On one of my first trips to New Hampshire in 1991, to challenge President George H.W. Bush, I ran into Sen. Eugene McCarthy.
He was returning to the scene of his ’68 triumph, when he had inflicted the first crippling wound on Lyndon Johnson.
“Pat, you don’t have to win up here, you know,” he assured me. “All you have to do is beat the point spread.”
“Beat the point spread” is a good description of what Donald Trump has to do in Monday night’s debate.
With only a year in national politics, he does not have to show a mastery of foreign and domestic policy details. Rather, he has to do what John F. Kennedy did in 1960, and what Ronald Reagan did in 1980.
He has to meet and exceed expectations, which are not terribly high. He has to convince a plurality of voters, who seem prepared to vote for him, that he’s not a terrible risk, and that he will be a president of whom they can be proud.
He has to show the country a Trump that contradicts the caricature created by those who dominate our politics, culture, and press.
The Trump on stage at Hofstra University will have 90 minutes to show that the malicious cartoon of Donald Trump is a libelous lie.
He can do it, for he did it at the Mexico City press conference with President Pena Nieto where he surprised his allies and stunned his adversaries.
Recall. Kennedy and Reagan, too, came into their debates with a crucial slice of the electorate undecided but ready to vote for them if each could relieve the voters’ anxieties about his being within reach of the button to launch a nuclear war.
Kennedy won the first debate, not because he offered more convincing arguments or more details on the issues, but because he appeared more lucid, likable, and charismatic, more mature than folks had thought. And he seemed to point to a brighter, more challenging future for which the country was prepared after Ike.
After that first debate, Americans could see JFK sitting in the Oval Office.
Reagan won his debate with Carter because his sunny disposition and demeanor and his “There you go again!” airy dismissal of Carter’s nit-picking contradicted the malevolent media-created caricatures of the Gipper as a dangerous primitive or an amiable dunce.
Even George W. Bush, who, according to most judges, did not win a single debate against Al Gore or John Kerry, came off as a levelheaded fellow who was more relatable than the inventor of the internet or the windsurfer of Cape Cod.
The winner of presidential debates is not the one who compiles the most debating points. It is the one whom the audience decides they like, and can be comfortable taking a chance on.
Trump has the same imperative and same opportunity as JFK and Reagan. For the anticipated audience, of Super Bowl size, will be there to see him, not her. He is the challenger who fills up the sports arenas with the tens and scores of thousands, not Hillary Clinton.
If she were debating John Kasich or Jeb Bush, neither the viewing audience nor the title-fight excitement of Monday night would be there. Specifically, what does Trump need to do? He needs to show that he can be presidential. He needs to speak with confidence, but not cockiness, and to deal with Clinton’s attacks directly, but with dignity and not disrespect. And humor always helps.
Clinton has a more difficult assignment.
America knows she knows the issues. But two-thirds of the country does not believe her to be honest or trustworthy. As her small crowds show, she sets no one on fire. Blacks, Hispanics, and millennials who invested high hopes in Barack Obama seem to have no great hopes for her. She has no bold agenda, no New Deal or New Frontier.
“Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?” wailed Hillary Clinton this week.
The answer is simple. America has seen enough of her and has no great desire to see any more; and she cannot change an impression hardened over 25 years—in 90 minutes.
But the country will accept her, if the only alternative is the Trump of the mainstream media’s portrayal. Hence, the strategy of the Democratic Party for the next seven weeks is obvious:
Trash Trump, take him down, make him intolerable, and we win.
No matter how she performs, though, Donald Trump can win the debate, for he is the one over whom the question marks hang. But he is also the one who can dissipate and destroy them with a presidential performance.
In that sense, this debate and this election are Trump’s to win.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
Alerting the press that he would deal with the birther issue at the opening of his new hotel, the Donald, after treating them to an hour of tributes to himself from Medal of Honor recipients, delivered.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. … President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”
The press went orbital.
“Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent” howled the headline over the lead story in the New York Times.
Its editorial called Donald Trump a “reckless, cynical bully” spreading political poison in an “absurdist presidential campaign,” adding that Trump is the “ultimate mountebank” using a “Big Lie” that “made him the darling of the wing nuts and racists” and “nativist hallucinators.”
You get the drift.
While Trump’s depiction of the birther controversy was … inexact … there was truth in it. Obama’s campaign did charge the Clinton campaign with drawing press attention to that photo of Obama in traditional Somali garb. Apparently, Sid Blumenthal did push a McClatchy bureau chief to search for Obama’s birth records in Kenya.
Tim Kaine was wailing on Sunday about how “painful” Trump’s birtherism has been to African-Americans. And Democrats and the media are pledging not to let it go, but to exploit Trump’s attempt to “delegitimize” Obama’s presidency.
These are crocodile tears. Obama gave the game away Saturday night. At the Black Caucus’s annual gala, says the Washington Post, a “beaming” Obama “gleefully” had the attendees rolling in “laughter” over Trump’s concession. “With just 124 days to go,” mocked Obama, “we got that thing resolved.”
Many news organizations will go along with the game. For many appear to be all in on Clinton’s depiction of half of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables” who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … haters.”
Yet one wonders. Do the major media understand that in their determination, bordering on desperation, to kill Trump, they are killing their credibility? And as they are losing credibility they are losing the country.
According to a new Gallup poll, distrust of the press has hit an all-time high. Half the nation’s Democrats still trust the media, but only one in three independents and one in seven Republicans, 14 percent, believe the media are truthful, honest, and fair.
When, early in his presidency, Obama jokingly referred to the White House Correspondents Association dinner as his political base, Americans now believe he was not exaggerating the case.
And the more the media vent their detestation of Trump, the more Trump’s supporters revel in their discomfort. “We love him most of all for the enemies he has made,” said backers of Grover Cleveland in 1884. Trump’s folks feel that way about the national press.
America’s media seem utterly lacking in introspection. Do they understand why so many people hate them so? Do they care? Are they so smugly self-righteous and self-regarding they cannot see?
Take the birther issue again. According to a January HuffPost/YouGov poll, an astonishing 53 percent of all Republicans, 30 percent of all independents, and even 10 percent of Democrats still believe Barack Obama was born outside the USA.
What does this say about the persuasiveness of the press?
Indeed, what does it say about the idea that universal suffrage is the best way to determine the leadership of a republic?
In 2016, America faces serious issues—a rising deficit and escalating debt, the explosion of entitlements, the resurgence of Russian power, Chinese military expansionism in the South and East China seas, North Korea’s development of nuclear missiles, and Afghanistan.
Now consider the issues that have transfixed the media this election season:
The birther issue, David Duke, the KKK, a Mexican-American judge, Black Lives Matter, white cops, the “Muslim ban,” the Battle Flag, the “alt-right,” the national anthem, Trump’s refusals to recant his blasphemies against the dogmas of political correctness, or to “apologize.”
What does the continual elevation of such issues, and the acrimony attendant to them, tell us?
America is bitterly and irreparably divided over race, ideology, faith, history, and culture, and Trump’s half of the nation rejects the modernist gospel that America’s diversity and multiculturalism are her greatest treasures.
To the contrary, Trump’s half wants secure borders, “extreme vetting” of immigrants, especially from the Mideast, and foreign and trade policies marked by an “Americanism” that seems to be an antonym for globalism.
They want America to be “great again,” and they believe she was once, and is not now.
No matter who wins in November, America is going to face a divide unseen in decades. If Donald Trump wins, he will confront a resident media more hateful than that which confronted Richard Nixon in 1968.
If Hillary Clinton wins, she will come to office distrusted and disbelieved by most of her countrymen, half of whom she has maligned either as “deplorables” or pitiful souls in need of empathy.
Not for half a century has the idea of “one nation under God, indivisible,” seemed so distant.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
Since Donald Trump said that if Vladimir Putin praised him, he would return the compliment, Republican outrage has not abated.
Arriving on Capitol Hill to repair ties between Trump and party elites, Gov. Mike Pence was taken straight to the woodshed.
John McCain told Pence that Putin was a “thug and a butcher,” and Trump’s embrace of him intolerable.
Said Lindsey Graham: “Vladimir Putin is a thug, a dictator … who has his opposition killed in the streets,” and Trump’s views bring to mind Munich.
Putin is an “authoritarian thug,” added “Little Marco” Rubio.
What causes the Republican Party to lose it whenever the name of Vladimir Putin is raised?
Putin is no Stalin, whom FDR and Harry Truman called “Good old Joe” and “Uncle Joe.” Unlike Nikita Khrushchev, he never drowned a Hungarian Revolution in blood. He did crush the Chechen secession. But what did he do there that General Sherman did not do to Atlanta when Georgia seceded from Mr. Lincoln’s Union?
Putin supported the U.S. in Afghanistan, backed our nuclear deal with Iran, and signed on to John Kerry’s plan have us ensure a cease fire in Syria and go hunting together for ISIS and al-Qaida terrorists.
Still, Putin committed “aggression” in Ukraine, we are told.
But was that really aggression, or reflexive strategic reaction?
We helped dump over a pro-Putin democratically elected regime in Kiev, and Putin acted to secure his Black Sea naval base by re-annexing Crimea, a peninsula that has belonged to Russia from Catherine the Great to Khrushchev. Great powers do such things.
When the Castros pulled Cuba out of America’s orbit, did we not decide to keep Guantanamo, and dismiss Havana’s protests?
Moscow did indeed support secessionist pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine.
But did not the U.S. launch a 78-day bombing campaign on tiny Serbia to effect a secession of its cradle province of Kosovo?
What is the great moral distinction here?
The relationship between Russia and Ukraine goes back to 500 years before Columbus. It includes an ancient common faith, a complex history, terrible suffering, and horrendous injustices—like Stalin’s starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s.
Yet, before Bush II and Obama, no president thought Moscow-Kiev quarrels were any of our business. When did they become so?
