Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Enough Lectures Please

 

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Meet With Potential Iowa VotersIt is in no way pleasant to register a disagreement with those I hold in high esteem, least of all those whose wonderful minds and spirit I have admired for many years. Nevertheless, intellectual honesty and critical vigor reminds us that there are times when distinctions must be drawn or, as H.L. Mencken observed, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” Though I hasten to add, given a recently discovered constitutional right not to be offended, that I am employing Mr. Mencken’s quote metaphorically.

Nevertheless, the sheer magnitude and groaning weight of condescension and scorn being piled on the shoulders of anyone with the effrontery to point out that Donald Trump has actually made some legitimate points is becoming increasingly difficult to take politely. Mona Charen, whose work I’ve enjoyed since Crossfire and Capital Gang days, registered her incredulity on the Trump phenomena with a recent article that began: “President Obama seems on the verge of the most abject diplomatic capitulation in American history — to Iran, our bitterest enemy — and Republicans are arguing about Donald Trump?”

To which I would reply: “Republican leaders from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, are engaged in the most abject and total political capitulation in American history — to a president who is presiding over the liquidation of American Constitutional order; who ignores, alters, or invents laws at whim; and who arms mortal enemies while emasculating American defenses and antagonizing allies — and the GOP is getting the vapors over Donald Trump?”

Then there is Kevin D. Williamson, whose inestimable mind usually produces some of the most incisive commentary and analysis to be found anywhere, but who paused recently to have a meltdown at the expense of those who are positively exasperated with a Republican party that prefers fighting its own members to fighting a lawless President. “The WHINO,” writes Williamson, “is a captive of the populist Right’s master narrative which is the tragic tale of the holy, holy base the victory of which would be entirely assured if not for the machinations of the perfidious Establishment.” Listing current disasters that run the gamut from ISIS to Democrats, from economics to Vladimir Putin, Mr. Williamson goes on to belittle and mischaracterize those whose votes he presumably desires, writing, “Barack Obama? Pshaw. The real enemy is Jeb Bush.”

If Barack Obama is the real enemy, as Mr. Williamson correctly implies, perhaps he can remind Messrs McConnell and Boehner of that fact before they finish handing over what’s left of the Constitution to him. “We will use the power of the purse to push back against this overactive bureaucracy,” promised Mitch McConnell while soliciting our votes in 2014. “We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” John Boehner defiantly assured us with respect to the president’s executive amnesty initiative. Not to be outdone, Lindsay Graham thundered (to the extent he can), “I don’t mind targeted approaches to defund the executive order.” Then, less than 24 hours after voters gave these modern-day Brave Hearts definitive control of the legislative branch and a mandate to go forth and stop the madness, Mitch McConnell unilaterally surrendered the Senate’s constitutional power of the purse to the “real enemy.”

Unsatisfied with that capitulation, the new Senate Majority Leader, fresh from beating his conservative primary challenger “like a pack of circus monkeys,” as Williamson reminds us, presided over the surrender of the Senate’s treaty power via the Corker bill, effectively reducing President Obama’s legislative hurdle from 67 votes in the Senate down to a mere 34 as he pursues accommodation with genocidal monsters in Tehran. As surely as capitulation breeds contempt, the president then responded by initiating an end-run around Congress via the United Nations. Calling this, “a breathtaking assault on American sovereignty and congressional prerogative,” Republican Senator Mark Kirk hyperventilates, “I am shocked that Secretary of State Kerry actually admitted, on the record, that he wants to create a situation where congressional disapproval of the Iran deal would make the United States in violation of the international community.”

Frankly, I’m shocked that he should be shocked, or even mildly surprised, that a lawless president would act lawlessly. And herein lies the rub for Republican leaders, for if they really want to understand the reason why Donald Trump has galvanized a significant portion of voters’ attention, they have merely to consult the nearest mirror. True enough, Trump, as Mr. Williamson and Ms. Charen and others constantly remind us, has been all over the ideological map, going so far, even, as to donate to the Clinton Foundation. It will be nearly insurmountable, for example, for Trump to explain such effusive praise as:

Throughout her nearly four-decade career as one of America’s most dedicated public servants, Secretary Clinton has continued to champion equal opportunities for women and girls in order to advance the security and prosperity of all people and nations. As the 67th Secretary of State, Clinton broke national and global barriers. She was the first First Lady to serve in a presidential Cabinet. She traveled to more countries than any other Secretary of State. She used social media to engage citizens in the workings of diplomacy, and she paid an official visit to Burma, making her the highest U.S. representative to do so in half a century. As Secretary of State, Clinton advocated for “smart power” in foreign policy, elevating diplomacy and development and repositioning them for the 21st century — with new tools, technologies, and partners, including the private sector and civil society around the world.

