February 14th, 2016

The pro-Trump defense of his attack on George Bush last night: brilliant strategic move to appeal to the middle

I wondered how Trump fans would explain and justify his behavior last night. I had no doubt they would do it, and it didn’t take long for the preferred defense to emerge. Basically, it went something like this: Trump knows he’s got the GOP nomination sewed up, so he’s smartly and strategically appealing to Democrats and the middle.

Only problem is—well, there are several problems with that theory. The first is that Trump still has to win states such as South Carolina, where this debate was held, prior to their primary. And in the GOP in South Carolina and pretty much everywhere, his view is a highly unpopular one. Although he has been leading in the polls there (just as he was in Iowa) he knows from Iowa that a debate performance can help or hurt. So there’s a timing problem; this is no time to pivot to the middle. There’s plenty of time for that later, once he really had tied up the nomination.

Then there’s the fact that ideas such as blaming 9/11 on Bush because it happened during his “reign” (Trump’s phrase) is not a middle or a moderate position. It appeals to leftists, but a leftist won’t vote for Trump in the general based on that alone, even if the leftist agrees with that particular position of his. Most voters who believe that also don’t believe in the rest of Trump’s platform.

In addition, Trump said these things about George Bush (Bush lied!!!) with a demeanor that looked somewhat unhinged. So there were two messages in his statements—content and process, as it were. The content was pretty far out (and leftist) to begin with, especially for a GOP primary in SC, and the process was also pretty far out, too: his emotional state, and his interpersonal behavior, which came across as childish.

Lastly—and this may be most important of all—this was not something Trump came up with for last night or even for this election. He has been stating these beliefs since 2007 or 2008 at least. He has been extremely consistent in this point of view, and I’m surprised more people didn’t know that before. If they didn’t, it’s certainly not for lack of trying to get the word out on my part. I’ve been writing about the topic for many months. Here are just two examples: this and this (that latter post is one of the earliest I ever wrote about Trump). These thoughts are not new for Trump; they’re very very old. This is a deeply entrenched part of his belief system, and I’m glad it’s finally coming out.

Now Trump is trying to walk it back a little, as I suspected he might. He must have heard it didn’t play all that well with the folks in Peoria. Hey, the walkback might even work, because he’s a good con artist and people are gullible. But if you look at his history, last night’s attack on George Bush was mild compared to some in the past.

I hope it all comes out.

95 Responses to “The pro-Trump defense of his attack on George Bush last night: brilliant strategic move to appeal to the middle”

  1. Oldflyer Says:

    GW must have snubbed Trump or something. Or maybe he just hates the whole Bush family because they embody everything he lacks; i.e., class.

    Most commentators have blasted his performance. One of the milder comments was “obnoxious”. Yet on the Drudge on-line vote, 55% said he won the debate.

    I worry about Trump; I worry more about the American public. I know that the fact of numerous contenders splits the vote, and works in his favor. Still, just too many people refuse to see through him, and stand by him no matter how he behaves.

    Neo, some commentators castigated you for allegedly using the Hitler, or Nazi reference–which you hadn’t done of course. But, I would ask them how they can predict how far he would go with the power of the Presidency given his history, and current behavior. I see an extremist with an over sized ego and a thin skin.

  2. Oldflyer Says:

    Maybe not Hitler; but, I don’t think it too unreasonable to draw parallels to Hugo Chavez.

  3. Mike Giles Says:

    For the Trumpbots, online polls are the same as they were for Paulbots; his fantical worshipers stuff the ballot boxes. And why does the media keep acting as if Trump is running away with the race, when the majority of primary voters prefer someone – anyone – else?

  4. KLSmith Says:

    ” behavior, which came across as childish.”
    That is too kind and unfair to actual children. He is a complete boor. And that is still being too polite. He’s really an expletive deleted. John Podhoretz has an article positing that Trump is winning using the @sshole strategy – I only saw the title, haven’t read it yet.

  5. Mr. Frank Says:

    The next Supreme Court nomination will set the direction of the United States for decades. The candidates of both parties are not reassuring.

  6. The Other Chuck Says:

    What would a Trump presidency be like? That is what his followers refuse to consider rationally. They surely can’t believe he could achieve his stated goals like building a fence, sending millions back to Mexico and Central America, strong-arming China, imposing tariffs, taxing corporations and hedge funds, and forging alliances with thugs like Putin, without congressional cooperation. Or maybe they don’t care about constitutional restraints and are subconsciously hoping he will bypass congress. If that is baked into their mania, then they are supporting a potential strong-man who represents a real danger to our country.

    Neo may not want to openly compare Donald Trump to Hitler or Mussolini, but there is no doubt that the comparisons fit. The more we see of him and his band of blind followers, the more he and they expose themselves as Fascists. Too strong a word? Examine his stated goals, his method of rousing large crowds of true believers, and his attacks on rivals, and you will see the early stages of a budding Fascist movement.

