Our "friends" at the WSJ try sugar...
* * *
Financial analyst and our contributor Donald Luskin has described Donald Trump as a “black swan” over the political economy. He’s referring to an outlier event that few anticipated and whose impact is impossible to predict. As the voting season begins in Iowa, this strikes us as a useful way for Republicans to think about the Trump candidacy.
We’ve been critical of Mr. Trump on many grounds and our views have not changed. But we also respect the American public, and the brash New Yorker hasn’t stayed atop the GOP polls for six months because of his charm. Democracies sometimes elect poor leaders (see... the last eight years) but their choices can’t be dismissed as mindless unless you want to give up on democracy itself.
* I'LL JUST LET THAT ONE LAY THERE...
The most hopeful way to interpret Mr. Trump’s support is that the American people aren’t taking decline lying down. They know the damage that has been done to them over the last decade — in lower incomes, diminished economic prospects, and a far more dangerous world. But they aren’t about to accept this as their fate.
Americans aren’t Japanese or Europeans — at least not yet.
Mr. Trump’s promise to “make America great again” is for many patriotic voters a rallying cry for U.S. revival. In that sense it is motivated more by hope than by the “anger” so commonly described in the media.
* THE MEDIA... INCLUDING THE WSJ...
(*SNORTING AS I SMIRK*)
The problem is that Mr. Trump is an imperfect vessel for this populism, to say the least.
* AS OPPOSED TO ALL THE "PERFECT" POLITICIANS OUT THERE...???
On politics and policy he is a leap into the known unknown. That so many voters seem willing to take this leap suggests how far confidence in American political leaders has fallen. We can debate another day how the U.S. got here, but with the voting nigh it’s important to address what a Trump nomination could mean for the GOP and the country.
* HERE IT COMES... THE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE "BUT... BUT... BUT..."
(*ROLLING MY EYES*)
Pundits on the right are stressing the obvious that Mr. Trump is no conservative, but he’s also no liberal. He has no consistent political philosophy that we can detect beyond a kind of relentless pragmatism that is common in businessmen.
(Mr. Trump calls it “the art of the deal.”)
The President he may most resemble in that populist pragmatism, if not in manners, is another business success who turned to politics, Herbert Hoover.
Can Mr. Trump win the Presidency if he is the nominee? Who knows?
(*RAISING MY HAND*)
* I KNOW! (THE ANSWER IS "YES," BY THE WAY!)
We’ve argued that the GOP nominee should be the favorite this year, and perhaps Mr. Trump can mobilize middle-class voters in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania and win more states than Mitt Romney did. We certainly know he wouldn’t shrink from flaying Hillary Clinton.
* DAMN STRAIGHT!
But there’s no guarantee that Mr. Trump would win the mainstream, college-educated Republican voters he would also need to win.
* NOTHING IN LIFE IS GUARANTEED.
* OH... AND YA GOTTA LUV THAT THINLY VEILED "COLLEGE-EDUCATED" CONDESCENSION...
Trump's net negative rating with the public is the highest in the presidential field in the latest WSJ/NBC poll at minus-29. Jeb Bush is minus-27, Mrs. Clinton minus-nine.
* FOLKS... TRUMP WOULD WIN. PERIOD.
Mr. Trump might be able to repair this image if he ran a more sober campaign as the nominee than he has run so far, but he could also blow up under months of intense media scrutiny. His biggest test would be showing he has the temperament to be President, and his tantrum this week over Megyn Kelly and Fox News isn’t reassuring.
* FOLKS... THE WSJ JUST... DOESN'T GET IT.
All of which means that Mr. Trump has the widest electoral variability as a candidate. He could win, but he also could lose 60% to 40%, taking the GOP’s Senate majority down and threatening House control. A Clinton Presidency with Speaker Nancy Pelosi would usher in an era of anti-growth policies worse than even 2009-2010. This is the killer black swan.
* WELL... DID I CALL IT?
* OR... JUST PLAIN OL' "ANTI-TRUMP?" (DOESN'T REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE; WE'RE "ON TO THEM.")
