Because my ego is invested in my intelligence (as opposed to my looks or athletic abilities), one of my least favorite feelings is realizing I was wrong about something, especially something that I made a big noise about at the time. The one thing that cuts off that shame cycle is knowing that, when I reached my original decision, I had no access to information that would have driven me to a different conclusion. With more information emerging about Trump’s political history, and with his ebullient puckishness turning into venomous hubris, I believe that now is a good time for Trump supporters to revisit their original conclusion about him and to realize, with no shame attached, that he’s not the candidate they thought he was.
When Trump first appeared on the scene as a Republican primary candidate, he was a breath of fresh air. Even I, who had never appreciated the persona he’s cultivated over the decades, enjoyed his irreverence when it came to tweaking all of the media rules favoring Progressives and demonizing conservatives.
We all know that there’s something wrong with an immigration policy that’s doing nothing to block radical Islamists who openly express their desire to attack us. Only Trump, though, stated in plain English that we need to address the problem immediately, even if it means stopping Muslim immigrants until we figure out how to separate the moderate wheat from the murderous chaff.
Those of us who are not lying to ourselves also know that the only woman Hillary supports is Hillary. When it comes to women who aren’t politically useful, she’s enabled her husband’s predatory, misogynistic sexual misbehavior for more than thirty years. Only Trump came out and like a raging bull and made sure everyone in America, young or old, conservative or progressive, understood precisely how appalling and hypocritical Hillary’s behavior has been.
As he honed his campaign, Trump was loud about conservative positions: Preserving our full rights under the Second Amendment; supporting Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, as well as a staunch American ally for decades; and stemming the tide of illegal immigrants. It therefore seemed as if the dream conservative candidate was presenting himself. Here was a man who bulldozed the political correctness that stifles independent conservative thought and who openly, and in simple language, embraced conservative positions. Based upon that information, it was eminently reasonable to support Donald Trump.
I didn’t get caught up in Trump-mania. Because of my reverence for the Constitution, I’ve never deviated from my support for Ted Cruz, who has always let the Constitution be his guide. Although less colorful and newsworthy than Trump, I knew that Cruz supported the Second Amendment, supported strong national security (although recognizing that in a changed world, America’s role as policeman needs to be revisited), opposes illegal immigration, supports Israel, etc.
Still, I couldn’t deny that Trump was making good points and, moreover, shattering the media honor guard grouped around Democrat candidates and policies. My concern, though, was that Trump apparently intended to govern by force of personality, rather than through Constitutional means. I’ve seen too much of in Obama’s presidency and hope never to see again in any American president. Cruz’s support for the constitution seems to be a bulwark against another presidential “cult of personality.”
When Trump first burst upon the scene, there wasn’t a whole lot of opposition research about him available to the public. The media encouraged his candidacy, because he was good for ratings and because they considered him un-electable — so it was in the media’s interesting, given the media’s overwhelming Progressive bias, to advance a Republican candidate they were sure would lose. They therefore gave him 25 times more coverage than the rest of the GOP field combined. That’s a lot of free advertising. The media’s enthusiasm alone was enough to get my Groucho Marx meter pinging: Because I abhor the media values, whatever they’re for, I’m against it because it must be bad for me and for America.
Conservative media also gave limited attention to Trump’s record. Those who had already dug in to support existing political figures (Rubio, Cruz, Bush, etc.), saw Trump as a noisy distraction rather than a serious candidate. As I did, they said “He’s a bunch of noise. Look at my chosen candidate who’s better.” This was a lousy argument in the face of Trump’s ability to tap into genuine conservative fears about America and to steamroll over the Progressive watchdog media.
Given the information available several months ago, if you weren’t already invested in a conservative candidate, it was reasonable to think that Trump was the answer to seven years of Obama’s efforts to turn America into another saggy, flabby semi-socialist country; to hand the Middle East over to Putin; and to tear down our national security by destroying America’s borders and having our military focus obsessively on climate change and social re-engineering.
