Name that Politician

Time to play “Name that Politician.” I’ll use present tense and American lingo although the politician may be modern or historical, American or British.

1.      He is notorious or famous for his uncompromising positions on his pet projects which are considered outrageous and outlandish by a great many people.
2.      He changed parties at least once and was often seen in the company of the political enemy.
3.      While in his job (be it political or private) he often used patronage (securing jobs for friends of friends) for getting projects through.
4.      His marital life was often a target of his political enemies.
5.      Detractors often pointed to his many failures.
6.      He was criticized by many for being opposed to the major war of his time when he ran for president.
7.      When he ran for president, he was not popular among large groups of people.
8.      When campaigning he often fought back politically by pitting his opponents against each other by carefully planned political patronage and by appealing to the people with his powers of oratory.
9.      His bedrock principles were noted as nationalism, and republicanism.
10.   He was known as a talker. He could talk for hours and often did.

Not sure who you were thinking about, but, if you said Winston Churchill, you could mostly be right although I’ve never quite associated his philosophies with republicanism and have never read any criticism of his wife, Clementine or Clemmie as he called her. But he failed often in politics, changed parties several times, levied criticism against the bunglings of WWI and most of the other points.

But all ten certainly applied to the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln. And I chose to write briefly about him because it’s a beautiful spring day and I’m gazing out at our lilac bush that’s about to bloom. The frost has spared the blossoms and soon it will spring forth in all its beauty. For most, that is an amazing occasion, but, for me it is a rather melancholy time for it brings to my mind these lines from Walt Whitman:

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

He wrote these as the opening lines to his elegy for the funeral of Abraham Lincoln, for it was on a spring day like today in 1865 that Lincoln succumbed to the effects of the shot from JW Booth the night before. April 15, 1865 to be exact.

It would be well for all to remember during this primary election season to temper our enthusiasm for our candidates and antipathy for those we oppose. Booth’s ember of political hatred once enflamed led to death of a great leader. 

Trying to Put Some Reasoning into Politics

What in the World Does Anyone See in Trump
By Mark Stoddard
Taking Donald Trump to task is too easy. No one has ever blown himself up to be larger not only than life, but than a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Snoopy Balloon. He knows the pot shots are coming but only inflates himself more, caring less for the incoming fire.

Nowhere does he get more incoming righteous indignation fire than from Utahns seething with wrath for his Gadianton visage, lack of Cleon Skousen upbringing and the missing Ezra Taft Benson sensibilities for the Constitution. Many that I meet insist Trump is not a Republican, neither a consistent conservative nor even a conservative, and so forth. Others just say he is evil…pure evil, although I’ve never understood that oxymoron.

I’ve had plenty of Romney clones assure me Trump is a phony and his billions of dollars aren’t real. That Trump’s business failings, unlike Romney’s, were big deals, but their sources are always “a friend of a friend told me and he knows.”

I assure them that like Marc Antony, this Mark has not come to praise Caesar but to bury him. Or at least understand him – and like Opie told Sheriff Andy, “Let’s give him a fair trial and then hang him.”

To that end I’ve gathered my wheel barrows of research collected not only from when the Donald first announced he was running , but in the mid 1980’s when I first saw him in New York City and read his light weight book, The Art of the Deal. My business associate at the time, Byron Boothe, assured me he didn’t think much of the flamboyant millionaire because he had dinner in Trump’s group and Donald had a drink… with an umbrella in it. What kind of a hard driving real estate mogul drinks Shirley Temple’s, Byron insisted. Turns out Donald is a teetotaler and doesn’t care if anyone likes it or not. Pretty much the way he does everything.

Back to a year ago. When my brother called me from California to let me know he’d heard Trump had thrown his hair into the ring to run for the presidency I asked for which party. I half expected he’d gone back to the Reform Party of Ross Perot. But, no, he declared he was now a Republican all the way. Unless they weren’t nice to him. I told my brother I wouldn’t hold my breath. Give Donald a week or two to self-destruct with several off-message comments that would sink his tenuous ship.

In the months since then Trump has scored more off-message comments than I can count and they’ve driven his media coverage through the roof along with his negatives. In my previous life as a political hack in D.C., the president of our grassroots citizen’s lobby, Neal B. Blair used to preach that if you can drive the opponents negatives high enough, he could never recover.

Well, Trump has gleefully collected the negative rule books and a bunch of other campaign conventional wisdom rule books and burned them on his way to a commanding lead and the probable nomination of the Republican Party. And, yes, my friends in Utah, he actually is a Republican according to all of the ballots and Republican Party records.