Russia is reportedly hacking into our political institutions. If so, it ought to stop. But have not our own CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, and NGOs meddled in Russia’s internal affairs for years?
Putin is a nationalist who looks out for Russia first. He also heads a nation twice the size of ours with an arsenal equal to our own, and no peace in Eurasia can be made without him.
We have to deal with him. How does it help to call him names?
And what is Putin doing in terms of repression to outmatch our NATO ally, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and our Arab ally, Egypt’s General el-Sissi?
Is Putin’s Russia more repressive than Xi Jinping’s China?
Yet, Republicans rarely use “thug” when speaking about Xi.
During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea. Cold War necessity required it.
Scores of the world’s 190-odd nations are today ruled by autocrats. How does it advance our interests or diplomacy to have congressional leaders yapping “thug” at the ruler of a nation with hundreds of nuclear warheads?
Where is the realism, the recognition of the realities of the world in which we live, that guided the policies of presidents from Ike to Reagan?
We have been told by senators like Tom Cotton that there must be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.
Fine. How does Israel regard Putin “the thug” and Putin “the butcher”?
According to foreign-policy scholar Stephen Sniegoski, when Putin first visited Israel in 2005, President Moshe Katsav hailed him as a “friend of Israel” and Ariel Sharon said he was “among brothers.”
In the last year alone, Bibi Netanyahu has gone to Moscow three times and Putin has visited Israel. The two get along wonderfully well.
On the U.N. resolution that affirmed the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine, Israel abstained. And Israel refused to join in sanctions against a friendly Russia. Russian-Israeli trade is booming.
Perhaps Bibi, who just got a windfall of $38 billion in U.S. foreign aid over the next 10 years from a Barack Obama whom he does not even like, can show the GOP how to get along better with Vlad.
Lindsey Graham says that the $38 billion for Israel is probably not enough, that Bibi will need more, and that he will be there to provide it.
Remarkable. Bibi, a buddy of Vlad, gets $38 billion from the same Republican senators who, when Donald Trump says he will repay personal compliments from Vladimir Putin, gets the McCain-Graham wet mitten across the face.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
Speaking to 1,000 of the overprivileged at an LGBT fundraiser, where the chairs ponied up $250,000 each and Barbra Streisand sang, Hillary Clinton gave New York’s social liberals what they came to hear.
“You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” smirked Clinton to cheers and laughter. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.” They are “irredeemable,” but they are “not America.”
This was no verbal slip. Clinton had invited the press in to cover the LGBT gala at Cipriani Wall Street where the cheap seats went for $1,200. And she had tried out her new lines earlier on Israeli TV:
“You can take Trump supporters and put them in two baskets.” First there are “the deplorables, the racists, and the haters, and the people who … think somehow he’s going to restore an America that no longer exists. So, just eliminate them from your thinking.”
And who might be in the other basket backing Donald Trump?
They are people, said Clinton, “who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them. … These are people we have to understand and empathize with.”
In short, Trump’s support consists of one-half xenophobes, bigots, and racists, and one-half losers we should pity.
And she is running on the slogan “Stronger Together.”
Her remarks echo those of Barack Obama in 2008 to San Francisco fat cats puzzled about those strange Pennsylvanians.
They are “bitter,” said Obama, they “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration.”
In short, Pennsylvania is a backwater of alienated Bible-banging gun nuts and bigots suspicious of outsiders and foreigners.
But who really are these folks our new class detests, sneers at, and pities? As African-Americans are 90 percent behind Clinton, it is not black folks. Nor is it Hispanics, who are solidly in the Clinton camp.
Nor would Clinton tolerate such slurs directed at Third World immigrants who are making America better by making us more diverse than that old “America that no longer exists.”
No, the folks Obama and Clinton detest, disparage, and pity are the white working- and middle-class folks Richard Nixon celebrated as Middle Americans and the Silent Majority.
They are the folks who brought America through the Depression, won World War II, and carried us through the Cold War from Truman in 1945 to victory with Ronald Reagan in 1989.
These are the Trump supporters. They reside mostly in red states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Middle Pennsylvania, and southern, plains, and mountain states that have provided a disproportionate share of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who fought and died to guarantee the freedom of plutocratic LGBT lovers to laugh at and mock them at $2,400-a-plate dinners.
Yet, there is truth in what Clinton said about eliminating “from your thinking” people who believe Trump can “restore an America that no longer exists.”
For the last chance to restore America, as Trump himself told Christian Broadcasting’s “Brody File” on Friday, September 9, is slipping away:
“I think this will be the last election if I don’t win … because you’re going to have people flowing across the border, you’re going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they’re going to be legalized and they’re going to be able to vote, and once that all happens, you can forget it.”
Politically and demographically, America is at a tipping point.
Minorities are now 40 percent of the population and will be 30 percent of the electorate in November. If past trends hold, 4 of 5 will vote for Clinton.
Meanwhile, white folks, who normally vote 60 percent Republican, will fall to 70 percent of the electorate, the lowest ever, and will decline in every subsequent presidential year.
The passing of the greatest generation and silent generation, and, soon, the baby-boom generation, is turning former red states like Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada purple, and putting crucial states like Florida and Ohio in peril.
What has happened to America is astonishing. A country 90 percent Christian after World War II has been secularized by a dictatorial Supreme Court with only feeble protest and resistance.
A nation, 90 percent of whose population traced their roots to Europe, will have been changed by mass immigration and an invasion across its Southern border into a predominantly Third World country by 2042.
What will then be left of the old America to conserve?
No wonder Clinton was so giddy at the LGBT bash. They are taking America away from the “haters,” as they look down in moral supremacy on the pitiable Middle Americans who are passing away.
But a question arises for 2017.
Why should Middle America, given what she thinks of us, render a President Hillary Clinton and her regime any more allegiance or loyalty than Colin Kaepernick renders to the America he so abhors?
Were the election held today, Hillary Clinton would probably win a clear majority of the Electoral College.
Her problem: the election is two months off.
Sixty days out, one senses she has lost momentum—the “Big Mo” of which George H.W. Bush boasted following his Iowa triumph in 1980—and her campaign is in a rut, furiously spinning its wheels.
The commander in chief forum Wednesday night should have been a showcase for the ex-secretary of state’s superior knowledge and experience.
Instead, Clinton looked like a witness before a grand jury, forced to explain her past mistakes and mishandling of classified emails at State.
“Of the two candidates,” the New York Times reported, “Mrs. Clinton faced by far the tougher and most probing questions from the moderator, Matt Lauer of NBC, and from an audience of military veterans about her use of private email, her vote authorizing the Iraq war, her hawkish foreign policy views …”
On defense most of the time, Clinton scored few points.
And with a blistering attack on Lauer, the Times all but threw in the towel and conceded that the Donald won the night.
“Moderator of Clinton-Trump Forum Fields A Storm of Criticism” was the headline as analyst Michael Grynbaum piled on:
“Mr. Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event.”
When your allies are ripping the refs, you’ve probably lost the game.
Indeed, in this dress rehearsal for the debates, Donald Trump played Trump, while Clinton was cast in the role of Mexican President Pena Nieto, who just fired the finance minister who told him to invite the Donald to Mexico City for a talk.
There are other indices suggesting the tide is turning against Clinton.
Consider the near hysteria of a media that has taken to airing charges, in echo of “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy, that Donald Trump is somehow the conscious agent of a Kremlin conspiracy.
Why? Because Trump accepts the compliments of Vladimir Putin and refuses to call the Russian ruler a “thug,” which is now apparently the mark of a statesman.
Moreover, when it comes to her strongest suit, foreign policy, before Clinton can elaborate on her vision, she is forced to answer for her blunders.
Why did she vote for the war in Iraq? Why did she push for the war in Libya that produced this hellish mess? Does she still defend her handling of the Benghazi massacre? What happened to her “reset” with Russia?
Most critically, when facing the press, which she has begun to do after eight months of stonewalling, she is invariably dragged into the morass of the private server, the lost-and-found emails, her inability to understand or abide by State Department rules on classified and secret documents, and FBI accusations of extreme carelessness and duplicity.
Then there are the steady stream of revelations about the Clinton Foundation raking in hundreds of millions from dictators and despots who did business with Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
Bill Clinton now describes himself as a “Robin Hood” of Sherwood Forest who took from the rich to give to the poor, with Hillary Clinton presumably cast in the role of Maid Marian of Goldman Sachs.
It is all too much to absorb.
To get her “message” out, Clinton has to punch it though a media filter. But many in this ferociously competitive and diverse media market today know that the way to the front page or top of the website is to find a new angle on the plethora of scandals, minor and major, surrounding Hillary and Bill.
And with thousands of emails still out there, the contents of which are known to her adversaries, she will likely have IEDs going off beneath her campaign all the way to November.
Consider the coughing fits, a repeated distraction from her message. Should they go away, no problem. But if they recur, people will rightly demand to know from a physician what is the cause.
Because of her own blunders, Clinton’s adversaries have achieved a large measure of control over how her campaign is reported.
In a sense this is like Watergate, where, no matter that Richard Nixon might be managing well a Yom Kippur War or a strategic summit in Moscow, the press and prosecutors cared only about the tapes.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s message has begun to come through—loud, clear, and consistent.
He will secure the border. He will renegotiate the trade deals that have been killing U.S. manufacturing and costing American jobs. He will be a law-and-order president who will put America first. He will keep us out of wars like Iraq. He will talk to Vladimir Putin, smash ISIS, back the cops and the vets, and rebuild the military.
Other than being the first woman president, what is the great change that Hillary Clinton offers America?
The Clinton campaign has a big, big problem.
In 1964, Phyllis Schlafly of Alton, Ill., mother of six, wrote and published a slim volume entitled A Choice Not an Echo.
Backing the candidacy of Sen. Barry Goldwater, the book was a polemic against the stranglehold the eastern liberal establishment had held on the Republican nomination for decades.
