The Trump Card — Ace of Anger Affirmation
The "Obama Effect" -- Despair, Delusion and Division
Decoding Donald and his Trump appeal — a reality check on his populist rhetoric.
“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” —George Washington (1796)
(Editor’s Note: Trump supporters, before sending hate email, actually read this column and then see the disclaimer. Read Alexander’s latest analysis, “About Trump’s ‘New York Values.”)
Given that his celebrity name recognition, contentious remarks and populist rhetoric have landed billionaire Donald Trump at the top of pop-presidential polls for months, I’m now being asked by some grassroots leaders across the nation, “What about Trump?”
The shortest answer is: CAVEAT EMPTOR!
First, Trump’s support reflects very little about his qualifications, but a lot about his message and how dissatisfied millions of disenfranchised grassroots conservatives are with Republican “leadership.” The status quo represented by Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has, in effect, underwritten Trump’s rising stardom. Despite greatly increasing the numbers of conservatives in the House and Senate in the historic “Republican Wave” elections nationwide in both 2010 and 2014, the much-loathed “establishment types” still hold the reins and they have failed to counter Barack Obama’s socialist policies. GOP leaders continue to marginalize or ignore the concerns of the conservative/Republican base — grassroots conservatives — and we are rightly outraged.
I refer to the underlying anger driving Trump popularity as, “The Obama Effect.”
Despite his decidedly liberal “New York values” and the fact that his brilliantly timed and superbly calculated rhetoric is mostly fragrance and not substance, Trump’s appeal is sustained because that rhetoric affirms a broad spectrum of anger — anger that has been seeded by Obama’s unprecedented executive arrogance, and the failure of Republicans to counter his populist policies. So confused are some Republicans that they no longer can distinguish between “conservative” and “establishment” candidates.
Seven years of [Obama’s repressive regime has fomented](http://www.wsj.com/articles/president-obama-created-donald-trump-1457048679) despair, delusion and division, among the ranks of Republican voters – so much so that some are willing to take leave of their senses and join a cultish movement with a self-promoting charlatan as its head. History is replete with examples of such movements, and the tragic result – the suppression of Liberty. Most conservatives, many moderates and even some centrist Democrats are exhausted, and consequently, some will settle for anything other than what they perceive to be “status quo.”
The Obama effect was plain in 2010, giving rise to the most authentic grassroots movement in generations – the Tea Party. As a result, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House, retaking control in the biggest shift since 1948. They gained six seats in the Senate and the gains were wide and deep nationwide, as Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislative races, an all-time record. That gave Republicans control of a majority of state legislatures and 29 governorships. But, regrettably, establishment Republican leaders in the House excluded the new conservatives from leadership positions.
The resulting anger is both real and legitimate.
Second, Trump can be brash, and he brings some much-needed humor and levity to an otherwise distinguished but dry quadrennial Republican presidential field. However, his campaign mantra and platform, “We’re going to fix that,” is short on substance. When he does attempt to provide an answer with substance, a week later it changes. As National Review’s Rich Lowry concludes, “One lesson of the success of the Trump for president campaign is that as long as you are not making sense with great certainty and forcefulness, no one will care too much that you aren’t making sense. For now, it’s part of the genius of Trump as communicator.” (The one exception would be illegal immigration and I will address that below.)
And third, Trump has the potential of being a spoiler in 2016. Like the current White House occupant, he is a textbook pathological narcissist. If he is not the nominee, this egomaniacal celebrit will likely launch an independent ticket. Indeed, in the first Republican debate, when asked if any of the candidates would not throw there support behind the eventual nominee, Trump raised his hand, refusing to rule out a independent run. In a close election, that will hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, assuming that enough of her low-information Democrat voters buy into her BIG Lies.
That is precisely what happened the last time a Republican billionaire launched a third-party ticket when the other lying Clinton was on the Democrat ticket1, though I should note Ross Perot’s conservative qualifications were far more credible than any Trump can produce.
Either way, Trump will generate a lot of fratricidal attacks against genuine Republicans and conservatives, rather than focus on Democrats. However, I also believe that Trump will force the other Republicans to sharpen their message, and they will be stronger candidates as a result of Trump’s challenge.
Could he be Hillary’s trump card? As noted by George Will, “If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different? I don’t think it would be.”
Can the nation survive four more years of Obama’s failed domestic and foreign policies?
If Trump becomes the nominee, he could defeat Clinton because she is a very weak and vulnerable candidate. Of course, if Clinton is indicted, the most likely alternative ticket would be the rise of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren at the Demo convention, and that will pose a much more formidable opponent for any GOP nominee.