One high ranking Republican friend at the Utah Republican Convention I attended confided in me that his daughter had been doing research on Hitler’s rise to power and he thought it scary how many similarities there were with Trump’s rise. I yawned and suggested about 10 points where Winston Churchill’s rise was also similar.  He paused to give that some thought, and then concluded that powerful people do tend to have much in common with their accumulations of power – both those who do it legitimately and those who don’t. In fact, Ted Cruz’s methods of scoring delegates is actually more comparable to some of Hitler’s tactics than Churchill or Trump’s methods of populism. At least Hitler started a party and kept to it while both Churchill and Trump changed parties. (Knowing history is a bummer.)

My friend asked why I supported Trump and I said, “whoa, cowboy. The election isn’t today. I have no vote until November. I support no one. I’m in a state of gathering information. Pondering.” So he asked me, “What is good about Donald Trump?”

I suggested that the first clue to that answer is that if you have to ask that question it might be that your personal prejudices are so high that you’re blind to the obvious strong points. I asked him, “Why do you think so many otherwise intelligent people like Dr. Ben Carson, Phyllis Schlafly, Geraldo Rivera, Rudy Gulliani, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Newt Gingrich, Lou Dobbs, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have good things to about Donald Trump? (Not that they’ve all endorsed him, but they do say many good things about him.) Why does his ex-wife who he admits he severely wronged, stand up for him so strongly and promote him as a presidential candidate?”

He thought about it. “Those aren’t stupid people. I think it’s his innate or perhaps developed sense of leadership in getting something done. He has gotten things done and in a government that’s in gridlock; in Washington D.C. where we’ve both worked and nothing works, our fellow citizens are sick to death of politicians who can’t get anything to work.”

I agreed. Despite Mitt Romney’s protestations about Trump being a phony, Trump has actually accomplished quite a lot. Just look at the heaps of criticism about all of the buildings with his name plastered on the top – Trump. He’s got an edifice naming complex for sure. But, they’re on buildings he’s built. When’s the last time you built a building. As a former general contractor, I have respect for anyone who even dabbles in building. It takes a considerable amount of coordinating leadership to pull together the subcontractors, inspectors, materials and testing to put even a small house together. Try doing it for a skyscraper in Manhattan. Trump has accomplished more in business than Mitt Romney, and Mitt has an impressive resume.

Like any business person, Trump has made mistakes – some whoppers in fact. So did Romney. Our country was founded on people who were unafraid to make whoppers. Big deal. Some of Trump’s businesses were either ugly, shady or awful. I have no interest in dealing in gambling or strip joints. For him it was just another business. Voters will have to weigh the evidence and compare those legal but unsavory businesses with the way Hillary Clinton conducted the seamy quid pro quo and crony capitalism of the Clinton Foundation. I suspect that will end up a wash with neither side getting clean.
My friend asked about Trump’s divorces. Yep, he’s had them. Of course Kasich had one and Trump had two. Not sure if we’re supposed to keep score. Some insist Donald’s penchant for marrying beautiful eastern European models is a disqualifying trait. I’d rather not get into the peccadillos of past presidents. It broke my heart when I found out Ike stepped out on Mamie Eisenhower, but then again, she was no pin up model so does that factor back into the equation or should we just stop this sort of questioning? Unless we bring up Marilyn and Jackie and JFK. Aww. I give! Monica beat them all and Hillary enabled.

In the end, we both decided if Trump were to be the Republican nominee, the best advice is to study up on him without all of the knee-jerk reactions and try to sift through his character and issues. Ignore his smoke screens and lack of political sophistication in giving well thought out political double speech…something we both agreed was at least refreshing.

