Trumpists = Clintonistas

The critics use terms such as “demagogic ideologue” with “no specific policy proposals”, while the cheerleaders say things like “savior of the country” and “America’s best hope”.

Name that candidate.

trump clinton

Yes, that’s right. As painful as it is to write, and maybe even more painful to read, I’ve come to the conclusion that all the rabid hysteria in support of Donald Trump reminds me of nothing so much as the same kind of rabid hysterical support Clinton gets from those on the Left.

In both cases, their supporters have to convince themselves that their candidate’s history is irrelevant. In Clinton’s case, a boatload of scandals, improprieties, and corruption. In Trump’s case a checkered past of being literally all over the map on the political issues, being a big monetary supporter of the “other” party, being a member of several parties other than the GOP, and always serving his own self-interest first and foremost, before any other consideration (in that respect being very Clintonian).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote my first essay on the Trump phenomenon, and I have to say that I was very surprised by the pushback I got from several fellow bloggers and web-friends whom I normally consider to be very reliable conservatives. In that essay, and the one I wrote on the night of the first GOP debate, I pointed out many of Trump’s flaws as a candidate, including his many character failings. Yet many of these people, whom I generally consider to be very level-headed, were willing to simply ignore all of this because they’d either fallen under his spell, or convinced themselves that his basic character – his nature – didn’t matter in this instance.

I remember the 1996 election cycle in which Bill Clinton ran for a second term, and how that was the first time in the modern political era that “character” became a notable issue. Since that time, it’s one the GOP and conservatives raise regularly in criticizing their opponents, but somehow, this time, in the case of Trump they’re more than willing to ignore that very same quality when the question is directed at Trump, while at the same time using it to disparage Hillary Clinton.

What is one to make of this… inconsistency?

Here’s my assessment of their characters: both are egotistical megalomaniacs with a strong sense of entitlement; both are populist ideologues – he allegedly on the Right, she clearly on the Left – who are long on populist rhetoric and short on policy specifics; both have histories of political expediency to advance their own self-interests; both have improperly exercised their personal power, at the clear expense of others and with utter disregard for the consequences to others, merely to further their personal positions and ambitions; both are cynical manipulators; both have flip-flopped on their professed positions on policy issues; and neither one is trustworthy.

According to reliable polling data (Quinnipiac) each of them enjoys broad support from their respective ends of the political spectrum, but that support is undermined by their low ratings for honesty, likeability, and trustworthiness. In other words, a mile wide and an inch deep.

Trump is the Right’s Hillary.

That’s my assessment of their characters; my opinion. Now, if you’re a Trump supporter, look deeply into your own heart of hearts, and ask yourself these questions: Am I wrong? Do you trust Trump? Is he someone you’d have over to your home for dinner? And if the answers to those questions are “No”, then how are you any different from a Clintonista?

If next November’s election night rolls around and we’re looking at a picture like the one at the top of this essay, this country is well and truly screwed.

©Brian Baker 2015

 

(Also published today at my local newspaper, The Signal: http://www.signalscv.com/section/33/article/141085/)

 

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Incrementalism: The Potential Death Of This Country…

And Its Potential Salvation

Today (10 April), Rick Santorum dropped out of the primary contest for the GOP’s presidential nomination, leaving the field clear for Romney to cinch the nomination as there are no other credible opponents left.

Those who know me know I was never particularly thrilled with any of the GOP entrants into this election’s race. Too many “moderates”; too many RINOs (Hunstman, for example); too many wing nuts (Gingrich, Paul); not enough classic Reagan conservatives (not one I can think of).

That having been said, think about what Romney’s nomination really means.

Our country is poised on the brink of national suicide due to the socialist policies proposed – and in many cases, enacted – by the leftists. How did we get here? That’s a question due some real consideration.

The seeds of modern “progressivism” were sown by Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, but they didn’t flower until FDR, and his then-radical notions of Social Security, deficit spending for the New Deal, and his other government work programs. Think about that; there was a time when Social Security was actually considered “radical”.

Now look at the kinds of programs we have that are currently under consideration, or have been enacted into law. A “healthcare” law that forces people to buy a product under threat of government penalty (Obamacare), and which effectively nationalizes the medical industry and 17% of our GDP; a national debt that exceeds our annual GDP; a “national security” law that allows the US military, on American soil, to arrest and incarcerate American citizens without trial, and effectively suspends the right of habeas corpus; all the way down to laws that dictate to us what kind of light bulbs we’re allowed to use in our own homes and what kind of bags we’re permitted to use when we go grocery shopping.