  7. Ann Says:

    I think at least part of what set Trump off last night was the fact that G. W. Bush will be in South Carolina tomorrow, campaigning with Jeb. Trump’s had a visceral thing going with the Bush family for quite a while now — see this from last August: Inside the Trump-Bush melodrama: Decades of tension and discomfort

  8. geokstr Says:

    Concerning that Drudge poll, I wrote this at the end of the last post and you must have missed it.

    “A lot of sites and Trumpers are Trumpetting Drudge’s online poll where 55% say Trump won the debate over Cruz at 21%.

    I just voted 6 times for Cruz on three browsers. That poll is a joke, like voting for Pro All-Star teams, where the most fanatical and motivated vote early and often, another trick the Trumpers learned from the Marxists.”

  9. expat Says:

    Trump gets his foreign policy info from Michael Moore. In his heart, he knows he is the Manhattan version of trailer trash and that all the gold faucets and marble floors in the world don’t raise his status with people, so he tries to buy them.

  10. SteveH Says:

    I’m beginning to think most Americans may be coming to the opinion that you cant change the cesspool of Washington DC with an honest broker as President.

  11. Oldflyer Says:

    SteveH, that is what worries me. If you are right, then the question would be; what sort of broker do the American public want? What level of Charlatan is acceptable to the disaffected?

    Geokstr, I understand. I voted a few times myself. This pseudo poll is even less credible than the actual polling. On the other hand, the spread is so enormous that it may actually be saying something. If nothing else, it illustrates the degree of commitment by the Trumpbots. The other issue is that these sorts of results will be used to trumpet (pun) Trump’s massive support, and many will believe it and project inevitability. If enough people believe that, and believe that Trump has wide support, it certainly works in his favor. Drudge has a large readership. I hate that he indulged in this.

  12. rickl Says:

    1. Online polls are stupid, meaningless, and a waste of time.

    2. “the Manhattan version of trailer trash”? The masks are coming off now, aren’t they?

  13. KLSmith Says:

    The Podhoretz article I referred to is titled, ” Trump, Cruz, and ‘New York Values’ “. Jan 14 @ Commentary Mag (5 free articles then subscribe). Found it for free at, theunobservednews.blogspot.com

  14. F Says:

    Watching the debate last night I was struck several times by the look on Trump’s face. It was not anger, it was more like resentment — as if he was ticked off that everyone on that stage had more substance to offer than he did. Yes, I could be reading my own bias into his look, but it was certainly not the look of someone who was enjoying the back-and-forth, or the intellectual challenge of responding to the moderators or the other participants. Disdain? Yes, it could have been that too.

    I cannot believe his demeanor will help him, even with Trumpistas of the first water. And certainly not with the undecideds.

  15. chuck Says:

    > because he’s a good con artist and people are gullible.

    More because people are people. I was thinking about this the other night, Trump and his minions are hardly the only example of this phenomenon of speculative theory parading as fact. Another that sprang to mind came from the global warming movement: Kevin Trenberth’s hypothesis that the “missing” heat was hidden in the ocean depths. Soon after, his minions were treating that speculation as proven fact even though there was no actual evidence for it.

  16. PatD Says:

    Way back in 1988, Trump was a big supporter of Bush I.


    He soured on Bush over his breaking the no new taxes pledge. He did hold a $1 million dollar fund raiser to support Jeb’s governors run.

    But, he seems to have broken with the Bush clan following 9/11 and the Iraq war.

  17. PatD Says:

    @The Other Chuck

    Gotta throw the Fascist charge at Trump. huh. You do know that Fascism, like Nazism, is a form of socialism where the state reigns supreme.

    Trump’s supporters are actually Jacksonians.


  18. Eric Says:

    “And in the GOP in South Carolina and pretty much everywhere, his view is a highly unpopular one.”

    The Narrative contest for the zeitgeist is always malleable.

    The Trump strategy is not to conform to GOP traditions. Their strategy is to portray traditional GOP as a corrupt and decadent weak horse. It’s a hostile takeover. Trump is running against the grain of the GOP to redefine, chip away, and re-arrange identity groups from the traditional (decaying) centers of gravity of the Right into the alternative orbit that the Trump phenomenon represents.

    On the Iraq issue, the GOP candidates invited this attack last May via their pathetic responses to the Megyn Kelly ‘knowing what we know now’ hypothetical that clearly indicated weakness and fearful vulnerability.

    After that cowardly display by Trump’s competitors last May, it didn’t call for especial perception to identify the Iraq issue as an exploitable issue that, one, the GOP candidates are tied to that, two, under the current zeitgeist, is a ready pressure point that can be adapted from the extensive work on the Iraq issue already done by Left activists for similar purpose.

    With their counter-productive reactions to the Kelly hypothetical, if Republicans are assuming that inertia alone will hold the people fast on the Iraq issue – without a sufficiently vigorous information campaign to set the record straight in the zeitgeist – that’s not enough.

    The Republicans need to re-litigate the decision for OIF in the political discourse and establish ASAP that Bush and America were right on Iraq and OIF opponents have been wrong and harmful on Iraq.