A Choice sold 3 million copies.
Schlafly went on to lead the campaign to derail the Equal Rights Amendment, which, with 35 states having ratified, was just three states short of being added to our Constitution.
Pro-ERA forces never added another state. Phyllis, who at 20 was testing weapons at a munitions plant in World War II, shot it dead.
At 92, Schlafly, the founder of Eagle Forum, has a new book out, published by Regnery. The Conservative Case for Trump, co-authored by Ed Martin of Eagle Forum and Brett Decker, argues that the Donald is an authentic conservative around whom every conservative should rally.
Yet, in making their cogent case, Schlafly and her coauthors raise questions that today bedevil the movement.
What does conservatism mean in 2016? Upon what ideas and issues, principles and policies, do conservatives still agree?
“In my father’s house there are many mansions,” the Bible tells us. So it is in the house divided that is the American Right.
Each of the chapters in The Conservative Case for Trump is devoted to Donald Trump’s stand on a major issue of the campaign. And on most of the issues selected, almost all conservatives agree.
Trump believes Antonin Scalia is the gold standard for Supreme Court justices and federal judges, and that among the indispensable cures for decrepit and failing public schools is competition from private, religious, and charter schools.
A businessman and builder, Trump has confronted the onus of federal overregulation that stifles enterprise and kills jobs. With most conservatives, he believes in a U.S. military second to none.
Some Republicans, however, part with Trump on his contempt for political correctness, his refusal to observe strictures on debate laid down by our ruling elites, and his rejection of their claims to moral authority with his airy dismissals of their demands for apologies.
Part of Trump’s populist appeal is that, by his rebellious stand, he appears to challenge the very legitimacy of the regime. Thus those most disgusted with the establishment cheer him loudest.
On immigration, Trump shares the alarm of a Middle America that sees its country being irretrievably altered by an invasion from across our border. He has no hesitancy in urging tough methods to secure the borders and send back those who disrespect our laws.
This offends the sensibilities of many Republicans. And, indeed, it contradicts a core dogma of the “conservatism” preached at the Wall Street Journal.
Years ago, when some of us first took up the border crisis, the Journal, under editorial-page editor Robert Bartley, called for a new five-word constitutional amendment—”There shall be open borders.”
The Journal anticipated John Kerry, who just told the graduating class at Northeastern University, “You are about to graduate into … a borderless world.” Is John Kerry a Wall Street Journal conservative?
Chapter two of Schafly’s book deals with Trump’s stance on the trade deals of recent decades—NAFTA, MFN for China, the South Korea deal, and the daddy of them all, the TPP.
Chapter title: “Rotten Trade Deals.” Yet, all of these trade deals had the support of the Party of Bush I and Bush II.
Trump has spoken out against crusades for democracy, nation-building abroad, and unnecessary wars—especially Iraq in 2003.
And what was the official “conservative” stand on Iraq in 2003?
William F. Buckley’s National Review attacked the libertarian and traditionalist right that opposed invading Iraq on such flimsy pretexts as “unpatriotic conservatives” who “hate their country.”
“This is a binary election,” John Bolton is quoted in Phyllis’s book. “[N]ot voting” for Trump is “functionally … a vote for Hillary.”
Yet that is where some conservative and neocon columnists, and scores of foreign-policy veterans of the GOP, and ex-Presidents Bush I and II, and 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney are heading.
Three of Trump’s rivals for the nomination—Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich—who held up their hand and pledged to support the nominee, appear about to dishonor their pledge.
But what is conservative about rendering aid and comfort to the presidential ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton?
As for the issues on where the right is split, interventionism is born of Wilson and FDR; noninterventionism is of Taft, Ike, and Reagan.
Free trade as dogma comes out of the Party of Wilson and FDR, not the Party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.
Ike sent a general to secure the border and send illegal immigrants home. Yet self-described conservatives like the Bushes and McCains join hands with the Clintons and Obamas to call for amnesty.
The Conservative Case for Trump is a splendid little book by the first lady of American Conservatism.
The Hillarycons now owe it to us to make their case.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. This column was written before Mrs. Schlafly’s death on Monday, Sept. 5.
In accepting the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto to fly to Mexico City, the Donald was taking a major risk.
Yet it was a bold and decisive move, and it paid off in what was the best day of Donald Trump’s campaign.
Standing beside Nieto, graciously complimenting him and speaking warmly of Mexico and its people, Trump looked like a president. And the Mexican president treated him like one, even as Trump restated the basic elements of his immigration policy, including the border wall.
The gnashing of teeth up at the New York Times testifies to Trump’s triumph:
“Mr. Trump has spent his entire campaign painting Mexico as a nation of rapists, drug smugglers, and trade hustlers. … But instead of chastising Mr. Trump, Mr. Pena Nieto treated him like a visiting head of state … with side-by-side lecterns and words of deferential mush.”
As I wrote in August, Trump “must convince the nation … he is an acceptable, indeed, a preferable alternative” to Hillary Clinton, whom the nation does not want.
In Mexico City, Trump did that. He reassured voters who are leaning toward him that he can be president. As for those who are apprehensive about his temperament, they saw reassurance.
For validation, one need not rely on supporters of Trump. Even Mexicans who loathe Trump are conceding his diplomatic coup.
“Trump achieved his purpose,” said journalism professor Carlos Bravo Regidor. “He looked serene, firm, presidential.” Our “humiliation is now complete,” tweeted an anchorman at Televisa.
President Nieto’s invitation to Trump “was the biggest stupidity in the history of the Mexican presidency,” said academic Jesus Silva-Herzog.
Not since Gen. Winfield Scott arrived for a visit in 1847 have Mexican elites been this upset with an American.
Jorge Ramos of Univision almost required sedation.
When Trump got back to the States, he affirmed that Mexico will be paying for the wall, even if “they don’t know it yet.”
Indeed, back on American soil, in Phoenix, the Donald doubled down. Deportations will accelerate when he takes office, beginning with felons. Sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants will face U.S. sanctions. There will be no amnesty, no legalization, no path to citizenship for those who have broken into our country. All laws will be enforced.
Trump’s stance in Mexico City and Phoenix reveals that there is no turning back. The die is cast. He is betting the election on his belief that the American people prefer his stands to Clinton’s call for amnesty.
A core principle enunciated by Trump in Phoenix appears to be a guiding light behind his immigration policy.
“Anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time Washington. … There is only one core issue in the immigration debate, and that issue is the well-being of the American people. … Nothing even comes a close second.”
The “well-being of the American people” may be the yardstick by which U.S. policies will be measured in a Trump presidency. This is also applicable to Trump’s stand on trade and foreign policy.
Do NAFTA, the WTO, MFN for China, the South Korea deal, and TPP advance the “well-being of the American people”? Or do they serve more the interests of foreign regimes and corporate elites?
Some $12 trillion in trade deficits since George H.W. Bush gives you the answer.
Which of the military interventions and foreign wars from Serbia to Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Yemen to Syria served the “well-being of the American people”?
Are the American people well-served by commitments in perpetuity to 60- and 65-year-old treaties to wage war on Russia and China on behalf of scores of nations across Eurasia, most of which have been free riders on U.S. defense for decades?
Trump’s “core issue” might be called Americanism.
Whatever the outcome of this election, these concerns are not going away. For they have arisen out of a deeply dissatisfied and angry electorate that is alienated from the elites both parties.
Indeed, alienation explains the endurance of Trump, despite his recent difficulties. Americans want change, and he alone offers it.
In the last two weeks, Trump has seen a slow rise in the polls, matched by a perceptible decline in support for Clinton. The latest Rasmussen poll now has Trump at 40, with Clinton slipping to 39.
This race is now Trump’s to win or lose. For he alone brings a fresh perspective to policies that have stood stagnant under both parties.
And Hillary Clinton? Whatever her attributes, she is uncharismatic, unexciting, greedy, wonkish, scripted, and devious, an individual you can neither fully believe nor fully trust.
Which is why the country seems to be looking, again, to Trump, to show them that they will not be making a big mistake if they elect him.
If Donald Trump can continue to show America what he did in Mexico City, that he can be presidential, he may just become president.
The debacle that is U.S. Syria policy is today on naked display.
NATO ally Turkey and U.S.-backed Arab rebels this weekend attacked our most effective allies against ISIS, the Syrian Kurds.
Earlier in August, U.S. planes threatened to shoot down Syrian planes over Hasakeh, and our Iraq-Syria war commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, issued a warning to Syria and Russia against any further air strikes around the city.
Who authorized Gen. Townsend to threaten to shoot down Syrian or Russian planes — in Syria?
When did Congress authorize an American war in Syria? Is the Constitution now inoperative?
That we are sinking into a civil war where we sometimes seem to be fighting both sides is a tribute to the fecklessness of the Barack Obama-John Kerry foreign policy and the abdication of a Congress that refuses to either name our real enemy or authorize our deepening involvement.
Our Congress appears again to have abdicated its war powers.
Consider the forces that have turned Syria into a charnel house with 400,000 dead and millions injured, maimed, and uprooted.
On the one side there is the regime of Bashar Assad and its allies — Hezbollah, Iran and Russia. Damascus buys its weapons from Moscow and has granted Russia its sole naval base in the Mediterranean. And Vladimir Putin protects his interests and stands by his friends.
To Iran, the Alawite regime of Assad is a strategic link in the Shia crescent that runs from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to South Beirut and Lebanon’s border with Israel.
If Syria falls to Sunni rebels, Islamist or democratic, that would mean a strategic loss for Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, which is why all have invested so much time, blood and treasure in this war.
If they are going to lose Syria, Assad, Iran, Hezbollah and the Russians are probably going to go down fighting. And should we decide to fight a war to take them down, we would find ourselves with such de facto allies as ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaida.
Have the hawks who want us to target Assad considered this?
