witstream who is also capturing the reactions of comedians in real time.

The marketing genious of Trump may have failed this time and maybe his evil genious has run its course. We can only hope.