Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Skeptics Case for Trump - Now More than Ever

(First posted 9/23, but still holds up) 

Six Unconventional Pro-Trump Perspectives

Full disclosure:  I was a #NeverTrump-er before it got a hashtag.   Right after Trump announced, I called him a shock-jock and compared him to Howard Stern.  Later, I made a video parody of Caddyshack featuring Rodney Dangerfield’s character with Donald Trump’s voice.  I considered the whole thing to be good comedy.  Throughout the primaries,  I wrote often about how he was being an obnoxious jerk and was certainly not a conservative.  In short, I never thought Trump would go as far as he has. 

But he has, and as the primary wore on, he grew on me.  For one thing, he kept winning.  For another, he was fearless, tenacious, energetic, politically incorrect, and able to think on his feet.   That’s not to say I ever warmed to his demeanor.   Part of me still hasn’t.  I continue to cringe at the personal attacks, the name-calling, the hyperbole.  The difference is, at least now I understand why he does it. 

Trump is doing these things deliberately.  There is a method to his madness.   He’s following a game plan he wrote about thirty years ago that he developed for success in business.  Now he’s trying it out on the big stage of national politics.  He’s being far more strategic and consistent than he’s ever given credit for.  Apparently, Donald Trump believes in his strategy enough that he’s devoted himself to it, and is willing to win or lose based on it.         

I hope he wins.  I’m ready for a change.  

You see, I view this country as being a stage-four cancer patient; we are terminal.   Karl Marx is the most assigned economist at U.S. colleges, and has been for some time.  The government is fully unionized and is the biggest growth industry in the country.  In a blind test, most Americans would prefer the constitution of the old Soviet Union over our own.  Illegal and anchor immigration have permanently skewed our demographics toward third world voting patterns.  Progressive policies have destroyed the family structure in large segments of the population, relegating generations to the pathologies of failure.  And we have appeased aggression around the globe.  Stick a fork in it.  The U.S. as originally founded, on individual rights, free markets, limited government, checks and balances, national security, and rooted in a common moral code, is over. 

But like a cancer patient, we must seek all possibilities for remission.   Once in remission, we can hope for a cure.  No single presidency can cure us.  It could take generations.  The best we can hope for is some effective chemotherapy that buys us time.   In this election, Donald Trump, while not a cure, is our best hope for that.  We may get nauseous, we may lose our hair, we may feel drained, but President Trump could mean remission. 

Hillary Clinton is metastatic.   

Trump on Trump

A good place to start is this whole issue of demeanor.  Why all the personal attacks, the name-calling, the daily controversies, the hyperbole (aka bullshit)?  Many GOP stalwarts are particularly turned-off by Trumps demeanor.  Many women too.  He’s not playing the gentleman’s game of politics they are used to.  While it doesn't make it right, it is by design.  

"In most cases I'm very easy to get along with. I'm very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard."                                                                                                                                                     Donald Trump, “Art of the Deal”, 1987

This “attitude” of his to “fight back very hard” is why he has attacked John McCain, Megyn Kelly, The Khans, and numerous others.  It is an attitude that served him well in the competitive world of Manhattan real estate, but it has gotten him in lots of trouble lately.  It is obviously a risky strategy in national politics. 

One reason the attacks have hurt him so badly is that he’s doing it personally.  Trump has had to be his own one-man war-room.  He has a skeleton staff, spends almost no money on negative ads, and lacks even a party to fight for him.  He is waging asymmetrical warfare against a Democrat army.   

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has a Pentagon-sized war-room with an army of journalists, p.r. people, surrogates, bloggers, advertising professionals, and a weaponized DNC, who have all been attacking Clinton critics since 1992.  Like Trump, she is “fighting back very hard”, except she’s doing it without a trace of personal involvement.  It’s like her fingerprints have been wiped clean with BleachBit.

One side-note on Trump’s tendency to attack:  He was born at the same time and place as the saying, “nice guys finish last”.  Leo Durocher was the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and coined that phrase around the summer of 1946.  Donald Trump was born that same summer, a stone’s throw away in Queens.   

As I’ll explain later, Trump’s "nice guys finish last" attitude has thrown the other side off their game.  It has done him some good.  But it has hurt him too.   

"One thing I've learned about the press is that they're always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better...The point is that if you are a little different, a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you." 
                                                                                     Donald Trump, “Art of the Deal”, 1987

Donald Trump is a veteran media maestro.  His very business model – branding his name – was achieved in large measure by being controversial and getting free media.  For years, his tabloid antics helped keep his name in the spotlight, and the Trump name was emblazoned on every one of his properties and projects.  Any publicity was good publicity as far as Trump Inc. was concerned.   

His presidential bid is using the same game plan.  By being “sensational”, “different”, “outrageous”, “bold”, and “controversial” he has managed to run a presidential race on the cheap with almost no staff or ground-game.  He’s been playing the media like a Stradivarius to get his name, face, and candidacy in the conversation every day.  That’s why he started this bid with the Obama birth certificate quest.  It made news. Trump is being sensational and outrageous by design.  Does he really think Mexico will pay for the wall?  Does he really think we should have seized Iraq’s oil?  All we know is what he reveals in his own book.

