WASHINGTON – Filmmaker and commentator Dinesh D’Souza told PJM that President Trump and the Republican Party should consider using “detoxified” rhetoric on key issues, suggesting that Trump deliver a speech about the contributions legal immigrants have made to the U.S. to make it “really clear” that he supports them.
“I think the election reflects the strength and in some ways the vulnerability of Trump because clearly there is a large camp, an important camp, that is rallied by Trump and fired up by Trump. But there is also a camp, and some of them on the Republican side, that are a little unnerved by Trump, by his style, by his competitiveness, by this tone, and it looks like that might have hurt us in certain key seats,” D’Souza said during an interview after his speech on Saturday at the Young America’s Foundation Fall Retreat.
“So I think that Trump is, in fact, the way to go forward but it’s maybe that we need to re-examine a little bit and make a concerted effort to win over Republican-oriented voters who would be more receptive to our message if that message were a little detoxified,” he added.
D’Souza was asked if he thinks the rising federal deficit quelled enthusiasm among GOP voters who are concerned about fiscal responsibility.
“I don’t think that’s the problem, and the reason I say that is as long as the economy is growing at 4 percent, I think that we have a manageable level of debt. Now, long term, no, but in the short term, yes. I think that interestingly this election was a non-substantive election, and by that I mean symbolic issues, I think, overtook substantive issues. It wasn’t that people were really voting on the tax plan or healthcare,” he told PJM.
“Even people who benefited from the tax plan might have voted against Trump because they thought he was anti-immigrant. I do think it’s very important for Trump to make a powerful speech in favor of legal immigrants and spell out what legal immigrants have done for this country and make it really clear that the line Trump is drawing is between the legal and illegal, and that he’s not against immigrants at all,” he added.
During his speech at the event, D’Souza said Trump’s “emotional need” to attack his opponents after they criticize him is appropriate given how long Republicans have failed to respond to their Democratic critics on the national stage over the years.
“Normally that’s not a virtue, right? Your parents didn’t teach you to be that way. Your parents taught you to have self-control, pick your fights. But I’ll tell you, we’ve had a Republican Party that for 25 years has been largely populated by invertebrates and when challenged they hide, they go under the desk. And so in this environment, what normally would be a political vice, is on our side a necessary virtue, which is to say the need to punch back,” D’Souza said.
“When [Mitt Romney] steps into the arena he gets pummeled. The left turns him into Lucifer in 5 minutes. It’s the media and its power to humiliate. ‘You’re a thief, Romney. The reason you are living well is that you’ve taken money from other people. You’re ripping off the working class. You’re greedy. You are selfish.’ And Romney is explaining on the defensive, up against the wall,” he added.
D’Souza continued, “Notice this doesn’t happen to Trump. You can’t accuse Trump – ‘you have way too much money.’ Trump has more money than Romney but you can’t go, ‘hey, Trump, you have too much money’ because if you do he explains he has more money than you thought. It totally doesn’t work with this guy. He has created this certain kind of, you almost may say, Republican immunity, because see, the left loves to hit our side with the hypocrisy card. I mean, these people are the most demented ruthless perverts you will find on the planet.”
D’Souza argued that the left often attempts to “pin” some sort of “peccadillo or sin” on Republicans hoping the GOP will “knife their own guy” because they are supposed to be the “party of virtue.”
“This, by the way, is why most Republicans are terrified of the media because the media can do this because of the double standard entrenched but, again, it totally doesn’t work with Trump,” D’Souza said, adding that Stormy Daniels and alleged Russian collusion have not hurt Trump. “Trump is basically a guy flawed from a human point of view, Himalayan ego, but he is redeemed in my view by his extraordinary political bravery.”
D’Souza, a former policy advisor in the Reagan administration, said President Reagan used to go “above” the media while Trump attacks them “openly.”
“Reagan was above the fray. Trump is in the fray but by being in the fray he unnerves his opponents in a way that I haven’t actually seen any Republican do. Look at the way he’s unnerved Elizabeth Warren. Look at the way he’s unnerved Maxine Waters. Now, I agree Trump’s rhetoric is incendiary – he goes, ‘Maxine Waters is the stupidest person in America – extremely low IQ individual,’” he said.
“Elizabeth Warren runs to get her DNA test to prove that wow she really is one one-thousandth Native American. I wouldn’t be surprised if right now Maxine Waters is taking an IQ test… this is how Trump has the ability to get into people’s heads and make them crazy. And this aspect of Trump I recommend to you,” he told the young people. “You have to learn how to make the other side crazy and you have to make them crazy because if you don’t make them crazy they have the disproportion of the power and, by and large, they are pretty much determined to use it against you.”
D’Souza argued that Trump’s attacks on the media are not “authoritarian.”
“If Donald Trump were really Mussolini, he would send over some goons, they would find Acosta, the overgrown infant, they would beat him to a pulp and lock him up, but Trump doesn’t’ do that. Trump basically fires back,” he said.