And on the Democrat Side . . .

I’ve spent more time analyzing the Republican field than the Democrat. Of course, one reason is that there’s really no “field” on the Democrat side, but it has become more interesting. This was supposed to be a Hillary coronation, but it hasn’t quite worked out the way she expected.

I admit I never thought Bernie Sanders would get any traction anywhere. Maybe I was living in a dream world where I never imagined that even in the Democrat party an outspoken socialist would be a threat to Queen Hillary. Keep in mind that Sanders has not run as a Democrat for many years; he has preferred the title of “independent.”

Yet here he is as a possible nominee in a party he eschewed. One thing you can say for him is that he is consistent: as an avowed socialist, he is promising the sky—free this, free that, free everything:

Slackers Like Me

The little secret that his followers don’t understand of course is that nothing is free; somebody is going to pay for all of that, and that somebody is the rest of us who aren’t getting those freebies.

Hillary, realizing the threat, has become even more outspoken as a progressive. Those who know her (and the party as a whole) aren’t surprised by this; she’s always been a progressive but hasn’t been quite this open about it for fear of losing votes. Now, in a tight race, she feels she has to pull out all the stops.

What all of her rhetoric about the evils of Wall Street hides is just how tied in to Wall Street she is. Where does she receive much of her financial support? Reports show exactly where:

Definition of Progressive

Why the Sanders surge? Could this have anything to do with it?

Slow Speed Chase

I freely admit I would love to see Hillary (and Bill) finally get what they deserve. The FBI seems poised to recommend indictment. If the Obama Justice Department—a misnomer if ever there was one—declines to prosecute, she could still get the nomination. With that hanging over her, she should be easier to beat. If Sanders gets the nomination, America would have finally bottomed out if he is elected, but I believe he would be even easier to overcome.

The key now is whether Republicans are wise in their selection of a nominee or whether instead they will turn to Donald Trump. A Trump-Clinton or a Trump-Sanders race would be the worst of all possible scenarios because no matter who wins, the nation would lose.

The Twitterer-in-Chief Demands a “Do-Over”

I had planned to write today about the results of the Democrat caucus in Iowa, the one where Hillary declared victory over Bernie Sanders by virtue of six miraculous coin tosses. Well, that was the plan.

Donald Trump 3Then Donald Trump did what he does best, thrusting himself back into the limelight. After slightly more than 24 hours of relative silence in which the electorate was lulled into the illusion that he had accepted the judgment of Republican caucus-goers, he unleashed a barrage of tweets accusing Ted Cruz of having stolen the victory from him.

The Twitterer-in-Chief is now demanding that the results of the caucus be nullified and another vote be taken. That’s patent nonsense, of course. Nothing is going to be nullified; there will not be a “do-over” for Trump’s sake.

What has so ruffled Trump this time? What is behind his assertion that Cruz deliberately stole a Trump victory?

Here are the facts as I have been able to ascertain them:

  • During the caucus, a Ben Carson staffer, innocently I’m sure, gave out a garbled message about what Carson would be doing. He would not be going to New Hampshire at this time but would be returning to Florida, then go to DC for the National Prayer Breakfast.
  • CNN then ran with this message, interpreting it as a signal from the Carson campaign that he was on the verge of dropping out of the race. I’ve viewed the video of the CNN talking heads. They definitely gave that impression.
  • Someone in the Cruz campaign picked up on CNN’s false report and began to spread the word, urging Carson backers to now switch their vote to Cruz.
  • The Carson people then strenuously denied that he was leaving the race and blamed the Cruz people of deliberately misleading voters.
  • When the dust cleared, Cruz publicly apologized to Carson for what had happened, saying it was not anything his campaign had orchestrated but was an inadvertent slip-up.

Enter the sound and fury of Donald Trump. Again. As always. It’s all he ever has to offer.

Cruz won, he asserted, because of this illegal ploy. He had to remove that first tweet because of the word illegal—it could have led to legal trouble for him. But he didn’t back down. Because of what happened, he thundered, Cruz got enough Carson voters to deny Trump his deserved win.