Last week was a vintage example of Trump playing the media.  He announced he was going to make a big statement about Barack Obama’s birthplace and invited all the media to a presser.  The networks all covered it live expecting a big announcement, but instead they got a lengthy parade of military endorsements for Trump.  At the very end he made a brief statement that Obama was born in the U.S.  The press went apoplectic.  They knew they’d been trolled.     

By trolling the media, he has been able to provoke them into over-reactions that backfire.  The public knows that calling a bomb, “a bomb”, is not an unreasonable assertion.  The public knows that a temporary halt to unscreened Muslim immigration is not outrageous in the context of a global jihad that has declared war on us.
Granted, Trump has tweaked the media so often that nearly all his coverage is negative at this point.   But that doesn’t seem to concern him… yet.  He seems to be banking on his ability to go directly to the voters, a la Ronald Reagan. 

"You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on."                                                                                                                          Donald Trump, “Art of the Deal”, 1987

Donald Trump really likes to throw in some “hyperbole”.  Again, does he really believe Mexico will pay for that wall?  Can President Trump really Make America Great Again?  Will he really be the best jobs President God ever created?  Does he really think America’s going to win so much we are going to be tired of winning?  All we know is that he knows he has to “deliver the goods”.    

And he has delivered.  He won the nomination, is rising in the polls, met with leaders from Mexico and Egypt and shockingly didn’t start any wars, has finally surrounded himself with competent campaign advisors, and has over-achieved by every single measure of a rank amateur in politics, let alone on the biggest stage - presidential politics.

He has also delivered the goods throughout his career.  No, not every project succeeded, as critics will point out.  But Steve Jobs had plenty of flops too along with his successes.  At least Trump never got booted from his own company.

“You always, when the service was over, you said, ‘I’d have sat there for another hour,’” Mr. Trump recalled. “There aren’t too many people like that. It wasn’t the speaking ability, it was the thought process.”    
                                      Donald Trump on Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Minister at Marble Collegiate Church

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale is an often overlooked piece of the Donald Trump puzzle.  Beginning as a teenager, and continuing for decades,  he attended The Marble Collegiate Church, which was led by Dr. Peale, author of the bestselling book, "The Power of Positive Thinking".

The power of positive thinking, according to Peale, was that if you you could train your thought process to focus on positive visions of yourself, your abilities, your prospects, your achievements, etc., you could go as far as you wanted to go in life.  Nothing could stop you as long as you held firm to this positive picture.

Typical Peale quotes are:   "Change your thoughts and you change your world."   "There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment."   "If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind."

You can hear echoes of Peale in every aspect of Trump's oversized positive image of himself, his abilities, and his accomplishments.  It's hard to deny Peale's power, though, when so many of those accomplishments are real.    

“While he may be the billionaire from New York … he’s much more of a blue-collar guy.”                                                        
                                                                                                                          Donald Trump Jr., 2016

Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when Donald Trump was a household name and a fixture of the NY tabloids, I ran an industrial plant in the NY metropolitan area.  Trump was a surprisingly popular figure with the hourly plant workers, truck drivers, tradesmen, and office workers I worked with.  It struck me as odd that a brash billionaire with his name in big gold letters, flying around in a helicopter, with bejeweled arm-candy always at his side, could be a hero to these hard-working blue-collar workers.  Didn’t they know he was a “greedy one-percenter”?  (Though we didn’t talk like that back then.)  Didn’t they know he ran an “evil corporation”?  Didn’t they know he made “a profit”?  Didn’t they know he had a “yacht”?

Sure, they knew all that, but they also knew he was genuine, he shared their affection for pro wrestling, he was unabashed about his wealth, and he was having a good time.  Yes, he was having a really good time!  In short… they wanted to be like him. This was the American Dream they grew up hearing about.  It made him a working-class hero.   

They also saw that Trump spoke more like a blue-collar guy than an elitist rich guy.  The lingua franca on New York construction sites was not what you hear coming out of the mouths of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Trump’s fluent blue-collar, sentence-fragment lingo is refreshing after eight years of Obama’s hyper-careful, faculty-lounge act.  Voters loved Obama’s erudition after George W. Bush’s seeming inability to speak fluent English, but after eight years, that act has worn thin for many. 

Milton Friedman 

I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion, which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing
                                                                                                                          Milton Friedman 

Many Americans believe Hillary and Donald are precisely the wrong people.  But according to Dr. Friedman, they can still do the right thing under certain circumstances.

In 1992 Bill Clinton was elected president with far less than a majority of the electorate. Most Americans thought he too was the wrong person for the job.  In his first two years, he raised taxes and grew government.  The economy stagnated, and the stock market was soft.  As a result, Democrats lost big in the mid-term elections of 1994.   In came Newt Gingrich and The Contract With America. Weakened by scandal and the rout in ’94, Bill Clinton was forced to do the right thing.   He lowered taxes, supported free trade, declared an end to big government, and supported welfare reform.  The economy and the stock market went on a tear, all without the aid of zero percent interest rates like today.  The budget got nearly balanced.   And to this day Bill Clinton is known for the strong economy that came after he "triangulated" and reluctantly agreed to many of the planks of Newt's contract.  Bill Clinton was forced to do the right thing despite being the wrong person.

