Dear Reader, in my most selfish moments, I want Donald Trump to win the election.
But before I explain that, let me just say he could win.
I talked to Hugh Hewitt this morning and he said he was stealing my line, so I figured I’d better get it down on “paper” fast.
Trump got to where he is for a lot of reasons, starting with a 17-candidate collective-action problem, myriad failures of both the GOP’s establishment and anti-establishment wings, and, of course, the cold, indifferent cruelty of this meaningless, empty universe where nothing matters and the living envy the dead.
But giving Trump his due, he also got to where he is because he was great at punching-up.
When he took on Jeb Bush, Reince Priebus, the media, Washington, etc., he was punching up.
He wasn’t just the outsider coming into town to blow things up, he was Godzilla smashing all before him.
In the standard Godzilla movie there’s always that scene where the hapless Japanese army tries to lure the beast toward some electric power lines. Godzilla takes the bait and bites the power lines. But the shock doesn’t kill him, it makes him stronger!
That was Trump in the primaries. Mangling metaphors somewhat, people told him “You can’t chomp those power lines! Those are the third rails of American politics!”
Trumpzilla cared not, bit them, and got stronger.
But here’s the problem:
Everyone thinks Godzilla is cool when he’s fighting Monster Zero or swatting away fighter jets.
But when they have that close up shot of Godzilla’s clawed foot coming down on a child or a screaming woman, all of a sudden, you can’t cheer the King of Monsters.
So it is with Trump: He wins when he punches up. He loses when he punches down.
And that’s Trump’s Achilles’ heel: He can’t resist punching down.
He can no more stop himself from “counter-punching” the little guy than my dog can agree not to chase rabbits.
(“It’s just so hoppy! I must kill it!”)
Everyone knows this. Hillary Clinton knew it and she baited him. She almost literally could have said, “Donald, I’m going to bait you. You would be a fool to take the bait. But I know you will.”
And he still would take the bait. In fact, I think he would be more likely to take the bait if she said she were baiting him, because he would want to prove that he could take the bait and win.
I thought Trump lost the debate, but not overwhelmingly. He was clearly the winner of the first 30 minutes or so, and if he’d stayed that guy for the full 90 it would have been a hugely consequential rout.
But then, Hillary implemented “Bait Trump Protocol Alpha-1,” when she brought up how he got his start with a $14 million loan from his father.
(She got the details wrong, but it doesn’t matter. When you’re baiting fish or Trumpzilla, the lure doesn’t have to be real, it just has to be shiny. In fact, getting the bait just slightly wrong makes it even more irresistible, because we all have a natural instinct to correct falsehoods aimed at us, and Trump more than most.)
So Trump bit the shiny thing, and for the rest of the night, plodding, dull Hillary Clinton led Trump around the stage like a matador with a red cape.
And, four days later, Trump is still charging around like an enraged bull.
At first I thought Clinton’s use of Alicia Machado was odd. There are so many Trump victims out there, why use one with such a weird past?
But that’s what was so brilliant about it. If Machado were a nun, it’d be harder for Trump to attack. But Trump thinks he can win this one on the merits and so he won’t let go of it.
He didn’t learn the lesson of his feud with the Khan family: The only way to win such fights is to not engage in them at all.
The debate wasn’t a disaster but how he handled the post-debate spin was, and continues to be.
If Trump could stay on message, if he could be a disciplined candidate, I think he’d be ten points ahead by now.
But realistically, this is no different from saying if he could control anything metal with his mind, he would be Magneto.
Okay, so why in my selfish heart of hearts do I want Trump to win?
Because that’s the only surefire way my opposition to Trump can be vindicated.
If he loses, every time Hillary Clinton does something awful — which will be a lot — people will say, “If Trump were president this wouldn’t be happening,” or, “This is all the fault of the ‘Jonah Goldberg class,’” or, “If we had Mr. Trump’s broad-shouldered leadership, the grain harvests would be historic.”
Now, I think such claims would be a variant of “Parmenides’s Fallacy,” in which people always assume the road not taken would have avoided any problems.
But that won’t matter.
Trump the Destroyer, First of His Name
Donald Milhous Trump
In 1964 the Republicans, with Goldwater, were blown away, and yet four years later the Republicans came back strongly with Richard Nixon. But in those intervening four years the regime itself was changed: The Great Society extended and confirmed the reach of the federal authority until it covered hiring and firing in corporations and even small, private colleges. And it extended federal controls over local education.
Nixon created the EPA, implemented wage and price controls, launched the first affirmative-action programs, and proposed a health-care program that was downright Obamacare-esque.
From everything we know, Trump’s a Nixonian liberal without a fraction of Nixon’s policy chops.
He’s surrounded himself with Nixon-retreads like Manafort and Stone, and ripped off Nixon’s entire rhetorical playbook from “the silent majority” on down.
In my heart, I truly believe he would trade Supreme Court appointments for a massive infrastructure program.
The one thing we know about the guy is he likes to build stuff and put his name on it.
If Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi — who already want a massive infrastructure program — told him, “Hey, meet us half way on the judges and we’ll deliver the votes you’ll need,” he’d do it in a heartbeat, throwing the conservatives under the bus while — here’s the important point — taking an enormous number of Republicans with him.
Just look at the issues of trade, entitlements, child care, and gun rights (in the form of his capitulation on the terror watch list).
Look at all the formerly “true conservative” types who’ve gamely gone along with Trump so far.
Do you honestly think they’ll break with a president Trump?
Trump won’t crush the administrative state, he will be rolled by the bureaucrats.
That’s what the heads of bureaucracies do in our system. They don’t run the agencies, they spin-up and co-opt politicians.
That’s why you need a conservative president who knows things.
I’m not one to over-indulge in self-pity, but I do sometimes feel like a therapist should be asking me, “Show me on the doll where 2016 touched you.”
But among the most annoying and asinine “arguments” — accusations really — hurled at me 100 times a day is that if I’m against Trump, I’m for Hillary.
This is nonsense on stilts atop a cloud.
I can’t stand Hillary Clinton.
Back when Trump was writing her checks and inviting her to his wedding, I was opposing her and her familial tong with everything I had.
I wrote Liberal Fascism with her in mind. The hardcover’s subtitle reference to “the politics of meaning” was a direct shot at her New Age–y soft-totalitarian nanny-statism.
I will give the first person who can find a single pro-Hillary column — or paragraph! — I’ve ever written a lifetime subscription to National Review.
I think she will make a terrible president and be bad for America.
If any of the other 16 candidates had won the nomination, many of whom I cannot stand, I would be out there screaming expletives at any Republican who thought Hillary was a better choice.
And even with my adamantine opposition to Trump, I still cannot imagine endorsing Hillary Clinton (even though liberals are now insisting I must almost as much as conservatives claim I have), because I know she will be horrible and she stands for things I reject with every fiber of my political soul (“Do souls have fibers?” — The Couch).
But here’s the thing:
Conservatives know how to oppose Clinton, who will come into office the most damaged and unpopular president in American history, having fulfilled her mandate to not be Trump on Day One.