April 14th, 2021


Learning to say 'President Trump'

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published March 24, 2016

People on the left are forever thinking well about themselves when they exalt the lowly poor. When they cry out for world peace. When they declaim over race. As these Americans on the left prattle on about their alleged noble ends — as opposed to the means to those ends — some American conservatives have grown downright envious. Why cannot these conservatives think well about themselves, too, when they talk about poverty, about international relations or about race? The answer is that conservatives generally talk seriously about policies that lead to jobs for the poor, a modus vivendi for hostile nations, and the rule of law for all Americans. Still, such talk leaves these conservatives covetous of America's sanctimonious left.

Their uneasy state of mind explains why some conservative pundits are so eager to inveigh against Donald Trump, comparing him to George Wallace, Hitler and Stalin. One conservative of a scholarly turn of mind even compared Mr. Trump unfavorably to Stalin. I shall mention no names because after these conservatives get over their self-indulgent hysteria, presumably, we will renew our old friendships. Though precisely how they are going to crawl back from the extreme positions they have taken I cannot imagine. Maybe they will insist they had another George Wallace in mind, one who lives in Schenectady and was famous for helping old ladies cross the street, and the names Hitler and Stalin were quite common in old Europe before Adolf and Joe blackened their reputations.

These happy name-callers are now plotting to ambush the Republican front-runner come convention time or perhaps to run a candidate on a third party as the George Wallace I remember once did. I believe the name of his party is still available to them. It was the American Independent Party, and as with other third parties it did not do that well.

I would suggest these political Machiavels take on Mr. Trump at convention time. What we are witnessing in 2016 is the continued replacement of the national political parties with what that eminently sane Washington Post commentator, Robert J. Samuelson, has called "political entrepreneurship." "If you want," he writes, "to become president you don't need the permission of either party. You just announce, comply with the legal requirements for filing and launch your campaign." This kind of political entrepreneurship began with Jimmy Carter and has continued on to Barack Obama and now to Donald Trump. According to Mr. Samuelson, the arrival of political entrepreneurship "represents a major upheaval in U.S. politics." No wonder conservatives are anxious.

Mr. Trump is going to arrive at the convention with his 1,237 votes for the nomination, or he will be very close. Then the man who wrote "The Art of the Deal" is going to be ready to deal. He will deal with John Kasich, the popular governor of the very important state of Ohio. Mr. Trump, by the way, has already expressed his admiration for Mr. Kasich. Or there is Scott Walker, the very conservative governor of Wisconsin. Another popular governor is Rick Scott from the voter-rich state of Florida, who has already joined a growing number of politically alive politicians to endorse Mr. Trump. Doubtless there are other potential deal-makers out there. Of a sudden powerful political leaders are showing a new appreciation for Mr. Trump, a man who is new to politics if not to public life, but who has shown astounding political skills, not the least of which is identifying issues popular with the electorate. What is more, he is finding new coalitions of voters to join the Republican Party, for instance moderate Democrats and independents. My guess is that Donald is going to be difficult to outmaneuver at this forthcoming convention.

Yet the Republicans of uneasy mind can try. They will need a candidate and right now, the only plausible candidate I have heard of is former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. They will need to persuade a majority of convention-goers, assuming Mr. Trump has fallen short of the magic number of delegates in the first ballot. Finally, they will need plenty of smoke to fill the smoke-filled room. That is going to be very tough. Have you ever tried to carry smoke into an empty room? Especially when you do not smoke.

Actually, I think I would forget about the smoke-filled room at convention time or even persuading the delegates to recast their votes. If I were the conservatives who have been throwing around names like Hitler and Stalin at Donald Trump, I would be practicing the enunciation of the words "President Donald Trump" — the sooner, the better.

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R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.