By Walter Brasch
The bully of the playground continued to be in the media spotlight and charging ahead to the Republican nomination for president.
In the 11th Republican debate, Donald Trump, bold and arrogant as always, kept up the attack against his three remaining opponents. To the man who once delighted in being called The Donald, Sen. Ted Cruz was “Lyin’ Ted,” a reference he made more than just a few times. However, several political fact checkers over the past three months have dismissed Trump’s claims as little more than half-truths, exaggerations, and lies. Politifacts, which checks candidate statements, revealed that about three-fifths of what Trump said during the campaign are incorrect. Among some of the errors Trump has made are that some of the families of the 9/11 suicide crews were in the U.S. prior to taking the lives of almost 3,000; that five detainees at Guantanamo Base, Cuba, whom Obama released were back on the battle field attacking Americans; that Mexico sent its citizens, especially criminals, into the U.S.; that the U.S., under the nuclear ban treaty with Iran, would be required to defend that nation if there was an attack by Israel; and that several polls show him ahead of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Several times over the past two decades, Trump has flip-flopped on issues, and then later claimed he hadn’t.
Sen. Marco Rubio, said Trump during the debate, was “the little man.” Rubio, however, got in a penetrating remark about Trump’s small size of his hands possibly being the size of another part of his body. There was no fact-checker present to verify if Rubio was accurate on that statement.
Sens. Cruz and Rubio, both far-right conservatives and political rivals, have banded together to denounce Trump, each hoping for the Republican nomination, each facing a storm of Trump’s blustering that has led voters to place him firmly in command of getting that nomination.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, more moderate than each of his three rivals and sharper on foreign policy than them, has tried to remain above the bickering, but the debate and the campaign have deteriorated into little more than a bar room brawl, with name-calling dominating a voice on issues and Trump, Cruz, and Rubio interrupting and talking over each one numerous times. In contrast to the Democrats’ debates, which focused upon issues, this one in Detroit was more like a heated session of TV’s “The View” than a true debate, with Trump’s profanity-laced debate points duplicating his profanity-laced campaign speeches.
A few hours before whatever the Republicans wanted to call it, Mitt Romney, the Republicans’ nominee for president in 2012, called Trump a phony and a fraud. “If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession,” said Romney who argued that Trump’s proposal of a 35 percent tariff-like penalties “would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.”
Turning to foreign policy, Romney plainly stated, “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.” Romney said that Trump, who believes he’s “very, very smart,” is not “very, very smart.” In response, Trump numerous times before, during, and after the mock-debate called Romney a loser, adding that Romney’s campaign was a “catastrophe” and “an election that should have been won by the Republicans.”
One part of Trump’s not so smart knowledge of the issues was when he declared he could save $300 billion from the federal budget solely by a regulation of drug prices, an outlandish claim with no substance. However, there have been numerous examples, other than his demeanor, of Trump not being qualified to become the president.
Although he blares constantly about his $10 billion bank roll and how smart he is as a businessman and entrepreneur, while refusing to release any documents to substantiate his business income, Trump has declared bankruptcy of properties four times. Several of his companies—among them Trump Airlines and Trump College—have failed.
Before his campaign Trump ostentatiously claimed that President Obama was born in Kenya not Hawaii and questioning Obama’s right of the presidency. The truth, upheld by newspaper notations, a birth certificate, and the federal courts, proved Trump and the “birther movement” wrong, but yet they have been consistent in throwing out their nonsense. He claimed that Sen. John McCain, subjected to torture by the North Vietnamese, was not fit to be president because of that imprisonment. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” said Trump.
During the campaign, Trump mocked New York Daily News reporter Serge Kovaleski’s muscular disorder; he mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton’s appearance.
He has HHH unleashed numerous policy proposals, most of which have little foundation of reality.
He has repeatedly stated that if he was president he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and require Mexico to build that wall. However, he never addresses how he will get Mexico to fund that 2,000 mile wall. He has claimed that President Obama plans to allow about 250,000 Muslims from Syria to emigrate to the U.S., a claim that is about 11 times larger than reality. More important he doesn’t publicly look at the expense of additional border patrol agents and staff to patrol that wall, or how to keep illegal immigrants from tunneling under the wall, or going around the wall by boat or air, especially since he has proposed no new budget for the Coast Guard.
He now says he had spoken out against invading Iraq after the 9/11 attack, but the facts are clear that he never supported going into Iraq. He claims he has seen thousands of Muslims on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River cheering when the planes from Al-Qaeda, but again, experts and eyewitnesses dispute those claims.
He says he wants a moratorium on all Muslims entering the United States, which is allowable under the Constitution, but doesn’t negate innumerable arguments of the logic or morality of banning those who pose no threat to the U.S. nor why he is singling out one religion other than the fact that some radicalized Muslims, less than .001 percent of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, pose any clear and present danger. He also doesn’t address how to fund an increase in the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and staff to enforce stricter immigration rules set by executive decree.
He was slow to renounce the endorsement of David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Although he viciously attacks his last three opponents, he has thin skin. When anyone challenges his opinions for any reason he bellows back in superheated hyperbolic attacks. When Fox News anchor Megan Kelly posed tough questions to him, his response was to refuse to show up for a debate that she later hosted. This past week he dropped out of as a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting, unwilling to accept the few boos and jeers that would surely be sent to him, and not needing C-PAC for support.
Several Republican leaders have spoken against Trump; many conservative talk show hosts agree, hoping for a Cruz or Rubio nomination. But this time they are solidly in the minority as Trump, using a $100 million campaign of misinformation, has unleashed his inner soul of demagoguery upon voters, to make them believe that a billionaire is just like a lower middle-class citizen who does go to bars, has a few drinks and sometimes engages in verbal profanity to argue his position.
If the Republicans have a contested convention or if Trump has captured enough delegate votes to be the nominee it could mean a continuing decline of the Republican party that would diminish the prospects to retain their Congressional majority and also affect local races.
[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist, professor emeritus of mass communications, and author of 21 books, His latest book is Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit. The book is available through www.greeleyandstone.com or amazon.com]