We listed a few thinks we both like about Trump:
1.      He is a generalist. No, he doesn’t have well thought out policy answers. For those stultifying policy discussions we’d have to go to Hillary to bore us. Trump lays out vision. That’s what leaders and generals do. They hire colonels to create the deals, and lieutenants and sergeants to carry out the plan. And Trump does have his vision. Specifically he says he wants to:
a.      Stop illegal immigration.
b.      Promote proper immigration and streamline it.
c.      Eliminate huge trade imbalances.
d.      Make better trade deals
e.      Encourage our businesses to stay here.
f.       Have an incentive tax system to encourages our businesses to invest here and bring their money parked overseas back to the USA.
g.      Protect the 2nd Amendment.
h.      Protect the unborn except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.
i.       Repeal Obamacare. We did wonder what Trump meant by his thoughts that he couldn’t let a poor person die in the streets because he had no insurance. Again, a generalist comment. His references to that have to do with putting it back to the states to figure out. He does seem to like Federalist solutions – let the States decide.
2.      He is learning and is starting to pivot to a less amateurish persona.
3.      He says he’s going to produce a list of conservative judges he would nominate to SCOTUS who will be strict constitutionalists. Smart move if he follows the list.
4.      His family. Anybody with an impressive family of five kids can’t be all bad. I believe someone once stated something about “by their fruits you’ll know them.”
5.      He has vigor and works tirelessly unlike Hillary and Obama.
6.      He doesn’t yet have a politician’s vocabulary and stuffy speech but, unfortunately, he’s likely to acquire it.
7.      We saw nothing racist or anti-woman about him. Let’s start with racist. Yes, he speaks ill of illegal Mexican immigrants, but, Mexico is a country, not a race. On Muslims he suggested a temporary halt until our documentation process could be verified and other generalizations but to the obvious point, Islam is a religion, not a race. So, where are the racism objections?
Now the anti-women charge. It’s obvious from his business dealings that he employs and promotes freely men and women of any and every race. He sees green first. At least so far as the evidence is concerned. True, he’s made terrible comments about a handicapped person and about Rosie O’Donnell and some other individual women. That makes him a jerk, not a racist, bigot or other “ists.” He seems to be an equal opportunity offender at times, and a charmer at others. Don’t know how he’ll change in the Oval Office. Could be a problem if he gives Angela Merkel a wedgie or tries to high five the Pope.
8.      We believe him when he says he abhors abortion now and has a pro-life conversion. We believe him as much as we do Romney in his change in abortion stances.
9.      He’s loyal and sticks by his people.  Cruz, Kasich, the media, Clinton, Sanders all said Trump should have fired his campaign manager for grabbing that female reporter but Trump stood by his guy and now the facts prove Trump right and the rest as reactionaries.
10.   He is or can be an SOB. But, as FDR said about George Patton, “yes, he’s an SOB but he’s our SOB and is going to kick the butt of their SOB.”

We’re not about to coronate him, not by half, but at least he’s not Satan and deserves a fair hearing before we string him up at the Convention. We mostly found his greatest positive is… he isn’t Hillary Clinton.

The Real Trouble With Trump

The trouble with Trump is not his bombast nor his name calling nor his choice of inflammatory topics. People get over that. Nor is it his policies. Currently, his critics who call him names about his desire to temporarily halt Muslims from coming to America until the US visa process becomes far less porous have no viable proposals to solve the wolves-among-the-lambs scenario we now face.

But, agree, disagree with those or whatever the next conflagration of thought is; it doesn’t matter. The trouble with Trump is his entertaining personality, his flamboyance that attracts people and his ability to articulate what is bothering so many Americans. With those qualities he could very well ride the White Horse into the White House.

So what is the problem? The White Horse. In times of trouble the electorate or the masses seek an end to the tribulations by rallying around the person riding the white horse, a symbol of dynamic victory. They decide that because of the person’s charisma, dynamic influence and staunch stances against the status quo, all problems will soon be solved when the emperor mounts the steps to the Senate and declares it is a new age.

In the rambling rhetoric of the man on the white horse people find great comfort – and I say man because with the exceptions of Boudicca of Britain, Rebecca of Judah and three or four others no one has heard much about, women do not ride white horses to victory although Joan of Arc tried and died. That’s because the rhetoric is so wide, so rambling that the masses can begin with the white horse leader’s language and then fill in the massive gaps with their own language. God said he created man in his own image. The masses create white horse leaders in the masses’ own image.

We saw it with Barack Obama. Vacuous promises of hope and change were voids filled in by the yearning masses.

Donald Trump is another Barack Obama. In fact, Obama created the vacuum for Trump to fill. And that’s the problem. When a leader comes to power by way of an excited electorate that has created a candidate in their own image, they are soon met by the reality that they’ve elected him president, not emperor. The proletariat cravings that got Obama’s electorate excited were the cravings for sweeping benefits for themselves and massive changes to the American political landscape. It didn’t happen because it couldn’t happen. Obama is president, not emperor, executive orders not withstanding.

Yet Trumpians expect that when the emperor stands on the Senate steps, the Senate will acquiesce to all he asks. Emperors don’t ask, they tell. But Senators, Congressmen, and bureaucrats just yawn at dictations and go about their business.

