Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - The Trump Card and Rock Star Politics

 Trump's ballooning polls are drawing all the predictable reactions. But the debate over Trump misses the point. Why has Trump made such a big splash at all? It's because he's a bold assertive communicator who unapologetically says what so many are thinking. Whether or not he believes what he's saying.

To anyone complaining about how well Trump is polling-- that just shows what's missing. I am not recommending Trump, his business success is mostly myth and he carefully controls and cultivates his image. But as part of his image consciousness, he has hit on exactly what it takes to oppose Obama. The Randian figure of the successful straight talking hard charging businessman, in sharp contrast to Obama's nuances and lack of assertiveness. Obama is an egotist who pretends to be a humanitarian, Trump doesn't pretend.

Trump would not be a problem for either Republicans or Democrats-- if Republicans had their act together. But the shortage of viable candidates has created a vacuum. And the Donald just stepped into that vacuum.

Trump is polling well, because he sticks out in a field of mediocre and not ready for prime time candidates. His image won't stand up too well to close scrutiny, but for most voters that's not an issue. People have an idea of who Trump is in their minds that outweighs the media's image of him. The media was able to shape Palin's public image with their smear campaigns because she was an unknown. They had more trouble doing the same thing to McCain. With Trump they have to work with what they have, which is all the things that Trump admits to anyway.

But as I said before, this isn't really about Trump. It's about us. It's about a lack of leadership.

Conservatives complain about RINO's, but then why does it fall to Northeastern liberal Republicans like Christie and Giuliani to be the rock stars of the party. Where are the true blue conservatives leaders who can take office, dramatically reshape a city or state, take on established interests and maintain an assertive media profile. Palin has come closest to doing the same thing, but as much as I like her, she has yet to move beyond her base.

There was a time when Republicans were thinking of changing the law so that Schwarzenegger could be president. Not because he was qualified, but because he was a rock star. In office, he went another way as soon as his slogans met reality. Trump's appearance smacks of the same thing. He's a rock star and this is rock star politics. We can decry it, but the alternative is to run our own version of Adlai Stevenson or Goldwater, the man who says the right things, but gets creamed by public perception.

But you know Reagan was a rock star too. And a divorced former union president. He had core conservative beliefs, they weren't of the dogmatic variety demanded by some now. But he communicated them in a way that made sense to people, no matter what the media said.

The attacks on Trump from the left have been predictable. The attacks from the right also. Even if we close our eyes and try to pretend that Trump is a conservative or a Republican (he's not), then he's of the Northeastern urban/suburban liberal variety. Which means that he treats universal health care, open borders and gun control as default solutions. That's no different than Romney or Christie. And probably not just them either. Those are all major problems with candidates of that stripe.

Some of the criticisms of Trump are on point. He has a long history of supporting both Democrats and Republicans opportunistically. It's unknown to what extent that's social lobbying, but probably to a large extent it was. "I was telling them what they wanted to hear then, but I'm not doing that to you now", doesn't make for a credible defense. Though it's common enough among politicians. Who is the real Trump? You'll have to elect him to know.

I wouldn't go so far as to call Trump insincere either. He seems to be one of a string of figures in the New York business community lashing out at Obama. I doubt Trump's conservatism, but I don't doubt his disgust at Obama.

Last year his daughter was being critical of Obama. I doubt it was prep work for an unlikely candidacy. Especially since it's what I hear day in and day out from Democrats lashing out at Obama over his mismanagement of the economy. And while it's easy to point to his bipartisan campaign donations, his PAC donations outside the RNC and DNC have been to generally pro-business groups. So I may doubt Trump's position on abortion, but I don't doubt his generally pro-business worldview.

Politically it's most probable that Trump is an independent. He donates to both Republicans and Democrats. He probably doesn't like or dislike either party very much, favoring Republicans on economic issues and Democrats on social issues. Foreign affairs probably mean very little to him. He might be classed as a libertarian, but he's certainly not against government social policies. And so he's making a direct case that the government is being mismanaged. And it's a case that appeals to a lot of people.

His proposal for a one time 14.25 tax on trusts and individuals with over 10 million dollars to close the deficit as a tradeoff for eliminating the federal inheritance tax is loopy, but it's also creative as a perverse method of demolishing a table leg of the greed state. Albeit unserious.

Some attacks though are rigidly dogmatic. Smart Money claims trump is no capitalist because he wants to impose a 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods and is opposed to a German takeover of the New York stock exchange.

Those aren't pure capitalist positions, but they are legitimately American and conservative positions. Otherwise opposing immigration's influx of cheap labor would also make you a traitor to capitalism. Isn't limiting jobs in American companies to people whom the government decides can come here also a case of the government picking winners and losers in the marketplace?

Smart Money claims that barriers to trade are right out of Karl Marx. Then Reagan must have been staying up nights reading Das Kapital because he was one of the more aggressively protectionist presidents. But then he was an American president who defended his country's interests, rather than some abstract notion that we had to respond to Japan's own protectionism by turning the other economic cheek.