And how would Mr. Trump govern as President? Flip a coin. Maybe he would surround himself with astute advisers, work closely with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell...
* MY HOPE WOULD BE THAT TRUMP - IF ELECTED - AS TITULAR HEAD OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WOULD PUSH WITH EVERY LEVER OF POWER AND INFLUENCE AT HIS DISPOSAL TO PUSH BOTH RYAN AND ESPECIALLY THAT TOTAL SCUMBAG MCCONNELL OUT OF THEIR INSTITUTIONAL AND PARTY LEADERSHIP POSTS!
* FOLKS... THE WSJ OUTS ITSELF COMPLETELY WITH THIS FALSE INFERENCE THAT RYAN AND MCCONNELL ARE THE TYPES OF "LEADERS" AMERICANS SHOULD FLOCK TO SUPPORT.
(*SNORTING AS I SPIT ON THE GROUND*)
...and craft a reform agenda to revive the economy a la Reagan.
(*ROLLING MY EYES*)
* AND THE WSJ BELIEVES RYAN AND MCCONNELL REPRESENT REAGANISM?
(*SNORTING WHILE SHAKING MY HEAD*)
His tax reform outline is close enough to sensible that Mr. Ryan could knock it into shape. He would not want to be a “loser” in office.
* FOLKS. RYAN IS A FAKE, PHONY, FRAUD. PERIOD.
But history teaches that Presidents try to do what they say they will during a campaign, and Mr. Trump is threatening a trade war with China, Mexico and Japan, among others.
* A "WAR" WE'D WIN, BY THE WAY.
* FOLKS... TRUMP WANTS TO REINDUSTRIALIZE AMERICA; THE WSJ WANTS THE DEINDUSTRIALIZATION OF AMERICA TO PROCEED APACE.
* WHICH "PLAN" DO YOU SUPPORT?
Trump sometimes says he merely wants to start a negotiation with China that will end happily when it bows to his wishes. China may have other ideas. A bad sign is that Mr. Trump has hired as his campaign policy adviser Stephen Miller, who worked for Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the most anti-trade, anti-immigration Senator.
* WOW... THE WSJ IS REALLY SHOWING THEIR HAND NOW...
* ATTACKING SESSIONS...?!?! REALLY...?!?!
Foreign policy would also be a leap in the dark.
* AS OPPOSED TO LEAPS INTO BOTTOMLESS PITS...??? (BUSH? OBAMA?)
Mr. Trump has said he respects former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, and so do we. But Mr. Trump also admires Vladimir Putin — enough so that even after a British judge found last week that Mr. Putin had “probably” ordered the murder in London of a Russian defector, Mr. Trump defended Mr. Putin because he wasn’t found “guilty.”
* Er... FOLKS... WE WERE ALLIED WITH FRIGGIN' STALIN DURING WW2!
* THE SHAH OF IRAN DIDN'T MEET JIMMY CARTER'S "STANDARDS;" HOW'D CARTER'S "STANDARDS" WORK OUT FOR US?
(*JUST SHAKING MY HEAD*)
* FOLKS... I FEAR WE'RE DEALING WITH IDIOTS OVER AT 1211 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS.
Mr. Trump has shown great staying power in the polls, and perhaps his campaign organizing talents will be as strong as his social-media skills. But Iowa and New Hampshire are only the beginning of primaries that have weeks or months to run, and a huge chunk of voters haven’t made up their minds.
* CLASSIC "RAISE THE BAR," "MOVE THE GOAL-POSTS" TECHNIQUE.
Ted Cruz has his own electoral and governing issues and he isn’t the only alternative to Mr. Trump, despite what both men would like Americans to believe.
* Er... YES HE IS.
Voters could still elevate one of the other candidates. Republicans should look closely before they leap.
* SO... IN CASE YOU DIDN'T READ BEHIND THE LINES... THIS WAS FAIR WARNING THAT IF THE WSJ CAN DESTROY TRUMP... THEIR NEXT TARGET WILL BE CRUZ.