The American people would never sustain such a war in the company of such allies, with its risks of escalation, to remove Assad, who, whatever we think of him, never terrorized Americans or threatened U.S. vital interests.
Years ago, Assad dismissed Obama’s demand that he surrender power, then defied Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons. He is not going to depart because some U.S. president tells him he must go.
As for the Syrian Kurds, the YPG, they have sealed much of the border with Turkey and fought their way ever closer to Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS caliphate. But what has elated the Americans has alarmed the Turks.
For the YPG not only drove ISIS out of the border towns all the way to the Euphrates; this summer, with U.S. backing, they crossed the river and seized Manbij.
Turkey’s fear is that the Syrian Kurds will link their cantons east of the Euphrates with their canton west of the river and create a statelet that could give Turkey’s Kurds a privileged sanctuary from which to pursue their 30-year struggle for independence.
If, when the war ends in Syria, the YPG is occupying all the borderlands, Ankara faces a long-term existential threat of dismemberment.
After recent terrorist attacks on his country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recognizes that ISIS is a monster with which he cannot live. Thus, this weekend, he sent tanks and Arab troops to drive ISIS out of the Syrian border town of Jarablus.
Now Turkish troops and their Arab allies are moving further south into Syria to expel the Kurds from Manbij. Joe Biden, visiting Turkey, told the Kurds to get out of Manbij and back across the river.
How does the U.S. protect its interests while avoiding a deeper involvement in this war?
First, recognize that ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are our primary enemies in Syria, not Assad or Russia. Geostrategists may be appalled, but the Donald may have gotten it right. If the Russians are willing to fight to crush ISIS, to save Assad, be our guest.
Second, oppose any removal of Assad unless and until we are certain he will not be replaced by an Islamist regime.
Third, we should assure the Turks we will keep the Kurds east of the Euphrates and not support any Kurdish nation-state that involves any secession from Turkey.
America’s best and wisest course is to stop this slaughter that is killing a thousand Syrians a week, use our forces in concert with any and all allies to annihilate the Nusra Front and ISIS, keep the Kurds and Turks apart, effect a truce if we can, and then get out. It’s not our war.
Prediction: If Hillary Clinton wins, within a year of her inauguration, she will be under investigation by a special prosecutor on charges of political corruption, thereby continuing a family tradition.
For consider what the Associated Press reported this week:
The surest way for a person with private interests to get a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, or a phone call returned by her, it seems, was to dump a bundle of cash into the Clinton Foundation.
Of 154 outsiders whom Clinton phoned or met with in her first two years at State, 85 had made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and their contributions, taken together, totaled $156 million.
Conclusion: access to Secretary of State Clinton could be bought, but it was not cheap. Forty of the 85 donors gave $100,000 or more. Twenty of those whom Clinton met with or phoned dumped in $1 million or more.
To get to the seventh floor of the Clinton State Department for a hearing for one’s plea, the cover charge was high.
Among those who got face time with Hillary Clinton were a Ukrainian oligarch and steel magnate who shipped oil pipe to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions and a Bangladeshi economist who was under investigation by his government and was eventually pressured to leave his own bank.
The stench is familiar, and all too Clintonian in character.
Recall. On his last day in office, January 20, 2001, Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon to financier-crook and fugitive from justice Marc Rich, whose wife, Denise, had contributed $450,000 to the Clinton Library.
The Clintons appear belatedly to have recognized their political peril.
Bill has promised that, if Hillary is elected, he will end his big-dog days at the foundation and stop taking checks from foreign regimes and entities, and corporate donors. Cash contributions from wealthy Americans will still be gratefully accepted.
One wonders: will Bill be writing thank-you notes for the millions that will roll in to the family foundation—on White House stationery?
By his actions, Bill is all but conceding that there is a serious conflict of interest between his foundation raking in millions that enhance the family’s prestige and sustain its travel and lifestyle, and providing its big donors with privileged access to the secretary of state.
Yet if Hillary Clinton becomes president, the scheme is unsustainable. Even the Obama-Clinton media might not be able to stomach this.
And even Clinton seems to be conceding the game is up. “I know there’s a lot of smoke, and there’s no fire,” she said in self-defense this week.
She is certainly right about the smoke.
And if, as Democratic apparatchik Steve McMahon assures us, there is “no smoking gun,” no quid pro quo, no open-and-shut case of Secretary Clinton taking official action in gratitude to a donor of the family foundation, how can we predict a special prosecutor?
Answer: we are not at the end of this scandal. We are at what Churchill called the “end of the beginning.”
Missing emails are being unearthed at State, through Freedom of Information Act requests, that are filling out the picture Clinton thought had been blotted out when her 33,000 “private” emails were erased by her lawyers.
Someone out there, Julian Assange, Russia, or the rogue websites doing all this hacking, is believed to have many more explosive emails they are preparing to drop before Election Day.
And why is Clinton is keeping her State Department calendar secret from the AP, if it does not contain meetings or calls she does not want to defend? She has defied requests, and the AP had to sue to get the schedule of her first two years at State.
Moreover, the AP story on the State Department-Clinton Foundation links was so stunning it is sure to trigger follow-up by investigative journalists who can smell a Pulitzer.
Then there are the contacts between Huma Abedin, her closest aide at State, and Doug Band at the Clinton Foundation, the go-betweens for the donor-Clinton meetings, which has opened a new avenue for investigators.
These were unearthed by Judicial Watch, which is not going away.
The number of persons of interest involved in this suppurating scandal, which has gone from an illicit server, to a panoply of Clinton lies to the public that disgusted the FBI director, to erased emails, to “pay for play,” and now deep into the Clinton Foundation continues to grow.
All that is needed now, to bring us to an independent counsel, is calls for the FBI to reopen and broaden its investigation in light of all that has been revealed since Director Comey said there was not evidence enough to recommend an indictment.
If Clinton controls the Justice Department, calls for a special prosecutor will be resisted, but only until public demand becomes too great.
For there were independent counsels called in Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the scandals that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Hillary Clinton says there is no fire. But something is causing all that smoke.
To understand John McLaughlin, it was helpful to have been a 13-year-old entering an all-boys Jesuit school in the 1950s.
For when John yelled “Wronnng” at me from his center chair of The McLaughlin Group, it hit with the same familiar finality I had heard, many times, from Jesuits at the front of the class at Gonzaga.
In that era, John was himself a Jesuit teacher at Fairfield Prep, where the black cape he wore and his authoritarian aspect had earned him from his students the nickname—Father God.
In 1970, Father John heard another calling, and, declaring himself a liberal Republican, challenged Sen. John Pastore in his home state of Rhode Island. An unamused Senator Pastore obliterated John by two-to-one.
It was right after this election, while I was vacationing in the Bahamas, that, one morning, I encountered Father John in his Bermuda shorts at a hotel newsstand on Paradise Island.
John was soon, at poolside, explaining to me why I, as a Catholic and a beneficiary of eight years of Jesuit education, had a moral obligation, a moral duty, to get him a job as a speechwriter in the Nixon White House.
Over some resistance, we succeeded, and John was soon the oracle of the shop, known to younger speechwriters as “The Rev.”
When Watergate broke, Nixon’s aide Dick Moore urged John to get out and use his speaking talents to defend the president. John was soon out on the front lawn of the White House preaching to large assemblies of writing press and TV cameras.
Dick Moore told me, “Pat, I think we’ve created a monster.”
But John was a portrait in loyalty to the embattled president.
When transcripts of the Oval Office tapes were released, containing the phrase “expletive deleted” hundreds of times, and Dr. Billy Graham was publicly scandalized, John was unfazed.
He stepped out on the White House lawn and immortalized himself by calling Richard Nixon, and I quote, “the greatest moral leader in the last third of this century.” Now that is loyalty.
When President Ford came in, John, despite his resistance, was the first man out of the White House. To raise his profile, he asked me to contact William F. Buckley Jr. and get him on as a guest on Firing Line.
I wrote Buckley, and got back a letter that read in its entirety, “Dear Patrick: Intending no disrespect, who is the Rev. John J. McLaughlin, S. J.? Cordially, Bill.”
As it would have crushed John, I did not show him the letter, until he became famous. As he soon did.
John achieved a niche in the pantheon of television journalism when, in 1982, he launched The McLaughlin Group. As one of the initial panelists, I was joined by Bob Novak of the perpetual scowl, known to colleagues as “The Prince of Darkness,” Jack Germond, and Mort Kondracke.
Soon Eleanor Clift was aboard, and far from being discriminated against as a woman, she was treated every bit as badly as the rest of us.
The McLaughlin Group was a media controversy and a sensation from the first of its 34 years. President Reagan was a regular viewer.
It was balanced between left and right. Panelists were told to bring opinions as well as facts. John welcomed disagreement. And rather than confine the issues to the political, he introduced ideological, cultural, social, and even moral issues.
John selected the topics and the tape to be used, edited his own copy, and ran the show like a ringmaster at a circus—to which the Group was sometimes compared.
And he introduced new features. Predictions at the end of each show. Annual awards shows. I loved it. It was great, great fun.
Some journalists sniffed in disparagement, but others, like Fred Barnes, Clarence Page, Michael Barone, Tony Blankley, Mort Zuckerman, and Tom Rogan became regulars.
And John was loyal. When I took a leave of absence to go into the Reagan White House, then requested three more leaves to pursue private endeavors in the 1990s, which did not pan out, John, after leaving me in the penalty box for a while, always brought me back to the beadle’s chair.
At the end, we could see how badly John was failing. But, unlike Maritza, who took wonderful care of him, we did not know how much he was suffering, or the nature of the illness that was taking his life. That he soldiered on in the job he loved for so long is a testament to the courage and character of the man. He persevered.
John and I loved to banter about our favorites poets like T.S. Eliot and recite to each other Latin passages we had learned in school and the Old Church. And in writing this eulogy the words of the poet Catullus, to his brother, came to mind:
Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.
