It is no secret that I am not a Donald Trump fan. That is an understatement. From the first days that he began his “campaign”, he has demonstrated that he is not deserving to serve as President or anything else. His demeanor is repulsive, his positions are nonexistent, except for his distaste for Mexico, and his policy positions (oh wait, I should use the singular – his ONE policy position – immigration) are fantasies.
I am not interested in voting for or heaven forbid, electing, a Kardashian with a combover as POTUS. And be not mistaken, this is precisely what he is – a TV personality with no substance, only a stage presence. He’s a fake…his membership in the Screen Actors Guild (a union, by the way) is quite appropriate. His position on immigration is little more than what the actual conservatives on the Right have already proposed, and his imaginary 11M immigrant deportation plan would be impossible without hiring thousands of new ICE agents that would need to do door-to-door searches to find these little brown invaders. Is that what “small government conservatives” want – more government and a newly-emboldened police force? And the wall – a 2000 mile wall, that would allegedly be paid for, according to Trump, by Mexico. A wall that long would require hundreds, if not thousands of troops to ensure its integrity, and it is another Trump fantasy to believe that they would pay. Yes, I’ve read his “plan” to extract payment, and it is a figment of his own childish imagination. As I’ve stated here previously, I don’t believe he’s stupid. I believe he’s lying. I think Trump understands that what he’s promoting is impossible, yet he promotes it to rope in the gullible anti-immigration crowd who is grasping for anyone who will get on board with their rhetoric.
His claims about religion are another black mark. He clearly has no understanding of faith although he claims he somehow has some. When asked if he’s asked forgiveness for wrongs:
“I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
“We I take, when we go, and church and when I drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink – and have my little cracker, I guess that’s a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed, OK? But, you know, to me that’s important, I do that, but in terms of officially, I could say, ‘Absolutely!’ and everybody, I don’t think in terms of that. I think in terms of, let’s go on and let’s make it right.”
In May, Trump claimed “I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.” As someone mocking the Christian sacrament of communion, I find that difficult to believe. He claims to be or have been Presbyterian. As a former PCA elder, I can safely say that if the prior quote is correct, his words do not come within a light year of resembling Presbyterian theology (or any other Christian theology or basic belief).
Trump’s thin understanding of Christian basic beliefs appears to extend to his selection of advisors. According to reports, Trump will be meeting with “Christian leaders”, led by prosperity gospel “preacher” Paula White. Now I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, given that prosperity seems to be one thing Trump is somewhat good at. However, one would expect a President-wannabe to choose his associates more wisely:
White was also among a group of six televangelists targeted in 2007 by the Senate Committee on Finance for possible abuse of her ministry’s nonprofit status. While White submitted a financial report to the committee, she failed to disclose her full financial dealings with her ministry and church, which at the time was Without Walls International Church.
“I would look at the good aspects of it and I would also look because I’m sure they do some things properly and good, good for women, and I would look at that,” Trump said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day” when asked if he would first look at the full gamut of Planned Parenthood services before defunding the organization.
Trump was more unequivocal last week in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, saying the organization should “absolutely” lose all federal funding. Trump did stick to his position that the “abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood should not — absolutely should not — be funded.”
A Trump spokeswoman declined to comment on the record on whether Trump’s position had changed. But Trump’s appearance later on Tuesday on Fox News made it clear he supported keeping some aspects of Planned Parenthood alive and funded.
“They do good things,” Trump said in his interview with Sean Hannity. “There’s two Planned Parenthoods in a way.”
No, Donald. There is one Planned Parenthood and there is no “firewall” that separates any part of their “business.” If money goes into PP, it will, at the very least, subsidize their existence…an existence that should end.
Again unsurprising: Planned Parenthood loves them some Trump:
“Donald Trump seems to have realized that banning all abortions, shutting down the government, and defunding Planned Parenthood are extreme positions that are way too far outside the mainstream for even him to take,” Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, Eric Ferrero, said in a statement.
“We hope that the rest of the GOP field will wake up and reconsider their extreme and unpopular positions on defunding preventive care, abortion bans, and the other economic issues that women and their families care about.”
If there was a single reason to completely reject Donald Trump, that would be the one.
What should concern anyone on the Right would be Trump’s political beliefs du jour. He has gone in more directions than one can count on 10 fingers and 10 toes. Politico sums it up well:
Which side is Donald Trump on?
Trump once endorsed a massive surtax on the rich. But he now wants the top income tax rate cut in half.
He opposed the war in Iraq, but says he now has a “ foolproof” plan to defeat ISIL.
He’s praised single-payer health care, yet loathes Obamacare. But a decade ago he proposed “health marts” that sound suspiciously like today’s Obamacare exchanges.
