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January 20, 2016

Is Trump the Real Reagan Deal?

Trump is claiming the Reagan Legacy – and he could follow in Reagan’s political mold.

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” —George Washington, 1796

Republicans convened January 14th for a sixth debate, and it is clear that the leading candidates are now Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The most trumped-up moment of the debate was when Senator Cruz was asked by moderator and New York City-dweller Maria Bartiromo to explain his assertion that Donald Trump “embodies New York values.”

Of course, Cruz was referencing Trump’s own words from an interview with the late Tim Russert, who asked Trump about his liberal positions on gun control, partial-birth abortion, homosexual marriage and other issues. Trump told Russert that his values are different than those in other parts of the nation: “I’ve lived in New York City and Manhattan all my life so my views are different than if I lived in Iowa. … There is some different attitude in different parts of the country. You know, I was raised in New York and I grew up and worked and everything else in New York City.”

Of course, there is other evidence of Tump’s alliances with Democrats. He has not voted in a single Republican primary since 1989, according to New York voting records. And he has heaped a lot of praise on liberal policies and politicos. On the economy, Trump says, “I probably identify more as a Democrat. If you go back, it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” And he has repeated praised Hillary Clinton: “I think she’s a very, very brilliant person, and as a senator in New York, she has done a great job. Everybody loves her. … She’s really a very terrific woman.” (If the general election is a Trump/Clinton contest, she has some great Trump endorsement campaign ads to run.)

Responding to Bartiromo, Cruz said, “I think most people know exactly what ‘New York values’ are. There are many wonderful working men and women in the state of New York, but everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal…”

Cruz was right about most Americans knowing what he meant, and Trump’s only escape from his own words about his New York values was to shamelessly invoke perhaps the most catastrophic moment in our nation’s history.

When Bartiromo asked Trump to respond, he disgracefully played the 9/11 card: “[Ted] insulted a lot of people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. … Thousands of people killed. … We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.” But that is what I would expect from a brash New Yorker.

Of course, Cruz’s assertion had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack on our nation, and Trump’s response — invoking that Islamist attack and all its death and destruction — is both typical and appalling. Trump sidestepped the subject of his own words regarding liberal New York values and instead raised as a political shield the murder of 2,606 people, including 72 police officers and 343 firefighters. Democrats likewise do this with the victims of mass murders.

Predictably, no one among Trump’s fawning Leftmedia entourage has called him out on this cynical sleight-of-hand. And it’s no small irony that this crass political ploy reinforces Cruz’s reference to Trump’s “New York values.”

Rush Limbaugh conceded that many people thought the exchange was “a big Trump slam-dunk win,” but he argued, “Trump is essentially making Cruz’s point.”

Since the debate, Trump has referred to 9/11 at every campaign stop. It’s instructive to note, though, that a review of the pittance of donations from his $8 billion purse reveals not a single record of support for any of the foundations set up to assist the families of 9/11 victims.

Moreover, if general elections represent “New York values,” then what does the election of Trump’s gun-grabbing billionaire nemesis Michael Bloomberg, and his hard-left successor Bill de Blasio, say about those values? In the 2012 presidential election, more than 81% of New York City voters supported Barack Obama.

Propagating that 9/11 diversion, Trump and other New York elitists demanded that Cruz apologize.

Cruz, a champion debater at Princeton before completing his law degree at Harvard, responded accordingly:

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio have all demanded an apology. I’m happy to apologize: I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who have been let down by liberal politicians in that state … the hard working men and women who have been denied jobs… I apologize to all the pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-Second Amendment New Yorkers who were told by Governor Cuomo that ‘they have no place in New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.’ I apologize to all the small businesses that have been driven out of New York City by crushing taxes and regulations. I apologize to the millions of unborn children, many African-American and Hispanic, whose lives have been taken by politicians who relentlessly promote abortion on demand with no limitations. … I apologize to the people of faith who are ridiculed and insulted by the New York media. And I apologize to all the cops and the firefighters and 9/11 heroes who had no choice but to stand and turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio, because Mayor de Blasio over and over again stands with the looters and criminals rather than the brave men and women of the law. And to the millions of conservatives — working men and women in New York, with common sense values, trapped by the failures of your political leaders — I am glad to tell you, help is on the way!”

It would appear that the few conservatives still in New York concur with Cruz. After the debate, the influential Metropolitan Republican Club held a star poll and Cruz narrowly beat the hometown favorite.

(Of course, what also distinguishes Trump’s “values” from those of Ted Cruz is that Trump was born into wealth, privilege and elitism. Cruz comes from a heartland family of trials and very modest means.)

Notably, in his debate rebuttal to Cruz, Trump also said, “Conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley.”

Anyone who knows anything about Buckley (the godfather of modern conservatism who helped The Patriot Post launch online 20 years ago), fully understands that Trump is an affront to William F. Buckley’s legacy. That is why National Review, the magazine Buckley founded in 1955, devoted an entire edition to Trump’s defeat.

Of course Trump seems an affront to Buckley’s conservative legacy, as well as most steadfast advocates of American Liberty today — but then, Trump has never been elected to any office despite his interest in 2000, and it is possible that he would defy his own record and prove to use his presidency to swing toward [American Liberty]( After all, he trademarked President Reagan’s “Make America Great Again” slogan in 2012.

Not only did Trump “borrow” Ronald Reagan’s campaign slogan, but he is now comparing himself to President Reagan: “If you look at Ronald Reagan — and he was a Democrat with a very liberal bent, and he became a Republican with a somewhat conservative … Republican.”