After all, Trump is a winner. He never loses. If you don’t think so, just ask him. The only way he could ever lose is by trickery, deceit, and an outright conspiracy.

Here’s what I think about this episode:

  • First, someone in the Carson campaign has to take the blame for an ambiguous message that could be misinterpreted. In fact, one reporter questioned Carson yesterday on that very point, but Carson wouldn’t acknowledge the role of his own staffer in starting this mess.
  • Second, the main culprit here is CNN, running with a non-story and leading viewers to believe the Carson campaign was over. As Bill O’Reilly commented last night about this, CNN demonstrated extremely sloppy journalism. Neither have they apologized for the false reporting.
  • Third, those in the Cruz campaign who picked up on the false story were too quick to try to capitalize on it. They should have gone to greater lengths to verify it before using it to attempt to get Carson voters to switch.
  • Finally, regardless of the mess, neither Carson nor Cruz should have to fire anyone. Carson’s person never intended to mislead; Cruz’s followers were too quick to take advantage of the report. But there was nothing illegal, criminal, or dastardly in what they did. It was bad judgment.
  • Here’s another “finally”: Trump would not have won regardless. He was out-organized by the Cruz team. It was a well-earned victory.

Trump also said that the reason we can’t believe anything Cruz says is because he was born in Canada. *Sigh*

I’m coming to the view that Donald Trump exhibits a particular strain of emotional instability that would be disastrous in the presidency. His constant stream of invective toward anyone who crosses him or who exposes his hubris should be a worry for his erstwhile supporters. Should a president resort to a continual assault of Twitter taunts and accusations? How presidential is that? What does this say about his character?

I’m also getting closer to believing that if he loses the nomination, Trump, to salve his bruised ego, will bolt the Republican party (as he has done a few times in the past) and run an independent campaign. If that happens, the false conservatism he is trying to display now to win Republican voters, will disappear, and he will say what he really thinks about policy, which will be decidedly liberal.

Donald Trump is a train wreck waiting to happen. If the Republican party attaches itself to him, it will be seriously damaged when that wreck occurs.

Iowa Lessons

What does Ted Cruz’s Iowa win mean? What are his prospects going forward?

Cruz Iowa Caucus

First, Cruz’s top finish tore up the conventional wisdom on a few fronts. In a state dependent on ethanol subsidies, he stood firm against them and won anyway. Lesson: you don’t have to change your principles to get votes.

Second, the record turnout was supposed to benefit Trump; instead, Cruz beat him by four points and received the largest number of votes in the history of the Republican Iowa caucus.

Third, organization trumps (sorry about that) media glitz and big rallies. Celebrity does not equate to victory.

Fourth, personal pique that leads one to withdraw from a debate will not endear one to voters. Trump hurt himself badly with his arrogant decision to avoid being questioned by Megyn Kelly.

Going Home

Of course, an Iowa win doesn’t carry over to a state like New Hampshire, which is next in line. Cruz benefited from the large number of evangelicals who attended the caucus, estimated to have comprised 64% of all caucus-goers. New Hampshire is more secular. At this point, no one expects him to win in the state, but they are looking to see if Iowa provides enough of a bump that he will do better than expected.

Another factor in New Hampshire is that one doesn’t have to register as a Republican to vote in the Republican primary. I have never understood the logic of that. It should be the committed Republicans who choose their own nominee, not voters who don’t plan to vote for the Republican in the general election.

What will New Hampshire do? Will the Iowa results make them rethink the support Trump seems to have in the latest polls? Or will they be swayed more by his rhetoric of getting things done?

Need a President

I think we’ve been down that road already. How’s that working out?

Evangelicals & Trump: Decision Time

So Donald Trump is not going to be present at tonight’s debate. He says Fox News doesn’t treat him fairly. Never mind that he has been omnipresent on their evening programs ever since he announced his candidacy. Last night, he was on The O’Reilly Factor—that’s after he declared he was boycotting the debate because Fox is so unfair.

