The Trump Card — Ace of anger affirmation
By Mark Alexander
Given that his celebrity name recognition and contentious remarks have landed billionaire Donald Trump at the top of pop-presidential polls, I'm now being asked by some grassroots leaders across the nation, "What about Trump?"
First, his support reflects very little about his qualifications, but a lot about how dissatisfied a growing number of disenfranchised grassroots conservatives are with Republican "leadership." Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have, in effect, underwritten Trump's rising stardom. Despite greatly increasing the numbers of conservatives in the House and Senate in the historic "Republican Wave" elections nationwide in both 2010 and 2014, the much-loathed "establishment types" still hold the reins. They continue to marginalize or ignore the concerns of the Republican base — grassroots conservatives — and we are rightly outraged.
Second, Trump can be brash, and he brings some much-needed debate, humor and levity to an otherwise distinguished but dry quadrennial Republican presidential field. Of course, he takes himself much more seriously than I take him.
And third, he has the potential of being a spoiler in 2016 if his campaign lasts beyond 2015, because Trump, like the current White House occupant, is a textbook pathological narcissist. He will, predictably, generate a lot of damaging fratricidal attacks against genuine Republicans and conservatives, rather than focus on Democrats.
As noted by George Will, "If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different? I don't think it would be."
Unlike Barack Obama however, if Trump makes it to the 2016 primary, he will rate low single-digits because, unlike Democrats, most Republicans still have the aptitude and acuity for discernment and can distinguish between a charlatan and a genuine conservative presidential candidate. However, post-primary, this egomaniacal celebrity might refuse to throw his residual support behind the party nominee. In a close election, that could hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, assuming that enough low-information Democrat voters make this loathsome liar their nominee.
That is precisely what happened the last time a Republican billionaire entered the race when another lying Clinton was on the Democrat ticket.1
Can the nation survive four more years of Obama's failed domestic and foreign policies?
So who is Trump?
In the words of Samuel Adams, "The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men."
Let's take a look at this public man's character.
The 69-year-old was born into wealth just after World War II, the son of New York real estate mogul Fred Trump and his Scottish immigrant wife, Mary Anne. Trump attended the finest schools, though he was expelled from high school for "disciplinary violations." Like his contemporary, Bill Clinton, Trump dodged the draft with college student deferments, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and then receiving a medical draft deferment.
"I had a minor medical deferment for feet, for a bone spur of the foot, which was minor," said Trump. Minor indeed, given that he can't even recall which foot: "You'll have to look it up."
He was handed the keys to his father's company in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, amassing enormous wealth in real estate assets in the ensuing years. His worth is estimated at $4 billion today, with annual income of $250 million (Mitt Romney's entire net worth).
Trump presided over the failure of two marriages prior to his current administration.
In 1977 he married Czech immigrant Ivana Zelníčková, and they had three children. They were divorced in 1992 after Ivana discovered his affair with celebrity actress Marla Maples. He married Maples in 1993, and they had one child. They were divorced in 1999, and in 2005 he married Slovenian immigrant Melania Knauss. They have one child.
In 2003, he became host of the hit show "The Apprentice," where his fame reached new heights for yelling "You're Fired!" at contestants who fail. He even filed a trademark application for the term.
But Trump himself has presided over four major failures — Chapter 11 bankruptcies at his Taj Mahal casino (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). (Note that the latter two came after his Apprentice fame. One wonders why he didn't fire himself.) Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was also a financial disaster, but he was able to walk away from that one. Of those failures, Trump says, "I've used the laws of this country to pare debt. ... We'll have the company. We'll throw it into a chapter. We'll negotiate with the banks. We'll make a fantastic deal. You know, it's like on 'The Apprentice.' It's not personal. It's just business."
Unless, of course, you are one of his creditors or have your pension or savings invested in one of those businesses.
On his religious views, Trump says: "I'm a religious person. I go to church. Do I do things that are wrong? I guess so. [Seriously, he said "I guess so."] If I do something wrong, I try to do something right. I don't bring God into that picture. ... When we go in church and I drink the little wine ... and I eat the little cracker — I guess that's a form of asking forgiveness."
So what exactly is the Trump appeal?
Well, as noted, it's celebrity, demagoguery and the fact he's clearly not from the Republican mold and brand.