As I say, Trump will have a hard time answering for that one — or at least he might have had a hard time, except for the fact that the praise wasn’t his. Those remarks belong to one Jeb(!) Bush, who awarded Ms. Clinton the Liberty Medal one year after she presided over the deaths of four Americans, including a US Ambassador, in Benghazi. “Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,” cooed the man we are told is the person who can beat Hillary, but who could not bring himself to acknowledge the ugly fact that the only things Ms. Clinton liberated were the souls of four brave Americans from their mortal coil.

Donald Trump owes his political viability to the cowardice of Republican politicians who keep promising one thing and delivering the opposite. Voters have watched Trump speak plain truth, as opposed to the marble-mouthed equivocations and double-speak of the Republican leadership, and they’ve seen him lose valuable business as a result. They compare his resolute defiance with Republicans who won’t even risk a committee assignment or a frown from the Washington Post, and prefer the chance, however slim, that Trump has come around to their way of thinking over the certainty that Republicans will betray them yet again.

Mr. Williamson bemoans those who believed, “…that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were from the conservative point of view, interchangeable commodities,…” suggesting that they should “…be a better citizen, and maybe read a book.” I don’t recall many people who took that position in 2012, certainly not I. But I do recall those who lamented the “etch-a-sketch” approach to campaigning, and the tendency to campaign ruthlessly against Republican challengers only to pull definitive punches against Democrats. “But,” to use Williamson’s phraseology, Governor Romney and his team, “were losers.” As was McCain before him.

Luckily, I had taken up reading books long before Mr. Williamson’s kind suggestion, and I recalled something I read many years ago:

One thing we know: In the past we have temporized with collectivism and we have lost. And after the campaigns were over, we were left not with the exhilaration and pride of having done our best to restore freedom, but with the sickening humiliation of having failed to seduce the American people because we were pitted against a more glib, a more extravagant, a more experienced gigolo.

That passage, of course, came William F. Buckley Jr., Founder of the journal which publishes Mr. Williamson’s fine thoughts, and author of National Review’s Mission Statement which reads, in part:

Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by the Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.

“Politics is a slow, maddening, incremental business,” Mr. Williamson lectures us. What exactly was slow and incremental about the metamorphosis of marriage? There was a great deal that was maddening about the president’s unilateral subversion of and rewriting of United States immigration law, but what pray tell was incremental? How slowly did the president defy his own agreement with Congress with respect to the Iranian deal when he instructed his UN Ambassador to begin circumventing Congress before the ink was dry?

To say, as Republican Governor and soon-to-be presidential candidate John Kasich did, that the repeal of Obamacare, “is not gonna happen,” and that, “I don’t think that [opposition] holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives,” is not incrementalism. It is fatalism, and it condemns free people to be led by the nose, controlled by a cadre of masterminds in Washington DC, in contravention of the principles that informed and inspired the nation’s Founders.

So spare me the lectures please. The problem isn’t that Jeb is the real enemy, or that “Mitch McConnell is a mean meany,” as Williamson simplistically scoffs, but rather the fact that these people are organically incapable of defending the nation against the progressive onslaught, let alone advancing a conservative agenda. Instead, they debase themselves and reduce their campaign promises and slogans to little more than political foreplay, designed to attract our attention and gain our acquiescence while relieving us of the last vestiges of our liberty. It is the absence of basic virtue in political leadership that allows the Trumps of the world to command attention.

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  1. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Bad timing, Dave.

    https://youtu.be/-pDNFFQGHQk

    • #1
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:37 AM PDT
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  2. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    For his next act he’ll go to Walter Reid and tell guys missing limbs they are losers for getting blown up.

    • #2
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:41 AM PDT
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  3. ParisParamus Member
    ParisParamusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wonderfully said!

    BTW, I think Trump was saying this mostly in jest in the course of being peppered with questions from (or via) Frank Luntz.

