Trump: Republican version of Barack Obama?
The second Republican debate is over. And the consensus is – Trump won. Headlines on the Drudge Report: “Trump Dominated Debate Poll”. Indeed – when I checked it at 0700 Thursday morning, with 509,586 total votes, Trump led the pack with 56.9%, followed by Fiorina at 18.46% and Rubio and Cruz nearly tied at 5.71% and 5.56% respectively. Dr. Carson was in 6th with 4.12%. Christie, Bush and Kasich were all down near 1%, with Walker and Huckabee less than 1%.
True, this is not a “scientific” poll. True, it probably doesn’t “represent America;” the Drudge page is hardly a liberal website. Many wouldn’t be caught dead going there, having the same disdain for the site as they do for Fox News or Walmart. But it does represent far more actual votes than the more “scientific” polls, and at least they do check to ensure you don’t vote multiple times (though that no doubt can be spoofed). So what does this tell us? And how would things look if Trump weren’t sucking all the oxygen out of the room?
What is it about Donald Trump that has Republican voters swooning?
I thought Bobby Jindal put it well in the so-called “kiddie table” debate before the main event. Said Jindal, “Let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican. If he were really a conservative and 30 points ahead, I would endorse him. He’s not a conservative. He’s not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent. He believes in Donald Trump.”
Trump even admits that. He makes no bones about the fact that he has donated money to Democratic campaigns and causes, including Hillary Clinton’s presidential run in 2008. Why? Because if you give politicians money they do you favors when you need them. That’s the way the game works. Trump greases their palms and they grease his. Or as Trump puts it, “as a businessman, you wanna be friendly with everybody.” Trump is not alone in this view; many businesses do likewise.
An objective look at Trump’s political donation history reveals that for most of his career, he gave more to Democrats than Republicans, although he did give to both. That changed dramatically however in 2010 when he not only started contributing much more than he had before, but almost all the money went to Republicans. Indeed, from 2011 on, all his money has gone to Republicans save for a tiny sliver in 2013.
Does this mean that somewhere around 2010 Trump had a road to Damascus moment and became a Republican? Maybe. Or maybe he just saw a business advantage to seriously backing Republicans at that point.
Trump seems impervious to things that have cost other Republicans the nomination, or even elections. Mitt Romney suffered from the image of being a “flip-flopper” on abortion for example, because a comment he made in 1994 when he was running against Senator Edward Kennedy. Said Romney back then, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, it should be sustained and supported. And I sustain and support that law and support the right of a woman to make that choice.” In 2011 however, when running for president, Romney said “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. I support the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine.”
In 1999, when he was considering a run for president under the Reform Party banner, Trump described himself as “pro-choice with reservations.” In an interview with Meet the Press in 1999, he said, referring to abortion, “I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people discuss the subject. But you still – I just believe in choice.” When legislation prohibiting partial birth abortion was passed, Trump opposed it.
In 2011 however, the same time Romney had his change of heart, so did Trump. He declared his new-found anti-abortion stance at CPAC, based on an experience of a friend’s wife, who was going to have an abortion but decided against. “[That] baby is the apple of his eye, he said, “it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. And you know, here’s a baby that wasn’t going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life.” That easy, that quick, and poof! Trump, who also was mulling a run for the presidency, is pro-life.
At the time I argued that Romney’s change of stance on abortion was not a flip-flop. “Since when are people not allowed to change their minds any longer,” I asked? The same of course, holds true for Trump. My point here isn’t that Trump changed his mind; it’s the inconsistency with four years ago. With regard to Romney it was flip-flopper! With regard to Trump, it’s meh.
This inconsistency doesn’t occur just with respect to abortion – it is all down the line. What other Republican candidate could make political campaign contributions to Democrats and get away with it? What other Republican candidate could endorse Hillary Clinton and get away with it? Trump has.
As recently as 2012, in a Fox News interview, he called her “terrific,” saying that she had performed well as Secretary of State. “Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman…I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard…I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her.” He donated money to her in 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007. He donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. He even invited her and Bill to his wedding.
Now, in 2015, he refers to her as “the worst Secretary of State in the history of the United States.” The reaction from Republican voters? Meh.
Some other examples include the following:
In 1990, Trump’s view on the War on Drugs was pretty much the Libertarian view – in line with that of Rand Paul in the last debate.
In 1999, Trump spoke out in favor of a one-time 14.25% tax on individuals and trusts over $10 million, the money to be used to pay off the national debt. In 2000, he indicated he was opposed to a flat tax. Apparently he still is, since his new proposed tax reform has four tiers; three really – one is a 0% rate, and keeps the IRS pretty much intact.
In 2000, Donald Trump was “generally opposed” to gun control, however he was in favor of bans on assault weapons, waiting periods, and background checks. Now he is staunchly against gun control, claiming that the “Second Amendment is a right, not a privilege,”, and does not support expanding background checks.
In both 1999 and 2000, he staunchly supported a universal healthcare system for the United States. Said Donald Trump “…I’m very liberal when it comes to health care…I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better. I think it is…an entitlement to this country and too bad the world can’t be, you know, in this country. But the fact is, it’s an entitlement to this country if we are going to have a great country.”
Trump has stated over and over during his campaign that he wants to make America a great country again. He has also stated his opposition to Obamacare, vowing to repeal it. What would he then replace it with? Many on the left also dislike Obamacare, believing that the President should have gone for a universal healthcare system instead. In view of Trump’s earlier comments, is this what he is really seeking? Or is this “simply” another flip-flop?
This video sums it up pretty well. And the voter reaction? Trump leads the polls. Moreover, his appeal includes large numbers of Tea Partiers, who seem to think that Trump is a Tea Party Conservative! How can this be? It wouldn’t be tolerated of any other Republican candidate. Even John Kerry couldn’t pull it off.
Much of what Trump says is at best inane, at worst insane. He offers only glittering generalities, never specifics. When asked about how he would fight ISIS, he says he would go over there and kick their butts, then pay for it by stealing all Iraq’s oil. He never says exactly how he would go about doing this, or exactly what “taking all Iraq’s oil” would entail. And yet, people who claim to never again support American boots on the ground in the Middle East applaud wildly.
He claims that if he were elected president he would build the wall along the southern border, and what’s more, would get Mexico to pay for it. Offering no possible explanation of exactly how he would accomplish that, particularly in light of the President of Mexico’s vehement denial that Mexico would ever do any such thing.
When asked a lot of questions, questions that any other presidential candidate would be expected to answer, his response is that he would “get a team together to handle that,” or “he would find experts knowledgeable about that,” or “there is plenty of time before he would take office to get up to speed on that,” or other general statements which really don’t answer the question. In fact, he rarely gives concrete answers to any question, and when he does, there is a good chance that the answer contradicts something he has said previously.
In fact, Donald Trump reminds me of another candidate of recent memory. That candidate too, liked to talk in vague generalities, leaving it up to the listener to decide exactly what had been said, based in large part on their own wishful thinking. That candidate too, promised sweeping changes over what was then currently being done; in fact that candidate promised “fundamental transformation” of America. That candidate too, had hordes of followers who had no more clue as to what he really intended to do, or what he was really saying than they could fly to the moon, but who were all excited to be voting for him.
That candidate was Barack Obama.