And forever, brother, hail and farewell.
This eulogy was delivered Saturday, August 20, in the Basilica at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
“I did it my way,” crooned Sinatra.
Donald Trump is echoing Ol’ Blue Eyes with the latest additions to his staff. Should he lose, he prefers to go down to defeat as Donald Trump, and not as some synthetic creation of campaign consultants.
“I am who I am,” Trump told a Wisconsin TV station, “It’s me. I don’t want to change. … I don’t want to pivot. … If you start pivoting, you are not being honest with people.”
The remarks recall the San Francisco Cow Palace where an astonished Republican, on hearing the candidate speak out in favor of “extremism in the defense of liberty,” blurted out, “My God, he’s going to run as Barry Goldwater!”
And so he did. And Goldwater is remembered and revered by many who have long forgotten all the trimmers of both parties who tailored their convictions to suit the times, and lost.
Trump believes populism and nationalism are the future of America, and wants to keep saying so. Nor is this stance inconsistent with recapturing the ground lost in the weeks since he was running even with Hillary Clinton.
The twin imperatives for the Trump campaign are simple ones.
They must recreate in the public mind that Hillary Clinton who 56 percent of the nation thought should have been indicted for lying in the server scandal, and who two-thirds of the nation said was dishonest or untrustworthy.
Second, Trump must convince the country, as he had almost done by Cleveland, that he is an acceptable, indeed a preferable, alternative.
While the assignment is simple, as Ronald Reagan reminded us, there may be simple answers, but there are no easy ones.
What is the case against Clinton his campaign must make?
She is a political opportunist who voted for a war in Iraq, in which she did not believe, that proved ruinous for her country. As secretary of state, she pushed for the overthrow and celebrated the assassination of a Libyan dictator, resulting in a North African haven for al-Qaida and ISIS.
Her reset with Russia was a diplomatic joke.
Her incompetence led to the death of a U.S. ambassador and three brave Americans in Benghazi, and she subsequently lied to the families of the dead heroes about why they had died.
Her statements about her server and emails were so perjurious they almost caused FBI Director James Comey to throw up in public.
She speaks of Bill, Chelsea, and herself as leaving the White House in 2001 in roughly the same conditions of immiseration that the Joads left Dust Bowl Oklahoma in The Grapes of Wrath.
But on leaving State, Hillary Clinton was pulling down $225,000 a pop for 20-minute speeches to Goldman Sachs. It’s a long way, baby, from her Children’s Defense Fund days, the recalling of which almost caused Bill Clinton to lose it and break down sobbing at the Philly convention.
What America has in Hillary Clinton is a potential president with the charisma but not the competence of Angela Merkel, and the ethics of Dilma Rousseff.
However, here is the problem for the Trump campaign.
While exposing the Clinton character and record is essential, among the primary rules of presidential politics is that you do not use your candidate to do the wet work.
Eisenhower had Vice President Nixon do it for him. President Nixon had Vice President Agnew, who was good at it, and enjoyed it.
Yet, still, on the mega-issue, America’s desire for change, and on specific issues, Trump holds something close to a full house.
The country wants the border secured and immigration vetting toughened to keep out the kind of terrorists who committed the atrocity in San Bernardino.
The country wants an end to the trade deficits with China and the endless export of U.S. factories and manufacturing jobs.
On Americanism versus globalism, the country is with Trump. On an America First foreign policy that keeps us out of trillion-dollar, no-win Middle East wars, the country is with Trump.
On Teddy Roosevelt’s “Speak softly, and carry a big stick,” Ike’s “Peace through strength,” and JFK’s “Let us never fear to negotiate,” the country is with Trump.
Americans may not love Vladimir Putin, but they do not wish to go to war with Russia, which we avoided in half a century of Cold War.
Americans do not want to go nation-building abroad, but to start the nation-building at home. On coming down with both feet on rioters, looters, arsonists, and Black Lives Matter haters who call cops “pigs,” America is all in with Donald Trump.
As for going after Clinton, the media hysteria surrounding the Donald’s new hire, Steve Bannon of Breitbart News, suggests that this may be a fellow who is not without redeeming social value.
Moreover, outside events could conspire against Clinton.
The coming economic news—we had 1 percent growth in the first half of 2016—could cause a second look at Trumponomics. And whoever is out there strategically dropping Democratic emails may be readying an October surprise for Hillary Clinton, a massive document dump that buries her.
As Yogi Berra reminded us, the game “ain’t over, till it’s over.”
On September 30, the end of fiscal year 2016, the national debt is projected to reach $19.3 trillion.
With spending on the four biggest budget items—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense—rising, and GDP growing at 1 percent, future deficits will exceed this year’s projected $600 billion.
National bankruptcy, then, is among the existential threats to the republic, the prospect that we will find ourselves in the not-too-distant future in the same boat with Greece, Puerto Rico, and Illinois.
Yet, we drift toward the falls, with the issue not debated.
Ernest Hemingway reminded us of how nations escape quagmires of debt: “The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”
“Debauching the currency,” Lenin’s depiction, is the way we will probably destroy the debt monster.
Hemingway’s second option, war, appears to be the preferred option of the war chiefs of the Beltway’s think-tank archipelago, who see in any Putin move in the Baltic or Black Sea casus belli.
What our Cold War leaders kept ever in mind, and our War Party scribblers never learned, is the lesson British historian A.J.P. Taylor discovered from studying the Thirty Years War of 1914–1945:
“Though the object of being a Great Power is to be able to fight a Great War, the only way of remaining a Great Power is not to fight one.”
Another existential threat, if Western man still sees himself as the custodian of the world’s greatest civilization, and one yet worth preserving, is the Third-Worldization of the West.
The threat emanates from two factors: The demographic death of the native-born of all Western nations by century’s end, given their fertility rates, and the seemingly endless invasion of the West from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Concerning the demographic decline and displacement of Western man by peoples of other creeds, cultures, countries, continents, and civilizations, there is an ideological clash within the West.
Some among our elites are rhapsodic at the change. Worshiping at the altars of diversity and equality, they see acquiescing in the invasion of their own countries as a mark of moral superiority.
Angela Merkel speaks for them, or did, up to a while ago.
To those who believe diversity—racial, ethnic, religious, cultural—is to be cherished and embraced, resistance to demographic change in the West is seen as a mark of moral retardation.
Opponents of immigration are hence subjects of abuse—labeled “racists,” “xenophobes,” “fascists,” “Nazis,” and other terms of odium in the rich vocabulary of Progressive hatred.
Yet, opposition to the invasion from across the Med and the Rio Grande is not only propelling the Trump movement but generating rightist parties and movements across the Old Continent.
It is hard to see how this crisis resolves itself peacefully.
For the hundreds of millions living in Third World tyranny and misery are growing, as is their willingness to risk their lives to reach Europe. And national resistance is not going to dissipate as the illegal immigrants and refugees come in growing numbers.
What the resisters see as imperiled is what they treasure most, their countries, cultures, way of life and the future they wish to leave their children. These are things for which men have always fought.
And, in America, is diversity leading to greater unity, or to greater rancor, separatism, and disintegration? Did anyone imagine that, 50 years after the civil-rights laws, we would still be having long hot summers in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Milwaukee?
The crisis that South Carolina statesman John C. Calhoun had posthumously predicted in his “Disquisition on Government” has also come to pass.
The country would divide into two parties, Calhoun said. One would be the party of those who pay the taxes to government, the other the party of those who consume the benefits of government.
The taxpayers’ party would engage in constant clashes with the party of the tax-consumers.
In 2013, the top 1 percent of Americans in income paid 38 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 50 percent of income-earners, half the nation, paid only 3 percent of all income taxes.
A question logically follows: If one belongs to that third of the nation that pays no income taxes but receives copious benefits, why would you vote for a party that will cut taxes you don’t pay, but take away benefits you do receive?
Traditional Republican platforms ask half the country to vote against its economic interests. As a long-term political strategy, that is not too promising.
During the New Deal, FDR’s aide Harold Ickes declared in what became party dogma, “We shall tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect.”
And so they did, and so they do. But this is a game that cannot go on forever.
For, as John Adams reminded us, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged,” Donald Trump told voters in Ohio and Sean Hannity on Fox News. And that hit a nerve.
“Dangerous,” “toxic,” came the recoil from the media.
Trump is threatening to “delegitimize” the election results of 2016.
Well, if that is what Trump is trying to do, he has no small point. For consider what 2016 promised and what it appears about to deliver.
This longest of election cycles has rightly been called the Year of the Outsider. It was a year that saw a mighty surge of economic populism and patriotism, a year when a 74-year-old Socialist senator set primaries ablaze with mammoth crowds that dwarfed those of Hillary Clinton.
It was the year that a non-politician, Donald Trump, swept Republican primaries in an historic turnout, with his nearest rival an ostracized maverick in his own Republican caucus, Senator Ted Cruz.
More than a dozen Republican rivals, described as the strongest GOP field since 1980, were sent packing. This was the year Americans rose up to pull down the establishment in a peaceful storming of the American Bastille.
But if it ends with a Clintonite restoration and a ratification of the same old Beltway policies, would that not suggest there is something fraudulent about American democracy, something rotten in the state?
If 2016 taught us anything, it is that if the establishment’s hegemony is imperiled, it will come together in ferocious solidarity — for the preservation of their perks, privileges and power.
All the elements of that establishment — corporate, cultural, political, media — are today issuing an ultimatum to Middle America:
Trump is unacceptable.
Instructions are going out to Republican leaders that either they dump Trump, or they will cease to be seen as morally fit partners in power.
It testifies to the character of Republican elites that some are seeking ways to carry out these instructions, though this would mean invalidating and aborting the democratic process that produced Trump.
But what is a repudiated establishment doing issuing orders to anyone?
Why is it not Middle America issuing the demands, rather than the other way around?