That was then. This is now. Now the opposition research is finally coming to light, and it seems that Trump (shame on him, not shame on you) has been lying to America’s conservatives. Up until he threw himself into this election cycle, Trump was the very model of a modern elite Progressive. Let me detail his past stances for you:
Trump on party affiliation: Trump changes political parties like Will Smith’s son changes clothes — with frequent regularity and without any coherent belief system driving his decisions. When it comes to an ideological home, Trump has never demonstrated fixed principles.
Trump on political donations: It’s no secret that, over the decades, Trump has donated to both Democrats and Republicans. In 2006, he donated heavily to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, helping them retake Congress from the Republicans. Over the years, even when donating to both Democrats and Republicans, Democrats got the larger share of the wealth.
The defense I’ve heard for Trump’s bipartisan political donations (ignoring the fact that they’ve skewed Left over the years) is that he’s a businessman, and businessmen need to keep both political parties on their side. That’s a decent point — but when you’re voting for president, wouldn’t you prefer someone who was guided a bit more over the years by principle, not profit? Or let me ask you a different question: As a conservative, would you ever, under any circumstances, donate to Nancy Pelosi? If you answer “no” to that question, you need to ask yourself why you’re forgiving the same conduct in Donald Trump.
Trump on socialized medicine: Conservatives don’t like socialized medicine and they think Obamacare was a mistake. They hold to this worldview because they know a few things: (1) The only way in which government can control costs is to ration care — which is why old people in England are so often put on death pathways, which are cheaper than keeping them alive. (2) Without market competition, medical care providers can get away with murderously bad behavior, because consumers have no alternatives. (3) The preeminent WHO study claiming American care is worse than care in Europe and Asia was a con, having as its highest metric the fact that a medical system is socialized, and giving scant attention to actual outcomes. (4) Garbage in, garbage out is too often the name of the game when it comes to comparing outcomes in America versus other countries. Conservatives know that, in medicine, as in all other aspects of the economy, the free market is the surest way to achieve the best product at the lowest prices, something as true for buying medical insurance as it is for buying medical care.
But what does Donald Trump believe? It turns out that Trump supports socialized medicine, with the government as the only paying customer (using dollars it extracted from taxpayers, of course)
I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.
I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people.
The government’s gonna pay for it.
Please realize that this is an even purer from of socialized medicine than Obamacare, which has a pretense of the free market insofar as insurers are forced to provide government-controlled insurance and consumers are forced to buy that insurance or go without. Trump’s plan is as pure as Britain’s National Health Service, where everyone sees a doctor for free, but the care is abysmal and the old, the weak, and the sick are deemed too expensive to care for and therefore are left to die.
Trump on eminent domain for crony benefit: If you’ve heard the phrase “eminent domain” tossed about a bit regarding Trump, but aren’t quite sure what it is, here’s a quick primer:
Under the U.S. Constitution, the government can forcibly purchase private property for a fair price if that purchase is for the good of all (such as building a necessary road or reservoir). The United States Supreme Court, in Kelo v. City of New London, fundamentally changed traditional eminent domain principles by holding that the government can force an individual citizen to sell private property to another individual citizen for the latter’s financial benefit if the government believes that the buyer has a plan for the property that might conceivably swell the government’s coffers. Conservatives, who believe in private property rights free from government coercion, and especially free from government coercion in the service of cronyism, consider Kelo a truly evil decision.
Donald Trump likes the Kelo version of eminent domain. In a pre-Kelo era, the only thing that stopped Trump in the 1990s from using government force to seize a widow’s home so that he could build a parking lot, was a court decision holding that government could not use eminent domain to benefit a crony. Had he tried that same tactic under Kelo, the widow would have been forced to take a pittance for her house so that Trump could build his parking lot.
Trump currently professes to value eminent domain only it’s purest, constitutional form — i.e., subject to due process and providing just compensation, that the government may forcibly buy private property for the public good. Trump’s history, though, which he hasn’t disavowed, shows that he has no compunction about using government force as his private economic army.
Trump on the Iraq War: During the South Carolina debate, Trump savagely attacked Jeb Bush by claiming that George W. Bush lied to get America into war. Trump added that, presciently, he always knew that the Iraq War would be a disaster.