If any of these laws had been proposed 80 years ago when FDR was President, do you think there’s any chance they’d have actually been adopted? Of course not! Anyone who proposed such ideas would have been laughed out of town, if not tarred and feathered.

But 80 years of incrementalism – the constant erosion and chipping away at our rights and traditional American values and ideals – have made each and every one of them a possibility, if not an actual reality.

Clearly, I – and many like me – would have loved to have seen the GOP field a candidate around whom we could have rallied and who would have taken a strong position to reverse this devastating trend. But here’s a bit of political reality: it took us 80 years to get into this mess, and it’s very possible that the radical changes that have to take place to reverse it simply aren’t practically possible to achieve in one four- or eight-year administration. A candidate who advocated essentially burning things to the ground to return to sanity would have a hard time actually winning the election, first of all. More importantly, it took us 80 years as a society to transform into what we are now, and it’s going to take at least a couple of decades to reverse the damage in a way that won’t itself cause massive damage. Institutions, as well as individuals, are going to have to be given time to remake their own circumstances and practices to accommodate the changes we as a country have to make in order to survive the mess we’ve made of things.

And that may, in fact, mean that Romney is the right guy at the right time. No, he’s certainly not Reagan; no, he’s not an innately traditional conservative. But he is a practical guy who understands the problems we face, is a political realist, and as a successful businessman understands the economic issues at hand. He won’t burn down the house, but I think he will start the pendulum swinging back.

And let me address the “Reagan issue” for a moment. Most people forget that as Governor of California, Reagan signed some pretty “liberal” laws into effect. Yet look at how he performed as President. There’s often a big difference between being a Governor and a President: different issues; different governmental powers and functions in play; and different constituencies between a provincial state office and a national office.

It’s time to put an end to the internecine battle on the right over the nomination that’s simply giving Obama and the leftists sound bites they can distort in their campaign ads for their desperate bid to retain power.

Let’s move on.

 

© Brian Baker 2012

 

“It Was A Mistake”

Lately, Newt Gingrich has been surging in the polls, and into the top tier of GOP candidates for President. But he keeps having to answer awkward questions, and his response always seems to be the same: “It was a mistake”.

A couple of weeks ago on his TV show, Sean Hannity asked Gingrich why he sat on that couch with Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad, bleating about “climate change” (though Hannity didn’t ask it quite that way). Gingrich’s response? “It was a mistake”.

When asked why he called Paul Ryan’s budget proposal “right-wing social engineering”, his response? “It was a mistake”.

When asked why, back in 1995, he supported the idea of a government mandate that people buy health insurance, the equivalent of Obamacare, his response? “We were mistaken”.

His latest gaffe? In the GOP debate two days before Thanksgiving – a time when most people aren’t paying any attention to politics – he came out for, essentially, amnesty for illegal aliens. Yes, he tried to gussy it up, but there’s not enough lipstick in the world for that pig, as John McAmnesty learned three years ago.

What’s going to happen when people start paying attention to politics after the holidays, and he finds out how unpopular that position is? Is he going to admit another “mistake”?

How many “mistakes” does this guy get? How often does he get to be on the wrong side of the issues?

This is one of the big problems with Gingrich: he always thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, and he’s arrogant enough to think that because he is, all he has to do is make a pronouncement and everyone else is going to fall in line and follow him blindly. He’s the personification of hubris. He believes his own press releases.

I’m not even going to raise the issue of his personal baggage, other than to say that if he went on a cruise, the ship would have to tow a barge behind to load it all in.

The fact that he’s polling so well illustrates one of the big weaknesses of the GOP: they always seem to fall in love – or at least lust – with whoever is the latest Stage Door Johnny with a line of patter and some snappy responses to the press … or in this case the debate moderators. Last time it was McCain the “maverick”; this time it’s Gingrich the “tough talker”.

When are they going to learn? Are they bent on being the Perpetually Stupid Party?

I take comfort in the fact that it’s still early in the race. At this time four years ago, it looked like Giuliani had it sewed up; McCain was on the verge of dropping out; Huckabee was running strong. Look how it turned out.

The GOP still has a chance to redeem itself.

Hopefully, they won’t have to say, “It was a mistake”.

 

© Brian Baker, 2011