Sunday, July 07, 2019

The real reason why the left was against Donald Trump's July 4 speech

Gary Varvel

Now we know why the Democrats were so upset about President Trump speaking on the Fourth of July.

It was not because it was political or partisan. It was patriotic and that is what annoys the left the most.

Several days before the speech, we heard that Trump was hijacking Independence Day and turning it into a campaign rally. But Trump never mentioned the 2020 campaign in his speech.

We heard that Trump’s desire to have tanks on the National Mall was an out-and-out authoritarian performance art. But that wasn’t really the issue. Neither was the fake outrage over the cost.

There was no mention of political opponents and no mention of the fake news media. And this wasn’t Trump co-opting the nation’s birthday to celebrate himself. In fact, for a man who loves to talk about his accomplishments, he never mentioned himself.

No, Trump did something far more dangerous to the left. He gave America a strong dose of patriotism. He gave Americans a history lesson on the great people, heroes and their great accomplishments over the last 243 years.

Earlier in the week, The New York Times ran a video arguing America isn't the greatest nation on Earth, "the U.S. is really just O.K."

Without mentioning The Times or the video, Trump proceeded to tell us about America’s greatness for nearly an hour interrupted only by applause, flyovers and military songs. At one point, I thought “who is this guy and what have they done with President Trump?”

“Today, we come together as One Nation with this very special Salute To America,” said Trump. “We celebrate our history, our people and the heroes who proudly defend our flag — the brave men and women of the United States Military!”

And boy, did he. Starting with the story of America’s war for independence, Trump quoted the words and deeds of Americans that have long been forgotten but need to be remembered.

Trump told the story of Gen. George Washington as he readied his troops to fight the British invasion. Trump said, “Washington’s message to his troops laid bare the stakes, He wrote, ‘The fate of unborn millions will now depend under God on the courage and conduct of this army, we have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.’”

We are the millions who benefited from their sacrifice.

In reminding America of the great acts of past generation, Trump brought it to the present by honoring our first responders and all of the men and women of law enforcement. Trump also honored the Gold Star families who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Legends and icons

He introduced NASA legend Gene Kranz and told him, we’re going back to the moon and we’re going to plant our flag on Mars.

He also introduced and thanked civil rights icon, Clarence Henderson who was 18-years-old in 1960 when he took part in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“Almost six decades later, he sits tonight in a seat of honor,” Trump said. “Clarence thanks for making this a much better place for all Americans.”

I found it very unifying but there were some triggers for the Left.

Trump said “This country the most exceptional nation in the history of the world and it’s at its strongest now.” American exceptionalism annoys the left.

“We are one people, chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny,” Trump said. “We all share the same heroes, the same home and the same heart and we are all made by the same almighty God.” Mentioning God annoys the left.

I think this should become a tradition for every president from now on. With all of the partisan political fights, it was nice to be reminded of American’s amazing heritage. It was inspiring and that’s what we need.

For one day, Trump put partisan politics aside and focused the eyes of America on our past, present and to our future.

Thanks, Mr. President.



Trump seizes the political momentum

Donald Trump’s takeover of Washington seemed all but complete yesterday as he stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial watching fighter jets fly over him with army tanks on the sidelines.

It was all symbolic, of course, but this was the Independence Day party Trump had wanted and ordered against the howls of his opponents. As the President grinned on stage, cloaking himself in patriotism ahead of the July 4 fireworks display, it was clear Trump had once again rewritten the rule book to suit his presidency.

As usual, he did so in the face of a long list of opponents, including Democrats, most of the US media and some former Pentagon officials who accused him of politicising a bipartisan patriotic celebration. But Trump didn’t care. Instead, he only increased his demands during the week, extending the fireworks show and ordering that Abrams tanks be brought up from Georgia to add more grunt to the occasion.

This came just days after Trump’s made-for-television moment with Kim Jong-un when the President met the North Korean leader in the demilitarised zone on the border of the two Koreas after inviting him via Twitter.

Kim responded to his tweeted invitation and Trump became the first sitting US president to step into North Korea. At every turn, Trump is living out his 2016 promise to voters that he would be an unconventional president, not to mention compelling, controversial and unique.