Over the past two decades he was a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat, then a Republican. Now, registered as an independent, he leads the Republican 2016 presidential field.
But what does Donald Trump really believe on policy? It’s hard to tell — his campaign will identify no policy director, he has no “issues” tab on his campaign website and he hasn’t given any substantive policy speeches on the campaign trail.
“His hair has been more permanent than his political positions,” said Thomas P. Miller, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It’s a total random assortment of whatever plays publicly.”
Voters are drawn to Trump more for his I’ll-say-anything style than for his policy views. But a close inspection of Trump’s two published policy tomes, “The America We Deserve” (2000) and “Time To Get Tough” (2011), along with Trump’s public statements in interviews, on Twitter and in public appearances, indicate that Trump’s policy preferences are eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory.
You can criticize Barack Obama for most of his policy positions, but the one thing you cannot criticize him for is contradictory and eclectic policies. He goes in one direction: Left. With Trump, who knows what he’ll do next?
But wait, there’s more!
In 1999, Trump quit the Republican Party, saying “I just believe the Republicans are just too crazy right.” Trump was then conferring with political consultant Roger Stone about a possible presidential run as a candidate of the Reform Party, the political organization founded by his fellow billionaire Ross Perot.
In 2001, Trump quit the Reform Party to register as a Democrat. “It just seems that the economy does better under Democrats,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2004. The Clintons attended Trump’s Palm Beach wedding to former model Melania Knaus in 2005. The following year Trump gave $26,000 to the House and Senate campaign committees.
By the late aughts, though, Trump’s political giving had started shifting back to the GOP, and in 2009 Trump registered again as a Republican. Two years later he registered as an independent while contemplating a third-party bid.
It was during Trump’s leftward drift in 1999 that he first proposed a wealth tax — a one-time 14.25 percent levy on fortunes more than $10 million that inequality guru Thomas Piketty might salivate over. “The concept of a one-time tax on the super-wealthy is something he feels strongly about,” Stone told the Los Angeles Times.
Trump said the tax should be used to pay off the national debt and help bolster the Social Security fund. He criticized presidential candidate Steve Forbes for favoring a flat tax, which Trump thought unfair to the poor. “Only the wealthy would reap a windfall,” Trump wrote in his 2000 book.
Trump never disavowed the wealth tax, and his campaign won’t say whether he still favors it. But the soak-the-rich tax went unmentioned in his 2011 book. Indeed, even as Trump excoriated President Barack Obama for “adding more to the national debt in three years than almost all the other United States presidents combined.” Trump offered no specific proposals to address it.
Republicans and conservatives have hated Obamacare since its inception. What about Trump?
The most dramatic disconnect between turn-of-the-century Trump and Trump 2016 concerns health care. In the 2000 volume, Trump pronounced himself “a liberal” when it comes to health care because it is “unacceptable … that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to forty-two million.” The solution? “While we work out details of a new single-payer plan,” Trump wrote, the country ought to consider a variety of ways to make the current system “work more efficiently.” Among these was “the idea of [tax-subsidized] health marts” that “would create a group of approved plans for employees or independents to select from,” i.e., Obamacare without the individual mandate.
But in the 2011 volume, Trump complained that Obamacare was a scheme by liberals “to drag America closer to a so-called ‘single-payer system,’ otherwise known as total government-run health care.” Trump expressed doubt that the number of uninsured (by then 46 million) was accurate, and questioned whether any effort should be made to cover them. He wrote that 20 percent aren’t even U.S. citizens (Undocumented workers, he failed to note, are Obamacare-ineligible.); 30 percent “have plenty of money to buy health care” because they earn more than $75,000; and 28 percent are young people who may “need a safety net” but don’t justify jeopardizing what he’s come to regard as “the world’s greatest health-care system.”
Lest you claim “Yeah, but look what he said in 2011 – he’s changed!”, note Avik Roy’s analysis of Trump’s comments during the first debate:
Trump attempted to justify his support for single payer health care this way: “It could have worked [here] in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.” Implied in this statement is that Trump somehow believes that single payer could have worked in America in some different, far-away time, but that America has changed too much since that far-away time.
But the “different age” Trump is referring to here is the year 2000. What, exactly, is it that makes single-payer great for America in 2000, that isn’t true today?
“What I’d like to see,” Trump continued, “is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.” (Emphasis added.)
Trump’s policy pronouncements are rarely coherent. But what he appears to be saying here is that he supports a privatized version of single-payer health care, in which perhaps a single private company has a monopoly with which to negotiate contracts with hospitals and doctors. Gone would be companies like Aetna, Anthem, UnitedHealth, and Blue Cross—or perhaps they would be merged into a single entity.