This stems from that question Megyn Kelly asked him at the first debate. He’s never forgiven her; apparently it has become a point of bitterness for him. Of course, all Kelly did was remind him of the derogatory words he had publicly used to describe women. No one is allowed to remind The Donald of his rude and demeaning behavior.

He then demanded that Fox exclude Kelly from this upcoming debate; Fox refused, so Trump will be a no-show.

Not Fox News

Fox was right in not bowing to his demand. No candidate, no matter how important in his own mind, should be allowed to dictate who is permitted to question him. He may have forgotten that there are other candidates on that stage as well and that he is not the whole show—but that would be foreign to his character, I fear.

I’ve provided in previous posts a litany of the reasons why I do not support Trump. I won’t go into as much detail today, but I would like to address those in the evangelical community, where I also reside spiritually and philosophically.

I continue to be saddened by the number of adherents Trump has accumulated among evangelicals. The latest endorsement, coming from Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University, has prompted the most head-shaking from evangelicals who see the dangers of a Trump nomination.

This is not a denunciation of my fellow believers but an appeal.

When you provide credence to a candidate who has boasted of having sex with a large number of women, many of them married, how is that a testimony to the Gospel you want to promote?

When you ignore the steady stream of diatribes emanating from Trump in his Twitter world, describing anyone who disagrees with him or takes him to task for his views as bimbos, losers, jerks, etc. (I won’t grace this post with some of the more vulgar terms he has used), how does that help point others to a Savior who tells us to be lights in this dark world?

When you promote a man who would love to put his pro-abortion sister on the Supreme Court, would offer the vice presidency to a pro-abortion Republican, who would have jailed Kim Davis over her objection to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and who has no problem overall with same-sex marriage, how are you at the same time promoting Biblical morality?

I’ll stop there, even though there are many other issues I could raise.

It has been terribly dismaying to read all the defenses of Trump from those who say they have put Jesus Christ first in their lives.

In this latest eruption over the debate, Trump, I believe, has simply displayed his basic nature: bitterness, lack of forgiveness, massive ego, and sense of entitlement.

Trump is used to getting his way on everything. He did so in business; he has been masterful at manipulating a compliant media. When he doesn’t get his way, as with the Fox debate, he resorts to rather childish behavior, reacting the way a child might when he picks up his marbles and goes home when others don’t do what he wants.

One cartoonist has a suggestion on how to set up the stage for the debate tonight:

Trump High Chair

Trump and his supporters might consider that suggestion mean-spirited. It might cause a new round of Twitter denunciations. Sadly, it captures the essence of how Trump has been acting.

Let me say this now, prior to the choice of a Republican nominee: if Donald Trump is the nominee, I don’t see how I can fill in that little oval next to his name in the general election. I know. I’ve always counseled people to hold their noses and vote for a bad nominee because the alternative is worse. However, when both choices are equally bad, what then?

Evangelicals need to go before the Lord, earnestly seeking His mind and His heart, as we help make one of the most momentous decisions for this republic in our lifetime. May God guide us and lead us to His wisdom.

The Campaign Show

This presidential campaign is certainly a show, if nothing else. I do believe it is something else, however; most of the GOP candidates are at least addressing the issues. But we have had our fair share of strange moments.

When’s the last time the supposed frontrunner for one party was being investigated for federal offenses, the kind that could land a person in prison? The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail server handling top-security matters and the manner in which she enriched her family through a phony charitable foundation has become increasingly serious.

In her last debate with the other erstwhile Democrat challengers, Hillary uttered words that were immediately applied to her by many:

Too Big

The irony seems to have been lost on her. What is particularly galling is that Gen. David Petraeus, for a lesser violation, is being singled out for possible reduction in rank and prison time. Can anyone say “double standard”?

