For months, Donald Trump has led the most successful push back against the Republican Establishment in recent history. For good measure, he has set political correctness back a few decades – and also taught conservatives and Republicans that they need not fear the media.
All of which are remarkable and important. All of those are part of the reason for even running the “Rove-Stupid” series of article. Conservatives owe him a debt for all this, even if he were to accomplish nothing else. These wonderful assaults have all come from the right. This is why I would support Trump against any Democrat and most Republicans.
But then there’s this bizarre weekend – when Trump managed to go full establishment – or perhaps even further left – against Ted Cruz, the oil industry, conservatives in the Senate and Antonin Scalia. In case you missed it, Trump criticized Cruz for opposing ethanol subsidies and insisted that Cruz only does so due to his ties to big oil. This was not only a shameless liberal pander to the Iowa ethanol interests, it was using a left wing talking point against Cruz.
Republicans have supported ethanol in the past, but I can’t remember any of them accusing opponents of being merely tools of big oil.
With a Donald Trump like that, who needs Barack Obama or Rachel Maddow?
If that wasn’t enough, on Sunday he said Cruz is a “little bit of a maniac” with the implication being that Cruz’ refusal to play nice with Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell in the Senate was the result of a Cruz character flaw. This sounds like something off Lindsey Graham’s website, or something John McCain would say on Fox News Sunday. I was waiting for him to call Cruz a wacko bird.
Trump also managed to take a gratuitous swipe at Justice Antonin Scalia that could have come out of the black lives matter movement. Quick Mr. Trump, let’s end this weekend from hell!
None of this makes any sense to a lot of people, and it is going to cost Trump at least a little bit. A lot depends on talk radio the next couple of days and the Tuesday debate.
Speaking of talk radio, I’m not alone here either. Over the weekend Mark Levin pushed back against Trump, asking on his Facebook page “does that make all conservatives who support Cruz against McConnell et al maniacs?” Actually, as Levin knows, that’s exactly what it means. It can mean nothing else in context.
Levin continued, asking “and he thinks Cruz is owned by the oil companies because he opposes tax payer subsidized ethanol – like most conservatives?” Again, yes, that’s the only and obvious implication. If Ted Cruz, Mark Levin, you or I oppose ethanol subsidies – it’s because big oil has us in their pocket. (Hell I wish they did personally – but no, my support for America’s energy production is simply based on logic).
Levin’s analysis? “Defending the GOP ruling class and lurching left are dumb tactics.” They are, and both are exactly what Trump did. He lurched left and defended the ruling class. Period. There is absolutely nothing conservative, small government, or Tea Party about supporting ethanol and encouraging decorum with the Mitch McConnell’s of the world.
This is an astonishing and unhappy irony given that Trump has been the GOP establishment’s worst nightmare for six months. So what is at the bottom of this ‘lurch to the left’ – as Levin puts it?
Unhappily, it might just be a window into who Donald Trump really is, something that I touched on in April of 2011 with the article Translating Trump. I simultaneously praised Trump for showing conservatives how to fight and win – while warning conservatives that perhaps Trump was not a reliable conservative or the best answer for conservatives. I submit that the past six months have validated both assertions.
To wit, I warned in Breitbart in July of this year that Trump was making a mistake by attacking George W. Bush from the left on the Fannie/Freddie caused economic crash. The key phrase here is “from the left.” Nothing wrong with attacking W. Bush or any other Bush – as long as you do it from the Reagan right. Not only did Trump attack Bush, but he went out of his way to exonerate all Democrats and used MSNBC approved talking points in the process. I take no pleasure in such analysis, but why you attack matters as much as who you attack.
Red flag alert.
And this was not his only left inspired comment. The praising of universal government health care and of Scottish and Canadian health care in this debate season is known. As are his comments just a few short years ago about Romney’s extreme position on illegal immigration and Ryan’s extreme position on government spending. I’ve done my fair share of slamming Romney and Ryan – wrote a book doing so – but it’s crucial WHY you cast these aspersions.
More red flags.
There was very little appetite for these flags at the time. Which brings us back around to this past weekend. The man who has been the undeniable champion leading the charge against Washington for six months just went Washingtonian against the man who has been the champion of that battle for four years. And he slammed him for just that fight.
The man who has been fearless and blunt about everything went into full pander mode defending the corrupt crony ethanol complex. The man who has stared political correctness in the eye and laughed at it just waded hip deep in PC attacking one of the two conservative heroes on the Supreme Court. The man who has owned the media just got bamboozled by Jake Tapper.
Trump has a gift for inspiring people and for busting down doors that seem to impede everyone else in this arena. That is undeniable. Yet I’ve often written that the Republican establishment is a mindset as much as it is a group of people. Donald Trump has clearly not been one of those people – and yet – he was enveloped in that mindset this past weekend – as he has been in the past.
The question we must contemplate is this: was this 72 hours an outlier, or a bunch of red flags we should take heed of? This week might give us that answer.
This is another installment of the series Rove-Stupid: The new definition of the Republican Establishment. Read the rest here.
Edmund Wright is a contributor at Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV and Talk Radio Network – and author of the Amazon Elections Best Seller WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.