  19. KLSmith Says:

    PatD: that is a very good article by Walter Russell Mead. Thanks for the link. I did notice his sentence that Trump serves as a blank screen for his supporters. Unfortunately, that is what happened with the last guy. Too much wholesale belief, not enough questions and healthy skepticism, too much denial of some uncomfortable facts staring them in the face if they had chosen to take off their blindfolds .

  20. OM Says:

    When will Sir Donald pick up the Rosie O Donald meme that steel doesn’t melt and the other 9/11 denier stuff? It isn’t too far for him to go.

  21. Cornhead Says:

    I really, really hope GWB takes the gloves off and really rains hell down on Trump. This “Bush lied, people died” meme needs to be put to death once and for all. People who believe that meme are nuts and need to be called out as nuts.

  22. John A Says:

    I am wary of a Trump presidency. But the rest of the GOP, plus Dems, could hold his wilder stuff down. Mrs. Clinton and (even more) Mr. Sanders are truly scary, they might be able to enact some of their ideas.

  23. Oldflyer Says:

    PatD, I think everyone here understands what Fascism is.

    Don’t split hairs. Communism, Socialism, Fascism and Nazism all have one quality in common. Central control of whatever portion of the economy and populace that they target.

    That may be why some throw the term toward Trump. He is demonstrably about control. In business he has a record of using his high powered lawyers and litigation to beat down anyone in his way. With the power of government at his disposal, it would be problematical. It is perfectly reasonable to worry about a power grab. Label it as you will.

  24. Sevenwheel Says:

    The only reason Trump attacked GWB was because GWB is scheduled to campaign with Jeb this week. It doesn’t matter what GWB does this week, Trump took the shine off of GWB just like he took the shine off of Bill Clinton when he was about to campaign with Hillary. It certainly was distasteful. In the next few days we’ll see if it was effective.

  25. KLSmith Says:

    Completely OT, but someone needs to get Bill Clinton a cheeseburger. He looks horrible.

  26. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Rightly or wrongly, Trump appears to be fairly sure that, as long as a consensus nominee doesn’t surpass him, the mood of the country assures him of the nomination.

    Trump is not interested in a “middle or a moderate position” he’s interested in a populist (a pox upon all their houses) position.

    Trump’s response to his contradictory past positions is, ‘that was then, this is now’.

    Many Americans have lost faith in the American system and are looking for a savior. Nor is it surprising given the successful machinations of the Left with a democrat party only loyal to its Marxist/progressive ideology, the blatant collusion of the media, the continuing indoctrination in the schools, the ever present propaganda in the media, an activist judiciary, open borders and now unlimited Muslim migration into America…

    Given all of that, what realistic prospect is there that even a Pres. Cruz could, without Congressional cooperation, right our ship of state and steer her away from the approaching cliff’s edge?

    Is it therefore any wonder that people turn to the demagogue who promises salvation? Desperate, enraged people embrace desperate measures.

    So, if Trump wins the nomination, will conservatives hand the dems the Presidency by staying home? When it comes to Trump, that is the question before which all else pales.

  27. rickl Says:

    As far as George W. Bush goes, he had eight years to defend his policies.

    He chose not to. So how is that my job now?

  28. Ann Says:

    It’s just not true that George W. Bush offered no defense of the Iraq War during his time in office. There was plenty of that during the 2004 campaign, for instance. And here’s what he said about it in this 2004 State of the Union address:

    Some in this chamber, and in our country, did not support the liberation of Iraq. Objections to war often come from principled motives. But let us be candid about the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein in power. We’re seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictatator’s weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day. Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging defiance by dictators around the world. Iraq’s torture chambers would still be filled with victims, terrified and innocent. The killing fields of Iraq — where hundreds of thousands of men and women and children vanished into the sands — would still be known only to the killers. For all who love freedom and peace, the world without Saddam Hussein’s regime is a better and safer place.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Of course “people turn to the demagogue who promises salvation.” History tells us that, and the Founding Fathers certainly knew it.

    Until now (perhaps, actually, until Obama) the US had mainly avoided that fate. But it didn’t avoid it by accident, it avoided it because we had certain principles, and the education system and general culture strove to establish and teach those principles. It’s not really about Obama or about Trump, it’s about that fact (much of which occurred while people were otherwise busy living their lives).

    You write, “will conservatives hand the dems the Presidency by staying home?” if Trump is the nominee.

    I’m always both puzzled and also at a certain level angered by that question at this point. That question is appropriate—very appropriate—if Trump were to be nominated. Right now it is very premature. I detest—absolutely detest—this treating the Trump nomination as an unstoppable force, a foregone conclusion. I don’t know whether you’re doing that, but I see it a lot around the blogosphere. It’s partly a result of Trump-supporter propaganda—He’s inevitable! Surrender to it and grin and bear it!—when in fact he has yet to get more than about a third of the Republican vote. It may be that the only reason he’s winning is because enough of his opponents will not drop out. That could change, but it better change in a hurry.