“Ah, but Alexander cut through the Gordian knot bureaucracy with one fell swoop of his sword!”, they say. True. Welcome to the world of non-sequiturs. Trump has no such sword, nor do we really want him to have it. That’s why we got rid of George III. Hence a written constitution limiting powers.

Trump has had only the powers of the free market, the will of bureaucrats opposing him, and the stubbornness of reality. All could bend to his strengths. He could buy off politicians and admits to openly donating to any political party if it could be swayed by him. As president, pay offs are still available in the form of pork barrel spending granted to a senator for his or her vote. Trump will use those freely. Bribes to foreign governments in the form of aide and professed alliances will be used. But when those alliances need Trump, the wheeler dealer may be off on another deal and will sell out to whoever is on the other end of his latest deal.

A president with no real deep seated convictions is prone to do such things. So is a president like Obama who has an ideological agenda… the metaphysical results are the same although the destiny of America can be changed by either.

Ronald Reagan was blessed with an agenda that was clear – stop communism. He believed it and as president could move voters to believe he meant what he said. He followed it up knowing his base was 100% behind this noble goal. Reagan tried the same tactics – cool persuasion, intelligent argument, persistent prodding – with Tip O’Neil and the Democratic congress to get tax cuts and spending cuts. He could only manage tax cuts and never reduced spending, just the rate of increase. Presidents are not emperors after all.

Should Trump become president, and as of this date that is clearly a distinct possibility with Hillary ready to implode with yet another revelation of corruption and no viable options from the left to oppose Trump, he will find the constitutional straight jacket he’ll wear to be none too comfortable – too confining. Then he’ll do what Jefferson did with the Louisiana Purchase – create powers heretofore unknown to the constitution or the presidency.

He will also willingly sell out his supporters because in business negotiations, of which Trump is a master, you know half a loaf is better than no loaf. So you compromise. This country was founded on compromise when John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, two staunch abolitionists, allowed objections to slavery to be omitted from the Declaration of Independence in return for the Carolina states’ support. 

These great Americans, Adams and Franklin, reasoned that as repugnant as slavery was, they could never get rid of it until they had a country. So they voted for American independence first, and then went to work on the abolition of slavery. Trump will find opportunities for his “making America great again” agenda but will find he’ll have to trade votes for this agenda and sell out on issues like abortion, family rights and other social issues to get the “great again” issues passed. The purists on the right who now support him will be apoplectic.

He will be tough with ISIS, China and Mexico. He’ll likely find himself in a trade war of paralleled proportions because China IS governed by a defacto emperor and the leader and his gang can do as they please, unrestrained by a constitution. Mexico will be buoyed by China and soon ally themselves with China against the USA. Trump will fight back by attacking ISIS – deflection and inference are always good negotiating tactics. 

Immigration will haunt him. He’ll want illegals to come in legally. They won’t until companies stop hiring them and getting companies to hire more expensive gringos who won’t do the dirty work will be a Gordian knot he can’t cut on day one. Building a wall will be easy compared to getting Congress to pass the funding for it. Bush wanted a wall. So did Clinton. But who would vote for funding? Congress is not housing stupid people as Trump claims. Key votes will need to be bribed and they’ll hold out for the best deal. They’ve been insulted by him and will make him pay for his insolence to the establishment.

Trump will go crazy and will try to be Reagan and go over the head of Congress. That won’t work because Congress can deflect responsibility through endless sub-committees until Trump busts the budget and doles out pork in record amounts. The real cost of the wall will be 10 times the brick and mortar required. And he will NOT have solved the source of the problem – fellow business leaders needing cheap labor.

With no stated ideological agenda except “Making America Great Again,” Trump will find homegrown allies tough to come by. They won’t know if they are on the In or the Out, even if they’re currently In.

Trump will discover that while Americans wail about “do nothing politicians” we actually prefer them to politicians like Obama who go around creating new laws, entitlements, rights and objectives.

Alas, the white horse will turn grey and the masses will turn against Trump as a turncoat, a phony who speaks loudly and wields a little stick. Trump is smart, and may learn to go against his instincts and start creating allies now instead of enemies. Don’t count on it. A warrior atop a white horse can only hear the roar of the crowds, not sound of the barbarians inside the gates.

PS. Where I leave doesn’t have a primary for some time so I have NO dog in this hunt and I will have none until I see who the candidates-left-standing are. Then, I’ll put aside what I really want and deal with the choices I have. Life is always “compared to what” and will use that standard.