Donald Trump is having his moment. And quite a moment it has become. His flamboyant bombastic style seems to be just what America was looking for. If it sounds like the unalloyed truth, that merely shows what has been passing for political debate in today's America.
In truth, it is not going to last, because there’s nothing behind it. Trump is speaking for those whose voices have been silenced, but he lacks experience in government and does not understand enough about policy to present himself as a viable presidential candidate.
Last night on Sean Hannity he was repeating his talking points, points that are getting stale from overuse. His major qualification, that he has negotiated business deals with China is an empty boast. He can negotiate a business deal because he knows his business. He has extensive experience and he knows the details. You cannot, by definition, have a masterful command of business and trade while at the same time having a masterful command of the intricacies of government-to-government negotiation.
It’s not as though Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have never dealt with empty blowhards before.
By now, Republicans are holding their breath. Trump has the potential to seriously damage the Republican Party and make Hillary Clinton the president, especially if he chooses to run as an independent. For now he is refusing to rule out the possibility, and that is alarming, to say the least.
For now his message is resonating. Peggy Noonan asked some non-Republican friends for their reaction. She explains:
… two independent voters and one Democrat (they are all working-class or think of themselves that way) volunteered to me this week how much they like him, and why. This is purely anecdotal, but here’s what they said:
They think he’s real, that he’s under nobody’s thumb, that maybe he’s a big-mouth but he’s a truth-teller. He’s afraid of no one, he’s not politically correct. He’s rich and can’t be bought by some billionaire, because he is the billionaire. He’s talking about what people are thinking and don’t feel free to say. He can turn the economy around because he made a lot of money, so he probably knows how to make jobs.
Trump has gained traction because, as I said in a previous post, he feels like the antidote to Obama, the antidote to the bullying, hectoring atmosphere that has infested the media and the academy during the Obama years. He is standing up to the politically correct juggernaut and is being punished for as much. Compared to most, he can afford it, but the assault on Trump by the radical left has certainly burnished his brand.
Trump is resonating in a world whose political culture has been defined by Barack Obama. Like it or not, Barack Obama, no less than Donald Trump, is not a serious man.
In Noonan’s words:
Mr. Trump is not a serious man, which is part of his appeal in a country that has grown increasingly unserious.
He’s a showman in a country that likes to watch shows—a country that believes all politics is showbiz now, and all politicians are entertainers of varying degrees of competence. At least Mr. Trump is honest about it.
He capitalizes on the fact that no one in America trusts politicians anymore.
I have no idea why Noonan does not give President Obama “credit” for the deplorable state of public discourse in America, but, it is not mine to judge.
As the Trump candidacy gains traction, the Wall Street Journal has now editorialized on the man who looks like the Democratic caricature of Republicans.
To begin with, the Journal explains that Trump is not a conservative:
But in any case he’s a political fad who will fade as voters learn that he’s no conservative. He donates money to Democrats because he says “you’re gonna need things from everybody,” which is not the best tea party appeal. He loves corporate welfare, especially government seizure of property so he can build his properties. He gives no evidence of knowing anything about public policy, other than he’d stand up to China and the menace of Mexico—though he concedes that “some” Mexicans “are good people.”
If Jeb Bush, with his squishy and sentimental attitude toward illegal immigration has been hurt the most by the Trump candidacy, Governor Rick Perry has seized the opportunity to present himself as a serious candidate.
Perry is the only candidate who has responded effectively and substantively to the challenge Trump represents. After all, Perry has what Trump does not have: government experience. The question has been: how to highlight the difference.
After giving a widely praised speech about the Republican Party and race, Perry has now offered a precise and detailed plan for closing the border and stemming the tide of illegal immigrants.
At the Commentary Contentions blog, Noah Rothman writes:
In a video released by Perry’s campaign on Wednesday, the former Texas governor took the opportunity to highlight his own considerable record addressing border security and immigration-related affairs in his three terms as governor of one of the Union’s largest states. Perry took the time to detail the steps he has taken, and those that will be necessary, to effectively stem the tide of illegal immigration. It was, as attorney and RedState contributor Dan McLaughlin submitted, a Republican Sister Souljah moment.
Rothman compares Perry to Trump and he is clearly comparing show with substance:
While the reality television star sells disenchanted Republican primary voters on the notion of a great wall of the Rio, constructed at no taxpayer cost, which would alone succeed at keeping border-crossers out where other barriers have failed, Perry identified the effective, human elements necessary to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. He also projected a sincerity Trump lacked when accurately noting that citizens of Mexican descent are an integral part of the American social fabric. Such comments may sound trite, but these are the wages demanded of a party that elevates a figure like Trump to frontrunner status – however fleeting that condition might be….
Since entering the race for the White House, Perry has been turning in a string of stellar performances. The rest of the Republican field would do well to take a page from his playbook.