    So why should people face that Trump quandary at this point? We don’t even know who the Democratic nominee would be, either, or whether there will be a third party candidate (Bloomberg or other). At that point—and if and only if Trump is the nominee (and I shudder as I write those words)—I will think about it. The prospect of such a vile choice between two vile and destructive people fills me with despair. Hitler or Stalin? Poison or hanging? Fire or ice?

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    One more thing—

    You ask: “what realistic prospect is there that even a Pres. Cruz could, without Congressional cooperation, right our ship of state and steer her away from the approaching cliff’s edge? ”

    A lot more realistic of a prospect than that a President Trump could do it, or even want to do it, or would even know how to do it, or even where the cliff’s edge is.

    I have gotten very tired of these arguments that dismiss all reasonable alternatives and want to go for the least reasonable one, pretending it’s the only possible choice. Why not try Cruz and see? He has principles, he is brilliant, he fights, sticks to his guns, he knows something about Congress and the law, he is an upstanding person. What is this tremendous extreme desperation that is driving everyone? I have been blogging for 11 years, and I’ve watched all the weeping and wailing and impatience on the conservative side, and I have not been impressed. The fact that so many seem willing to throw in their lot with a demagogic charlatan narcissist braggart who isn’t even conservative and has little to no respect for the Constitution, impresses me even less.

  31. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Trump has the advantage of not having to explain himself. His supporters make up what they think his reasons were and assume that must be it.

    This happens a lot. If we recall the “Why do they hate us” discussions about people from other countries who want to kill us, the answers some Americans produced were often versions of “Iranians hate us for the same reason that I do, because we support wars of choice and colonialism and, and, and…If only we respected them and said nice things and built schools…”

    Obama’s supporters performed the same service for him. An army of explainers, each filling a niche and often contradicting each other, with the net effect of reassuring each other that he was just like them, only better. I am trying to think of a figure on the right who received this treatment. Perhaps Reagan did in some quarters, because some folks certainly did begin to attribute all virtue to him. But I don’t recall anything specific.

  32. LJB Says:

    “So, if Trump wins the nomination, will conservatives hand the dems the Presidency”

    I like Neo’s answer, and agree with it, but my immediate response to that question?

    In a heartbeat.

    In. A. Heartbeat.

    I have never voted for a party, I have always voted for a candidate. If I didn’t know or agree with a candidate, I didn’t vote for them, and I won’t be changing that pattern now. That is my own belief that it is my duty as a citizen.

    But beyond that…I truly feel that Donald Trump (the man, the movement and the ideology) is a real and present danger to this country and to the Republic in a way that even the (corrupt/naively socialist) Dem’s running are not.

    It’s not that he is vulgar (so is American society to a large degree now, so he is just a reflection of that).

    It is not that he has no discernible plans for his “reign”(although that does not help).

    It is not because his thinking is “America will be great again because of ME, ME, ME!” (but we are getting closer when we start looking at the cult of personality, not ideas, that has propelled him from a three decade national joke to Republican front runner without any meaningful change on his part).

    All tyrants become tyrants not just because of who they were in personality or because they had power and abused it. They become tyrants because a sufficient portion of the society went insane enough to put power into their hands. Not fully insane, just insane enough.

    Societal insanity is not a “snap” moment, it’s a progression of suicidal shifts in thinking, each followed by actions detrimental to the long term well-being of the society. And what prevents and preserves a society from such suicidal shifts are the principles that is the soil in which thoughts and actions grow.

    If Trump is nominated and/or elected… by folks who think -“let it burn and let’s start over” (which, btw, has never in all of recorded history, turned out well for the original revolutionaries, let alone the society – how, exactly, can a mortal self inflicted wound be a good thing??), then that means another significant societal shift towards suicide. And that’s before he even got his hands on the “reins” of power and started dismantling the framework of a Republic – so that he could “make us GREAT again”…in his image.

    Keep in mind that a “good” tyrant (if Trump even is “good”)…is still a tyrant. And, once the frame work is dismantled, can very easily be replaced with a bad tyrant. Hasn’t that been one of the the most terrible parts of the current administration…the dismantling of the republic’s framework? Trump will COMPLETE the journey to “the dark side” – and all done with “good” intentions.

    I rarely agree with David Brooks, but I agree with his statement from Jan 26th – “Stay sane, America, please!”

  33. Steve D Says:

    ‘Maybe not Hitler; but, I don’t think it too unreasonable to draw parallels to Hugo Chavez.’

    Neither a Hitler nor a Chavez, Trump is merely the next step in that direction. He is an effect not a cause.

    If you don’t believe me, look at the history of democracies that move to a dictatorship. The particulars may change but the pattern does not. The same dynamics are playing out in America today and if America loses its freedom what do you think happens to the rest of the world?

    The left wants BOTH parties. Once they get that there will be nothing to stop them. Trump offers the illusion of a conflict and a good chance to take both.

