As someone who’s criticized the Republican establishment and John McCain since 1992, and slammed Karl Rove and George W. Bush since 2001, I cannot be more thrilled with what Donald Trump has brought to the national conversation.
He has done what no one else could – present company included – for these topics and others. These discussions are all more in the news than ever, and we are all better off for it. It’s fun to watch, and it’s important to our national debate.
Having said that, Mr. Trump made some comments on MSNBC and in Iowa in the past few days that indicate he is perhaps unclear about the causes of the 2008 economic crash. However you want to reconstruct the meltdown, the economic problems were clearly set in motion by several decades of liberal policies on lending, housing, mortgages, energy exploration and refining, and more recently, crony and esoteric derivatives on Wall Street.
Those factors all combined – in whatever order and whatever proportion you want to assign – in a perfect storm in 2008. Let’s not quibble about the chicken and egg specifics, since it was some forty years of applied liberalism in all of these policy areas. Everyone of these dynamics were the result of too much leftist Democrat success in Congress and the White House since the 70’s.
This of course is not the liberal Democrat explanation. Nor is it the Trump take. No, liberal Democrats like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Debbie Sergeant Schultz, Rachel Maddow and so on – and Trump – all agree the fault lies at the feet of George W. Bush and that the Democrats are faultless on this. Yes,that’s right, they all agree that the Democrats are without fault here.
Trump even went so far on Morning Joe to exonerate all Democrats by specifically saying “when the economy crashed so horribly under George Bush, because of mistakes they (Republicans) made…with banking and a lot of other things… I don’t think the Democrats would have done that.”
No one else on MSNBC’s staff would have said it any better. Sounded like Chris Hayes to me. And like everything on MSNBC, it is 180 degrees out of phase with reality.
Mr. Trump sir – it was in fact precisely the Democrats who ‘DONE THAT.’ To be sure, there were some gutless Republicans sign off along the way on some of this, but Democrats pushed all of it. If you want to blame Bush, blame him for not successfully undoing enough of it. Blame Bush and Rove for abandoning the bully pulpit for eight years. Blame John McCain and Mitt Romney for being too frightened in 2008 and 2012 to correct the record on the crash. But for crying out loud, blame them from the RIGHT, not the left.
I’m not so much worried about who you blame – as I am about why you blame them. If we don’t get the why questions right in our political debate, then it matters not at all what the answer to who is. Trump got the who answer all wrong, because he doesn’t connect the dots on why. And this is a major problem for two reasons.
First, until this lie is corrected, at least in the minds of another 2-3 percent of the electorate, the White House will remain in Democrat hands. Period. Second, it begs the question as to whether the talent for amassing personal wealth equates to any kind of understanding of the macro economy. I submit the evidence is that it may not.
A lot of Trump supporters are asking conservatives to look the other way on his checkered philosophical past. Fair enough. But I’m not talking about what he said in 2000. This is not related to his comments in 2004 or 2011 or 2012. No. These comments are from late July 2015. This is not the checkered past. This is the philosophically questionable present.
The irony is, on these comments – and those he made about Scott Walker and Wisconsin that thrilled the Washington Post over the weekend – Trump is actually playing from the left of the Republican establishment that is so hated (and rightfully so) by the conservative base. This is not hyperbole. This is a sober assessment of what the words he used actually mean. Words mean things. Why is more important than who.
In 2012, the percentage of voters selecting Obama was almost identical to the percentage of voters who still blamed Bush for the economy. And why not? With help from Rove, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan actually fed this narrative. My point is, we really don’t need to go down this road again. Trump has time to clarify of course, and we should demand nothing less. And clarification from the right, not from the left or the establishment point of view.
Edmund Wright is a contributor at Breitbart, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network and American Thinker, and author of WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.