Trump’s les­son for the GOP: Plain English

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The boom­let for Don­ald Trump as a Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for Pres­i­dent of the United States ought to be a wake-up call for Repub­li­can can­di­dates and Repub­li­can Party lead­ers alike.

Why has Trump surged ahead of other Repub­li­can can­di­dates and po­ten­tial can­di­dates in the polls? It is not likely that his res­ur­rec­tion of the is­sue of Barack Obama’s birth cer­tifi­cate has aroused all this sup­port.

The birth cer­tifi­cate is­sue does more po­lit­i­cal dam­age to Obama’s crit­ics than to the pres­i­dent him­self, be­cause it en­ables the me­dia to paint those crit­ics as kooks. Nor are Don­ald Trump’s po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions such as to cre­ate a stam­pede to his cause.

Ra­dio talk show host Mark Levin has re­broad­cast Trump’s var­ied and mu­tu­ally con­tra­dic­tory state­ments on po­lit­i­cal is­sues and per­son­al­i­ties over the years.

It was a dev­as­tat­ing rev­e­la­tion of Trump’s “ver­sa­til­ity of con­vic­tions,” to use a phrase coined long ago by Thorstein Ve­blen.

What then is Don­ald Trump’s ap­peal, and why should it concern Repub­li­can lead­ers in gen- eral?

What Trump has that so many other Repub­li­cans are so painfully lack­ing is the abil­ity and the will­ing­ness to ar­tic­u­late his po­si­tions clearly, force­fully and in plain English.

Too many Repub­li­cans talk like the ac­tor of whom a critic once said, “he played the king like he was afraid that some­one else was go­ing to play the ace.”

What elec­tri­fied so many Repub­li­cans about Sarah Palin in the 2008 elec­tion cam­paign was that she was such a con­trast to the usual mealy-mouth talk that was more com­mon among other Repub­li­can can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Sen­a­tor John McCain. Whether you agreed or dis­agreed with her po­si­tion on the is­sues, you didn’t have to wave your hand in front of her eyes to back for the Repub­li­cans, and, far more im­por­tant, a his­toric catas­tro­phe for this coun­try.

What seems more likely is that Don­ald Trump as a can­di­date for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion would use his su­pe­rior ar­tic­u­la­tion skills, not to men­tion brash ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity, to trash all the other Repub­li­can can­di­dates for that nom­i­na­tion, leav­ing them dam­aged goods in the eyes of the pub­lic, and there­fore less able to gather the votes needed to pre­vent the re­elec­tion of Obama.

Why Repub­li­cans seem not to un­der­stand the cru­cial im­por­tance of putting the same time and at­ten­tion into ar­tic­u­lat­ing their po­si­tions as the Democrats do is one of the en­dur­ing mys­ter­ies of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.

It was ob­vi­ous that the De-

What seems more likely is that Don­ald Trump as a can­di­date for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion would use his su­pe­rior ar­tic­u­la­tion skills, not to men­tion brash ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity, to trash all the other Repub­li­can can­di­dates for that nom­i­na­tion, leav­ing them dam­aged goods in the eyes of the pub­lic, and there­fore less able to gather the votes needed to pre­vent the re-elec­tion of Obama.

mocrats co­or­di­nated their talk­ing points and catch-phrases-“so­cial jus­tice,” “tax cuts for the rich,” etc., even be­fore the over­heard and recorded state­ments of Sen­a­tor Chuck Schumer about Democrats’ plans to re­peat­edly use the word “ex­treme” to char­ac­ter­ize Repub­li­cans.

But how many Repub­li­can catch-phrases can you re­mem­ber? Repub­li­can rhetoric tends to range from low key to no key.

Nor is there much ev­i­dence that Repub­li­cans have asked them­selves how the left-wing of the Demo­cratic Party gained such as­cen­dancy in re­cent years, in a coun­try where mil­lions more peo­ple iden­tify them­selves as con­ser­va­tive than iden­tify them­selves as lib­er­als.

In short, there is lit­tle or no ev­i­dence that most Repub­li­cans see any need to fun­da­men­tally change their ap­proach to the pub­lic. But if they think that they can rely on Obama’s de­clin­ing pop­u­lar­ity to win the 2012 elec­tion, they may be in for a rude shock.

Worse yet, the whole fu­ture of this coun­try and of west­ern civ­i­liza­tion will be in jeop­ardy, in a world where the likes of Iran and North Korea be­come nu­clear pow­ers, while we en­gage in empty talk at the U.N.

Barack Obama’s de­clin­ing sup­port in pub­lic opin­ion polls make some con­ser­va­tives feel that his re-elec­tion hopes are doomed.

But Don­ald Trump can be Barack Obama’s se­cret weapon in his fight to re­main in the White House. The Don­ald can be his Trump card.

Thomas Sow­ell is a se­nior fel­low at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion, Stan­ford Univer­sity.

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