Donald Trump is not a traditional Republican — including on some big issues

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Carr: Poll pegs Hillary’s, Jeb’s problems.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs during the National Federation of Republican Assemblies at Rocketown in Nashville, Tennessee August 29, 2015. As Donald Trump left the stage at Ernie Boch’s mansion in suburban Boston on Friday night, attendees clawed at him, shouting for attention, for handshakes and, of course, for selfies.

Consider the top three words voters used to describe her in a new poll this week: “Liar … dishonest … untrustworthy.” Also in the top 12: “crook … untruthful … criminal … deceitful.” Crook — as in “I am not a crook,” a quintessential Nixon quote. Despite the requirement for attendees to make out $100 checks to his presidential campaign, the Republican frontrunner insisted the event was not a fundraiser. Don’t worry, I argued, this was a summer silly season story; come September’s return to reality, our strutting impresario would succumb to the laws of political gravity – but that, even so, he was a nightmare for the Republican establishment.

Boch brought in what he called “the world’s best cover band” and provided an open bar, a wide range of entrees including lamb shanks and fish tacos, and a cake in the form of Trump’s signature baseball cap – motto: “Make America Great Again”. Her husband has serious problems, and on top of that, he now works for a public relations firm.” “So how can she be married to this guy who’s got these major problems?” he added. “She’s getting her most important information, it could be, in the world. In the same way their children would paw at One Direction or Taylor Swift, the mostly upper-middle-class New Englanders who made up the crowd could not hide their delight at the chance to meet the man who has upended the race for the White House. Trump, the id of the American electorate — the guy who calls Mexicans rapists and murderers; ejects Jorge Ramos, the most-watched newsman in America, sneering that he should “go back to Univision” in a tone that makes the network name sound like “Mexico”; calls popular Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly a bimbo; and dismisses just about everyone in the 2016 field besides Sen.

The venue, a convention center, looked nothing like Bosh’s ornate lawn party, as a largely blue-collar crowd lined up for hours to see and hear Trump speak. A lot of the free associations with Trump are ambiguous, depending on the connotation either positive or negative: “businessman … ego … rich … showman.” Plus, the fact that he’s “bombastic” and “brash” — that definitely would not have been considered a negative among the crowd Friday night in Norwood at Ernie Boch Jr.’s.

This is the extent of Trump’s reach as he continues to lead the polls: the real-estate mogul turned presidential candidate has supporters in working class Iowa towns and he has supporters on the manicured grounds of a sprawling Boston mansion. It wasn’t so much a speech Trump delivered as a routine — he was working the front rows like a stand-up comic, free-associating, falling back every now and then on what have become familiar punch lines, his greatest hits. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson holds second with 12 percent, despite a genial un-Trump manner described by Rolling Stone as that of a “gentle, convivial doctor who’s just woken up from a nice nap.” Back in seventh place is former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina, with 5 percent.

But a surprising trip on and off the trail with him over the course of the last week revealed that the two sets of Trump lovers have come to admire him for very similar reasons. He trashes a beloved national war hero, picks a feud with the star female anchor of Fox News, his party’s in-house propaganda arm, and calls his opponents schoolyard names. The aide forwarded at least one email that contained potentially classified information, according to the inspector general for the Intelligence Community. The bombastic billionaire and reality television host has long portrayed himself as a straight-talking symbol of American capitalism – and an embodiment of the garish consumerism that often comes with it. He also likes to trumpet his independence from the political establishment, arguing that his wealth means “lobbyists and special interests” cannot buy him off.

In Dubuque, Bob Cooksley, a retired veteran from Sherrard, Illinois, told the Guardian: “I just like that he hasn’t been a politician, and doesn’t try to get re-elected as representative or senator or governor. Barney Frank summed it up when he said that your base isn’t the people who are with you when you’re right, it’s the people who are with you when you’re wrong. In other words, he’s obliterating the rest of a 16-man field, one of the strongest in memory, stuffed with bright young senators and eminent past and present state governors. That’s the deadline for candidates to file their candidacy for the primary, submitting a form that includes a signed pledge to “hereby affirm that I generally believe in and intend to support the nominees and platform of the Republican Party in the November 8, 2016 general election.” The businessman — who has led all 15 of his Republican rivals, including New Jersey Gov. Siml came to his event with a sign he had made with his grandson: “Don’t be a chump, vote for Trump.” While Siml hadn’t fully committed to supporting Trump’s candidacy, he liked Trump “because he’s honest and he’s not necessarily politically correct”.