Ace provides a good analysis about the intemperate lack of wisdom behind Trump’s attack on Dubya, something that allies Trump with the Daily Kos crowd. Conservatives may argue about the wisdom of the Iraq War, but they don’t believe Bush lied; they believe that he made his decision on the best information available at the time. Whatever else Bush was, he wasn’t a liar.
There’s no more virtue to Trump’s claimed prescience about the war and his alleged long-standing anti-war stance. Buzzfeed couldn’t resist the chance to challenge Trump’s honesty so it did some oppo research after the South Carolina debate. It turned up information that Trump supporters couldn’t easily have known: Trump believed as early as 2000 that Iraq was working to get WMDs. Moreover, in the critical time from 2001-2004, there’s no evidence that Trump ever said a word about the wisdom of going into Iraq. Trump lied on that South Carolina stage and he slandered a good man, as well as all the people who supported that good man.
(By the way, I believe most politicians, or politician wannabes, are narcissists. The more extreme narcissists have an interesting view regarding lies: It’s not a lie if they need to say it for their own benefit. Their mind assures them that their needs create a greater truth than mere facts on the ground. This is why extreme narcissists are so good at passing lie detector tests — if they need to say something, it’s their own truth, not a lie, regardless of facts.)
One thing most conservatives agree upon, whether they’re pro-Life or pro-abortion is that Planned Parenthood carries out an inordinate number of abortions. It aborted 333,964 babies in 2011 alone, with special emphasis on aborting minority babies, something that would have made Margaret Sanger proud. Conservatives therefore believe it’s wrong for the federal government (i.e., taxpayers) to provide 45% of its funding. If the issue really is “women’s health,” there are many other women’s health clinics that provide everything short of abortion. Planned Parenthood’s insistence that it doesn’t use federal dollars to pay for abortions is meaningless. Money is fungible, after all, and the dollars it doesn’t have to spend on paying for utilities, supplies, and staff, can go to abortion services.
For more on Donald Trump’s eccentric reverence for life (which apparently encompasses only babies who will be successful), even as he supports Planned Parenthood (which aborts babies who may not be successful), here’s a good analysis.
Trump on Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump’s opponent in this race, and we can be sure that he will rip her to shreds, although he’s currently more interested in shredding Republican candidates, a circular firing squad approach to the primaries that is terribly damaging to the conservative brand. In the past, though, Trump thought highly of Hillary. MSNBC (of all places!) provides a good summary:
The Clintons attended Trump’s 2005 wedding, and the mogul donated to Clinton’s Senate campaign. So perhaps it’s not surprising that he was more positive about Clinton in the not-too-distant past.
“Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman,” he told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in March of 2012. “I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard.”
“I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her,” he added of the then-secretary of state.
In August of that year, he told Van Susteren that it would be very difficult for a Republican candidate to beat her. “If you don’t have the perfect candidate, Hillary will be president. I assume she’s going to get the nomination, it looks like that way,” he said.
“It would certainly seem Hillary’s going to get the nomination and she will be tougher to beat. Actually, she’ll be tougher to beat than President Obama in my opinion. So they need the perfect candidate,” he added.
Earlier that same year, he told Van Susteren that Clinton would have made a better president than Barack Obama. “I think she would have been a better – first of all, I think we would have had a more unified country. We wouldn’t have had a country where the Republicans hate the Democrats,” he said.
It was a standard line for Republicans at the time, who suggested Clinton was the better Democrat than Obama.
Trump’s positive remarks on Clinton came before the Benghazi terror attack in September of 2012, so it’s possible the attack changed his impression of Clinton. In October of 2013, however, Trump told Larry King he “very much” liked Bill and Hillary Clinton.
As MSNBC also notes, Trump’s never explained why he now thinks Hillary was a disaster. You and I know why she was and is a disaster. But if Trump can’t explain the reason he’s turned on her, other than his personal ambition to get to the White House himself, it’s reasonable to believe that Trump is just saying about Hillary what he thinks conservatives want to hear.
Trump on overseas labor: Trump shot to fame on the subject of immigration. His first line of attack was against the Muslims the Obama administration wants to admit, despite the fact that even the administration concedes it really can’t vet incoming immigrants for terrorist ties. Having succeeded with this stance, Trump expanded the immigration debate to say that he intends to stop illegal immigration altogether by building a wall and forcing Mexico to pay for it.
