Why Trump Won the Debate

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Regardless of the morning headlines, Donald Trump won the debate. Why? Hillary Clinton supporters, including most of the media, were betting on Trump self-destructing in the face of personal barbs thrown at him from Lester Holt and Clinton.

Trump, however, didn’t take any of the hooks — at least, none of the important ones. Even when Holt pressed the issues, “Let me interrupt just a moment,” Trump just talked over the “moderator” until he shut up. As a seasoned TV performer, Trump knows that those debating have leverage over the moderator, especially one who hardly conceals his political preferences.

Trump also successfully peppered Clinton with sly, and very audible, interruptions, which threw off the rhythm of Clinton’s most robotic moments.

Here’s the only Trump fumble of the debate:

HOLT: Why is your judgment — why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?

That moment reminded me of the Trump who won the primaries, not the Trump who will very likely win the coming election.

But back to barbs, which were predictable and, probably, both rehearsed and coordinated between the Clinton campaign and NBC News. Evidence of coordination can be found throughout the debate, but the most telling evidence came when Clinton ordered Holt to shut Trump up on the subject of NATO and the Middle East:

CLINTON: Lester, we’ve covered…

TRUMP: No, wait a minute.

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Trump Spokeswoman Embroiled in Controversy Over Anti-Catholic Tweet

The president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, issued a press release today, “Trump’s Spokeswoman Must Apologize.” At issue is a December 8, 2011, tweet by Katrina Pierson:

Donohue comments:

No one makes a comment like this without harboring an animus against Catholicism. It would be instructive to learn more about Pierson’s thoughts on the subject. Perhaps she can share them with us.

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

I agree and so do the countless Catholics who took to Facebook and Twitter over the past two days to decry Pierson’s presence in the Trump campaign and call for her removal. Donohue doesn’t go that far. He asks for “assurances from Donald Trump that he will not tolerate anti-Catholicism in his campaign.”

Knowing Bill Donohue as I do, I promise he will not leave this issue alone until Trump responds. If Trump ignores Donohue’s reasonable request, the charge of anti-Catholicism will only begin to look credible.

Katrina Pierson, who voted for Obama in 2008, became Trump’s spokeswoman last November. Her eventual disillusionment with Obama led Pierson to become active in the Texas Tea Party out of which she emerged as a leader. She supported Ted Cruz in his 2012 Senatorial campaign, but during a January 2015 meeting of Tea Party leaders with Ted Cruz in Myrtle Beach, she met Trump. Pierson found herself drawn away from Cruz towards Trump, as she has explained, because of his “non-traditional” campaign style. Continue Reading

The Trump Bump Explained

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

It’s been six weeks since Donald Trump made his incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants in a speech announcing his intention to run for president.  Today, a Quinnipiac poll shows Trump far ahead of the GOP field, the choice of 20 percent of those surveyed as compared to 13 percent for Scott Walker and 10 percent for Jeb Bush.

That Trump survived the negative media onslaught is remarkable, but to pull away from the GOP field at the same time signifies a mood among the GOP grassroots that requires notice.

I don’t think, however, the explanation is very complicated.  Conservative talk radio has already demonstrated the deep desire among many Americans of straight talk and, especially, of defending one’s stated principles instead of back-tracking when the media spotlight gets too hot.

It’s no exaggeration to say that for Trump no spotlight is too hot, and no comment, however outrageous, requires an apology. Trump is the amalgamation of tough guy, multi-millionaire, and celebrity, possessing a broad knowledge of domestic and foreign policy, whose arrogance is saved by his brashness, good humor, and appeal to American rugged individualism.

Trump’s braggadocio appeals to people who are hungry for the heroism of a Frank Capra movie but are willing to accept Martin Scorcese’s get-it-done Gordon Gekko if that’s the only thing available.

Ask people why they continue to like Donald Trump in spite of his apparent nastiness, and they will refer to a part of the male anatomy considered lacking from his political rivals. Continue Reading

Clueless Dem Gameplan on Attacking Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bob Burnett’s HuffPo column on Jeb Bush contains an outline of how Democrats will be attacking the former Florida governor if becomes the GOP nominee.

Burnett’s assumption is that just as brother George attempted to hide behind the “compassionate conservative” banner, Jeb will try and fail. Why? Because like his brother, Jeb Bush “is a staunch conservative. He’s not any more compassionate than Dubya was.”

Burnett faults Bush for supporting Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, trying to protect Terry Schiavo, opposing Obamacare, passing tax cuts as governor, advocating charter schools, and, in short, being the friend of big business and the enemy of the working class. Jeb Bush, therefore is “a typical right-wing Republican.”

Well, not exactly, because as Burnett himself notes, Bush’s positions on immigration and global climate change are the opposite of what the so-called “right wing” advocates. And Burnett ignores Bush’s unflinching support for “Common Core” which has severely weakened his appeal among the conservative base.