  34. expat Says:

    I never had a mask on. I have never supported Trump, and I find him despicable because he presumes to be the first person to haveentertained ideas that intelligent thoughtful people have been discussing for years. He uses the excuse that his previous statements and actions don’t count because he was acting as a businessman. I don’t care whether someone is a businessman, a doctor, a roofer, or a plumber. I expect people to be truthful. I expect them to respect people who don’t have their ostentacious wealth but who are decent human beings who contribute to their communities and society as a whole. I know some rather poor people who live in trailers and meet these criteria. The trailer trash are a different breed. They are the ones who don’t have strong value systems. They spend their money on flashy BS, just like Trump does.

    Ratherr than hide behind a mask, I would say these things to Trump’s face. He doesn’t scare me with his personal attacks. I know who I am.

  35. Beverly Says:

    LJB: Alas, every single thing you’ve said about The Donald can be said about The Hildabeast or The Socialist: with one addition, the latter two actually hate America’s guts.

    I know, it’s a Hobson’s choice. Still….

    Everybody get on your knees, storm heaven, and work for Cruz!

  36. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    My point is that Trump’s supporters consist of people that desperate and/or enraged. Not that the condition is unprecedented.

    It’s true, Americans in general, once had certain principles, and the education system and general culture strove to establish and teach those principles. As is obvious, the consequence of abandoning the above is an Obama and, quite possibly a Trump.

    Your puzzlement and anger, while understandable, at the question “will conservatives hand the dems the Presidency by staying home?” is IMO, less due to it being a premature question and more to it being an appalling possibility and, should that come to pass, what that would reveal about the public.

    Personally, I do not subscribe to the notion that Trump’s nomination is a given. I’m hopeful that Cruz can pull it off and I would even prefer Rubio (gag) to Trump.

    That said, Trump winning the nomination is a real possibility and, given the mortal threat to the republic should a democrat succeed Obama, real possibilities demand consideration. IMO, that is why people should face that Trump quandary at this point. Procrastination is not an effective strategy when faced with unpleasant possibilities, they are best faced before they manifest, as forewarned is forearmed. A strategist who only plans for best case scenarios is certain to collapse when faced with worst case scenarios.

    Nor does it matter who the democrat nominee may be because they will be at least as bad as Trump and quite probably worse. That is because an out of control Trump would be impeached by both party’s establishments but NO democrat President will be impeached, regardless of provocation.

    A refusal to consider a real possibility is avoidance. That works if the possibility fails to materialize. But if the possibility does manifest, that emotion based avoidance (despair) leaves us at a psychological disadvantage when confronted by that reality.

    In addition, if Trump is the republican nominee, there is no choice, since a refusal to vote for Trump would directly assist the democrat’s election.

    I asked, “what realistic prospect is there that even a Pres. Cruz could, without Congressional cooperation, right our ship of state and steer her away from the approaching cliff’s edge? ”

    You responded, “A lot more realistic of a prospect than that a President Trump could do it, or even want to do it, or would even know how to do it, or even where the cliff’s edge is.”

    So, your premise is that the congressional majority of both parties hates Trump more than Cruz? I think it likely (and fear), that in private, both parties establishments expect that Trump will prove to be someone ‘they can work with’ as he favors ‘deals’… In deals, each side must get something and whichever side most needs the deal, gets the least.

    Whereas Cruz seeks to lead both party’s establishments in a direction that they do NOT want to go, that in fact is anathema to them. By that calculus, Cruz will have to govern strictly through executive orders, while Trump can wheel and deal. Perhaps he would prove to be a better negotiator?

    But in either case, IMO it is highly likely that neither will be able to right our ship of state nor deter the path upon which the nation is embarked. In so many ways, America is symbolically emulating the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

    Understand, I want Cruz but refuse to pretend that circumstance is what I wish it were. Which begs the question; since I am not dismissing any reasonable alternative and do NOT want to go for the least reasonable one, and am far from pretending that it’s the only possible choice… why are you reacting as if I am?

  37. chuck Says:

    > I know, it’s a Hobson’s choice. Still….

    There are seven parties that will run candidates for President here in Utah. If Trump is nominated I plan to study the alternatives.

  38. Oldflyer Says:

    I agree with you LBJ, even though you have an unfortunate screen name.

    PatD; I asked you not to split hairs. I don’t care whether Trump is the end of the trail, or just the next step. It is downhill, and treacherous trail, and o to be avoided.

  39. KLSmith Says:

    GB: not to be rude or try to be the thought police, but I think Neo has made it very clear, more than once, that she would prefer to not debate the “voting for Trump if he is the nominee conundrum” unless and until that situation becomes inevitable. It’s her prerogative and her blog. As you are usually respectful, I’m not sure what part of her expressed wish you are not comprehending.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    If Trump becomes the nominee, it will happen with plenty of time to consider the possibilities and figure out what to do with my vote, including not voting. Until then it’s a waste of time, and a needless infliction of stress on myself. However, I have NOT refused to think about it; I merely don’t want to speculate on it here, because it is too vile a prospect. I’ve thought about it plenty, waste of time or no.