    I sort of agree with Trump, at least to the extent that past valor should not immunize one indefinitely from subsequent stupidities and failure, and not immunize one at all in the realm of decisions taken on military and veterans matters.

    • #3
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:44 AM PDT
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  4. Austin Murrey Inactive

    As always Dave says it best. To say I’m green with envy over the seemingly effortless way he writes is to say that space is chilly.

    The spectacle of those who are running around panicking over Donald Trump and don’t realize they’re driving people into Trump’s camp by being so universally and snidely dismissive – and thus confirming in the suspicious a “proof” of the establishment they claim doesn’t exist with the same steadfastness of purpose J. Edgar Hoover had when he swore there was no Mafia – is disheartening.

    Based on the money primary and the pundits reaction so far, I’m laying down my own prediction about the 2016 election cycle right now.

    Bush/Kasich v. Clinton/Castro, with Clinton/Castro winning a not-narrow-at-all contest driven by high vote disparity from African-Americans, women and Hispanics.

    The Republicans will begin panicking when they lose Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida thus ending the “solid South” they had counted on, and fail to carry supposedly winnable Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan despite Kasich’s widely-touted “Midwestern Appeal” and huge ad-buys in all three states.

    • #4
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:45 AM PDT
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  5. Douglas Inactive

    Thanks for writing this, Dave. I think our leading writers on the right simply do not get the depth of anger and frustration in the base about the state of the GOP today, which is one reason why so many are leaving it. Trump exists because of the void the GOP… and yes, the establishment that includes writers… made whenever it attacked conservatives raising uncomfortable points. It created this void whenever someone like Rick Perry would respond to a demand for a 14 ft fence with a reply of “You’ll just sell a lot of 15 ft ladders”. We got tired of pointing out that places that have good security walls, like Israel, don’t seem to have the 15 ft ladder problem because they, you know, guard their borders fiercely.

    • #5
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:46 AM PDT
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  6. Leigh Member

    ParisParamus:I sort of agree with Trump, at least to the extent that past valor should not immunize one indefinitely from subsequent stupidities and failure.

    That’s not what Trump said, though. He just said, in effect, that anyone captured in war isn’t a hero.

    • #6
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:49 AM PDT
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  7. Leigh Member

    Dave Carter: To say, as Republican Governor and soon-to-be Presidential candidate John Kasich did, that the repeal of Obamacare, “is not gonna happen,” and that, “I don’t think that [opposition] holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives,” is not incrementalism. It is fatalism, and it condemns free people to be led by the nose, controlled by a cadre of masterminds in Washington DC, in contravention of the principles that informed and inspired the nation’s Founders.

    I had missed that Kasich said this.

    I think Scott Walker’s mere presence in the race — even if Walker’s own campaign stalls — will make mincemeat out of Kasich.

    • #7
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:50 AM PDT
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  8. ParisParamus Member
    ParisParamusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leigh:

    ParisParamus:I sort of agree with Trump, at least to the extent that past valor should not immunize one indefinitely from subsequent stupidities and failure.

    That’s not what Trump said, though. He just said, in effect, that anyone captured in war isn’t a hero.

    I’d like to know what preceded that clip. Is there a longer version?

    • #8
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:50 AM PDT
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  9. Done Contributor

    Couldn’t possibly disagree with you more on this Dave.

    Criticisms of the Republican party from the base have reached the point of parody. They have been as successful at halting Obama’s agenda as you could hope while they don’t control the presidency.

    • #9
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:54 AM PDT
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  10. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Criticism of Trump is equivalent to pointing out to a friend the skidmarked piece of toilet paper trailing his shoe when he exits the restroom.

    • #10
    • July 18, 2015, at 10:57 AM PDT
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  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Amen, Dave.

    When a conservative claims Republicans are no better than Democrats, the point is usually clarified by context. Obviously, the parties are different in many respects. That is not denied. But both parties clearly prioritize continued and expanded power over their elected duties. Both parties lead us to tyranny.

    For example, the Corker bill. As I said in Koolie’s thread on the Member Feed:

    There are only two possible explanations that I see. Either Republicans refused to enforce the Constitution because the fight would interfere with campaign strategies or Republicans want the next Republican President to have the same unauthorized power.