Specifically, the Republican electorate should tell its discredited and rejected ruling class: If we cannot get rid of you at the ballot box, then tell us how, peacefully and democratically, we can be rid of you?
You want Trump out? How do we get you out?
The Czechs had their Prague Spring. The Tunisians and Egyptians their Arab Spring. When do we have our American Spring?
The Brits had their “Brexit,” and declared independence of an arrogant superstate in Brussels. How do we liberate ourselves from a Beltway superstate that is more powerful and resistant to democratic change?
Our CIA, NGOs and National Endowment for Democracy all beaver away for “regime change” in faraway lands whose rulers displease us.
How do we effect “regime change” here at home?
Donald Trump’s success, despite the near-universal hostility of the media, even much of the conservative media, was due in large part to the public’s response to the issues he raised.
He called for sending illegal immigrants back home, for securing America’s borders, for no amnesty. He called for an America First foreign policy to keep us out of wars that have done little but bleed and bankrupt us.
He called for an economic policy where the Americanism of the people replaces the globalism of the transnational elites and their K Street lobbyists and congressional water carriers.
He denounced NAFTA, and the trade deals and trade deficits with China, and called for rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
By campaign’s end, he had won the argument on trade, as Hillary Clinton was agreeing on TPP and confessing to second thoughts on NAFTA.
But if TPP is revived at the insistence of the oligarchs of Wall Street, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — backed by conscript editorial writers for newspapers that rely on ad dollars — what do elections really mean anymore?
And if, as the polls show we might, we get Clinton — and TPP, and amnesty, and endless migrations of Third World peoples who consume more tax dollars than they generate, and who will soon swamp the Republicans’ coalition — what was 2016 all about?
Would this really be what a majority of Americans voted for in this most exciting of presidential races?
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy.
The 1960s and early 1970s were a time of social revolution in America, and President Nixon, by ending the draft and ending the Vietnam war, presided over what one columnist called the “cooling of America.”
But if Hillary Clinton takes power, and continues America on her present course, which a majority of Americans rejected in the primaries, there is going to be a bad moon rising.
And the new protesters in the streets will not be overprivileged children from Ivy League campuses.
“Isolationists must not prevail in this new debate over foreign policy,” warns Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “The consequences of a lasting American retreat from the world would be dire.”
To make his case against the “Isolationist Temptation,” Haass creates a caricature, a cartoon, of America First patriots, then thunders that we cannot become “a giant gated community.”
Understandably, Haass is upset. For the CFR has lost the country.
Why? It colluded in the blunders that have bled and near bankrupted America and that cost this country its unrivaled global preeminence at the end of the Cold War.
No, it was not “isolationists” who failed America. None came near to power. The guilty parties are the CFR crowd and their neocon collaborators, and liberal interventionists who set off to play empire after the Cold War and create a New World Order with themselves as Masters of the Universe.
Consider just a few of the decisions taken in those years that most Americans wish we could take back.
After the Soviet Union withdrew the Red Army from Europe and split into 15 nations, and Russia held out its hand to us, we slapped it away and rolled NATO right up onto her front porch.
Enraged Russians turned to a man who would restore respect for their country. Did we think they would just sit there and take it?
How did bringing Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into NATO make America stronger, safer and more secure? For it has surely moved us closer to a military clash with a nuclear power.
In 2014, with John McCain and U.S. diplomats cheering them on, mobs in Independence Square overthrew a pro-Russian government in Kiev that had been democratically elected and installed a pro-NATO regime.
Putin’s response: Secure Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol by retaking Crimea, and support pro-Russian Ukrainians in Luhansk and Donetsk who preferred secession to submission to U.S. puppets.
Fortunately, our interventionists failed to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Had they succeeded, we almost surely would have been in a shooting war with Russia by now.
Would that have made us stronger, safer, more secure?
After the attack on 9/11, George W. Bush, with the nation and world behind him, took us into Afghanistan to eradicate the nest of al-Qaida killers.
After having annihilated some and scattered the rest, however, Bush decided to stick around and convert this wild land of Pashtuns, Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks into another Iowa.
Fifteen years later, we are still there.
And the day we leave, the Taliban will return, undo all we have done, and butcher those who cooperated with the Americans.
If we had to do it over, would we have sent a U.S. army and civilian corps to make Afghanistan look more like us?
Bush then invaded Iraq, overthrew Saddam, purged the Baath Party, and disbanded the Iraqi army. Result: A ruined, sundered nation with a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad, ISIS occupying Mosul, Kurds seceding, and endless U.S. involvement in this second-longest of American wars.
Most Americans now believe Iraq was a bloody trillion-dollar mistake, the consequences of which will be with us for decades.
With a rebel uprising against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. aided the rebels. Now, 400,000 Syrians are dead, half the country is uprooted, millions are in exile, and the Damascus regime, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, is holding on after five years.
Meanwhile, we cannot even decide whether we want Assad to survive or fall, since we do not know who rises when he falls.
Anyone still think it was a good idea to plunge into Syria in support of the rebels? Anyone still think it was a good idea to back Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has decimated that country and threatens the survival of millions?
Anyone still think it was a good idea to attack Libya and take down Moammar Gadhafi, now that ISIS and other Islamists and rival regimes are fighting over the carcass of that tormented land?
“The Middle East is arguably the most salient example of what happens when the U.S. pulls back,” writes Haass.
To the CFR, the problem is not that we plunged headlong into this maelstrom of tyranny, tribalism and terrorism, but that we have tried to extricate ourselves.
Hints that America might leave the Middle East, says Haass, have “contributed greatly to instability in the region.”
So, must we stay indefinitely?
To the CFR, America’s role in the world is to corral Russia, defend Europe, contain China, isolate Iran, deter North Korea, and battle al-Qaida and ISIS wherever they may be, bleeding our country’s military.
Nor is that all. We are also to convert Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan into pro-Western preferably democratic countries, and embrace “free trade,” accepting the imported merchandise of all mankind, even if that means endless $800 billion trade deficits, bleeding our country’s economy.
Otherwise, you are just an isolationist.
At stake in 2016 is the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, and, possibly, control of the House of Representatives.
Hence, Republicans have a decision to make.
Will they set aside political and personal feuds and come together to win in November, after which they can fight over the future of the party, and the country?
Or will they split apart, settling scores now, lose it all, and, then, after November, begin a battle to allocate blame for a historic defeat that will leave wounds that will never heal?
Republicans have been here before.
After the crushing defeat of 1964, Govs. Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, and William Scranton, whose principles required them to abandon Barry Goldwater, discovered that, when the cheering of the press stopped, they carried the mark of Cain.
As national leaders, they were finished.
Richard Nixon, who had lost to JFK, lost to Gov. Pat Brown, quit politics, and moved to New York to practice law, took off two months in 1964 to campaign for Barry Goldwater.
Four years later, with Barry’s backing, Nixon was rewarded with the party’s nomination, and the presidency.
Now, between Goldwater and Trump there are great differences. A relevant one is this: Trump still has a chance of becoming president.
In August 1964, Barry was 36 points behind LBJ. As of today, Trump is 10 points behind Clinton. From Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush, many presidential candidates have been able to close a 10-point gap and win.
What does Trump need to do? In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Keep your eyes on the prize”—the presidency. And between Trump and the presidency today stands not Paul Ryan, but Hillary Clinton.
The Donald, his campaign, and the party need to cease attacking one another to the elation of a hostile media, and redirect all their fire on the sole obstacle between them and a Republican sweep.
Nor is it all that complex or difficult a task.
For, as secretary of state, Clinton made a compelling case for her being ranked as about the worst in American history.
She began her tenure by breaking State Department rules and setting up a private email server in her home. She compromised U.S. national security, setting off a criminal investigation that ended with the director of the FBI virtually accusing her of lying about everything she told the country about her misconduct.
As of mid-July, 56 percent of Americans thought the Democratic nominee should have been indicted.
She is a compulsive fabricator, telling a harrowing story about running under sniper fire across the tarmac of some Balkan airfield until TV footage showed her accepting a bouquet from a little girl.
Her “reset” with Russia was brushed aside by Vladimir Putin. Spurned, she now compares him to Hitler. Is this the temperament America wants in the First Diplomat, in dealing with nuclear powers?
She was a cheerleader for a war in Libya that left that nation a hellhole of terrorism, requiring another war to clean up.
“Benghazi” has today become a synonym both for the selfless heroism of American warriors, and for the squalid mendacity of politicians desperate to cover their fannies. Clinton is in there with the latter, accused of misleading families of the fallen about why their sons died.
Twenty years ago, the New York Times‘ William Safire called Clinton a “congenital liar.” Has her subsequent career disproven or validated that judgment?
Trump, though, needs to make the case not only against her, but for himself, and for the ideas that vaulted him to victory in the primaries that brought out millions of new voters.
What are they?
Trump will secure the southern border and halt the invasion of illegal immigrants.
He will throw out the Obama tax and trade policies that have betrayed American workers and bled us of our manufacturing power. In all future trade deals, Americanism will replace globalism as our guiding light.
Where Clinton regards Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her model Supreme Court justice, Trump’s nominees will be in the tradition of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“America First” will be the polestar in foreign policy. Cold War commitments dating to the 1950s, to fight wars for freeloader nations, will all be reviewed. Allies will start standing on their own feet and paying their fair share of the cost of their own defense.
As for the defense of the United States, Peace Through Strength, the Eisenhower policy, will be the Trump policy. And as our strength is restored, Trump will, like Ike, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I, negotiate with enemies and adversaries from a position of strength. But we will negotiate.
America’s era of endless wars—is coming to an end.
Where Clinton will continue all of the policies that produced the unacceptable present, we will change Washington as it has not been changed since Ronald Reagan rode in from the West.
As for the renegade and cut-and-run Republicans who just won’t come home, as they say at Motel 6, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
With Democrats howling that Vladimir Putin hacked into and leaked those 19,000 DNC emails to help Trump, the Donald had a brainstorm: Maybe the Russians can retrieve Hillary Clinton’s lost emails.