But when announcing his candidacy, Trump hit this note on an issue that is a concern for millions of grassroots Americans: "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems. Thank you. It's true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems [to] us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
While most of the Republican field appear equivocal on the illegal immigration issue, as do Republican congressional "leaders," Trump is clear on his objections, which resonates with a lot of Americans.
Of the estimated 11.3 million illegals in our country, 8.1 million hold jobs. At the same time, there were an average of 9.6 million unemployed Americans in 2014. It's easy to understand the grassroots groundswell this issue generates for Trump.
And the recent murder of California native Kate Steinle on a pier in the "sanctuary city" of San Francisco by an illegal immigrant released once again after seven felony convictions and five deportations, rightly has stirred outrage across the nation. Her murderer is among more than a million illegal aliens who have committed crimes, some 690,000 of whom were charged with serious crimes but are today on the loose.
This, understandably, has kept Trump's immigration platform front and center.
On the other hand, in his unmitigated arrogance, Trump has succeeded in alienating the handful of grassroots military Patriots who supported him.
Apparently forgetting that he himself was a draft dodger, Trump challenged the notion that Sen. John McCain deserves any recognition for his service in Vietnam. According to Trump, "He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."
Recall that as a naval aviator, McCain, the son and grandson of Navy admirals, asked for additional combat missions over Vietnam. After being shot down, a badly injured McCain refused his captors' propagandistic offers to leave his fellow POWs and return home — meaning he was a target for additional torture.
McCain responded brilliantly: "I think [Mr. Trump] may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country. ... In the case of many of our veterans, when Mr. Trump said that he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I'm not a hero. But those who were my senior ranking officers ... those that have inspired us to do things that we otherwise wouldn't have been capable of doing, those are the people that I think he owes an apology to."
Trump's callous remarks fall into the "Hanoi Jane" Fonda category of slandering American POWs, and the rest of the Republican field rightly condemned Trump's remarks.
A Wall Street Journal editorial opined, "It came slightly ahead of schedule, but Donald Trump's inevitable self-immolation arrived on the weekend when he assailed John McCain's war record."
But as the inimitable humorist Mark Twain once quipped, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." And so it may be with Trump's campaign, as it continues to gain traction.
The real significance of Trump's campaign is that it's a barometer of just how deeply disgusted grassroots conservatives are with the Republican Party, and a litmus test of what issues motivate grassroots conservatives.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson concludes, "Trump is a transitory vehicle of the fed-up crowd, a current expression of their distaste for both Democratic and Republican politics, but not an end in and of himself. The fed-up crowd is tired of being demagogued to death by progressives, who brag of 'working across the aisle' and 'bipartisanship' as they ram through agendas with executive orders, court decisions, and public ridicule. So the fed-ups want other conservative candidates to emulate Trump's verve, energy, fearlessness of the media and the PC police, and no-holds-barred Lee Atwater style — without otherwise being Trump.
But the hard, cold fact is, Trump is all about Trump, and his record of public policy support is that of a big-government tax and spend liberal, who is far to the left of those much-maligned establishment Republicans, including his support for ObamaCare, raising taxes and a plethora of social issues abhorred by grassroots conservatives.
But the real test of Trump's legitimacy as a Republican is how he measures up against the Gold Standard of 20th century presidents, Ronald Reagan. Unlike the rest of the large Republican field, Trump doesn't even register on the Reagan scale.
On August 3, the nation would have gotten its first look at Trump on stage with genuine conservatives at the Voter's First Forum in New Hampshire. However, after one of the event sponsors, the New Hampshire Union Leader, appropriately eviscerated Trump for his absurd remarks about John McCain, Trump backed out.
Charles Krauthammer laments, "This is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years … and instead all of our time is spent discussing this rodeo clown."
Shame on Dr. K. for insulting rodeo clowns!
Oh, and the short answer when I'm asked about Donald: Remember the words of George Washington: "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." Don't get Trumped. Tell him "You're fired!"
Disclaimer: Two weeks ago, a column entitled "Jade Helm 15 and Conspiracy Theories" created some heartburn for those who have been sucked into the "alternate reality" occupied by frauds like Alex Jones. This week, my focus is on another alternate reality occupant, Donald Trump. Before sending hate mail, understand that I am challenging "the (faux) Donald" and not the legitimate contempt grassroots Americans hold for so-called "establishment Republicans." My objective in both cases is to counsel thoughtful Patriots not to seek resolution for their legitimate grievances by drinking the snake oil of quack charlatans like Jones and Trump.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.