…but he is. And I just can’t.
Look, when Trump got into the race and commenced to slaughtering every politically correct cow he could find, I thought it was great. And I still do.
Trump spent months saying things that large swaths, perhaps even a majority, of the American public desperately wanted someone in the political class to say. In doing so he slaked a deep thirst for honesty and candor that has only grown for more than two decades – the politically correct movement first appeared on college campuses in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and has metastasized there and spread to the culture at large with a negative effect both on the national dialogue and our ability to effectively make difficult choices as a country.
And he deserves credit for using the most effective tool known to man – that being celebrity – to defeat the limits political correctness placed on the American people. Because Trump is a reality TV star with millions and millions of Twitter followers and a limitless capacity for earned media, he has proven he can say anything he wants, no matter how much outrage it generates among the professionally outraged, and get away with it.
Trump has a Todd Akin moment every single day. Not a single one has hurt him. There is value in that, because if Trump can say something and not be raked over the coals for it there is no reason the rest of us should be hamstrung from expressing our own opinions.
And when Trump was the outlier candidate taking shots at our stilted and stupid political elite, he was useful.
That was last summer and fall. Trump is no longer that guy.
What is he now? He gives ample hints.
Friday, Trump stated if he was president he would somehow expand the libel laws so as to keep the press from being able to publish criticism of political figures, something he doesn’t have the power to do. Unless, of course, it’s Trump’s intention to nominate Supreme Court justices who will rubber-stamp that desire of his and fundamentally redefine the First Amendment.
Is that what Trump’s supporters are for? Are they willing to overlook that rather fundamental departure from our social compact?
The statement is disqualifying. You cannot bear the standard of the party of Lincoln and Reagan and show off such authoritarian tendencies. When he then retweeted a quote from Benito Mussolini, though he was baited into doing so by Gawker, and then gave a “what difference does it make?” response when questioned about it, there shouldn’t have been much surprise.
Then Trump refused, three separate times, to denounce David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan after Duke had glommed on to the Trump phenomenon to get himself media attention by endorsing Trump. The line fed to me by Trump supporters was that Ted Cruz, or someone else, had paid Duke to endorse Trump, which is fanciful. Even so, were that an honest suspicion it would have been a quite obvious tactic on Trump’s part to make such an accusation when confronted about Duke by Jake Tapper and to use it as evidence that “the Establishment” is pulling out all the stops to discredit him. Instead, Trump claimed he didn’t know anything about who Duke is (a documented lie, and a frightening one considering that the day before Trump had disparaged Duke) or what the KKK stood for. That gives rise to concerns that Trump is attempting to court voters who, openly or surreptitiously, sympathize with Duke and the White Power crowd.
Is that what Trump’s supporters are for? Are they willing to back a Republican nominee who will be cut to ribbons by the Democrat experts in race-baiting and false accusations of racism?
Republicans are commonly assaulted, fraudulently in nearly every case, as racists for questioning the Democrats’ horrific practice of plying racial minorities with free government swag as bait for the establishment of voting plantations. It is an intolerable prospect that the party would nominate someone who could give legitimacy to such assaults and the party along with him.
Either abysmal, cataclysmic mistake would be enough to destroy the candidacy of a normal office-seeker. And yet Trump is poised for a big showing and a potential cementing of his status as the nominee in the March primaries, starting with the 13 contests to be decided Tuesday.
A good bit of it comes from the revolt against political correctness discussed above. America needs a correction from the cultural-Marxist assault on our free speech. But when Trump then assaults the concept of free speech by touting libel “reform” that would expose those who would criticize political elites to greatly-expanded lawsuit risk, he shows that he’s not the champion of the First Amendment his campaign was partially built on.
Yes, but then there is immigration. Trump “put the issue on the map,” as he claims, which was ridiculous from the beginning; it’s been the most contentious issue in American politics outside of Obamacare for the past decade. And his tough talk on immigration hit the spot with frustrated voters who scream to elected Republicans time and again that illegal immigration is causing economic distress to the working class, the degradation of struggling neighborhoods around the country, a law enforcement nightmare, the breakdown of public services and even a national security problem.
But Trump has no credibility on the immigration issue. Even if you take his statements at face value (which you shouldn’t), he’s touting a “touchback amnesty” as the prime feature of how to deal with illegal immigration, and if you favor Trump because you like his immigration policy you have been played for a sucker. What Trump is essentially saying to those people who want the problem solved is that he’s for tasking virtually every law enforcement agency in the country (because that level of participation is what it will take) to round up 12 million illegals and send them back to where they came from, presumably at taxpayer expense, only to let “the good ones” back into the country.
There is no difference between that and Jeb Bush’s immigration policy other than Trump’s idea is far more wasteful and far less politically palatable. At the end of the day you still get amnesty, but with a side of a far more organized lobby in favor of a path to citizenship and a dessert course of grievance over the “mistreatment” of illegals.
On Obamacare? Trump blows hard about how he’ll get rid of it, as all the Republican candidates do, but unlike them he’s frequently discussed replacing it with something that sounds a lot like what Bernie Sanders wants to do. Trump has extolled the virtues of single-payer socialized medicine in Scotland and Canada, and told Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes interview that he’d “cover everybody” and have “the government pay for it.” Those were recent statements. And in last week’s debate, challenged by Marco Rubio over what his actual health plan to replace Obamacare is, all Trump could offer is the creation of an interstate health insurance market – an idea the Republican Party has been offering for 20 years and which every candidate in the GOP race favors. Beyond that Trump had nothing to offer, which demonstrates that he either has no idea how to solve the problem or doesn’t want the GOP primary voters to know his answer.
If you’re angry about the Beltway GOP’s inability to do away with Obamacare, what about this man gives you confidence he represents any real change on the issue?
Then there is Trump’s preference for “bombing the shit out of ISIS” while at the same time repeating Code Pink bromides about Bush and the Iraq War. As an added measure, Trump now decries the American intervention in the Libyan civil war that produced the Benghazi massacre while attempting to deny that in 2011 in his own video blog he demanded that we act to remove Qaddafi.
If you like, you can explain that away by noting that Trump wasn’t a politician and didn’t think seriously about these issues. And you can spout the idea that after all, Ronald Reagan was at one point a New Deal Democrat and Trump’s evolution is just like Reagan’s.
But those are weak justifications, at best. After all, Donald Trump flirted with the idea of running for president as long ago as 2000, when he held himself out, briefly, as a possible candidate for the Reform Party’s nomination. He also considered a 2012 presidential run. So any statement he’s made in this century has to be seen as that of at least a prospective candidate. Which includes his supportive statements about Obama and Bill DeBlasio, and the sizable contributions he made to Charlie Rangel, Rahm Emanuel, the Clinton Foundation, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, among lots of others. And if you think that’s just a New York real estate developer paying the price of admission in order to do business in unfriendly locales, then feel free to explain the large contrbutions Trump made to political action committees set up to help Mitch McConnell and John Boehner keep the Senate and House as free as possible from Tea Party and anti-establishment newcomers.
A far more plausible explanation for these, and countless other Trump flip-flops on major issues of substance, is that he’s working to defraud his supporters in the same way he’s treated creditors, vendors, business associates and customers throughout his business career.
You don’t see that pattern? Fine. Why is Trump being sued for fraud in the Trump University case? Today he put out a press release saying that he had a 98 percent satisfaction rate for Trump University. If that’s true, then why is it out of business? Why is Trump Steaks out of business? Why is the Trump Shuttle out of business? Why didn’t Trump Mortgage, which he launched in 2006 (there’s a testament to his ability to spot macroeconomic trends, isn’t it?), become a big hit? Why did Trump file four different bankruptcies for his casinos?
Those things all evince a pattern of failing to live up to promises made to people who relied on them. Be they investors, customers, creditors or suppliers, Trump has left a trail of wounded in his wake. You’ll find out all about these people in a painful, ugly parade the Democrats will put on the day Trump secures the nomination. Not before, mind you, because the media is milking this man for all the ratings they can get out of him before they assist in his destruction for the benefit of Hillary Clinton.
And the next batch of disappointed Trump associates is the 30 to 40 percent of GOP voters who are now pulling levers for him.
You can’t point to a single consistent position Trump has publicly taken, not even his promise of a trade war with China (considering that China is where he buys his building supplies from and where he makes those Trump ties). You can’t point to his business record to show he has what it takes to run the country without encountering glowing inconsistencies. And you can’t point to his comportment and statements as a candidate to show he has any actual knowledge of what he’s doing; this is, after all, a man who thinks judges sign bills.
Those of you who support Trump are supporting a brand. An idea. If that brand had an equivalent in flesh and blood, if there was an actual human being with a consistent record behind it, that brand might be worth supporting.
But the brand is a fraud. The man is, as Rubio pointed out and Cruz has proven time and again only to be smeared as a liar for his trouble, a con artist.
And the Trump supporters, who have legitimate grievances shared by most of the rest of us, are the marks.
You deserve better. But you won’t get it unless you demand it. And your neglect in doing so is going to drag us all into another four years of Democrat misrule.