    It seems we will never know the lawyer’s distinction between a treaty and various other international agreements… like we will never know the difference between a “police action” and an act of war. The parties collude for power.

    • #11
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:02 AM PDT
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  12. Leigh Member

    ParisParamus:

    Leigh:

    ParisParamus:I sort of agree with Trump, at least to the extent that past valor should not immunize one indefinitely from subsequent stupidities and failure.

    That’s not what Trump said, though. He just said, in effect, that anyone captured in war isn’t a hero.

    I’d like to know what preceded that clip. Is there a longer version?

    I’ve not seen it, though Trump and McCain have evidently been going back and forth a little. But that line is enough. No context helps.

    • #12
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:05 AM PDT
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  13. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The King Prawn:For his next act he’ll go to Walter Reid and tell guys missing limbs they are losers for getting blown up.

    Please see your thread on the Member Feed.

    • #13
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:06 AM PDT
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  14. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leigh:

    ParisParamus:

    Leigh:

    ParisParamus:I sort of agree with Trump, at least to the extent that past valor should not immunize one indefinitely from subsequent stupidities and failure.

    That’s not what Trump said, though. He just said, in effect, that anyone captured in war isn’t a hero.

    I’d like to know what preceded that clip. Is there a longer version?

    I’ve not seen it, though Trump and McCain have evidently been going back and forth a little. But that line is enough. No context helps.

    Trump has been actively courting candidates to unseat McCain after his “crazies” comment. They both have tempers and are getting under each others’ skins. The feud isn’t over yet.

    • #14
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:07 AM PDT
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  15. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Pseudodionysius:

    The King Prawn:For his next act he’ll go to Walter Reid and tell guys missing limbs they are losers for getting blown up.

    Please see your thread on the Member Feed.

    Proof that he can, at times, get pandering correct.

    • #15
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:09 AM PDT
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  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Right’s pundits have made Trump a problem. If not for their hysteria, Trump would not have drawn as much attention as he has.

    The Left would be jumping from Trump to Cruz to Perry to Bush and all around for scattered gotcha moments if conservative pundits had not raised Trump up as a catastrophe that could doom our side.

    He might have been a flash in the pan. But he won’t lose the attention for weeks now.

    • #16
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:10 AM PDT
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  17. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The King Prawn:

    Pseudodionysius:

    The King Prawn:For his next act he’ll go to Walter Reid and tell guys missing limbs they are losers for getting blown up.

    Please see your thread on the Member Feed.

    Proof that he can, at times, get pandering correct.

    When the Romans went down the tubes they didn’t exactly have stellar personalities vying for leadership. He is a thermometer and the fever is high and not going down.

    • #17
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:10 AM PDT
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  18. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Right’s pundits have made Trump a problem. If not for their hysteria, Trump would not have drawn as much attention as he has.

    Yup.

    • #18
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:11 AM PDT
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  19. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Aaron Miller: The Right’s pundits have made Trump a problem.

    They do not bear the full responsibility. There is something deeply wrong with our nation for such an unserious person to make it even this far into the primary season. The democrats promise bread, we republicans seem to be providing the circus.

    • #19
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:13 AM PDT
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  20. Leigh Member

    Pseudodionysius: I’ve not seen it, though Trump and McCain have evidently been going back and forth a little. But that line is enough. No context helps. Trump has been actively courting candidates to unseat McCain after his “crazies” comment. They both have tempers and are getting under each others’ skins. The feud isn’t over yet.

    No, but I’m thinking McCain probably just won it. At least in the sense that any candidate who might seriously want to challenge McCain now wants to be as far away from Trump as possible.

    • #20
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:13 AM PDT
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  21. EThompson Inactive

    Voters have watched Trump speak plain truth, as opposed to the marble-mouthed equivocations and double-speak of the Republican leadership, and they’ve seen him lose valuable business as a result. They compare his resolute defiance with Republicans who won’t even risk a committee assignment or a frown from the Washington Post, and prefer the chance, however slim, that Trump has come around to their way of thinking over the certainty that Republicans will betray them yet again.

    Yup.

    • #21
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:14 AM PDT
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  22. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leigh:

    Pseudodionysius: I’ve not seen it, though Trump and McCain have evidently been going back and forth a little. But that line is enough. No context helps. Trump has been actively courting candidates to unseat McCain after his “crazies” comment. They both have tempers and are getting under each others’ skins. The feud isn’t over yet.

