Nate Jackson / August 10, 2015

The Alternate-Reality TV Candidate

Of course Donald Trump just said that.

If you were one of the record 24 million Americans who tuned in to watch the Republican presidential candidates The Donald debate on Thursday night, you saw the tense exchanges between Trump and the moderators — particularly Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

Over the weekend, that tension bubbled over as Trump did what Trump does. He “called it like he sees it” and went after Kelly for what he thought were unfair questions. For the record, the moderators certainly weren’t perfect — though the question of standing behind the eventual nominee was an entirely legitimate question given Trump’s third-party rumblings, it should have been saved for last, not used to kick off the night. But to accuse Fox of undermining his candidacy is not plausible. On the contrary, the network profited quite handsomely from astronomical ratings due to his presence in the debate. Kill the Golden Goose? Hardly.

Never mind Trump’s decidedly not conservative debate remarks bragging about buying and selling favors with politicians or praising single-payer health care, the real kerfuffle surrounded his tense exchange with Kelly about his past misogynist comments.

On Friday, Trump attacked Kelly, saying, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her — wherever.”

Naturally, a firestorm ensued over whether he was referring to Kelly’s menstrual cycle. He was disinvited from the RedState Gathering and the other GOP candidates universally rebuked him.

But Trump dug in, first saying he meant “whatever,” then arguing he meant “nose” but “just got on [with my] thought.” He continued the defense, saying, “I cherish women.” Yes, all three of his wives would surely plead his case there.

“I said nothing wrong whatsoever,” he insisted. “Do you think I would make a stupid statement like that? You almost have to be sick to put that together.” Furthermore, “Only a deviant would think [I meant] anything else.”

For our part, while Trump’s remark could indeed be interpreted as meaning what nearly everyone took them to mean, we’re not sure he’s clever enough to come up with that on the fly. But then again, we might be giving him too much credit, and when you give The Donald too much credit he files for bankruptcy and you lose all your money.

He is the quintessential “shoot from the hip” kind of guy, firing off his mouth and (maybe) thinking about it later. That’s why he can say things about making the Mexicans pay to build a wall or “just taking” Middle Eastern oil. No policy thought, just off-the-cuff spouting.

But such mindless pronouncements aren’t conservative in the least. Nor is being rude, crass and an ungentlemanly pig. Which prompts some questions for Trump’s supporters (Trumpsters): Is this what “telling it like it is” looks like? Is this what “true” conservatives must support?

We in our humble shop have been actually telling it like it is since 1996 — just before Fox News launched, as a matter of fact — and yet when we tell the truth about this particular candidate, the Trumpsters who claim to want the truth told call us all sorts of names far more unpleasant than anything Trump is now under fire for saying.

But most of them won’t have read this far.

That’s unfortunate, but it’s the result of a siege mentality after years of being beat down by the Left and the GOP establishment. Many conservatives are demoralized not just by the tyrannical regime of Barack Obama but by the utter failure of the Republican establishment in Washington to do much in the way of stopping Obama’s onslaught, much less advancing conservative causes. That’s why Trump resonates. But he’s taking advantage of this disillusionment to carve up the conservative marketplace at a time when we should be united.

As The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes writes, “Those who still remain Trump supporters seem to be beyond shame. It doesn’t matter that they’re angry about the incompetence in Washington. Turning to Trump to solve the problems in Washington is like turning to an ape to fix a broken refrigerator. It’s embarrassing, but rather than embarrassment, the Trump followers will feel more anger and their pose will shift from self-righteousness to victimhood. And many of them will dig in further. More worrisome, for conservatives and for the country, so will Trump.”

Rude and boorish insults combined with vacuous policy pronouncements aren’t going to win the White House in 2016, but, more importantly, they don’t advance Liberty. And if we’re not primarily concerned with that, we might as well pack up the circus tents and go home.

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