Burnett’s column does not support either its conclusion or its premise, which, not surprisingly, are the same — that Jeb Bush will not get away with portraying himself as a compassionate conservative.

It would have been much wiser, and insightful, for Burnett to have discussed how Bush’s compassionate conservatism has become a stumbling block in 2016 after being an effective bridge for his brother in 2000.

Deal W. Hudson is publisher and editor of The Christian Review, president of the Morley Institute for Church and Culture, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine. Continue Reading

Jeb Bush’s Catholic Conversion

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Most voters aren’t really aware: Jeb Bush is a Roman Catholic convert. Raised Protestant, Bush converted 20 years after he married his Catholic wife, Columba, who he met in 1971 while teaching English in Leon, Mexico — they were married in February, 1974.

Some might have the attitude that Jeb Bush just went along with becoming Catholic to marry the woman he loved, but that is not the case. He’s become a serious and informed Catholic, as Michael Paulson describes in a New York Times article published yesterday, whose faith has guided his political career and led him to his involvement in the effort to save Terri Schaivo from being taken off life support by her husband.

As Paulson writes, “He even, during his first year in office in 1999, signed a law creating a “Choose Life” license plate.” Oh, my!

Paulson gives a mention of Jeb Bush’s position on the death penalty, which has softened considerably, but fairly adds that Bush’s position on immigration is consistent with the push by the U.S. Bishops to pass reform.

All three Bush children were raised Catholic, and their father regularly attended Mass with the family before entering the Church formally in 1995. Paulson reports that it was Bush’s defeat in the Florida governor’s race in 1994 that contributed to his final decision to embrace the Catholic faith.

Paulson concludes his article with an email from the former Governor and now presidential candidate in response to a question about his conversion:

“I loved the absolute nature of the Catholic Church. Continue Reading

Libertarians Applaud Rand Paul’s Punt on Marriage

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Daily Beast reports on how libertarians are responding to what they see as Rand Paul’s attempt to re-brand the GOP as more purely libertarian and the practical problems that ensue:

The more Paul is forced to speak out on positions, the more opportunities he has to turn off supporters. For example, David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, and author of The Libertarian Mindlikes Paul’s view of marriage as a contract, but suspects Paul’s newfound rhetoric about gay marriage comes with a cost.

“Unfortunately,” Boaz said, “it’s tone-deaf language that cuts against his goal of improving the image of the Republican Party with people who don’t trust Republicans.”

Many social conservatives found Rand Paul’s language similarly tone-deaf, as I noted.

But Reason magazine chief Nick Gillespie gave Paul a pass for the heresy expressing personal distaste for gay marriage, because at least he signaled he wouldn’t act on his beliefs:

“[T]he important thing is that Rand Paul is not letting his personal beliefs dictate national policy,” Gillespie said, pointing to examples where Paul has said government shouldn’t be involved in marriage.

Libertarians will likely stick with Rand, in spite of his socially conservative religious views.  But, “[t]he problem, it seems, is with the always dubious notion that Paul could rebrand the Republican Party in the long run, making it more appealing to disaffected millennials and tech-savvy libertarian denizens of the Pacific Northwest.”

Dubious is a generous word, under the circumstances. Continue Reading

Rand Paul: Replace Marriage With Contracts (VIDEO)

During a March 8 interview with Bret Baier, Senator Rand Paul was asked about same-sex marriage.  His reply is a study in self-contradiction:

“I think marriage is between a man and a woman,” Paul said, adding, “ultimately, we would have fixed this a long time ago if we just allowed contracts between adults. We didn’t have to call it marriage, which offends myself and a lot of people.”

Need anyone point out that Senator Paul used the word he finds so offensive when answering Baier?  Evidently it was a slip of the tongue.  He quickly corrected himself, however, arguing “contracts” between men and women were preferable to marriage.  Why preferable? The only argument he offers is that “a lot of people,” including the senator himself, find something about government using the word ‘marriage’ “offensive.”

It’s sad to watch Senator Paul, who has been willing to go it alone on controversial issues, embrace the liberal penchant for citing a negative feeling state as a “reason” for taking one or another side of an argument.

What about the concrete notion of substituting contracts for marriage? There was a long period in Western history when marriages and contracts overlapped, as evinced by the dowry, and this remains today with the pre-nuptial agreement. Regardless of these practices, marriage cannot be reduced to a contract without losing its essential form, that of being a covenant.

A covenant is not a quid pro quo agreement, an I-will-do-this-if-you-will-do-that. A covenant is established by a mutual promise made between a man and a woman, which includes the promise to not break the covenant even if either party, or both, experience disappointment or lack of fulfillment. Continue Reading