Barring the “making Mexico pay for the wall” bit, which struck me as hyperbole, I’ve long thought Trump was right to be blunt and to stop dancing around the issue of illegal immigration. A sovereign state must have control over its borders; otherwise, it’s Rome when the barbarians overwhelmed it, first by unlimited immigration, then by force of arms.
Except. . . . Except that it appears that Trump anti-immigrant stance doesn’t seem to have anything to do with protecting American workers. Sure, he can talk about immigrants taking American jobs here in America or, worse, having American jobs shipped right out of the country, but Trump has a problem that wasn’t immediately obvious when he made his speeches unless you were paying close attention to the news a few years ago: Trump’s line of clothing (and to be honest, I didn’t even know before this that he had a line of clothing) is manufactured overseas and has been for a long time. Moreover, Trump has been lying about this for a long time too, telling everyone he doesn’t ship jobs overseas when, in fact, he does.
Character matters. The whole overseas labor issue does not reflect well on Trump’s character.
Trump on Putin: Conservatives have been concerned that Barack Obama has welcomed Vlad Putin as a Middle Eastern savior. Starting with Syria, Obama basically turned the Middle East over to Putin who is using his new status there, along with the cozy relationship he’s always had with Iran, to resurrect the Cold War glories of Russian world domination. What’s freaky is that Trump views Putin the same way — as a great guy to work with, as someone who can get the job done in Syria, and as a potential ally. Really?
Trump’s stability: When his run for the White House was still something of a lark, Trump’s pugnacious style was leavened with a bit of humor and cheer. He was his media self — pushy, outspoken, but kind of goofy/funny. Am I the only one, though, who’s noticed that, since then, Trump has become darker and meaner in his attacks on his opponents?
It started with the spat with Megyn Kelly, which struck me as silly, but if Trump wanted to make war with the media . . . well, whatever. Since then, though, Trump’s increasingly in your face, vicious, and often obscene or bizarre attacks on his primary opponents strike me as worrisome.
Take, for example, Trump calling Cruz a “pussy.” Putting aside that this is a silly accusation, since Cruz is disliked by RINOs because of his willingness to stand and fight, I find it upsetting that a candidate would use a sexual insult in a national forum against anyone, let alone a fellow Republican. Talk about bringing down the tone of the event. But it’s worse than just tone. The bigger issue is whether we want as President someone who resorts to obscene school yard name-calling in a fight. It’s also no defense that Trump claims he was just echoing someone else. The words still came out of Trump’s mouth.
The South Carolina primary revealed some other cracks in the Trump facade. He didn’t look like a happy warrior when he kept saying Rubio “sweats” too much to be effective or when he went full Daily Kos and embraced the “Bush lied, people died” mantra. Instead, he looked feral and unstable.
While his South Carolina performance may have made for dynamic, albeit painful, television, I really struggled to imagine Trump in the Situation Room during a crisis or Trump engaging in delicate debates with foreign leaders regarding matters of national security. I have to agree with John Podhoretz that Trump went beyond the pale and that bodes ill for the future. Americans like a good political fighter, but Trump played the role of a a vicious, dirty, eye-scratching, liver-eating obscene one.
Life calls, so I have to wrap this post up. I’m sure there are other examples of Trump’s actual record clashing with the “candidate persona” he’s created for his latest foray into reality TV. Where I want to end this post is where I began it: Those of you who believed that Trump was the brave, truly conservative candidate we’ve been looking for made that decision based upon information readily available during the early days of the Republican primary, and it was a reasonable decision based upon that information. As more information has become available, though, I urge you to take a second look at your candidate and ask yourself if the revealed Donald Trump is the person you thought you were supporting. And if Donald Trump isn’t who you thought he was, there’s no shame in stepping back now, and taking a look at the other Republican candidates, some of whom at least have always both talked and walked like true conservatives. (Subliminal message here: Cruz, Cruz, Cruz, Cruz!)
As always, please let me know what you think.