    I am also puzzled at the sanguine assurance that of course Trump would be impeached by both parties if he overstepped. I disagree, and would not bet the farm on it by voting for him with that thought in mind. I think you are naive about power and what people with power can and will do to preserve their power if you think that way. And by the way, impeachment is not conviction; you have to get a LOT of votes for conviction. Trump has three powerful tools against his enemies–and anyone who crosses him is his enemy. The first is public insult and invective of the worst kind, the second is the court system (most litigious person in the world, practically), and the third is almost unlimited money. As president, he would have even more power, such as Obama has had, to destroy those he sees as his enemies (the IRS, for example). He has no respect for the Constitution and its safeguards, and no respect for truth or for other human beings if they cross him.

    And you are willing to give such a person power because you trust Congress to remove him if he oversteps? Do you not think there are enough senators who could be threatened, bought, bribed, or otherwise co-opted, to block him from being convicted if impeached? It only takes a third of the Senate to block it. What’s more, you are somehow assuming something I think you have absolutely no reason to assume, which is that Trump would govern (or as he says about Bush, “reign”) in a way that Democrats would not approve of. If he does a lot of the liberal things he supports, they will be very happy with him.

    And why do you think that only the Democratic candidates (Clinton, for example) would be a “mortal threat to the republic”? It is by no means clear to me that she is a worse threat than Trump would be.

    Did you read LJB’s comment? If not, read it.

  41. neo-neocon Says:


    It’s LJB, not LBJ.

  42. rickl Says:

    Karl Denninger has had a number of spot-on posts lately. Here is one of them:


  43. PatD Says:

    There are reasons why people support Trump, warts and all.

    1. The GOP has betrayed its conservative base at every turn. The final nail in the coffin was the omnibus bill.

    2. Trump broke through all the PC barriers and said build a wall and deport the illegals.

    3. He said suspend Muslim immigration until we figure out what’s going on.

    4. He has a populist message on US jobs vs free trade.

    5. He is not bought.

    He has doubled down on his positions throughout the campaign.

    Yes, his past life was full of contradictory positions. Yes, he was a ruthless businessman who threw little old ladies out of houses and rent-controlled tenants out of their apartments. Yes, his personal life involves two divorces and cheating. Everything neo-neocon has said about Trump’s past is true.

    So, as Mead argued:

    Donald Trump, for now, is serving as a kind of blank screen on which Jacksonians project their hopes. Proposing himself as a strong leader who ‘gets’ America but is above party, Trump appeals to Jacksonian ideas about leadership. Trump’s Jacksonian appeal has left the Republican Party in deep disarray, demonstrating the gulf between contemporary conservative ideology and Jacksonian nationalism. Indeed, one of the reasons that Trump hasn’t been hurt by attacks that highlight his lack of long term commitment to the boilerplate conservative agenda (either in the social or economic conservative variant) is that Jacksonian voters are less dogmatic and less conservative than some of their would-be political representatives care to acknowledge. Jacksonians like Social Security and Medicare much more than most Republican intellectuals, and they like immigration and free trade much less.

    He may be a blank screen but he is connecting with his supporters in massive rallies across the country. He fills every venue, sometimes as many as 30,000 people at a time. Nobody has ever done that in a primary season. He says he represents a “movement” and that is where Mead is right.

    My wife and I flew into DC for the 9/12/2009 Tea Party Rally. We met people from all over the country. The MSM said fifty thousand attended. The actual number, based on aerial shots, bus permits, ridership statistics and more was closer to a million. These are a few of the photos I took.

    What did this huge rally in Obama’s front yard accomplish? My guess is it put a IRS target on the back of Tea Party and related organizations. That’s about it. The Tea Party Patriots organization has splintered and its national office has endorsed Ted Cruz.

    I would also suggest that the folk who made that trek to DC are the same folk who attend Donald Trump rallies and vote for him.

    Can he deliver on his promises? Who knows? But no so-called “Conservative” politician has delivered on their promises except Reagan and maybe Gingrich.

    I’ve probably repeated these points before. But, after three cycles of voting Conservative and getting even more of Obama’s agenda rammed down our throats, many folk would rather go with an obnoxious, foul-mouthed, thin-skinned, belligerent and politically incorrect billionaire than any politician.

    That says more for how folk feel about the GOP than it does for Trump. But, at least he fights.

  44. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I’m reassured that you have previously thought about my question, which I was unaware of and will, from this point forward, respect your wish not to speculate about the possibility of voting for Trump, unless and until you indicate otherwise.

    When I spoke of impeachment, I meant conviction as well. I do think that if Trump acted as a Tyrant, out of self-protection both parties would convict. Acting as a thug, using threats, bribes, etc. to obstruct impeachment would be likely to blow up in Trump’s face and ensure conviction, ending the tyranny.

    I’m not ‘willing’ to give Trump power. I simply think it MAY be unavoidable and, that it’s somewhat less probable that permanent harm to America will result, than the certainty of harm if a democrat is elected.

