Trump’s Paper Tiger Rebellion Against Conservatives
(Originally published in February 2012)
In the spring of 2011, Donald Trump threatened to start a revolution within the Republican Party, appealing to the naïve among Tea Partiers by promising to take on President Obama as no one else could. All too many members of the conservative media, including even some highly reputable ones, took his nonsense seriously.
Even after abandoning his prospective campaign, he sought to keep his name in the news by reserving the right to run as a third party candidate if he was not satisfied with the outcome of the GOP nominating process. Now, at last, he apparently feels that his threats, promises, and reservations have dragged the Republican Establishment around to a position he can live with—which happens to be exactly the position the Republican Establishment has been taking from the outset.
And that’s not all. Not only has Trump endorsed Mitt Romney, but he has also revived his third party blather, warning that Romney’s nomination is the only result which will guarantee his loyalty to the Republican Party. Think about this. He is saying that if anti-Establishment constitutionalists persist in fighting against the Old Boys’ choice, he will consider taking decisive action to ensure a second term for Obama. In other words, he is telling Republican primary voters that if the Establishment’s demands are not met, he might just blow the place up.
After ten months of pretending to be a lone, courageous voice raging against the machine, Trump has finally peeled off the rebel costume to reveal himself as the Establishment’s enforcer. And never satisfied with merely making a fool of himself, Trump clearly fed eleventh-hour speculation that he would endorse Gingrich, just to heighten the effect of the blow. In this, he had a big assist from The Drudge Report, which turned Trump’s February 1st press release into the evening’s two biggest headlines. The first was “DONALD DOUBLES DOWN: ON NEWT!” The second, less than two hours later, was “DONALD DOUBLES DOWN: ON MITT?”
Tellingly, both headlines linked the same story, a Politico article that explicitly described how the early rumors about a Gingrich endorsement had since given way to a belief that Trump may in fact have chosen Romney. So, you see, the evolving sequence of headlines was not a response to new information, but was staged to support the purpose of the rumor mill being fueled by Trump himself—namely, to inflate the Gingrich balloon, and then pop it. (The next day, Drudge reported the Romney endorsement with the headline, “You’re fired!” accompanying a picture of Trump standing behind Gingrich.)
On its face, Trump’s endorsement ought to be of no consequence to the nominating process, because Trump himself is of no consequence. He has plainly exposed himself, yet again, as a paper tiger. He was, and is, an unprincipled, unscrupulous self-promoter, a character far more concerned about the future ratings for his TV show than about the future of his country. As Mark Levin—who was out of the box early last spring on the matter of Trump’s irrelevance—has noted, Trump is a businessman in the very worst sense of that term. He is for the power that might serve his purposes, principle be damned, as can be seen here. He was for Harry Reid when Reid seemed to hold the power. He was for Rahm Emanuel, he was for Ed Rendell, he was for Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, and the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in general.
In plain terms, for all his outward bluster and protestations of independence, when it comes to political affiliations and support, Donald Trump is a sycophant—a toady. Thus, it should come as no surprise that, sensing the tide turning against Obama, he started acting like a Republican; that, sensing the Tea Party’s insurgent power in the months after the 2010 elections, he posed as a Tea Partier; and that now, sensing the traditional Republican power base reasserting control over the party, he is, as usual, bestowing his royal seal—a dime store toy, as it turns out—upon the ascendant force.
Levin and others have, reasonably, responded to Trump’s latest announcement with a simple “Who cares?” I think, however, that this is one endorsement of Romney that conservatives really should care about. For more than perhaps any other, it has the potential to stir the Tea Partiers back into forceful action, and back to their deepest principles.
Trump pretended to be a Tea Partier, i.e., a constitutionalist. He gave no evidence for it, of course, because he had none to give; nevertheless, his momentary appeal in the spring and early summer was entirely as an outsider who would speak truth to power. It was a lie, and in the end, he has shown that the attraction of power and the sure win matters more to him than any objection to the direction in which the Washington Establishment has been dragging America for so many years. The kick in the teeth that he has just served to those whose support, or rather adulation, he was angling for until just a few days ago, is a perfect wake-up call.
Had Gingrich won Florida, can there be any doubt that Trump would have come out for Gingrich instead of Romney? And in this, wouldn’t he have been one of many? The political “momentum” that consists of unserious voters shifting their allegiances according to the latest indicators, either in a desperate and foolhardy effort to convince themselves, and later others, that they were at the forefront of a movement, or in a premature spasm of resignation, is the very means and mechanism whereby establishments flourish and perpetuate themselves.
Siding with the ascendant powers, simply because they appear to be “winning,” or to have a “more realistic chance” of doing so: Would you choose your spouse that way? Would you choose your faith that way? So why choose the future of your country that way? Your country’s future is your future, too. It is a part of your personal legacy. Settling for the path of least—or next-to-least—resistance cannot be an option if you want to leave this earth with your soul still under your own name.
The only way to throw a real wrench in the works, one that might truly brake the continental drift toward hell in which the Republican Establishment is, out of inertia or ill-will, complicit, would be for those who see what is at stake, and what needs to be achieved, to stop settling for second-best beds, stop resigning themselves to “the possible,” and get serious and seriously committed to action again, as they were in 2010. Find the candidate most in tune with the harshest realities of this moment, support him with everything you’ve got, and demand, as the price of your support, that he agree to be led by you through the coming fight—the only alternative is to allow one of the Washington big talkers to lead you to the land of compromise yet again.
With his latest stunt, Donald Trump has inadvertently thrown down the gauntlet before the Tea Party he so thoroughly abused. Genuine constitutional conservatives should not turn away, either disdainfully or despondently, this time. They should pick up that gauntlet. Like most bullies, it’s a fair wager that when properly stood up to, Trump, and the Establishment he now represents, will wilt. You have done it before. You can do it again.
It’s true that even paper tigers, in sufficient numbers, present an intimidating sight. Don’t give in to your imagination. Oil up your paper shredder.