Trump’s comparison is meritless based on his record, except for one point. Ronald Reagan was a “Democrat” much in the way Donald Trump has been a Democrat. Trump’s bizarre assertion to the contrary, President Reagan did not have a “very liberal bent,” and clearly he was not just a “somewhat conservative Republican.”

As Reagan said famously about his party affiliation change, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” Trump has embraced many of the statist Democrat Party policies Reagan rejected. However, this is not to say that Trump can’t come over from the dark side.

For the record, to paraphrase from another debated, “Mr. Trump – I knew Ronald Reagan. Mr. Trump, you’re no Ronald Reagan.”

But he could be…

Notably, in 1999, Trump became a major backer of Jesse Ventura and his successful campaign for Minnesota governor. Trump embraced his “outsider” model and message, running as a Reform Party candidate under the tutelage of the infamous Roger Stone. Though he received little support then, his current campaign has all the trademarks of Ventura’s model and message.

Regarding National Review, Trump responded, “The late, great, William F. Buckley would be ashamed of what had happened to his prize, the dying National Review!” If National Review is dying, it would be because demagogues like Trump have hijacked the Republican Party. For the record, in an essay on those who may be conservative pretenders, Mr. Buckley wrote, “The resistance to a corrupting demagoguery should take first priority.”

Of his followers, Trump declared, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters, okay. It’s, like, incredible.” Indeed, he is “incredible.” George Will writes of his adherents, “Many are no doubt lightly attached to the political process, preferring entertainment to affiliation. They relish in their candidate’s vituperation and share his aversion to facts.”

My analysis of his followers is less strident.

As I wrote last year in “The Trump Card — Ace of Anger Affirmation,” it is clear that “Trump’s support reflects very little about his qualifications, but a lot about his message and how dissatisfied millions of disenfranchised conservatives are with Republican ‘leadership.’ Grassroots Americans are rightly outraged.”

In her endorsement of Trump Tuesday, Sarah Palin focused on the outrage: “Right wingin’ bitter clingin’ proud clingers of our guns, our god and our religions… Enough is enough. … We are mad and we’ve been had.” (If you’re a “mad” Trump supporter now, get ready to be “had” like you’ve never been had if he is the Republican nominee.)

Limbaugh offered an assessment similar to my own regarding Trump’s angry supporters: “I think those who are with Trump [are not] with him because they think he’s conservative.”

Unfortunately, I think some do believe Trump is a conservative. However, he is at best, a card-carrying patron of the deservedly maligned “establishment Republican cartel” in Washington, which is why it’s lining up behind him, including former Republican presidential loser Bob Dole.

Here is my principal and principle concern about Donald J. Trump: He fits the profile of a deeply insecure narcissist, and they are irrevocably destructive.

Despite his “Celebrity Apprentice” persona, which is largely responsible for his name recognition going into the current primary, during his actual career, he believed that he possessed the Midas Touch – that anything he touched with his Trump brand would turn to gold. His business failures have proved him wrong.

Trump has presided over major business failures impacting the jobs of tens-of-thousands 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, but 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 one of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have part of their pension or savings invested his ventures. Many successful people have had business failures, but Trump’s “it’s just business” retort neglects to acknowledge the human impact, but such acknowledgment does not come natural to Trump.

In 2012, in what was seemingly his perennial toying with a presidential run, he generated some fluff but then endorsed Mitt Romney. But it was that year he first very publicly demonstrated his petulant intolerance of any criticism. At the 2012 White House correspondents dinner, he repeatedly did so when unable to laugh at jabs from Barack Obama related to Trump’s embrace of the “birth certificate” rat hole, down which Republicans poured much of their political capital ahead of the 2012 election. (Nicely plaid Barack!) That intolerance has emerged now with any jab at Trump by anyone of any political stripe. If he can’t shed the intolerance of constructive criticism, he will ultimately fail as a leader.

To that end, no book is more synonymous with the Trump brand and strategy than “The Art of the Deal” (1987), which Trump says is his second favorite book after the Bible. I can assure you, Trump does not subscribed to the precepts of the latter, and Christian leaders who are sucked into his narcissistic abyss, those who don’t clearly delineate between Trump’s conservative policies and Trump’s grotesque personality, do so at peril to their own integrity. Regarding his book, his ghost writer, Tony Schwartz, now says he would rename the book “The Sociopath” – again, consistent with my concern about his narcissistic pathology. Yes, many politicians demonstrate those tendencies, but Trump has perfected it.

His string of marriages to “arm candy” models, fits the narcissistic pattern. Unfortunately, if elected, his current wife, Melania Trump, will be the first First Lady to appear in widely circulated nude photos from a photo shoot assignment – in bed with another woman.

That being said, 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.”

He has kept his message on illegal immigrants simple: “They’ve got to go!” His “build the wall” has become a slogan.

So where does that leave Republicans?

Trump is now personally assailing Cruz, claiming, “[Y]ou know, everybody hates Ted [Cruz]. It’s a very tough thing. They all hate him for a lot of reasons, but they all hate him.”

Ironically, Trump is referring to the fact that his fellow “establishment Republicans” in Washington don’t like Cruz. And his assertion is amusing given that Trump reflexively calls everybody “very stupid” anytime he’s at a podium.

The greatest concern about a prospective Trump presidency is that, after working tirelessly to gain not only Republican majorities in Congress but substantial conservative representation among Republican ranks, will those conservatives be faced with an moderate in the executive branch. Trump has no proven conservative track record, but he can certainly make one! In the unlikely event he makes it to the White House, we will see.

In the meantime, Caveat Emptor.

Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

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