Anti-protectionists say that tariffs force consumers to pay more for goods. But what is the real cost of even Wal-Mart Chinese junk when people don't have the jobs to pay for them? With an 80's Japan or an 00's China which uses state subsidized production and control to produce masses of cheap products for export to America-- protectionism is simply self-defense. To a pure capitalist it might not matter much if America survives, or if it loses its manufacturing sector completely, but to an American leader it should.

But there's no real point to the nitpicking. Trump is not an ideal candidate. And we don't have any who are.

As in 2008, far more Republicans know which candidates they are opposed to, than the candidate they support. The ether is full of negative talking points about Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich, Pawlenty, etc. Positive reasons to support candidates that are based on reason, not emotion, are much harder to come by. We are either told to support unprincipled candidates who can win or principled candidates who can't win.

Facing such bad choices, Trump should be a wakeup call. Not to elect him, but to think seriously about 2012 before it's too late. We have good candidates or good men. Now we need a good man who is also a good candidate.

Turning to more local news, the University of North Carolina is caught in a web of hypocrisy over the Matney case.

Matney was a gay student who claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime, but the burns supposedly inflicted by an anonymous assailant turned out to be self-inflicted. The Daily Tar Heel however censored comments pointing out that the injuries had been faked and now that the hoax has been exposed, is feeding sympathy for Matney.

Whatever Matney's issues are, had the case gone forward and had another student been arrested, a life could have been ruined. Instead the UNC has gone forward with a forum on hate crimes, even though no hate crime occurred.

And somehow Matney is still the victim

Gathering inside Gardner Hall, members of the community sympathized with Matney’s motivation to cover up an act of self-mutilation. And they worked to make sure others like him don’t feel marginalized.

“I think there’s tremendous stigma around mental health issues in our community,” said Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs. “It is disturbing and sad whenever a person feels like they have to hide.”

As narratives go this one is just crazy. Matney was the perpetrator here, not the victim. He wasted police and university resources by falsely claiming that a crime had occurred. He undermined the credibility of future hate crime victims. And yet the determination is to paint him as the victim.

Self-mutilation and mental health problems are not that unusual. But by making a false accusation that could have landed someone in jail, Matney went beyond abusing himself and into abusing others.

The excuses for Matney make no sense.

Matney’s father, David Matney III, said Wednesday that his son’s burns were self-inflicted. He said Matney reported the incident as a hate crime because he was embarrassed to admit he had hurt himself.

All he had to do was claim that he had an accident in the kitchen. No one would have cared much. He could have claimed that he was attacked by a random assailant.

Instead he did a very specific thing. He manufactured a hate crime for the likely purpose of getting attention. Mission accomplished.

Now over to Israel where an ISM member and pro-terrorist protest tourist named Vittorio Arrigoni was kidnapped and executed by Muslim terrorists in Gaza. Which is profoundly ironic because Vittorio Arrigoni was a huge fan of terrorists.

When describing the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, Arrigoni called the terrorists 'commandos', somehow I doubt he was as complimentary toward his own kidnappers.

The supreme irony here is that Arrigoni finally discovered that as much love as he had for "the people of Gaza", he was just another dirty infidel. It's a lesson that Western leftists will keep getting taught over and over again.

Though I honestly doubt it will ever sink in. Even when like Arrigoni they're sitting blindfolded with a camera pointed at their heads.

Oh and that Palestinian state they're all lining up to support, it's a giant welfare state.

from the World Bank report

The economic growth observed in West Bank and Gaza is arguably donor-driven... the growth is mostly confined to the non-tradable sector and reflects the importance of donor aid in driving the Palestinian economy...

Thus, growth is mostly confined to the non-tradable sector and probably reflects the importance of donor aid in driving the Palestinian economy. Israel remains WB&G’s largest trading partner, yet in the first three quarters of 2010, exports of goods and services to Israel were only about US$480 million in nominal terms...

Because of the need to fund development projects for which designated aid was not received, the PA was forced to increase bank borrowing and accumulate arrears at an unsustainable rate. Net domestic bank financing increased by about US$84 million, with gross borrowing of US$200 million, so that at the end of 2010, total domestic debt stood at about US$840 million, which may be close to the PA’s borrowing limits. In 2010, the PA paid close to US$23 million in arrears in net lending, but it accumulated another US$144 million in new arrears.

Total domestic debt twice as high as exports, an economy based entirely on soliciting money from the US and the EU. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Obama for Palestinian president. Oh wait, he is already.

And good news. Fayad wants another 5 billion dollars to create a Palestinian state. In 2007 he was asking for a billion euros and it's done 'wonders'.

By way of comparison, look at this 1938 footage of Jewish militia training under General Wingate

In less than a decade, they became an army and defeated the armies of most of the regional powers combined. In a generation they were considered a match for many European militaries. And that was before a cent of US aid ever came their way.

Compare that to the pathetic site of terrorist leaders like Abbas and Fayad carrying on a holy war for popularity and then demanding money for a state.

