President Obama released the long form of his birth certificate Wednesday morning at the White House. His statement in the briefing room made clear that far from ignoring Donald Trump's attacks, the White House felt compelled to respond to them.
In this case, the evidence seems clear: the president was born in Hawaii and the The Donald was just plain wrong.
But that being said, the broader significance to the birther controversy is that will clearly have implications that extend all the way to the 2012 presidential campaign.
First the White House understands that the president is particularly vulnerable to personal attacks, especially those that seek to delegitimize him. That is, there is a wide section of the Republican electorate, and among some independents as well, who believe that Obama is personally suspect, and effectively an illegitimate president.
Although such sentiments are almost totally unfair and unreasonable, the fact that the White House had to go to the extraordinary step of sending the White House counsel Bob Bauer to Hawaii to personally get a hold of the president's birth certificate, and that the White House was able to importune reluctant Hawaiian officials to go on camera to acknowledged the president's birth in the state for the first time, suggests the lengths to which the administration feels it needs to go to respond to attacks.
The birther issue also a precursor of what is to come. Other Republicans will learn from The Donald's experience. Even though Trump was clearly wrong, it is not lost on any potential candidate that Trump moved to the top of the Republican polls, based on his allegations. This underscored the fact that Trump is the only potential Republican candidate out there offering straight talk and confronting the Obama directly.
The rest of the field will learn from this, and you can expect that the tone and tempo of the campaign will step up and step up significantly in terms of tone and yes, hostility.
The Democrats are going to learn from this as well, and President Obama has indicated in a Web video from his 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina that they are not going to sit back. They are going to respond to every Republican allegation that comes his way.
But beyond that they recognize that if the election is a referendum on the president, they would most likely lose.
Consequently, the Democrats are going to seek to make this election a referendum on the Republicans and on a Republican Party that is increasingly discredited and marginalized.
The Republicans in the House after all, have a lower approval rating than the Democrats, and the Democrats are not all that high anyway.
Moreover, with the release of the Ryan Budget, the Republican standing among voters is probably, if anything else, going to sink lower, given the protests that have hit Republican town halls across America in the last few days with legitimate concern about the possible evisceration of Medicare.
Put simply, the Democrats and Obama will come to understand that positive arguments for the president can probably not get them anywhere near a majority of the vote. Their path to victory lies in using the same kind of "in your face tactics" that Donald Trump used, though hopefully the Democrats will be more factually based and stick to the issues at hand. But whatever happens, this is likely to be the most negative campaign in U.S. history.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton and is currently working with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of "Fox News Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on FoxNews.com Live. He is the author of ten books including,“Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield 2012). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.