Matt Lewis is yet another Never-Trump house conservative for the Left, retailing Leftist talking points that are supposed to sway conservative Trump supporters since they come from someone with such an impressive conservative pedigree. Lewis has worked for the Leadership Institute, written for Human Events and the Daily Caller, and won an award from the American Conservative Union. But all that was just a warm-up. Now young Lewis has rocketed to the big time: serving as a stooge for the Left, stirring up the hysteria and division that increasingly mars the public square today, and sniping at Trump in the Daily Beast.
Demonstrating that he has mastered the key tactic of the Left today — wild, fact-free mudslinging — Lewis writes that Trump “possessed almost all the skills a would-be Mussolini might need. He had the demagogic appeal to a cult-like following, the strongman tendencies (see his personal affinity for dictators), the attacks on democratic norms (his refusal to clearly state that he will respect the election outcome), an unhealthy disregard for the Constitution (‘Article II allows me to do whatever I want’), and a visceral ability to undermine institutions that exist to hold him accountable (‘fake news,’ ‘enemies of the people,’ etc.).”
“A cult-like following”? Lewis’ link leads to a CBS News photo gallery labeled “Extreme Donald Trump fans” and showing the president engaged in such Mussolini-like activities as getting a kiss on the cheek from an elderly woman, and his cult-like supporters showing their religious fervor by behavior such as wearing an NRA t-shirt with a “Trump: Make America Great Again” sticker affixed to it.
Those who are really worried about Trump’s “demagogic appeal” should ask themselves when was the last time they saw a massive personality cult-style poster of the president adorning a public building, a la the portraits of Mao and Xi that one sees everywhere in China. They should compare the CBS photos with old newsreel footage of the hypnotic frenzy Adolf Hitler aroused in his followers.
Does Matt Lewis himself believe this nonsense? Although he apparently hasn’t always been a Leftist, he seems to have mastered the Leftist tactic of playing fast and loose with the facts in order to elicit a visceral reaction from his audience. There is a word for that – what was it again? Oh yeah: demagoguery.
As for Trump not accepting the results of the election, Lewis ignores the fact that when Joe Biden was claiming that Trump would not leave the White House voluntarily if he lost, Trump made it clear that he would abide by the election result and leave office, saying: “Certainly, if I don’t win, I don’t win,” and that if he lost, “you go on, do other things.”
What enrages Lewis and his Leftist colleagues is that Trump is unlikely to emulate Richard Nixon and roll over for dirty tricks. Few people today remember that although Nixon was dubbed Tricky Dick and was famous for political chicanery, in what may have been the biggest heist that involved him, he was the victim. Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster recounts how the 1960 presidential election was extremely close, with Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy winning only 112,000 more popular votes than Nixon. Illinois and Texas decided the contest. Both were quite close themselves: if Nixon had won forty-seven thousand more votes in Texas (home of the notoriously crooked Democratic vice-presidential candidate Lyndon B. Johnson) and ten thousand in Illinois (where another infamous crook, Democratic machine boss and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley held sway), he would have become president. There was significant evidence that the Kennedy machine had committed voter fraud in both states, but Nixon declined to contest the election, saying that he did not wish to plunge the country into a crisis with the Cold War raging.
Nixon’s decision not to pursue the matter may have saved the nation from strife, but it also encouraged the voter fraud that has now increased to epidemic levels. Trump has denounced it and called repeatedly for safeguards to ensure that the voting process is fair and honest. If Lewis really thinks that is the behavior of an incipient dictator, he is not only a candidate to be the poster-child for conservative betrayal (a crowded field in which he will likely get beaten out by John Roberts), but for the devastating effects of the Leftist politicization of our educational system.
In light of that, Lewis is to be forgiven for accusing Trump of “an unhealthy disregard for the Constitution”; the propagandizing young turncoat may not be aware of the Tenth Amendment, which states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” After decades of federal overreach by numerous presidents of both parties, Trump has scrupulously respected that stipulation, in his handling both of the coronavirus and the Leftist riots. Numerous Democratic mayors and governors have singularly failed to deal adequately with either crisis, but the responsibility to deal with them was nevertheless theirs, and Trump has respected that.
Lewis also complains about Trump’s “visceral ability to undermine institutions that exist to hold him accountable (‘fake news,’ ‘enemies of the people,’ etc.).” Anyone who has been paying attention for the last five years should have noticed that the national establishment media went from fulsomely admiring and regularly praising President Obama to regularly and indeed continuously attacking President Trump. This is not holding either man accountable; it is manifest and obvious partisanship from deeply corrupt and compromised institutions that Lewis would still have us believe are news organizations. Does Lewis really think that it is right for the media to contain 99% negative information about the president? Does he think there is no obligation on the part of any “journalist” anywhere to explain the president’s side of the story to the American people? The state of the press would be no better if the slant were all the other way; these are propaganda outlets masquerading as news stories, and their continued hegemony over the sources of information is one of the foremost scandals of our time.
Among the antidotes Lewis recommends to make sure there is never another president like Trump is this: “We should change the law so that presidential candidates have to release their taxes.” If there were violations of the law in Trump’s taxes, the IRS would have already prosecuted him. What we need today are not for presidents to release their tax returns. What we need is some way to force elected officials to account for the wealth they amass on their modest public salaries. The richest counties in the country are around Washington, D.C. Politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden have fortunes that are far greater than could ever have been managed on their congressional and Senate salaries alone. This also is a massive scandal that Matt Lewis and the Daily Beast have never shown any sign of caring about, because they can’t pin it on the president, who is working for free.
Lewis’ argument is, in sum, dangerously disingenuous in today’s overheated climate. But that will not stop it from gaining traction among Never-Trump establishment Republicans and Leftists. As the 2020 campaign heats up, it will become increasingly incumbent upon all those who want to see America continue as a free society to arm ourselves with the truth to beat back these lies.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.