Not funny, and close to “treasonous,” came the shocked cry.
Trump then told the New York Times that a Russian incursion into Estonia need not trigger a U.S. military response.
Even more shocking. By suggesting the U.S. might not honor its NATO commitment, under Article 5, to fight Russia for Estonia, our foreign policy elites declaimed, Trump has undermined the security architecture that has kept the peace for 65 years.
More interesting, however, was the reaction of Middle America. Or, to be more exact, the nonreaction. Americans seem neither shocked nor horrified. What does this suggest?
Behind the war guarantees America has issued to scores of nations in Europe, the Mideast and Asia since 1949, the bedrock of public support that existed during the Cold War has crumbled.
We got a hint of this in 2013. Barack Obama, claiming his “red line” against any use of poison gas in Syria had been crossed, found he had no public backing for air and missile strikes on the Assad regime.
The country rose up as one and told him to forget it. He did.
We have been at war since 2001. And as one looks on the ruins of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and adds up the thousands dead and wounded and trillions sunk and lost, can anyone say our War Party has served us well?
On bringing Estonia into NATO, no Cold War president would have dreamed of issuing so insane a war guarantee.
Eisenhower refused to intervene to save the Hungarian rebels. JFK refused to halt the building of the Berlin Wall. LBJ did nothing to impede the Warsaw Pact’s crushing of the Prague Spring. Reagan never considered moving militarily to halt the smashing of Solidarity.
Were all these presidents cringing isolationists?
Rather, they were realists who recognized that, though we prayed the captive nations would one day be free, we were not going to risk a world war, or a nuclear war, to achieve it. Period.
In 1991, President Bush told Ukrainians that any declaration of independence from Moscow would be an act of “suicidal nationalism.”
Today, Beltway hawks want to bring Ukraine into NATO. This would mean that America would go to war with Russia, if necessary, to preserve an independence Bush I regarded as “suicidal.”
Have we lost our minds?
The first NATO supreme commander, General Eisenhower, said that if U.S. troops were still in Europe in 10 years, NATO would be a failure. In 1961, he urged JFK to start pulling U.S. troops out, lest Europeans become military dependencies of the United States.
Was Ike not right? Even Barack Obama today riffs about the “free riders” on America’s defense.
Is it really so outrageous for Trump to ask how long the U.S. is to be responsible for defending rich Europeans who refuse to conscript the soldiers or pay the cost of their own defense, when Eisenhower was asking that same question 55 years ago?
In 1997, geostrategist George Kennan warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe “would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era.” He predicted a fierce nationalistic Russian response.
Was Kennan not right? NATO and Russia are today building up forces in the eastern Baltic where no vital U.S. interests exist, and where we have never fought before — for that very reason.
There is no evidence Russia intends to march into Estonia, and no reason for her to do so. But if she did, how would NATO expel Russian troops without air and missile strikes that would devastate that tiny country?
And if we killed Russians inside Russia, are we confident Moscow would not resort to tactical atomic weapons to prevail? After all, Russia cannot back up any further. We are right in her face.
On this issue Trump seems to be speaking for the silent majority and certainly raising issues that need to be debated.
How long are we to be committed to go to war to defend the tiny Baltic republics against a Russia that could overrun them in 72 hours?
When, if ever, does our obligation end? If it is eternal, is not a clash with a revanchist and anti-American Russia inevitable?
Are U.S. war guarantees in the Baltic republics even credible?
If the Cold War generations of Americans were unwilling to go to war with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union over Hungary and Czechoslovakia, are the millennials ready to fight a war with Russia over Estonia?
Needed now is diplomacy.
The trade-off: Russia ensures the independence of the Baltic republics that she let go. And NATO gets out of Russia’s face.
Should Russia dishonor its commitment, economic sanctions are the answer, not another European war.
Wednesday was the best night of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, and Barack Obama testified to her greatness and goodness and readiness to be president. And all saw in the Republican convention in Cleveland a festival of darkness and dystopia.
Nor is this unusual. For, as the saying goes, the ins “point with pride,” while the outs “view with alarm.”
Yet the clash of visions between Cleveland and Philadelphia is stark. We appear to be two separate and hostile peoples, living apart in two separate Americas.
Obama’s America is a country of all races, creeds, colors, lifestyles, a kumbayah country to be made more wonderful still when Clinton takes the helm.
The message from Cleveland: Cry the beloved country. America has lost her way. She is in peril. A new captain is needed. A new course must be set if America is to find her way home again.
Which portrayal is the more true? Which vision of America do her people believe corresponds more closely to the reality of their daily lives?
Do Americans share Philadelphia’s belief in Clinton’s greatness and in the magisterial achievements of the Obama presidency?
Let us see. Fifty-six percent of Americans believe Clinton should have been indicted; 67 percent believe she is neither trustworthy nor honest. And 75 percent of Americans think that, under Obama, the nation is headed in the wrong direction.
After Cleveland, Trump took a 62-23 lead among white high-school graduates, those who constitute a disproportionate share of our cops, firemen, soldiers, and Marines—and those interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Given that the media are mostly “progressives,” why do Americans who rely on that media hold so negative an opinion of Clinton, and reject the direction in which Obama is taking their country?
Does the reality they perceive help to explain it?
Consider. Obama did inherit a disastrous economy and growth has been at or near 2 percent a year since then. But this is not the growth we knew in the Reagan era.
And what, other than the trade policies we pursued, explains the deindustrialization of America, the loss of manufacturing plants and jobs, and China’s shouldering us aside to become the world’s No. 1 industrial power?
What produced Detroit and Baltimore and all those dead and dying towns in the Rust Belt?
Even Hillary Clinton, who has called TPP the “gold standard,” now rejects her husband’s NAFTA. Is this not an admission that the elites got it wrong for a quarter century?
Obama in Philadelphia celebrated our diversity.
Yet, we have seen Old Glory burned and Mexican flags flaunted this year. We have seen Black Lives Matter chant, “What do we want? Dead cops!”—then watched black racists deliver dead cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Is Ferguson America’s future?
From the podium in Philadelphia, we hear the word “love.” But in interviews, Democratic activists invoke terms of hate, such as racist, fascist, homophobe, misogynist, and sexist to describe the Cleveland Republicans.
Would the party of Philadelphia accept a President Trump?
Would the party of Cleveland accept President Clinton?
Hard to believe. Divided we stand. So, where do we go?
Given the distance between the two halves of America, given the contempt in which each seems to hold the other, we can probably drop from the Pledge of Allegiance the word “indivisible,” right after the Philadelphia Democrats succeed in cutting out the words, “under God.”
We are told our allies are nervous. They should be.
Even FDR could not lead a divided nation into war. When America divided over Vietnam, Richard Nixon had to lead us out. Our division led to America’s first defeat.
In the absence of a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 attack that brings us together in patriotic rage, Americans are not going to salute the next commander-in-chief and then go fight Russia in the eastern Baltic or China over some reefs or rocks in the South China Sea.
Even when we were more united during the Cold War, Ike and LBJ never considered using force to roll back Soviet invasions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
Our strongest ally in the Arab world, Egypt, and our NATO ally in the region, Turkey, are both descending into dictatorship. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen are bleeding profusely in sectarian and civil wars, breaking apart along tribal and religious lines.
Could a President Trump, or Clinton, rally us to stand together and send another Army of Desert Storm over there? Not likely.
Barack Obama believes the more diverse a country we become—religiously, racially, ethnically, culturally, linguistically—the greater, better, and stronger a nation we become. And with his immigration policies, he has put us, perhaps irretrievably, on that road.
Yet, outside that Wells Fargo Center, where such sentiments seem to enrapture Democratic delegates, Europe, Africa, the Mideast, and South Asia are all being pulled apart, right along those same fault lines.
And measured by the rhetoric of Philadelphia and Cleveland, so are we.
Waving off the clerics who had come to administer last rites, Voltaire said: “All my life I have ever made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies look ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”
The tale of the thieved emails at the Democratic National Committee is just too good to be true.
For a year, 74-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders has been saying that, under DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party has been undercutting his campaign and hauling water for Hillary Clinton.
From the 19,200 emails dumped the weekend before Clinton’s coronation, it appears the old boy is not barking mad. The deck was stacked; the referees were in the tank; the game was rigged.
For four decades, some of us have wondered what Jim McCord, security man at CREEP, and his four Cubans were looking for in DNC chair Larry O’Brien’s office at the Watergate. Now it makes sense.
Among the lovely schemes the DNC leaders worked up to gut Sanders in Christian communities of West Virginia and Kentucky, was to tell these good folks that Sanders doesn’t even believe that there is a God. He’s not even an agnostic; he’s an atheist.
The idea was broached by DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall in an email to DNC chief executive officer Amy Dacey:
“Does [Bernie] believe in a God. He has skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and atheist.”
Dacey emailed back, “Amen.”
In 1960, John F. Kennedy went before the Houston ministers to assert the right of a Catholic to be president of the United States. Is the “Marshall Plan,” to quietly spread word Bernie Sanders is a godless atheist, now acceptable politics in the party of Barack Obama?
If Marshall and Dacey are still around at week’s end, we will know.
The WikiLeaks dump came Friday night. By Sunday, Clinton’s crowd had unleashed the mechanical rabbit, and the press hounds were dutifully chasing it. The new party line: the Russians did it!
Clinton campaign chief Robert Mook told ABC, “experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke in to the DNC, took all these emails, and now they are leaking them out through the Web sites. … some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”
Monday, Clinton chairman John Podesta said there is a “kind of bromance going on” between Trump and Vladimir Putin. Campaign flack Brian Fallon told CNN, “There is a consensus among experts that it is indeed Russia that is behind this hack of the DNC.”