Change Your Name

What’s really funny—in the sense that anything about this can be labeled as funny—is that a man who should be merely an also-ran in this race, Bernie Sanders, is picking up momentum:

Feel the Burn

Sanders, an outspoken socialist (as opposed to the rest of the Democrats who don’t want it to be known that they too are socialists), is ahead of Hillary by double digits in the New Hampshire polling and is about even in Iowa. This is not the way Hillary’s shining path to the nomination was supposed to happen:

Close-Up

The Republican side of the race has attracted even more attention, thanks to the Trump circus. The media just can’t seem to help themselves:

Pied Trumpeter

Trump has taken advantage of the failed leadership in the Republican party to attract a devoted following, so devoted, at least in his estimation, that they will never desert him no matter what he says or does. As he infamously joked a few days ago, he could shoot someone on a public street and his supporters would still vote for him. As I commented in yesterday’s post, the saddest part of that statement is that it’s probably true for a significant segment of his loyal fans.

Yet when his rhetoric is analyzed without bias, there isn’t really much “there” there. Is it possible that may change in the upcoming debate on Thursday?

More Serious

Nah.

National Review & Trump (Cont.)

Donald Trump at DordtI want to revisit the important message of National Review‘s issue “Against Trump,” but first I want to make sure no one missed a statement Trump made while speaking Saturday at Dordt College, a Christian Reformed institution in Iowa.

Attempting to be funny, Trump commented that his supporters are so loyal that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot somebody and still not lose his voters.

According to an eyewitness account, the joke fell short—some muffled laughter and a good number of people shaking their heads. I don’t know what bothers me more, that Trump would say such a thing or that he is probably correct about a sizable segment of his supporters.

I echo the concern of one evangelical commentator who concluded, “There is something deeply disturbing about a candidate who would say this . . . and Evangelicals who would support him.”

Back to National Review.

I hope my readers will take the time to wade through the articles in this latest issue, both the official editorial and the various essays from individual contributors.

Some have already criticized NR on various grounds. The most common ones I’ve seen have been based on perceived inconsistencies with positions NR has taken in the past. I argue that is irrelevant; one must look at the present topic—Donald Trump’s candidacy—and judge on its merits alone.

While there may be some critiques based on the issues themselves, I have yet to see them; the focus seems to be that NR has unfairly trashed the frontrunner.

Against TrumpThere is no room in this post to quote extensively from the varied views of Trump that are expressed in the “Against Trump” collection, so I will limit myself to excerpts from what I believe is a factually based and cogent presentation in the main editorial.

The editors at NR begin with their main thesis:

Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.
The editorial then proceeds to effectively undercut Trump’s immigration policy and his woeful lack of understanding of America’s foreign policy crises, noting that he
casually suggested a few weeks ago a war crime — killing terrorists’ families — as a tactic in the war on terror. For someone who wants to project strength, he has an astonishing weakness for flattery, falling for Vladimir Putin after a few coquettish bats of the eyelashes from the Russian thug. All in all, Trump knows approximately as much about national security as he does about the nuclear triad — which is to say, almost nothing.
Calling Trump “the most poll-obsessed politician in all of American history,” the editorial continues,

Trump has shown no interest in limiting government, in reforming entitlements, or in the Constitution. . . .

His obsession is with “winning,” regardless of the means — a spirit that is anathema to the ordered liberty that conservatives hold dear and that depends for its preservation on limits on government power.
What about Trump’s success as a businessman? NR tackles that as well:
Trump’s record as a businessman is hardly a recommendation for the highest office in the land. For all his success, Trump inherited a real-estate fortune from his father. Few of us will ever have the experience, as Trump did, of having Daddy-O bail out our struggling enterprise with an illegal loan in the form of casino chips.
Trump’s primary work long ago became less about building anything than about branding himself and tending to his celebrity through a variety of entertainment ventures, from WWE to his reality-TV show, The Apprentice. His business record reflects the often dubious norms of the milieu: using eminent domain to condemn the property of others; buying the good graces of politicians — including many Democrats — with donations.
The editors’ other concern, along with the damage a Trump presidency would do to the nation at large, is what it would do to conservatism:
If Trump were to become the president, the Republican nominee, or even a failed candidate with strong conservative support, what would that say about conservatives?
The movement that ground down the Soviet Union and took the shine, at least temporarily, off socialism would have fallen in behind a huckster. The movement concerned with such “permanent things” as constitutional government, marriage, and the right to life would have become a claque for a Twitter feed.
William F. Buckley-YoungIn its concluding paragraph, the editorial summons the spirit of its founder, William F. Buckley, who began the enterprise in the 1950s with the declaration that NR would be voice standing athwart history yelling “Stop.”
Some conservatives have made it their business to make excuses for Trump and duly get pats on the head from him. Count us out. Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.
National Review earned the typical Donald Trump treatment for its views, as he labeled it a dying magazine. When Glenn Beck, over the weekend, came out in support of Ted Cruz, Beck, according to Trump, was overseeing a failing enterprise with his media venture. Anyone who dares criticize “The Donald” receives that treatment. Both National Review and Glenn Beck should bask in his rejection. Not everyone receives such a badge of honor.

