While millions of Republican primary voters have chosen Donald Trump as the party’s nominee, Bill Kristol and a small but well-heeled group of Washington insiders are preparing a third party effort to block Trump’s path to the White House.
Their plan is to run a candidate who could win three states and enough votes in the electoral college to deny both parties the needed majority. This would throw the election into the House of Representatives, which would then elect a candidate the Kristol group found acceptable. The fact that this would nullify the largest vote ever registered for a Republican primary candidate, the fact that it would jeopardize the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, and more than likely make Hillary Clinton president, apparently doesn’t faze Kristol and company at all. This is to give elitism a bad name.
One would think that the Trump opponents would have substantial reasons for pursuing such a destructive course. But examination of their expressed reasons shows that one would be wrong. Their chief justification for opposing Trump is that he is not a “constitutional conservative” and in fact is “without principles” and therefore dangerous. The evidence offered is that he has supported Democrats in the past and changed his positions on important issues.
Yet in seeking a candidate to carry their standard, the Kristol group has approached billionaire investor Mark Cuban, a figure uncannily similar to Trump. During the presidential election year 2012, the Hollywood Reporter noted that, “in February, billionaire sports and media mogul Mark Cuban was seen hugging Barack Obama at a $30,000-a-plate fundraiser for the president’s re-election bid.” Cuban was also a visible campaigner for Obama four years earlier. A fan of Obamacare, Cuban wrote a column for Huffington Post just before the 2012 election titled, “I would vote for Gov. Romney if he were a Democrat.”
Now it is true that Mark Cuban eventually had second thoughts about Obama, and perhaps even about Democrats. But what these facts show is that Kristol and his allies are willing to elect anyone but Trump, even if they have even fewer principles than the man they hate.
A second charge against Trump is that his character is so bad (worse than Hillary’s or Bill’s?) that no right-thinking Republican could regard him as White House worthy. “I just don’t think he has the character to be president of the United States,” Kristol declared in a recent interview:
It’s beyond any particular issue I disagree with him on, or who he picks as VP or something. The man in the last five days has embraced Mike Tyson, the endorsement of a convicted rapist in Indiana… He likes toughness, Donald Trump, that’s great, he likes rapists.
This would be fairly damning if the facts were as black and white as Kristol presents them. But as anyone familiar with the sports world would know, Mike Tyson had a dramatic change of heart following his release from prison — rejected the life he had led, repented his past, and committed himself to a course of humility and service to others.
Here is an online news summary of the transformation: “Former boxing champ Mike Tyson has dedicated the rest of his life to caring for others – because he considers himself a ‘pig’ who has ‘wasted’ so many years of his life.”
Tyson himself told Details Magazine:
The first stage of my life was just a whole bunch of selfishness. Just a whole bunch of gifts to myself and people who didn’t necessarily deserve it. Now I’m 44, and I realize that my whole life is just a f**king waste. ‘Greatest man on the planet’? I wasn’t half the man I thought I was.
In an autobiographical best-seller, Tyson also conducted a searing self-examination, which was condensed into a one-man Broadway performance and HBO special. Whatever one thinks of Mike Tyson before or after his conviction, one has to concede that he has made a serious self-inventory and changed the way he sees himself and others. If Kristol were serious about the politics of winning elections rather than merely pontificating about them, he would have known these facts and also recognized that Tyson is an icon to an important segment of the voting population — one that is more likely than not to offer sincere repenters a second chance.
Electorally speaking, Trump’s ability to win the endorsement of an African-American sports champion is no small achievement. Nor is it an isolated one. Trump has also been endorsed by Adrien Broner, a world boxing champion in four weight classes, who is also African-American.
In addition to alleging that Trump is lacking in principles and character, Kristol claims that the Republican candidate is a crackpot conspiracy theorist, a disqualifying trait. Kristol’s evidence is a remark Trump made on the eve of the Indiana primary suggesting that Ted Cruz’s father might have something to hide about his alleged acquaintance with Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Kristol wrote:
Calling in to Fox and Friends, Donald Trump, as Politico summarized it, “alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was with John F. Kennedy’s assassin shortly before he murdered the president, parroting a National Enquirer story claiming that Rafael Cruz was pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963.”
The liberal writers at Politico can perhaps be forgiven for reporting that the Enquirer only claimed that Oswald and the senior Cruz were pictured together. The Enquirer actually published the picture.