Columnist George Will lamented last week that Trump’s “every sulfurous belch … injures the chances of a Republican presidency.” As a billionaire in an age of gushing political money, Trump represents the incorruptible ideal. During the first Republican presidential debate earlier this month, Trump refused to pledge that he will support the party’s eventual candidate — unless, of course, it’s him. “All I ask is fairness,” he said during the news conference, according to reports. “In terms of victory, that would certainly be the best path to victory. In his presidential announcement speech, in New York on 17 June, Trump was referring to Mexico when he said: “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. I hope Quinnipiac or somebody follows up this with word-association questions about some of the other candidates, although at this point what’s the point of inquiring about Gov. Cruz has offended capital denizens (House Speaker John Boehner referred to him as a “jackass” last week) but he hasn’t yet managed to reshape Congress.

On Hillary, I never realized how many pejoratives there are to describe a real-life Nurse Ratched, and I’m not even talking about the obvious ones like “cankles” “white-trash” and “wide-load.” Or the upstart Bill Clinton in 1992, the same year the Texas businessman/billionaire Ross Perot – in some respects a prototype Trump – at one point led all presidential polls and, despite a string of self-inflicted wounds, won 20 per cent of the general election vote? These days, barely a third of the population thinks America is “on the right track”, and frustration at the failure of the country’s politicians to do anything about it merely grows. The candidate told the family of Joshua Fromer, who was killed in a car accident involving an undocumented migrant 10 years ago: “It’s going to be a very important life he led.

Trump rants against immigration, just like the nativist, nationalist parties in France, Britain and Germany – Front National, Ukip and so on – who say an influx of foreigners is driving their countries to the dogs. He later told the Guardian he found it “unbelievable” that Trump was “addressing what has been ignored for far too long”, and praised Trump for “bringing light” to the issue of illegal immigration.

Around the country, some Cruz supporters have expressed frustration that Trump has managed to eclipse a senator who has spent the last 21/2 years defying the party, calling McConnell a liar, prodding, shaming and cajoling fellow Republicans into a more confrontational posture. Whether it’s 11 or 30, one million is too many.” She cited the recent death of Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old San Francisco woman who was shot dead, allegedly murdered by a man who had been deported five times. The case has been repeatedly mentioned by Trump. “That’s just one scenario that got brought up on the news,” Murray said, adding that while she had not personally seen any negative effects stemming from illegal immigration in her community, she “did her research, and [knew] what’s out there”.

Republican voters simply grow more furious, even at the young guns they voted into Congress, and look for new heroes unsullied by the place, people who sound as if they have the answers. When prompted, Steve Rosanke of Dubuque wondered: “I agree with him on most things, but how do you move that many people?” In Norwood, most guests were conservative Republican voters. Throw in the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and her 5 per cent, and almost half of all Republican voters support candidates never elected to any political office. Meanwhile the establishment’s Jeb Bush, son and brother of presidents and early favourite for the nomination, has sunk to just 7 per cent (in fairness, it should be said that Bush’s efforts thus far, to use a favourite Trump adjective, have indeed been “pathetic”).

And Trump knows exactly what he is doing, as evidenced as long ago as 1987 in his book The Art of the Deal. “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.” Bravado, hyperbole – weapons aimed at the heart, not the head: everywhere tools of strongmen, and self-promoters on ego trips.

He had always voted for a straight Republican ticket, he said, but had to think to remember the last time he had caucused: “Last time, when Bush was in there,” he said, uncertainly. His supporters, vocally frustrated with both Obama and congressional Republicans, are seduced by a candidate promising to turn around an economy that once guaranteed every generation could be better off than that of its parents. Through his business background and much-vaunted negotiating skills, Trump has offered a kind of magic elixir that will make all such problems go away. Naively perhaps, I still believe the novelty will wear off, that Trump will self-destruct, and that one of his rivals, a more conventional politician who can nonetheless portray himself as an outsider will prevail.

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