National Review’s Trump Critique

Against TrumpNational Review, the flagship conservative magazine founded in the 1950s by the late William F. Buckley, has taken a bold stand against the candidacy of Donald Trump. In its new issue, NR has assembled a bevy of conservative commentators and activists who give their reasons why Trump would be a disaster for political and cultural conservatism.

Trump, of course, was quick to respond with his typical response when criticized by anyone—NR, in effect, is a loser. It’s a “dying paper,” he thundered.

The Republican National Committee also was quick to respond. NR was slated to be a co-sponsor for an upcoming February debate. It has now been disinvited. Hmmm, I thought the establishment opposed Trump.

I have been a regular reader of NR since the 1970s. I don’t always agree with every article, primarily because there are various strands of conservatism represented. That’s actually one of its strengths: it draws from every avenue of conservative thought, and even when I disagree, I am given something to think about.

Whittaker Chambers was an editor of NR back in the late 1950s. Ronald Reagan loved to read it. I still do.

Some criticize NR as too neo-conservative or whatever, but it really represents all positions within conservatism.

Against Trump 2Rich Lowry, the editor, appeared last night on The Kelly File on Fox to explain the rationale for this strong stand. He was joined by three of the contributors to the magazine’s Trump critique. None of them can realistically be considered “establishment.” Someone like Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, who also appeared, has fought the conservative fight against the “establishment” all of his life. Any criticism of him or others like him has no credibility on that ground.

Regular readers of this blog know my opposition to a Trump nomination. Let me quickly catalog my reasons:

  • I don’t believe Trump’s recent conversion to conservatism: he has historically been on the liberal side of most policy issues;
  • Specifically, he never has had a problem with abortion, even to the point where he has said he thinks his sister, a pro-abortion judge, would be a great Supreme Court justice; last week, he hinted that former senator Scott Brown, a pro-abortion Republican, would be a wonderful vice president in his administration;
  • He has no real issue with same-sex marriage;
  • He has no understanding of Christian faith, and no matter how much he says he will protect religious liberty, I have no faith in his promises;
  • If you listen to any of his speeches, you will find that they are rambling and fairly incoherent, focused primarily on fanning emotions—the very definition of a demagogue;
  • His constant personal attacks on others, candidates or otherwise, betray a thin skin and a lack of character that would further demean the office of the presidency;
  • He is absolutely full of himself, constantly referring to how much of a winner he is, how much money he has made, and how only he can deal with others.

I could go on, but I promised a quick overview.

I agree with NR’s critique that he is no conservative; neither is he in any way a genuine Christian believer, based on his many comments that provide evidence of only a vague type of understanding of the Christian faith.

Some have asked me if I have any favored candidate in this race. I’ve tried to hold back on making any such pronouncement as I continue to listen and investigate the field.

Realistically, only two others have a chance to derail Trump at this point—Cruz and Rubio. I would support either of these nominations. I have reservations about both men, but there is no perfect candidate. Right now, if forced to choose, I would go with Ted Cruz, but I remain open to more information.

Will NR’s opinion influence anyone? Yes, but the real question is how many. I doubt that a majority of Trump supporters or those who are leaning that way will read the NR essays, but if you are one of those, I strongly urge you to do so and carefully consider the enormity of the decision before us.

We truly are at a crossroads as a nation. Trump is not the answer to our problems; he will, I believe, only add to them.