“Here’s Trump in his own crazed words,” Kristol continues:
[Trump:] “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Kennedy’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it. I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
Comments Kristol: “What’s horrible is a leading presidential candidate trading in crackpot conspiracy theories.”
So it might be, if Trump were actually putting forward a conspiracy theory. But what we have here, obviously, is not a theory but some Trumpian campaign mischief — not dissimilar in form to his earlier suggestion that because Ted Cruz was born in Canada, he might not be able to actually run for president even if he were to win the nomination. These were both campaign tricks — dirty tricks if you like — to throw a rival off balance and gain an advantage.
Were they dirtier than publishing nude photographs of Trump’s wife during the Utah primary or publishing a false story that Ben Carson was quitting the race on the eve of the Iowa primary, as the Cruz campaign did? Do they justify sabotaging a Republican run for the presidency and potentially electing Hillary Clinton?
Kristol is aware that his strategy risks electing an Obama loyalist, and he attempts to neutralize the objection by claiming that Trump is himself an Obama clone whose policies would be no different:
[T]here is a president whose policies Donald Trump’s would in fact resemble: Barack Obama. No intervention against dictators? Check. No action to prevent mass slaughter? Check. Another reset with Putin’s Russia to break what Trump calls the “cycle of hostility”…? Check. “Getting out of the nation-building business, and instead focusing on creating stability in the world?” Check! Trump’s agenda turns out to be Obama’s all-too-familiar agenda of national retreat masked by a rhetoric of America First bellicosity.
This is pretty shabby stuff. Contrary to Kristol, far from being a non-interventionist, Obama conducted two interventions against dictators in Egypt and Libya with disastrous consequences. The intervention in Libya, which Kristol supported, has created two million refugees, hundreds of thousands of corpses, and a terrorist state. One might suppose that a little re-thinking of interventionism would be in order. Trump’s readiness to rethink interventionism is hardly the same as Obama’s strategy of retreat and surrender.
Contrary to Kristol’s assertion, Trump is not opposed to all interventions against dictators. He has promised to do what it takes to destroy ISIS, which includes bombing its oil facilities and destroying its headquarters, and is obviously only possible with interventions in Syria and Iraq. Destroying ISIS would also be an action to prevent mass slaughter, despite Kristol groundless claim.
As for Trump proposing “another re-set with Putin’s Russia,” there was no re-set with Russia under Obama. Attempting a serious re-set — a re-set from strength — would seem reasonable and prudent, and would hardly be a repeat of Obama’s policies. It would be just the opposite.
“Getting out of the nation-building business and instead focusing on creating stability in the world” is hardly an Obama policy, as Kristol suggests. Obama’s intervention in Eygpt, put the Muslim Brotherhood in power; when the Egyptian military then overthrew the Brotherhood, Obama sided with the Brotherhood and alienated the most important power in the Middle East. These acts, together with Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq and waffling in Syria, created a power vacuum that spread instability throughout the region.
“Avoiding nation-building, while focusing on creating stability” is a foreign policy any true constitutional conservative would support — unless that conservative was driven by an irrational hatred of Trump. Finally, Trump’s promise to put American interests first and restore respect for America through rebuilding American strength can only be described as a “national retreat” by a very unprincipled — and careless — individual.
All these dishonesties and flim-flam excuses pale by comparison with the consequences Kristol and his “Never Trump” cohorts are willing to risk by splitting the Republican vote. Obama has provided America’s mortal enemy, Iran, with a path to nuclear weapons, $150 billion dollars, and the freedom to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver the lethal payloads. Trump has promised to abandon the Iran deal, while Hillary Clinton and all but a handful of Democrats have supported this treachery from start to finish. Kristol is now one of their allies.
I am a Jew who has never been to Israel and has never been a Zionist in the sense of believing that Jews can rid themselves of Jew hatred by having their own nation state. But half of world Jewry now lives in Israel, and the enemies whom Obama and Hillary have empowered — Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Hamas — have openly sworn to exterminate the Jews. I am also an American (and an American first), whose country is threatened with destruction by the same enemies. To weaken the only party that stands between the Jews and their annihilation, and between America and the forces intent on destroying her, is a political miscalculation so great and a betrayal so profound as to not be easily forgiven.