Finally Steven Plaut has an important piece on Lessons from the Ivory Coast at Front Page Magazine

The most important aspects of the crisis in the Ivory Coast are being overlooked or deliberately disguised by the Western media. One can read media report after media report without discovering the basic fact that the Northern Ivory Coast “rebels” are Muslims. Indeed they are Muslims who by and large entered the Ivory Coast as infiltrators, through borders that are poorly patrolled, from neighboring countries. A better advertisement for stronger border control cannot be found. At least four million illegal immigrants, mostly Muslim, entered the Ivory Coast during the past two decades, tilting the demographic balance there.

And these Muslim infiltrators and interlopers, increasingly backed by African, French and Western powers, are challenging the control by Ivory Coast natives over their own country. The sufferings and violence in the Ivory Coast may well illustrate what awaits Europe if it continues its own demographic suicide and if it continues to flood itself with Muslim immigrants.

Read the whole thing. It's happening here.


Rita said...

As an Australian of German origine living in France at the moment, I only have a superficial knowledge of American politicicians.

What I have seen of Alan West online has impressed me.

What do YOU think of him as a potential future President?

Anonymous said...

The difference between Israel and the
future {?} state of Palestine is that
For Israel it was and still is a struggle that you must win . For the Pal's the real purpose is to destroy Israel.

Anonymous said...

NO TRUMP, NO TRUMP, NO TRUMP. I'm sorry but in some ways Donald Trump may actually be scarier than Obama. Does the man really stand for anything - we need someone who cares about principals. His principals are to grease whatever hand furthers his personal cause - yeah, that seems a lot like a politician - but the kind the Tea Party movement (The American People) is trying to get rid of.
Ask yourself - what are Donald Trump's values?
He likes business and money - but at what cost. What price does a man put on his soul?
Look at who he has given money to over the years. Look at who he has complained about.
Are we honestly going to FLUSH all moral values down the toilet for some glimmer of fiscal responsibility - and I actually question Trump's wisdom in regard to that.
I believe a lot of folks are being duped by Trump - just like folks were duped by Obama.
I sure hope we get better than this as an Obama/Trump fight would be one that I would stay at home and miss.

Pym Leico said...

Thanks, David, for your alternate views on the Côte d'Ivoire.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I don't belittle the importance of the next American presidential elections. If, however, an economic collapse accompanied by hyperinflation takes place before then, the elections may end up being a mere sideshow to the drama in the streets. The president may end up as a figurehead over a military government.

Without panicking, ask yourself if you and your family could survive for a week or a month if the supermarket shelves were bare and the banks and ATMs were temporarily closed. Sure, the government might eventually get around to distributing surplus cheese and crackers, but what would you do in the mean time?

Consider storing enough essentials to make it through a few months of economic dislocation. Some extremists have gone so far as to move out of the big cities to more sedate locations that may be less likely to see rioting mobs. Don't know if you have to go that far, but ask yourself how bad it could get.

Elections are fun, but you have to think about your personal security, too.

Linda Rivera said...

The fact that the Koran teaches Muslims to conquer all peoples and nations and subjugate intensely hated non-Muslims under excessively cruel Islamic sharia law where defenseless non-Muslims have no human rights, and knowing this, Western leaders have brought massive numbers of Muslims into our Western countries, has to be the biggest betrayal in all history.

And another vile betrayal of innocents, as French military and UN troops with very strong U.S. backing, joined in global jihad against Ivory Coast Christians. We should all be in the streets protesting.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

rita, West is good on the war on terror certainly, but he just got elected, he won't be running in 2012 for the white house

Rita said...

Thanks Daniel. Perhaps then for 2016...and lets hope that by then they have not destroyed Israel with the zealous help of Obama.

seraz said...

I don't like Trump - for lack of principles, etc. but I would not say he is scarier than Obama. I think Obama's principles are very anti-American, he is bent on destroying US in all possible ways, and into promoting Islam within US and worldwide. And not just any Islam, but "Islamism" kind of Islam. At least Trump is not an enemy of US (I think).

Also, I find it interesting that this article is mostly about Trump, about his motivations, etc, and somehow fails to mention main focus of his attack on Obama - eligibility to being President.

I think Trump got so popular so fast not only because of his name recognition, but also because he is not afraid to openly demand that Obama proves his eligibility to be president. Everybody else - Palin, Ron Paul - somehow afraid to touch the issue, and I think because of this they loose trust of many potential supporters. If the candidate (i.e. Palin) afraid to raise the issue of eligibility, and doesn't mind that potentially some usurper got into White House, how can you trust such politician? Many people desperately looking for candidate who would not be afraid to stand up for Constitution.

Anonymous said...


I completely agree with your assesment regarding Donald Trump. There is a vacuum and he is filling it. I'm pretty sick of the attacks on him from the right and I don't support Trump but for the very reasons you stated. I also agree with you regarding the "pure capitalist" theory. I'm sick of it and so are most americans. I'm told I have choice when I shop but I can't find dog crap bags at any store that isn't made in china. I'm willing to pay more too. Ditto on a comforter. I think we need some protectionist policies.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

We need policies that put our country first. No ideology is worth sacrificing a country to.

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