    Since Trump is not a conservative, I expect that Trump would do some things that liberals would like. I also think he would do some things that we would like and some things that would anger both sides. I do think that on illegals and Muslim migration Trump is sincere. If that is true, then while building a fence is problematic, Trump would veto any amnesty bills. He would enforce the immigration laws already on the books.

    So of course would Cruz but we are talking about how a Pres. Trump would be likely to govern.

    There is no doubt in my mind that whether Clinton, Sanders or Biden, they will complete Obama’s fundamental transformation of America and end constitutional governance. A Pres. Trump MAY do so as well but the evidence is not at the level of certainty, as with the democrats.

    I base that upon the fact that Trump is a crony capitalist, which inordinately benefits the influential. Clinton and Sanders are closet Marxists. Biden another “useful idiot”.
    Crony capitalists like Trump need a middle class, Marxists despise them. Trump needs our basic system to continue, the progressives want to end it.

  45. K-E Says:

    To answer your question: South Carolina has an open primary.

  46. Oldflyer Says:

    My sincere apologies to LJB. A grievous error on my part.

    GB, do you really use Trump’s crony capitalist past to defend him? Of course he was a crony capitalist when he had no political power. He manipulated the system by using his vast wealth to buy political influence.. With that track record, why would anyone be sanguine about his behavior once he occupied the most powerful political position in the world?

  47. KLSmith Says:

    PatD: your link doesn’t work w/out signing into a google acc’t. would like to see your pix. I was there that day. Trump has no appeal to me in the slightest. Different strokes for different folks.

  48. neo-neocon Says:


    That piece you linked to is mixing apples and oranges. Cruz said he wouldn’t have nominated Roberts. That is different from saying he wouldn’t have supported his nomination, once made by a Republican president. It means, in plain English, that Roberts would not have been his own pick, had he been doing the picking.

    In addition, anyone can work backwards and say Robert was not as good a choice as he seemed at the time. That piece is working backwards. I well remember Roberts’ confirmation hearings, and all the talk before he was confirmed. His record indicated he was and would be a conservative justice, and there would have been no reason for Cruz not to have supported his nomination at the time (which is, I repeat, quite a different thing from saying he would have been the person of all the judges in the land whom he would have nominated).

  49. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I believe you are underestimating the extent of Trump’s megalomania, the extent of his liberalism, and overestimating the ability and will of members of Congress to resist pressure of all kinds.

    When I study the history of tyrants, I see a lot of underestimation of what they are willing to do and what they can do and what they are able to get away with. Donald Trump is the single most megalomaniacal, narcissistic, untested, unpredictable, and psychologically unbalanced serious candidate for president I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, and that includes Hillary Clinton and Obama.

    If he gets much further with this, I certainly hope my fears turn out to be unjustified. But they are based on my reading of the man and his history, and believe me, I’ve read more than most people have about him. And I see what I see, as well.

    The GOP has other candidates to choose from who do not run that risk.

  50. KLSmith Says:

    neo: just curious, if you feel like addressing it (now or later), why you feel like Trump would be even worse than Obama. Cuz that is a pretty high bar. Couldn’t it be that Obama is smart enough to be way more subtle? I agree with the unbalanced part, but the megalomania and narcissism?

  51. Dennis Says:

    At times, the anti-Trump people seem as unhinged as the pro-Trump people. So far Trump’s ideology, if he has anyone, is a mystery. He has not produced his own version of Hitler’s Mein Kampf or Mao’s Little Red Book. In fact if he has an ideology he has been quite effective in hiding it. So while he might not wear well as president, I don’t think his megalomainia would have enough of a constituency to take over the country.

    On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is one cold woman who in my opinion is probably a sociopath. Bernie Sanders is a died in the wool socialist/communist who. Both of those people do have a large and growing constituency in the press, academia, and government unions who would gladly hijack our country and turn it into a totalitarian dictatorship with a thin patina of democracy to hide the underlying tyranny.

  52. PatD Says:


    I’m reuploading them. Picasa online albums got screwed up when they were trying to get people into Google+ and Picasa became an orphan. My old links no longer work.

    Try this link.

    You might even be in one of my shots. 1 in a million chance!

  53. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I am NOT using Trump’s crony capitalist past to defend him. I am citing it as evidence, as to why Trump, unlike democrat politicians, does not want to end capitalism. That separates him in an important and fundamental way from the Democrat party’s candidates. That does not mean that I favor Trump. I’m simply trying to maintain a balanced, objective perspective on the man. Why is any attempt to do that labeled indefensible support for the man?

  54. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I’m willing to admit that my judgement may be mistaken.

    I think you’re mistaking his bombastic public personna and dirty political infighting for megalomania and I suspect that your disgust with the man is coloring your judgement.

    Nor is it that I think congress to be filled with paragons of rectitude. I do think that if Trump attempted to govern as a tyrant, that it would blow up in his face and any efforts at bribery, etc would badly fail. If elected and Trump tries to ride roughshod over congress, I think they’ll be eager to throw him out of office. On the other hand, if he turns out to be someone they can work with, which I think more likely, betrayal will be the problem, not personnal tyranny on his part.

