McKim: Trump the Populist vs McCain And The Status Quo

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So much and yet so little has gone on in the past few days in the battle of the titans of the talk. But is this where the focus should be? On talk?

It is ironic that while McCain and Trump appear to be very different, they are in fact very similar. Both enjoy playing the maverick, when in fact they really aren’t nearly as much so: Trump plays the part in business while he hedges his bets by paying protection to the Clinton Global Initiative racket.

McCain calls himself a “maverick” when it suits him. He ran the “straight-talk express,” but was it? Both act out often and are erratic. This criticism is used now against Trump and was used against McCain with his finger on the “button” in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

The similar behavior comes from being raised under the wings two scions in their respective professions: McCain’s father and grandfather were both four-star admirals; he followed them to the Naval Academy (USNA) and then into the Navy. In both the Academy and the Navy, trouble found out McCain for not obeying the rules, which contributed to his very low class rank and for being a sloppy pilot early on with a series of crashes.

Trump was a similar young, brash man, being thrown out of Kew-Forest private school in Forest Hills, despite his father’s presence on the Board of Directors. Ironically Trump then attended the prep school New York Military Academy (NYMA) which appears to have had little effect on his understanding of the military. Both show the characteristics of spoiled children under protection of powerful fathers, and both took advantage of their father’s assets (political and financial) to get ahead.

Both bluster and call names: As columnist Todd Starnes noted, McCain started the dustup by calling “Trump’s supporters ‘crazies’…. and “Ted Cruz a ‘whacko bird’… or… Tea Party members ‘hobbits.’” Starnes went on to say that the “Republican Party’s righteous indignation seems to be a bit selective. It’s just a shame the GOP Establishment doesn’t impugn Democrats with as much gusto as they do conservatives.” One way to tell the GOP Establishment candidates is to see which ones condemned Trump’s statement.

In today’s excessively babbling internet world, should we be as concerned with words as we are of actions? The press lives in words, so they naturally gravitate toward them, but does that mean voters and leaders should? President Washington’s personal credo was “Deeds not Words.” He is cited for his actions, more than for his words.

Words usually do precede actions, but a politician’s words often indicate just the opposite in action. But like the boy who cried wolf, that behavior isn’t sustainable. Many of the conservative rank and file already feel deceived after the landslide GOP victory of the 2014 Republican election changed little. I believe this is why they have harkened to Mr. Trump. This is what populists do: they find upset, ignored people and ignored issues and get in front them. Any of the other candidates could do the same thing.

In McCain’s case his actions often don’t bear out his words. One example, in the area of the last week’s discussion, was when McCain did NOT show more concern about the potential for unintended consequences in Iraq and Afghanistan for the troops, the country and the budget. Others with his experience in Vietnam certainly did foresee problems, and warned of them. Later he did not support Post 9/11 GI Bill so that those in the military would have fewer options to leave the military.

In Trump’s case, he has no public record of his actions for public votes or policies. And since his businesses are all private and not publicly traded and hence require public disclosure, we have less record of his actions or his policies. One example of Trump’s actions that should be noted: Trump’s fortunes have risen as debt levels have risen and the cost of debt has fallen. Yet, with the wind at his back, he is still a serial defaulter.

How did things turn out the last time the country elected a President with no record or background? Should we be quick to support someone with only a record of words, but not of public deeds? Trump appears to be a doer. So is Obama. But would he take his actions on the right course?  Let the campaign do its work.

Effective politicians can do what they say. Washington did. More recently the words of the last great Republican President Ronald Reagan were consistent his actions, and they served as a guide. When Reagan warned and then fired the striking federally employed air traffic controllers, American unions and the Soviets took notice and realized this guy meant what he said.

The Republican establishment should make the same distinction for “deeds not words.” We should judge candidates on the efficacy of their actions and whether they keep their word.

Trump’s statement as dissected by Sharyl Attkisson said that McCain was a hero because he was captured, along with stating that he “likes guys that weren’t captured.” These words are at best insulting and oafish. But it is not, as we would say at a Service Academy like the one Senator McCain and Mr. Trump graduated from, a “separation offense.” Is the RNC ready to follow the DNC into political correctness and thought control?

What about words that oppose the true actions? Another word for this behavior is a lie. And it is a political tool. (“No new taxes.” “You can keep your plan.”) The honor codes and concepts that both Senator McCain and Mr. Trump lived under (at USNA and NYMA) have this violation as a most certain separation offense. In court it is called perjury. Were the RNC or the DNC to start separating its politicians for this, rather than for political correctness, they would no longer be able to field teams. Voters should remember lies.

If the GOP Establishment doesn’t back off Mr. Trump and his bloviating, it should be ready for what it wishes for.

The last time a Bush lost to a Clinton, there was an erratic, self-centered billionaire who ran on a third party ticket and took just enough votes away from an uninspiring George I and his “Read My Lips…” platform that he lost to Bill Clinton. If he is not made welcome, Mr.. Trump may well take his ball and go elsewhere. The Republican Party can’t survive a national election without the Tea Party’s votes and their ground work. Today this motivated force feels violated for at least three Presidential cycles. It feels it has little to gain with another “go along to get along” status quo candidate.

The best thing for the country and for the GOP would be for the RNC to let the campaign and vetting process do its work, and get behind the issues that the party rank-and-file wants, not a few big money elitist cronies want. The campaign is young. There are many good candidates many with more good government experience than Trump, some even have more business experience. They all have real ideas and real plans as well. But if the GOP Establishment ignores core issues, then a good opportunity, where the failures of the Obama Democratic administration shows a need for a change in direction, will go from bad to just plain ugly.