So who is Trump?
In the words of Samuel Adams, “The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.”
Let’s take a look at this public man’s character.
The 69-year-old was born into wealth just after World War II, the son of New York real estate mogul Fred Trump and his Scottish immigrant wife, Mary Anne. Trump attended the finest schools, though he was expelled from high school for “disciplinary violations.” Like his contemporary, Bill Clinton, Trump dodged the draft with college student deferments, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and then receiving a medical draft deferment.
“I had a minor medical deferment for feet, for a bone spur of the foot, which was minor,” said Trump. Minor indeed, given that he can’t even recall which foot: “You’ll have to look it up.”
He was handed the keys to his father’s company in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, amassing enormous wealth in real estate assets in the ensuing years. His worth is estimated at $4 billion today, with annual income of $250 million (Mitt Romney’s entire net worth).
Trump presided over the failure of two marriages prior to his current administration.
In 1977 he married Czech immigrant Ivana Zelníčková, and they had three children. They were divorced in 1992 after Ivana discovered his affair with celebrity actress Marla Maples. He married Maples in 1993, and they had one child. They were divorced in 1999, and in 2005 he married Slovenian immigrant Melania Knauss. They have one child.
In 2003, he became host of the hit show “The Apprentice,” where his fame reached new heights for yelling “You’re Fired!” at contestants who fail. He even filed a trademark application for the term.
But in addition to some notable successes, Trump himself has presided over major business failures impacting the jobs of tens-of-thouands of Americans — Chapter 11 bankruptcies at his Taj Mahal casino (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). (Note that the latter two came after his Apprentice fame. One wonders why he didn’t fire himself.) Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was also a financial disaster, but he was able to walk away from that one. Of those failures, Trump says, “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on 'The Apprentice.’ It’s not personal. It’s just business.”
Unless, of course, you are one of his creditors or have your pension or savings invested in one of those businesses. Many successful people have had business failures, but Trump’s “it’s just business” retort ignores the human impact.
On his religious views, Trump says: “I’m a religious person. I go to church. Do I do things that are wrong? I guess so. [Seriously, he said "I guess so.”] If I do something wrong, I try to do something right. I don’t bring God into that picture. … When we go in church and I drink the little wine … and I eat the little cracker — I guess that’s a form of asking forgiveness.“
So what exactly is the Trump appeal?
Well, as noted, it’s celebrity, simplicity and the fact he’s clearly not from the loathsome "establishment Republican” mold and brand. Much to the left of that mold, in fact.
But completely eclipsing any of his other oversimplified policy soundbites, when announcing his candidacy Trump hit a home run on an issue that is a concern for almost all grassroots conservatives and many moderates: “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems [to] us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Since that announcement, he has kept his message on illegal immigrants simple: “They’ve got to go!”
While most of the Republican field remains largely equivocal on the illegal immigration issue, as Republican congressional “leaders” have been for years, Trump is clear on his objections and solutions. In what has become his only concrete policy platform, his plan to solve the illegal immigration problem, his clear resolution to solve that perennially unsolved hot-button issue, is driving his grassroots popularity. Trump says he will dispense with the “anchor baby” problem, deport all illegal immigrants and have Mexico pay to construct a southern border wall to keep them from coming back. Notably, despite some claims to the contrary, there is precedent for mass deportation – it was Dwight Eisenhower’s Operation Wet Back. And, despite some claims to the contrary, the 14th Amendment does not have to be amended or repealed in order to address the anchor baby issue, as it does not provide anchor baby citizenship – except as wholly misinterpreted by the courts.
Of the estimated 11.3 million illegals in our country, 8.1 million hold jobs. At the same time, there were an average of 9.6 million unemployed Americans in 2014. It’s easy to understand the grassroots groundswell this issue generates for Trump.
And the recent murder of California native Kate Steinle on a pier in the “sanctuary city” of San Francisco by an illegal immigrant released once again after seven felony convictions and five deportations, rightly has stirred outrage across the nation. Her murderer is among more than a million illegal aliens who have committed crimes, some 690,000 of whom were charged with serious crimes but are today on the loose.
This, understandably, has kept Trump’s immigration platform front and center and conservatives GOP candidates better catch up if they want to compete with Trump.
On the other hand, in his unmitigated arrogance, Trump has succeeded in alienating many of the grassroots military Patriots who supported him.