Can the electorate make it "politically profitable" for Hillary or Donald to do the right thing despite being the wrong people?  Based on the example of Barack Obama, I think we have a much better shot if our next "wrong person" is not a "historical first" from a politically favored class of citizens. 

Donald Trump will not be coddled by the media, or Hollywood, or academia, or anyone.  He will not be given the benefit of any doubt.  It will be politically unprofitable for him to do the wrong thing.     

Hillary Clinton?   As the historic "First Woman President"?  Darling of the media, academia, Hollywood, etc.?  On what basis can anyone think she will be held to account when she never has been before? 

Think Tanks

We think we are choosing a single person to be President, but it’s not that simple. 

Aaron Klein, a journalist based in Israel, has written extensively about what Barack Obama is going to do before he even does it.  Does Mr. Klein have some prophetic powers acquired in the Holy Land?  No, he simply reads the policy papers from The Center for American Progress (CAP).  Apparently, so does Obama.  In fact, he delegates their policies to the letter, and then goes golfing.

Just the other day, Donald Trump came out with a detailed proposal for school funding.   Did he just think up this plan in-between campaign stops?  No, he got it from a think tank. 

And that’s the point.  Presidents lean heavily on their think tanks.  For Democrats it’s CAP, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Human Rights Watch, and George Soros’ Open Societies Institute.  For Republicans it’s The Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution, and Freedom House.

There’s an army of very qualified eggheads on both sides who will conceive and implement any presidential priorities. Trump’s lack of government experience is irrelevant in that context.

Saul Alinsky

To paraphrase Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in Saul Alinsky, but Saul Alinsky  is very interested in you.  The late Saul Alinsky is the most influential political strategist of our time.  Barack Obama went into community organizing because of Saul Alinsky, settled in Chicago because of Alinsky, and taught Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” as an instructor.  Hillary Clinton knew Alinsky, corresponded with him in college, and wrote her college thesis on Alinsky. 

Prior to Alinsky, politics was always a dirty business, but what he did was radicalize the Left.  His 1971 book, “Rules for Radicals” has become the tactical political bible of the Left.  The Right paid little attention to Alinsky’s influence and never had an effective counterstrategy. 

Until Trump, that is.  Trump’s own book, “The Art of the Deal”, is kind of a “Rules for Radical Businessmen”.  Donald Trump is a natural-born Alinsky antidote.  His ability to “fight back very hard”,  and take a “nice guys finish last” approach, has thrown the Left off it’s game. 

The radical Alinsky tactics are not working as effectively on Donald Trump as they did on gentleman GOPers like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.  They were all turned into Hitler caricatures via the Alinsky tactics.  It is sad to say this, but running a race for president as a GOP gentleman is an enormous liability in this radicalized Democrat/Alinsky age. 

The Trump Family

Donald Trump has been quoted as saying he was a lousy husband, but a good father.  I believe he is right.  His kids are all amazing.  They are not typical billionaire ne’er-do-wells.  They all work in the family business, are doing great things, are stable citizens, and aren’t taking salaries from the family charitable foundation, as Chelsea Clinton appears to be doing. 

If his kids are a reflection of him, and to a person they claim to be, Donald Trump looks pretty good as a human being. 

What was, What is, and What may be 

Perhaps Trump’s biggest advantage in this race is his lack of government experience.  No matter what you think of Donald Trump, you cannot be certain what he will do as President because he has never even held a public office.  Everything negative ever said about a prospective Trump presidency, is exactly that - prospective. 

Not so with Hillary Clinton.  The Clintons have a detailed track record stretching back some forty years in public life.  If you are among those who have followed the Clintons closely, you know exactly what you would get: impeachment, scandal, sexual assault, intimidation, credible rape allegations, perjury, corruption, selling U.S. policy to the highest bidder, disgracing the office of the Presidency, etc.  A whole vocabulary has been added to the lexicon to describe the Clinton's malfeasance, with the key word being: "Clintonian".     

Think of the worst thing Donald Trump has ever done.  Now think of the worst thing Hillary Clinton has ever done.  Only one of them did that as a government employee, on the tax-payer’s dime, and under an oath-of-office. 

Think about this:  a complete neophyte, who’s never run for dog-catcher, let alone national office, with a bad haircut, a penchant for controversy, and a shocking lack of decorum, has obtained the GOP nomination against a seasoned field, and is now nearly tied for President with a person described by President Obama as, “the most qualified person to ever run for President.” 

What are the odds considering we are a country of the Left,  the demographics are Left, the culture is Left, and the electoral map is Left.  Moreover, Hillary Clinton, a candidate of the Left, was supposed to be untouchable, the political equivalent of a Death Star in a pantsuit. 

And yet, here we are weeks away from the election, and Donald Trump is within striking distance.  Remission is within reach, but for that to happen, every skeptic must do their due diligence.     

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