Purpose: change the subject. Redirect the media away from the DNC conspiracy to sabotage Sanders’ campaign.
Will the press cooperate?
In 1971, the New York Times published secret documents from the Kennedy-Johnson administration on how America got involved in Vietnam. Goal: discredit the war the Times had once supported, and undercut the war effort, now that Richard Nixon was president.
The documents, many marked secret, had been illicitly taken from Defense Department files, copied, and published by the Times.
America’s newspaper of record defended its actions by invoking “the people’s right to know” the secrets of their government.
Well, do not the people have “a right to know” of sordid schemes of DNC operatives to sink a presidential campaign?
Do the people not have a right to know that, in denying Sanders’ charges, the leadership of the DNC was lying to him, lying to the party, and lying to the country?
What did Clinton know of Wasserman Schultz’s complicity in DNC cheating in the presidential campaign, and when did she know it?
For publishing stolen Defense Department secrets, the Pentagon Papers, the Times got a Pulitzer Prize.
If the Russians were helpful in bringing to the attention of the American people the anti-democratic business being done at the DNC, perhaps the Russians deserve similar recognition.
By the Times‘ standard of 1971, maybe Putin deserves a Pulitzer.
Undeniably, if the Russians or any foreign actors are interfering in U.S. presidential elections, we ought to know it, and stop it.
But who started all this?
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has used cyberwarfare to sabotage centrifuges in the Iranian nuclear plant in Natanz. We have backed “color-coded” revolutions in half a dozen countries from Serbia to Ukraine to Georgia—to dump rulers and regimes we do not like, all in the name of democracy.
Unsurprisingly, today, Russia, China, Egypt, and even Israel are shutting down or booting out NGOs associated with the United States, and hacking into websites of U.S. institutions.
We were the first “experts” to play this game. Now others know how to play it. We reap what we sow.
The self-righteousness and smugness of Ted Cruz in refusing to endorse Donald Trump, then walking off stage in Cleveland, smirking amidst the boos, takes the mind back in time.
At the Cow Palace in San Francisco in July of 1964, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, having been defeated by Barry Goldwater, took the podium to introduce a platform plank denouncing “extremism.”
Implication: Goldwater’s campaign is saturated with extremists.
Purpose: Advertise Rocky’s superior morality.
Smug and self-righteous, Rocky brayed at the curses and insults, “It’s a free country, ladies and gentlemen.”
Rocky was finished. He would never win the nomination.
Richard Nixon took another road, endorsed Goldwater, spoke for him in San Francisco, campaigned for him across America. And in 1968, with Goldwater’s backing, Nixon would rout Govs. George Romney and Rockefeller, and win the presidency, twice.
Sometimes, loyalty pays off.
About Cruz, a prediction: he will not be the nominee in 2020. He will never be the nominee. If Trump wins, Cruz is cooked. If Trump loses, his people will not forget the Brutus who stuck the knife in his back.
To any who read Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent or saw the movie, Ted Cruz is the Sen. Fred Van Ackerman of his generation.
Yet, beyond the denunciations of Trump and disavowals of his candidacy, something larger is going on here.
The Goldwaterites were not only dethroning the East Coast liberal establishment of Rockefeller, but saying goodbye to the Republicanism of President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon.
Something new was being born, and births are not a pretty sight.
What was being born was a new Republican Party. It would be dominated, after Nixon, by conservatives, who would seek to dump the Accidental President, Gerald R. Ford, in 1976. They would recapture the party in 1980, and help elect and reelect Ronald Reagan.
Vice President George H.W. Bush won in 1988 through the exploitation of cultural and social issues. His Democratic rival, Gov. Michael Dukakis, opposed the death penalty, opposed public school kids taking the Pledge of Allegiance, and had a progressive program to give weekend passes to convicted killers and rapists like Willie Horton.
Once this became known, thanks to Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater, the Little Duke was done. The Dukakis tank ride in that helmet, to show his aptitude to be commander-in-chief, probably did not help.
The crisis of today’s Republican Party stems from a failure to recognize, after Reagan went home, and during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, that America now faced a new set of challenges.
By 1991, America’s border was bleeding. Thousands were walking in from Mexico every weekend. The hundreds of thousands arriving legally, the vast majority of them Third World poor, began putting downward pressure on working-class wages. Soon, these immigrants would begin voting for the welfare state on which their families depended, and support the Party of Government.
By 1991, free trade had begun to send our factories and jobs overseas and de-industrialize America.
By 1991, an epoch in world history had ended. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Cold War was suddenly over. America had prevailed.
“As our case is new,” said Lincoln, “so we must think anew and act anew.” Bush Republicans did not think anew or act anew.
They were like football coaches who still swore by the single-wing offense after George Halas’ Chicago Bears, the “Monsters of the Midway,” used the T-formation to score 11 touchdowns and beat the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game, 73-0.
What paralyzed the Republicans of a generation ago? What blinded them from seeing and blocked them from acting on the new realities?
Ideology, political correctness, a reflexive recoil against new thinking, and an innate inability to adapt.
The ideology was a belief in free trade that borders on the cultic, though free trade had been rejected by America’s greatest leaders: Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The political correctness stemmed from a fear of being called racist and xenophobic so paralyzing, so overpowering, that some Republicans would ship the entire Third World over here, rather than have it thought they would ever consider the race, ethnicity, or religion of those repopulating America.
The inability to adapt was seen when our Cold War adversary extended a hand in friendship, and the War Party slapped it away. Rather than shed Cold War alliances and rebuild our country, we looked around for new commitments, new allies, new wars to fight to “end tyranny in our world.”
These wars had less to do with threats to vital interests than with providing now-obsolete Cold Warriors with arguments to maintain their claims on national resources and attention, not to mention their lifestyles and jobs.
With Trump’s triumph, the day of reckoning has arrived.
The new GOP is not going to be party of open borders, free-trade globalism, or reflexive interventionism.
The weeping and gnashing of teeth are justified.
For these self-righteous folks are all getting eviction notices. They are being dispossessed of their home.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the new book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.
Neither George W. Bush, the Republican Party nominee in 2000 and 2004, nor Jeb, the dethroned Prince of Wales, will be in Cleveland. Nor will John McCain or Mitt Romney, the last two nominees.
These former leaders would like it thought that high principle keeps them away from a GOP convention that would nominate Donald Trump. Petulance, however, must surely play a part. Bush Republicans feel unappreciated, and understandably so.
For Trump’s nomination represents not only a rejection of their legacy but a repudiation of much of post-Cold War party dogma.
America crossed an historic divide and entered a new era. Even should Trump lose, there is likely no going back.
Trump has attacked NAFTA, MFN for China, and the South Korea trade deal as badly negotiated. But the problem lies not just in the treaties but in the economic philosophy upon which they were based.
Free-trade globalism was a crucial component of the New World Order, whose creation George H.W. Bush called the new great goal of U.S. foreign policy at the United Nations in October of 1991.
Bush II and Jeb are also free-trade zealots.
But when the American people discovered that the export of their factories and jobs to low-wage countries, and sinking salaries, were the going price of globalism, they rebelled, turned to Trump, and voted for him to put America first again.
Does anyone think that if Trump loses, we are going back to Davos-Dubai ideology, and Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership is our future? Even Hillary Clinton has gotten the message and dumped TPP.
Economic nationalism is the future.
The only remaining question is how many trade deficits shall America endure, and how many defeats shall the Republican Party suffer, before it formally renounces the free-trade fanaticism that has held it in thrall.
The Bush idea of remaking America into a more ethnically and culturally diverse nation through mass immigration, rooted in an egalitarian ideology, also appears to be yesterday’s enthusiasm.
With Republicans backing Trump’s call, after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, for a moratorium on Muslim immigration, and the massacres in Paris, Nice, and the Pulse Club in Orlando, Fla., diversity seems to be less celebrated.
Here, the Europeans are ahead of us. Border posts are being reestablished across the continent. Behind the British decision to quit the EU was resistance to more immigration from the Islamic world and Eastern Europe.
On Sunday, French President Francois Hollande was booed at memorial services in Nice for the hundreds massacred and maimed by a madman whose family roots were in the old French colony of Tunisia.
Marine Le Pen of the National Front, who wants to halt immigration and quit the EU, is running far ahead of Hollande in the polls for next year’s elections.
As for the foreign policies associated with the Bushes, the New World Order of Bush I and the crusade for global democracy of Bush II “to end tyranny in our world” are seen as utopian.
Most Republicans ask: how have all these interventions and wars improved our lives or our world?
With 6,000 U.S. dead, 40,000 wounded, and trillions of dollars sunk, the Taliban is not defeated in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and ISIS have outposts in a dozen countries. Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen are bleeding and disintegrating. Turkey appears headed for an Islamist and dictatorial future. The Middle East appears consumed in flames.
Yet despite Trump’s renunciation of Bush war policies, and broad support for talking to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the neocons, who engineered many of the disasters in the Middle East, and their hawkish allies seem to be getting their way for a new Cold War.
They are cheering the deployment of four battalions of NATO troops to the Baltic states and Poland, calling for bringing Sweden and Finland into NATO, pushing for sending weapons to Ukraine, and urging a buildup on the Black Sea as well as the Baltic Sea.
They want to scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal and have the U.S. Navy confront China to support the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia to rocks and reefs in the South China Sea, some of which are under water at high tide.
Who represents the future of the GOP?
On trade and immigration, the returns are in. Should the GOP go back to globalism, amnesty, or open borders, it will sunder itself and have no future.
And if the party is perceived as offering America endless wars in the Middle East and constant confrontations with the great nuclear powers, Russia and China, over specks of land or islets having nothing to do with the vital interests of the United States, then it will see its anti-interventionist wing sheared off.
At issue in the battle between the Party of Bush and Party of Trump: will we make America safe again, and great again? Or are globalism, amnesty, and endless interventions our future?
Do we put the world first, or America First?
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the new book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.