Apparently forgetting that he himself was a draft dodger, Trump challenged the notion that Sen. John McCain deserves any recognition for his service in Vietnam. According to Trump, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Recall that as a naval aviator, McCain, the son and grandson of Navy admirals, asked for additional combat missions over Vietnam. After being shot down, a badly injured McCain refused his captors' propagandistic offers to leave his fellow POWs and return home — meaning he was a target for additional torture.
McCain responded brilliantly: “I think [Mr. Trump] may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country. … In the case of many of our veterans, when Mr. Trump said that he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I’m not a hero. But those who were my senior ranking officers … those that have inspired us to do things that we otherwise wouldn’t have been capable of doing, those are the people that I think he owes an apology to.”
Trump’s callous remarks fall into the “Hanoi Jane” Fonda category of slandering American POWs, and the rest of the Republican field rightly condemned Trump’s remarks.
A Wall Street Journal editorial opined, “It came slightly ahead of schedule, but Donald Trump’s inevitable self-immolation arrived on the weekend when he assailed John McCain’s war record.” But as the inimitable humorist Mark Twain once quipped, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” And so it may be with Trump’s campaign, as it continues to gain traction.
Campaigns either destroy candidates or make them stronger. It would appear that Trump’s traction is due to the latter. For sure, Trump’s campaign is a barometer of just how deeply disgusted grassroots conservatives are with the Republican Party, and it is a litmus test of what issues motivate grassroots conservatives.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson concludes, “Trump is a transitory vehicle of the fed-up crowd, a current expression of their distaste for both Democratic and Republican politics, but not an end in and of himself. The fed-up crowd is tired of being demagogued to death by progressives, who brag of ‘working across the aisle’ and ‘bipartisanship’ as they ram through agendas with executive orders, court decisions, and public ridicule. So the fed-ups want other conservative candidates to emulate Trump’s verve, energy, fearlessness of the media and the PC police, and no-holds-barred Lee Atwater style — without otherwise being Trump.
But the hard, cold fact is, at the end of the day, Trump is all about Trump, and his record of public policy support is that of a big-government tax and spend liberal, who is far to the left of those much-maligned establishment Republicans he decries. His will eventually have to answer for his perennial support of socialized healthcare, raising taxes and a plethora of social issues abhorred by grassroots conservatives.
But the real test of Trump’s legitimacy as a Republican is how he measures up against the Gold Standard of 20th century presidents, Ronald Reagan. Unlike the rest of the large Republican field, Trump doesn’t even register on the Reagan scale.
At the first Republican ”debate“ Trump held his ground with all the top-tier Republican contenders but refused to promise he would not run a third party campaign. At the second debate, Trump lost ground, looking more like he was running a "vanity campaign” than a serious contender.
So let me reiterate – when I’m asked about Donald Trump, I defer to the timeless wisdom of George Washington: “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” Fellow Patriots, Caveat Emptor! Don’t get Trumped – just tell him “You’re fired!”
And a final note, I am asked frequently, “Who would you like to see on the 2016 ballot?” My answer: Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.
(Read my latest analysis, “About Trump’s ‘New York Values.”)
Disclaimer: Two weeks ago, a column entitled “Jade Helm 15 and Conspiracy Theories” created some heartburn for those who have been sucked into the “alternate reality” occupied by frauds like Alex Jones. This week, my focus is on another alternate reality occupant, Donald Trump. Before sending hate mail, understand that I am challenging “the (faux) Donald” and not the legitimate contempt grassroots Americans hold for so-called “establishment Republicans.” My objective in both cases is to counsel thoughtful Patriots not to seek resolution for their legitimate grievances by drinking the snake oil of quack charlatans like Jones and Trump.
1 Recall if you will what happened after the last wealthy Republican billionaire, Ross Perot, threw his hat into the presidential ring back in 1992. Unlike Trump, Perot had far more statesmanlike attributes and qualifications — and, of course, charts. But the results of his third-party candidacy were disastrous for the country. In a three-way contest with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and sitting president George H.W. Bush (who had handily won his first presidential bid in 1988 against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and was riding high on the success of Desert Storm), Perot took almost 19 percent of the popular vote, leaving Bush with 37.5 percent and a victorious Clinton with a mere 43 percent plurality. Some 60 percent of Perot’s support came from Ronald Reagan’s middle-class Democrats and moderates, whom Bush had betrayed by breaking his famous “read my lips: no new taxes” pledge and by committing other regulatory assaults on middle-income families and entrepreneurs. Make no mistake: Ross Perot handed the presidency to Bill Clinton. Let’s hope Donald Trump doesn’t hand it to Hillary.
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis