by C. Edmund Wright 1/21/16
Donald Trump is doubling down again — but this time, his tactic might just backfire. You see, this time, in his attacks on Ted Cruz,Trump is doubling down from the left, and from the establishment position. In short, he’s gone full McConnell on Cruz. He followed up Sunday’s “nasty” comments to Clinton hack George Stephanopolous on ABC with more of the same Monday at a live appearance with relatives of John Wayne.
In the process, he has figuratively flipped the bird to Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin — both of whom have warned Trump that attacking Cruz the same way McConnell or Lindsey Graham or John McCain would is not a smart strategy.
It’s not smart in that it won’t help Trump beat Cruz — which he may well do anyway — and not so smart in that it is taking the focus off of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — who are the real problems.
Levin has gently chastised Trump on his radio show for a couple of weeks, and backed it up with a Facebook posting offering sharp but “friendly” advice to Trump. Limbaugh, a golfing buddy of Trump’s, was very slow to respond — finally criticizing him for the tactic on Monday’s show at length. I think it’s safe to say that Limbaugh’s chummy relationship with Trump has clouded the perspective of the talk host — who for some 30 years has normally been able to sniff out faux conservatives instantly and ahead of the curve. He is way behind on this one.
Of course, he doesn’t play golf with most of the others. Read into that what you will. I have.
Now for the Trump apologists who will say something snarky and meaningless like “politics ain’t bean bag” — you guys so miss the point. It’s not that Trump is attacking Cruz per se that is so alarming. It’s that he’s attacking Cruz from the left and from the establishment position. These are red flags for anyone really paying attention.
And it’s not that Cruz “can’t take it.” He’s actually handling it very well.
Both Limbaugh and Levin have made these points clear. It’s not so much that Trump is going after Cruz — it’s how and why he’s going after him. Trump has been in the minds of the voters the undisputed champion of fighting the Republican establishment — and yet he has now settled on a strategy of taking establishment talking points — and using them against the one man who has stood up to McConnell and the establishment more than any other in either chamber of Congress.
It’s painful and destructive political irony. Now that Sarah Palin, who has praised Cruz for his filibuster and tough stands in the Senate, has jumped on the Trump train 72 hours into Trump’s full McConnell versus Cruz — it is an astonishing paradox indeed.
What is so amazing is that this is not new with Trump either. And by amazing, I mean so overlooked and/or ignored by long time genuine conservative shows and websites. It’s amazing because none of this was done in secret.
He has attacked Republicans and conservatives from the left on many issues over many years. Meanwhile, he has cozied up with many leftists and many leftist positions over many years as well. He is clearly a believer that a big powerful government — led by a big powerful chief executive — can do great things. He was all in favor of TARP, the Obama Stimulus, the auto bailouts and others. And recently he has jumped into the tank for ethanol subsidies — which is more big government — and exonerated all Democrats from the Fannie/Freddie-caused economic crisis. And we all know about Kelo.
Now we’re told not to worry about this because Trump is A): fighting the establishment like no one else can; B): has brought more attention to illegal immigration and the border than anyone else; C): has rolled back political correctness 20 years, and D): has shown conservatives how to defeat the media by doubling down on hard truths instead of backing down.
And I’ll be the first to acknowledge all of that, at least to a large degree. And I was perhaps the first to acknowledge this, praising many of these very traits in this April 2011 American Thinker article, in fact. Yes, April of 2011, not 2015. And ironically, it was based on a Trump interview on the Limbaugh Show — demonstrating that I am familiar with the Rush/Trump dynamic.
So I have no problem pointing any of this out. It is what it is, and Trump is who he is. And yes, I support him against every Democrat and most Republicans — but there’s just no indication that he’s a limited government pro liberty guy. There’s plenty of red flags about what he will do and how he will respond to any number of challenges that will face him if he gets the nomination — and of course if he does obtain the keys to the Oval Office — which also could well happen.
Consider: Cruz has challenged him — leading in some Iowa polls and closing the gap in many national polls. And Trump has responded — as he so often has in distant and recent memory — from the left. He said, of Cruz’s criticism of McConnell — that Cruz has a “temperament problem” and doesn’t know how to “curry favor” to get deals done.
There’s no other way to slice that. That’s the full McConnell. That’s also the full McCain — reaching across the aisle. That’s the full Bob Dole — “we gotta pass a bill” mindset. So I pose the question: Is this the revolution that Trump’s supporters are promising us? Do we need another leader who will react from the left?
C. Edmund Wright is contributor to StubbornThings, American Thinker, Breitbart, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network and author of WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.