    No, but I’m thinking McCain probably just won it. At least in the sense that any candidate who might seriously want to challenge McCain now wants to be as far away from Trump as possible.

    There’s a long form article up somewhere on the web laying out the wooing on Trump’s private jet. No one’s sure it would have worked anyway, but I doubt the feud is going away.

    • #22
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:20 AM PDT
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  23. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter

    The King Prawn:Bad timing, Dave.

    Not at all. I endorsed neither Trump nor every position he takes. I did, however, make the point that were it not for the cowardice and duplicity of those we elected to take the fight to Barack Obama and his band of statists, Trump would not garner near the attention he is getting.

    As for this clip regarding John McCain, I have nothing but the highest regard for his combat service and his valor in the torture chambers of Vietnam. As an American, and a veteran, I salute him. Politically, I think he’s a disaster.

    • #23
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:21 AM PDT
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  24. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EThompson:Yup.

    Agree as well. Dave crystallized the point exactly.

    • #24
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:21 AM PDT
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  25. Biden Pure Demagogue Inactive
    Biden Pure DemagogueJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dave Carter:

    The King Prawn:Bad timing, Dave.

    Not at all. I endorsed neither Trump nor every position he takes. I did, however, make the point that were it not for the cowardice and duplicity of those we elected to take the fight to Barack Obama and his band of statists, Trump would not garner near the attention he is getting.

    As for this clip regarding John McCain, I have nothing but the highest regard for his combat service and his valor in the torture chambers of Vietnam. As an American, and a veteran, I salute him. Politically, I think he’s a disaster.

    Yup.

    • #25
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:22 AM PDT
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  26. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter

    Frank Soto:Couldn’t possibly disagree with you more on this Dave.

    Criticisms of the Republican party from the base have reached the point of parody. They have been as successful at halting Obama’s agenda as you could hope while they don’t control the presidency.

    Surrender of the power of the purse is no parody, my friend. Neither is surrender of the treaty provision, nor the bestowing of more power to a lawless executive via trade legislation. Nor is it a parody to expect that when someone tells you that they will fight “tooth and nail,” they will in fact do exactly that.

    • #26
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:25 AM PDT
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  27. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Dave Carter:

    The King Prawn:Bad timing, Dave.

    Not at all. I endorsed neither Trump nor every position he takes. I did, however, make the point that were it not for the cowardice and duplicity of those we elected to take the fight to Barack Obama and his band of statists, Trump would not garner near the attention he is getting.

    As for this clip regarding John McCain, I have nothing but the highest regard for his combat service and his valor in the torture chambers of Vietnam. As an American, and a veteran, I salute him. Politically, I think he’s a disaster.

    Sadly, we’ve reached a point where remaining neutral on the Trump candidacy is not an option. I completely agree about “the cowardice and duplicity of those we elect to take the fight to Barack Obama and his band of statists,” but Trump is the wrong weapon to take to the battle. The options are support or oppose, and Trump has proven himself, yet again, to be unworthy of support. I wish he’d get back to making himself just as unworthy of any attention.

    • #27
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:26 AM PDT
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  28. Bkelley14 Inactive

    I think Trump — a blowhard without any policy prescriptions — is and will do great damage to the Republican brand. Jay said to Mona on several past podcasts that what is wrong with this country isn’t the Republican Party. Seems like too many conservatives and non-Democrats forget that. There is too much of a circular firing squad, even among the current Presidential candidates, and not enough serious challenge to the Democrat Party’s horrible “transformation” of our country.

    • #28
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:26 AM PDT
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  29. Herbert defender of the Realm,… Inactive

    (((There is something deeply wrong with our nation for such an unserious person to make it even this far into the primary season.)))

    I think so as well. The triumph of emotionalism over rationality.

    • #29
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:29 AM PDT
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  30. Leigh Member

    The King Prawn: Sadly, we’ve reached a point where remaining neutral on the Trump candidacy is not an option. I completely agree about “the cowardice and duplicity of those we elect to take the fight to Barack Obama and his band of statists,” but Trump is the wrong weapon to take to the battle.

    It is not as though we have no other candidate willing to actually get things done in the face of liberal opposition.

    • #30
    • July 18, 2015, at 11:29 AM PDT
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