Will national security finally bring warring Republicans together?
That was what was on my mind when I perused an email from Stephen Miller, Donald Trump’s national policy director, describing a roundtable on defeating radical Islamic terrorism the Trump campaign held Wednesday. It read in part:
The participants talked about improving immigration screening and standards to keep out radicals, working with moderate Muslims to foster reforms, and partnering with friendly regimes in the Middle East to stamp out ISIS. This is a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton who wants to bring in 620,000 refugees with no way to screen them…
All well and good, I thought, but nothing extraordinary there, until I scanned the list of the sixteen participants. Besides the usual Trump spokespeople—Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, General Mike Flynn—some surprising names popped up that had been critics of Donald, often severe ones. Among them were former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who once called a Trump presidency dangerous in that notorious January 2016 edition of the National Review when a boatload of conservative intellectuals ripped into the real estate tycoon as the Devil’s son; Congressman Peter King, who as recently as August 10 remonstrated with Donald for his “dumb remark” on the Second Amendment that allegedly encouraged gun owners to go after Hillary (King agreed that it didn’t really, but insisted Trump should choose his words better); and Andrew C. McCarthy, the former U. S. attorney famed for his successful prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in the 1993 first bombing of the World Trade Center.
McCarthy—now a best-selling author and columnist for the National Review and PJ Media, among other venues—had this to say on NRO about Trump after his July convention speech:
On Thursday night came the harvest: The party was formally taken over by an incoherent statist whose “conservatism” is not done justice by scare quotes. Oh… and he has trouble telling the good guys from the bad guys.
Whoa. Words like that don’t usually get you invited to the subject’s roundtable, at least without some considerable advance peacemaking. And yet there was McCarthy, sitting at Trump’s table.
Andy McCarthy has been a friend of mine for some years, so I decided to call him and pick his brain about what went down.
As it turned out, McCarthy told me, the event was not contentious at all. Bygones were apparently bygones. In fact, Trump was so cordial to him, Andy wondered whether Donald knew who he was. (I strongly suspect he did. As we all know, Trump watches The Kelly File—where McCarthy appears frequently—with some devotion.)
The meeting was quite substantive from Andy’s perspective with all agreeing that we are at war not with “terror” (a tactic) but with radical Islam (a violent ideology). A good deal of time was spent in this lawyer-rich environment on the legalisms of how to pursue that war. Congress originally authorized the use of military force against terrorists only three days days after September 11, 2001. Given the gravity of the current situation, would that need to be amended or reauthorized for a Trump administration? And if so, how? (One can assume a Hillary Clinton administration would not even go near this question. For them, fighting terror is a police problem.)
McCarthy—who said he spoke seven or eight times, quite a bit for a two-hour session—delineated three goals for the war:
- To strike down jihad wherever it arises.
- To squeeze all terror-supporting regimes (not give them millions and billions as Obama just did Iran). And:
- To rid ourselves of political correctness so we can oppose and destroy the evil doctrine of radical Islam.
Also in attendance were the newbie Trump campaign leaders: new-media mogul Stephen Bannon (now CEO) and pollster Kellyanne Conway (now campaign manager). Much has been made by the MSM and, alas, by some of Trump’s more persistent Republican critics that the candidate supposedly blew it again by announcing these promotions just after he made a well-received speech on urban policy. Of course, these same people were complaining a week before that Trump was understaffed.
So it goes in our incessantly back-biting political world where few people want to keep their eye on the ball because that ball—radical Islam—is more than a little frightening. This roundtable group convened by the Trump campaign evidently intends to keep its eye on that ball and if Republicans have any brains they will rally around them, finally rally around Trump. Because here’s the painfully obvious truth: If we don’t extinguish radical Islam, if it continues to spread throughout the world, nothing else matters. Who cares if the tax rate is 5% or 500% when you don’t have a head.
And now, in his latest speech, Trump has said “in the heat of debate” he “may have caused personal pain.” Get that? The long-awaited apology. Now let’s win!
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His most recent book is—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. You can read an excerpt here. You can see a brief interview about the book with the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal here. You can hear an interview about the book with Mark Levin here. You can order the book here.