“The Donald”: Reigning Clown Prince of Politics

I’ll preface by stating that I’m not a member of any political party; I’m a Constitutional conservative, and if I were to be a member of any party, I suppose it would be the Tea Party, though they don’t actually have a formal “party” per se.

In this very blog, I’ve mocked and satirized Crazy Uncle Joe Biden several times as being the Clown Prince of Politics, but I think he’s now been deposed, proving the Left doesn’t have a monopoly on political lunacy.

trump2

Not very “presidential”. Is this why he wears a hat all the time now?

Exhibit A: “The Donald”, the guy with the world-class comb-over, proving one can be tacky and tasteless in appearance while at the same time exhibiting absolutely no discernible decorum or political acumen.

As George Santayana famously noted, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”, and we can see that play out right now as Trump repeats the bombastic campaign of another eccentric billionaire with delusions of grandeur, Ross Perot, the guy who’s single-handedly responsible for us ever having to say the words “President Clinton”… at least, so far.

There have been other hyperbolic populists in the last few years who have enjoyed their moment in the sun before fading out of the limelight, Chris Christie coming immediately to mind. What is it about these guys that gives them such popularity – Trump currently being the GOP candidate with the highest individual poll numbers – in spite of their political record? Christie is a Northeastern “moderate” with a very mixed record on traditional conservative principles, who famously lauded Obama. Trump’s record on political contributions actually favors Democrats, including Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton; he’s been registered as other than Republican several times over the last couple of decades, even running for President as a Reform Party candidate. He’s advocated restrictions on “assault weapons”, and increasing wait periods.

I think it’s pretty clear that Trump has virtually no chance at all of ever being elected President. In fact, if he were to somehow miraculously win, and if he tried to govern as he claims he would, he’d be either the most ineffective, or the worst, President in American history, as his “style” would be more suited to a dictator than the President of a republic.

I also think it’s instructive that many of the same people who have been criticizing Obama for years about his lack of experience before being elected President would actually support Trump, a man with even less… in fact, none at all.

So why all the hoopla? I think it’s because Trump – and Christie before him – personifies an approach to the arena that they wish was more prevalent in the legitimate candidates of their party: a willingness to be confrontational with a news media that largely and openly supports their opponents; aggressive advocacy on certain hot-button issues of the moment; and a perception of independence from vested party interests.

That last is a very key element, I believe. Sadly, the GOP of the post-Reagan era has become infamous for claiming to support traditional conservative principles, and then promptly abandoning them as working priorities as soon as they win the elections. There was a brief resurgence of conservatism during the Gingrich era, but it very quickly dissipated.

Instead, we’ve seen a constant parade of lackluster “moderate” candidates who can’t generate anyth[7] (4) enthusiasm among the conservative base of the party. In fact, on a personal note, the 2008 nomination of John McCain was the final straw that caused me to renounce my own membership in the GOP of almost 40 years.

Even at the congressional level, we’ve see that same problem as recently as last year’s election, during which the GOP candidates ran on a platform of directly confronting Obama’s policies and fiats only to promptly abandon taking any real action as soon as they took office and the majorities of both chambers of Congress.

I think Trump has been imbued with a kind of representational fantasy, just as John Wayne was perceived as a “hero” because of all his exploits in westerns and war movies, though he never served a day in uniform or heard a shot fired in anger. He represents what they want that party’s legitimate candidates to do, and be like, and support.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that the fault for Trump’s current popularity can be laid right at the doorstep of the Establishment GOP itself, for failing to comprehend the unrest among its own claimed “base”.

©Brian Baker 2015

 

UPDATE: Recently released polling data by Quinnipiac shows Trump being the worst performer of any of the current Republican candidates in a matchup in the General Election, being soundly beaten by Clinton, Biden and even self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. Not only beaten, but solidly thumped. To quote the poll: “Trump has the worst favorability rating of any Republican or Democrat”.

Read it all for yourself:  http://www.quinnipiac.edu/images/polling/us/us07302015_U645de.pdf

Second update: It looks like no less an intellectual illuminary than Thomas Sowell agrees with everything I said:  http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2015/08/04/the-trump-card-n2034124/page/full

 

 

 

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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