As Trump approaches 2½ years in the Oval Office, his dominance of the daily news cycle in the US has never been greater, denying much needed oxygen to the gaggle of Democrats competing to challenge him for the White House. After a successful G20 meeting in Japan, for which he received positive reviews, even from long-time critics such as The Washington Post editorial board, Trump now surveys a political landscape that is as favourable to him as at any time in his presidency.

As the advantages of incumbency and a purring economy, growing jobs and pay packets, low unemployment, no major wars and even recent border security problems play into his hands, Trump finds himself politically in a rare sweet spot.

It is a far cry from the dark days of early last year, at the height of the Mueller investigation, when Trump was reeling from the fallout from his sacking of FBI chief James Comey and his dysfunctional White House was being stripped bare by the lurid revelations in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury.

Even so, it is difficult for Republicans to claim with any confidence that Trump is now the favourite to win next year’s presidential election.

Trump’s approval rating — at 43.8 per cent according to the RealClearPolitics’ poll average — is near the highest of his term, but it is still far lower than any president would want at this stage of the re-election cycle. His disapproval rating is still above 50 per cent at 52.5.

However, Trump’s low poll ratings previously have been misleading. He trailed his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, all the way in the 2016 campaign, including on polling day, until he won.

Internal Republican polling also shows the President performing poorly in the three key swing states he stole in 2016 to win the election — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump won these three states by a combined 79,646 votes. If he loses these three states next year, he loses office.

The polling shows him trailing Joe Biden and other leading Democratic candidates by sizeable margins in these three key states, largely because of a drop in support from moderate voters, especially women, in the suburbs of regional towns and cities. These were moderate Democratic voters who switched to Trump in 2016 but have since been alienated by his style of leadership. It was this group that primarily drove the Democrats to win back the House of Representatives in last November’s midterm elections. They remain the most powerful obstacle to his re-election.

“My feeling is the election is real­ly a 50-50 prospect right now,” says Mike Green, senior vice-president for Asia at Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies and a former member of the National Security Council under George W. Bush.

“I say that because something unprecedented will have to happen for him to either win or lose re-election. No president in the postwar era has lost re-election when the unemployment rate is as low as it is now.

“On the other hand, no president has won re-election with negative numbers as high as Trump’s, so one of those two records or precedents will have to be broken.”

But for now the momentum is with Trump, helped by the implosion among Democratic contenders after their first debate, in which two clear frontrunners, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, faltered.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale says: “I think the President could beat anybody. The momentum behind this President right now is like nothing that history has ever seen.”

Of course Parscale would say that, but on the key issues that will have an impact on voters next year the trends right now are favouring the President.

This week marked the 121st straight month — or 10 straight years — in which the US economy expanded, the longest expansion on record. The US economy is growing at a healthy 3 per cent, although slower rates are forecast next year.

Unemployment is at a 49-year low of 3.6 per cent.

Trump has been in power for only a quarter of this time and has been lucky to inherit a good economic cycle, but voters tend to credit presidents for strong economies and punish them for bad ones.

The trickle-down effects of the economy also are benefiting African-Americans and Hispanics, two important groups that Trump is trying to woo after they largely voted against him in 2016. The growing problem of undocumented migrants at the Mexican border is also playing into Trump’s hands politically in a way that seemed unlikely six months ago.

Early this year, when Trump claimed there was a “crisis” at the southern border, he was criticised by Democrats because the numbers of detained migrants crossing into the US were still far fewer than a decade earlier.

They accused Trump of manufacturing a crisis to secure funding for his promised border wall. But since then a sharp spike in the number of unauthorised migrants entering the US, especially family groups with children, has changed the perception of many Americans. The number of migrants apprehended at the border surged in May to 132,887, including 11,507 unaccompanied children.

This was the highest monthly level since 2006 and the first time that detentions exceeded 100,000 since April 2007. The conditions at overcrowded border detention centres now are making daily headlines in the US.

A CNN poll this week found 74 per cent of Americans now say the situation on the border is a “crisis” compared with only 45 per cent who felt that way in January. This increase was steepest among Democratic voters, who previously had ridiculed Trump’s claims: 70 per cent of Democrats now call it a crisis compared with 23 per cent in January.

Trump has seized this as opportunity to intensify his attack on Democrats as weak on border security, an issue that resonated loudly with his base in 2016 and will likely do so again next year.