This is hardly a superior outcome to single-payer health care: an unaccountable, trillion-dollar private insurance monopoly.
Some of Trump’s aides attempt to backfill the Donald’s ideas by claiming he really wants to “repeal and replace Obamacare” with something more consistent with conservative principles. But Trump himself has never backed off from his support for government-run health care. Indeed, Trump believes that the problem with Obamacare is that it doesn’t go far enough.
That’s exactly it. He has repeatedly lauded single-payer healthcare…i.e. healthcare without competition, hardly a “free markets” position. He wants Obamacare without Obama (I’m fine with the “without Obama” part and will shoot off fireworks when he’s out of the White House, but I’m not fine with the kind of healthcare that Obamacare has wrought).
In Jonah Goldberg’s weekly National Review column, he summarizes Trump’s all-over-the-map ideologies:
Yes, I know Trump has declared himself pro-life. Good for him — and congratulations to the pro-life movement for making that the price of admission. But I’m at a total loss to understand why serious pro-lifers take him at his word. He’s been all over the place on Planned Parenthood, and when asked who he’d like to put on the Supreme Court, he named his pro-choice-extremist sister.
Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich — like recent favorite Donald Trump — is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?
It is entirely possible that conservatives sweat the details of tax policy too much. Once in office, a president must deal with political realities that render the fine print of a campaign pamphlet as useful as a battle plan after the enemy is met. But in the last month, Trump has contemplated a flat tax, the fair tax, maintaining the current progressive tax system, a carried-interest tax, a wealth tax, and doing nothing. His fans respond, “That shows he’s a pragmatist!”
No. It shows that he has absolutely no ideological guardrails whatsoever. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.
In his embarrassing interview with Hugh Hewitt Thursday night, Trump revealed he knows less than most halfway-decent D.C. interns about foreign policy. Twitter lit up with responses about how it doesn’t matter and how it was a gotcha interview. They think that Trump’s claim that he’ll just go find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem is brilliant. Well, I’m all in favor of finding a Douglas MacArthur, but if you don’t know anything about foreign policy, the interview process will be a complete disaster. Yes, Reagan delegated. But he knew enough to know to whom to delegate.
If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent.
Forget about Goldberg’s concern about conservatism for a moment. I don’t care if you characterize Donald Trump as a conservative, liberal, libertarian, communist, socialist, or any other ist. What Donald Trump is, is dangerous. Just listen to him. Read his Twitter feed. Anyone with two neurons to rub together should be terrified of the thought of an ideological question mark like Trump who can’t seem to stay on one position for more than a year and who appears to have a temper that cannot be moderated to have control of the nuclear codes that can annihilate the world. “You’re fired” would translate to “Ready, Fire, Aim, Armageddon”.
And by the way, spare me the shtick about how “I don’t get it” and that you are angry and the Establishment is evil. I get it. I wrote about [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] a month or two ago. Yes, the Establishment GOP is awful. We should have supported Alison Grimes in the general election, just to be rid of Mitch. I floated this with my Redstate colleagues, but I was in the minority, and I understand the reluctance to support a pro-abortion Democrat. But despite all that: McConnell and Boehner are not running. They are not candidates for President. They will still be there when the POTUS is elected in November 2016. All the fit-throwing tantrums in the world about the POTUS candidate won’t change that…the only thing that gets rid of them is for their constituents to vote them out in the election for Senate and House.
There are at least four solid candidates in this race that do not have a reputation for being part of “the establishment”. Rick Perry, Scott Walker, [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ], Bobby Jindal – all are spectacular candidates who would govern rings around a sideshow barker like Donald Trump. Remember (and I know the Trump supporters have a hard time understanding this, so if you’re one of them, read this slowly so you can absorb it): You don’t have to be a supporter of Jeb Bush to dislike Donald Trump. Bush would be my last choice of candidates I would vote for. But I would vote for him if it came down to him or Hillary or “Bern!”.
I will not, however, vote for a dangerous fraud like Donald Trump. That is my position now and it will remain so throughout the election season. No, I will not change my mind. Erick has his “I will not vote for” candidate, and so do I. Donald Trump will not get my vote in any election, no matter when or what office. Not now, not ever. And if by some nightmarish combination of circumstances Trump becomes the GOP nominee, Erick is free to put on a Donald Trump mask and tell me “YOU’RE FIRED”. Because at that point, I will have ceased to care about any of this and will be looking for a place in the wilderness to take cover from it all.
(NOTE: comments are off on this. If you want to gripe, take it to Twitter. This is a holiday weekend and I’ve already spent too much time thinking about it.)