There is no doubt that Trump is one of the more polarizing figures on the American political scene today (apart from the disastrous Obama). Some regard him as a bloviating ignoramus, others consider him a gust of fresh air in the stale and canting fug of current American politics. Some condemn him as a tyrant, others laud him as a long-overdue savior. Some dismiss him as a vulgar boor, an affront to the nice sensibilities of a soigné educated class, others regard him as a straight shooter, even if he often fires from the hip, or lip. Some see him as beneath contempt, others as above reproach. You love him or you hate him, but you cannot be indifferent to his larger-than-life presence.
For many conservatives, Trump is an uncomfortable representative of the cause. GOP stalwarts like campaign manager Pat Brady and “strategist” Rick Wilson, dispensing with mere rhetoric, call for Trump’s assassination, one-upping cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s death threat against Trump. Ed Straker at American Thinker makes no bones of his dislike of Trump, whom he dismisses as essentially a liberal democrat and a failed businessman prone to serial bankruptcies. The implication is that Trump is too volatile to be trusted. Similarly, Steve McCann, in a devastating article, points to Trump’s political vacillations over the years and questions his real identity. Andrew Klavan at PJ Media figures that Trump is a “huckster” and a “demagogue” who would “give us four more years of the same kind of lawless and mean-spirited incompetence we’ve had for the last eight.” Glenn Beck finds Trump “despicable.” The beat goes on.
Notwithstanding, Trump has his legions of supporters, some reluctant, others animated, both among intellectuals and assuredly among the common folk. “Trump is the only person in recent memory,” affirms the astute James Lewis, “who can pierce the wall of lies put up by the cartel media.…The media class are not on our side. The Donald Trumps and the truth-tellers are.” Silvio Canto, Jr. writes, “Mr. Trump has once again put a topic on the political table that no other GOP candidate would dare do…from illegal immigrants to refugees to President Clinton’s women.” Selwyn Duke contends that Trump represents an anti-establishment, unapologetic, “politically incorrect nationalism in a time of prostrate, politically correct treason.” Actress Kirstie Alley puts it succinctly: “Donald Trump, whether you like him or don’t, he’s waking this country up.” Even those teetering on the fence are coming out for Trump. Satirist E.M Cadwaladr, author of Spiders in the Sun, admits that he has “no particular love for Donald Trump”; yet Trump, “for all of his flaws, must do. He speaks his mind. He understands and acknowledges at least the plainly obvious.”
Well, nobody’s perfect. Thumbs up. Thumbs down. As many have noted, Trump’s massive self-confidence can inflate into sheer arrogance. To take just one example, Trump is on record as saying he may be able to resolve the Middle East peace process quagmire. This is pure hubris. He has not understood that no American president will ever be able to fix the Middle East mess, which will go on for generations and probably forever. His belief that Israel will need to make concessions shows that, like every president before him, he is out of his depth on this insoluble “file.” In terms of foreign policy, the Middle East is a presidential graveyard. In this respect, Trump is as fallible as the next man or woman and his judgments on certain issues might improve with a dose of shading and modesty.
In fact, Trump has shown himself capable of reconsidering some of his earlier held positions—whether out of principle or calculation is another matter. His wrestle with the amnesty question has “evolved” over the last year, from offering a path to citizenship for some illegals to building a border fence, a position apparently adopted earlier by Ted Cruz, though Trump disputes that. Another case in point is his early enthusiasm for Barack Obama, on display in his 2009 book Think Like a Champion, where The Donald, like so many others, was inspired by the election of a black man to the presidency. Obama, Trump felt, “proved that determination combined with opportunity and intelligence [could] make things happen.” Trump was flexible, smart and attentive enough to revise his precipitate ardor, to, let’s say, rethink like a champion. It now remains for Trump to walk back his denunciation of Pamela Geller and the Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, that provoked a jihadist assault on freedom of speech. And, indeed, there is more work to be done if he is to inspire greater confidence in his bona fides.
What about Trump’s two chief contenders for the Republican nomination?
I like Marco Rubio, but can’t repress a degree of skepticism. Why was he absent during congressional negotiations funding Obama’s $1.1 trillion spending bill subsidizing the president’s refugee resettlement program, sanctuary cities and the resettlement of illegal aliens? This was a resounding defeat for the Republican Party, as well as a sordid betrayal of principle. I appreciate Rubio’s passionate support of Israel and many believe, rightly or wrongly, that he has the best chance of success against the Hillary juggernaut (should it materialize), but, at bottom, I don’t quite trust him.
Ted Cruz seems to me a worthy candidate. Likewise Roger Kimball who, while praising Trump for having “raised some issues that the high and mighty dispensers of conventional wisdom would do well to ponder” and for being “an effective ice breaker,” believes it will be Cruz who leads “the troops ashore to plant the flag of America’s new aspiration.” I have no prophetic afflatus, but if Tom Cruise can carry out Mission Impossible, I suppose Ted Cruz might do so as well—thanks in large measure to his swashbuckling rival who has made the Mission more than possible.
Were I an American, I would have no choice but to vote for one of these three, but which one would receive my ballot is a decision I’m glad I don’t need to make. Each of them is infinitely better than the canailles the Democrats have to offer. Nonetheless, Trump occupies a category of his own, a unique political actor mistaken on some things, sound on others, but unafraid to speak unambiguously, to take on a corrupt and debased media establishment, and to flout the mind-stunting rules of political correctness—an aspect of temperament that renders him exceptional, as America was once exceptional, pre-Obama. Overall, it can be said that, unlike the majority of his colleagues and competitors, his brashness has been justly earned, is even refreshing. He may or may not be suitable for the presidency; it’s a Schrödinger’s Cat dilemma. But there’s no question that he is the protagonist of the hour.
Moreover, whatever one may think of him, he does not subscribe to the craven assumption that the so-called “new normal” is an admissible and dignified way to live. Trump would have no sympathy with the attitude of France’s leading anti-terrorism judge Marc Trévidic, who said that “the French had to get used to the idea that terrorism was here to stay and could not be eradicated”—a sentiment all too common among the acquiescent left.
What the emergence of Donald Trump has brought into sharp perspective is the unprecedented plight into which the U.S. has fallen, to the point at which it is now a moot question whether the nation can bootstrap itself back to its former prosperity, dignity and importance. A major shakeup is plainly called for. America desperately needs people who know how to make things work, who can bargain with the best or, for that matter, out-bargain them (cf. Iran), who are not afraid of a show of strength, and who can speak the unvarnished truth in a climate of pious and hypocritical repression. If anyone can do it, there’s at least a decent chance that the man who wrote Crippled America can—presuming he has learned from some of his former gaffes and is true to his written word. The jury is still out on this one.
As The Hill explains, Trump has caused a paradigm shift in the way the dreary electoral game is played. He has introduced something new, or at least something not seen since the time of Reagan: direct speech, articulating what he thinks and what people think, not what the polls, the handlers, the party apparatchiks and the media tell him to say. Whatever the sequel turns out to be and whether or not he is electable, if Trump had not existed, he would have had to be invented, if only for America’s political benefit.