When Democratic presidential contenders in last week’s debate advocated decriminalising illegal border crossings and providing undocumented migrants access to healthcare, it must have seemed like a gift to Trump, who immediately jumped on to Twitter.

“All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited healthcare,” he tweeted. “How about taking care of American Citizens first! That’s the end of that race.”

Opponents also criticised Trump’s highly unorthodox threat to levy tariffs on Mexico unless it did more to help secure its borders with Central America. But it did have the intended effect of forcing Mexico to deploy thousands of extra troops to reduce the number of undocumented migrants entering Mexico from Central America en route to the US.

Each of these issues gives Trump the same ammunition he used in 2016 to secure his base and win the election.

Yet to the puzzlement of some, Trump has so far directed all of his campaign efforts into keeping, rather than expanding his base. His campaign launch rally in Orlando, Florida, this month was a re-run of his 2016 rallies as he mixed dark claims of persecution by the FBI, by Mueller and by the media with boasts about his achievements.

So far, Trump’s base has proved to be intensely loyal to him. About 90 per cent of Republicans approve of his performance. When asked by Time magazine last week whether he should reach out to swinging voters, Trump said: “I think my base is so strong, I’m not sure that I have to do that.”

Trump has come out of the Mueller inquiry without serious injury in the polls and Democrats in the house are divided on whether to try to impeach him. The President’s biggest selling point for next year’s campaign will be that he has ticked off a long list of those promises he made in 2016, from tax cuts, to job growth, the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate change accord and the Iran nuclear deal, the reworking of North American Free Trade Agreement, the challenges to China and NATO, and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, among ­others.

Trump’s divisive and confrontational style remains his biggest weakness and it explains his persistently high disapproval ratings. Biden believes this is his ticket to the White House.

The former vice-president is campaigning almost entirely on being the anti-Trump, promising to restore more civility and decency to the office of the president.

The key question is whether Trump’s controversial style will ­attract more people to vote Democrat than they did in 2016. The argument against this theory is that Trump’s maverick style is hardly breaking news and he won the 2016 election when voters were ­already fully aware of who he was.

The biggest risk to Trump’s base right now, and perhaps his re-election, is whether he can strike a deal to end his trade war with China before US farmers turn against him in key swing states.

At the G20 meeting, Trump agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping to reopen negotiations on a trade deal and to pause his threat to impose a further $US300 billion in tariffs on Beijing.

CSIS’s Green says Trump’s decision to resume talks with Xi was driven by political concerns about imposing more financial pain on American farmers.

“The tariffs on China, because of China’s retaliation with (tariffs on US) soybeans and agriculture, are really unpopular with the farmers, who are probably more important to Republicans than the blue-collar base,” he says.

Green says he has been meeting the heads of the US farm lobbies, who tell him their members hate the tariff war but they’re not blaming Trump yet.

“They still support Trump but what the leaders of these agricultural associations say is that by August and September when farms start foreclosing, the pain will be enough that they think farmers will start to turn on the President.

“So for me, it was very predictable at the G20 that he would just agree to keep talking to the Chinese because he can’t raise tariffs again without taking a major political hit yet he can’t lower tariffs right now without taking a hit.

“He has very little manoeuvring room on policy.”

Many observers, including Green, say Trump’s political strategy over the year ahead will focus not so much on growing his own base but on goading Democrats into adopting policies that are to the left of mainstream Americans.

Green says Trump is already seeking to push the Democrats to the left of the mainstream on ­issues such as immigration and healthcare.

“Trump can’t break his negative 50 per cent plus ratings but he can try to drive up the negative rating of the Democrats by baiting them to take on policies that are unpopular with the majority of Americans,” he says.

Trump would be encouraged by what he saw in the first debate between 20 of the 25 Democrat contenders. After sub-par performances from the two frontrunners, Biden and Sanders, they both have tumbled in the polls.

The debates also shone light on the extent to which most of the field, from poster-girl Kamala Harris to Elizabeth Warren, embrace policies on immigration, health and taxes that were too left-wing even for Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. There is a long way to go until polling day in November next year — a lifetime in the fast-moving Trump presidency — and much can still go wrong for him.

But as he approaches the 2½-year mark in the White House, the prospects of a second Trump term are improving.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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