This morning the Wall Street Journal editorialized that it had not endorsed a candidate for the presidency since 1928 and would not break precedent for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Yesterday it laid out the case for and against Hillary. Today it offers us the good, the bad and the ugly about Donald Trump.
For your edification, it begins with the best hope:
The best hope for a Trump Presidency is that he has aligned himself with enough sound policy impulses that he could liberate the U.S. economy to grow faster again. He would stop the crush of new regulation, restore a freer market for health insurance, unleash U.S. energy production, and reform the tax code. His default priority would be growth, which the U.S. desperately needs after a decade of progressive focus on income redistribution and the worst economic recovery in 70 years.
The Journal qualifies this view by noting that Trump lacks serious policy chops:
Yet while this could be a 1980-like moment of economic renewal, Mr. Trump is no Ronald Reagan. The Gipper came to office with a coherent and firmly held world view formed by decades of reading and experience as a Governor. It isn’t obvious that Mr. Trump reads anything at all. He absorbs what he knows through conversation and watching TV, and he has no consistent philosophy.
Naturally, a newspaper that cares about the business of America is not very happy about the possibility of Trump withdrawing from trade pacts and effectively starting a trade war:
But if he follows through on his vow to withdraw from trade pacts, impose tariffs on imports and punish U.S. companies that invest abroad, he could cause a recession. The main economic battle in a Trump Administration would be between his pro-growth domestic reforms and his anti-growth trade policy.
The paper notes astutely that Obama’s has systematically divided the nation, by governing from the left and by demonizing the right. Naturally, his satraps, like Paul Krugman, believe that everything bad is the fault of Republicans, but, then again, Krugman’s decidedly unsupple mind believes that everything bad is the fault of Republicans. It beats thinking.
The Journal points out that Trump has been just as divisive as Obama. He is an Age of Obama politician:
President Obama’s greatest failure has been to govern in a deliberately polarizing fashion, and Mr. Trump’s response has been to campaign the same way. If the businessman loses a race that Republicans should win this year, one reason will be that his often harsh rhetoric has repelled women, minorities and younger voters. He ignores or twists inconvenient facts, and even when he has a good point his exaggerations make it harder to persuade the public. Yet a President needs the power to persuade.
The risk, the paper continues, lies in the possibility of what it calls “haphazard” governance, accompanied by an economic recession. If the economy goes bad during a Trump administration, Paul Krugman will go into paroxysms of ecstasy and the rest of the country will doubtless follow his lead. It will bring about a great progressive revival:
The more realistic concern, especially for conservatives, is that Mr. Trump would be as haphazard in office as he has been as a candidate and thus fail to change Washington as he has promised. Mr. Trump would start out with more than half the country disliking him, and most of his advisers lack government experience. Too many blunders or an early recession could cause voters to sweep out the GOP Congress in 2018, setting up a return to an all-progressive government in 2020.
On a larger point, Trump would rebuild the military and would be more aggressive against the Islamist terror threat. One notes that it would be difficult to be less aggressive against the terror threat.
The good news is that Mr. Trump wants to rebuild U.S. defenses that have eroded on Mr. Obama’s watch. He would be more candid about, and more aggressive against, the Islamist terror threat.
Yet, Trump’s nativism and his inexperience might very well work against him:
Yet the irony is that Mr. Trump shares Mr. Obama’s desire to have America retreat from world leadership. Beyond “bombing the hell out of ISIS” and “taking the oil,” it isn’t clear the Republican has any idea what to do in the Middle East. As a rookie in world affairs, he would be unusually dependent on his advisers—if he listened to them.
All of this is well and good. Laying out the arguments systematically does serve a useful purpose. We are grateful to the Journal for doing so.
But then, there’s the dog that didn’t bark. Have you noticed, while reading my synopsis that the world's more important conservative editorial page forgot to mention: IMMIGRATION? It has nothing to say about the refugee crisis in Europe, the dangers of increased immigration in America and Trump’s promise to do something serious about it. For her part, Hillary wants to open the doors wider and to bring in more immigrants. She wants to be a leader in the mold of Angela Merkel.
For many voters, and especially for many Republican voters, immigration trumps the other issues. Unfortunately, Trump is not a subtle thinker and is not a master of the art of communication. He has turned the issue of illegal immigration into a nativist invitation to racial prejudice and discrimination.
You know and I know that no matter what he said the Democrats would have accused him of racism and sexism. He should have known better than to serve up heaping platters of material for them to feast on. Trump was not a good enough politician to propose defending America’s borders while not attacking all Hispanics and Muslims. We will see what the voters have to say about it in a few days.