    Trump is certainly narcissistic, untested and unpredictable.

    But I don’t read him as psychologically unbalanced. Volatile?Sometimes. Hates to lose, yes. In certain situations, he can be vindictive when frustrated.

    But if that equates to psychological imbalance, then half of America is too.

  55. PatD Says:


    The country you grew up in has already gone. Obama transformed it and you didn’t notice.

    The USA is now a debtor nation. Every citizen owns a $60,000 share in our national debt. Our military has been hollowed out. Our traditional Judeo-Christian values are under assault and we are losing. Muslims are flooding in at the rate of 200,000 p.a. under Obama and getting privileged over Jews and Christians. Our borders are gone. Illegal immigrants receive more government assistance than our vets. Big business is moving manufacturing off-shore and out-sourcing service jobs to H-1B visa holders and off-shore operations.

    Trump is the first candidate to address these issues head-on. Will he be a tyrant? I would argue that Obama is already a petty tyrant and he became one because the GOP did not exercise their constitutional power over the purse. If Trump shows tyrannical tendencies then the GOP has the power to rein him in.

  56. PatD Says:

    Piers Morgan is apparently one of Trump’s good friends. He’s what he says about Trump. Morgan would never vote for Trump, even if he could, but he respects him on a personal level.

  57. PatD Says:

    he’s = here’s.

  58. PatD Says:

    @Geoffrey Britain

    I think you are right.

  59. KLSmith Says:

    PatD: thanks, that link worked. Lots of great pix. That was an awesome day. We got there kind of late and missed the march. Oh how I wish the Republican party hadn’t been too stupid to defend and channel that energy. Guess they’re reaping the consequences now though. If you can, check out Robert Tracinski’s, “It’s the Liberty, Stupid” article. My sign, same as the title, (other side is “You Lie”) is on the second page of pix. We attended that first big rally and many others because we live in the DC burbs. I was amazed at how far many people traveled to attend.

  60. PatD Says:


    Trump has produced his little Red Book. It is titled “Crippled America”. He has been consistent with it on the campaign trail and in the debates.

    There really wasn’t much in it to argue with, if you want to make America great again. I thought very hard before I wrote that. I went back and reread some of the chapters, and I realized that was what it was about. Here’s a tiny sample.

    We shouldn’t take any fiscal advice from members of a Congress that can’t pass a budget, nor should we expect them to keep their job-creating promises. We need someone who is a tough negotiator and a real leader. Sadly, the Republican majority doesn’t possess the leadership or the negotiating skills necessary to pass a budget that would eliminate programs that ought to be entirely in private hands, or even eliminated completely.

    The only time they really stand up to Obama, and then they fold, is in the final days when spending authorizations are running out. Where were they this summer when the real work and consensus could have been developed?

    They’re going to screw up the lives of millions of Americans — and destroy our credit rating — because they don’t have the leadership skills needed to make our country great again and to look out for Americans.

    What we are confronted with is a mixture of bad management and bad politics.

    We need leadership in the White House that will keep government functioning while getting the feds out of all the areas where they don’t belong. If the government is properly sized and properly focused, we won’t need to go from crisis to crisis.

    We need to start with the United States Congress. We’ve had presidents (Lyndon Johnson for one; Ronald Reagan for another) who have managed to build consensus and get things done. When President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers during his seventh month in office, he sent a signal to the unions that they heard loud and clear. When President Johnson twisted arms to get enough votes for the passage of a civil rights bill, he took on the far left and the far right and threatened them in order to get his way.

    It can be done.

  61. PatD Says:


    It was an awesome day. Glad you like the photos. I’ll look for your sign.

  62. Dennis Says:

    PatD Says at 3:06 am

    “Trump has produced his little Red Book.”

    I believe you like Trump so you mean that statement in a positive way. If that statement you copied is indicative of his core beliefs then it makes my point. Downsizing government is hardly an ideology which promotes tyranny.

    My problem with Trump is that he uses slogans from the left to defend his positions. For example, his criticism of Bush that Bush lied to go into Iraq is wrong. His point, that invading Iraq was a mistake is valid and I have made that same point in my posts but the way he argues that point is dishonest.

  63. geokstr Says:

    Buzzfeed has a post proving that Trump believed Iraq had WMD and that Hussein needed to be taken out in Trump’s own book: Trump Wrote Iraq WMDs Were Threat Year Before Bush Took Office

    Instapundit notes “Huh — Trump’s for-gainst it pivot on Iraq from 2000 to 2004 is a 180° performed very much like those of many prominent Democrats during that period.”

    Just more evidence he’s a liberal Democrat and says whatever he needs to to win.

  64. geokstr Says:

    But no so-called “Conservative” politician has delivered on their promises except Reagan and maybe Gingrich.
    …after three cycles of voting Conservative…”

    You weren’t voting “Conservative” you were voting for Republicans who tacked hard right in election campaigns but were not conservative, they were RINOs.

    I’m a Tea Party supporter, but most of those rightly angry people who joined were political neophytes; they bought into the RINO promises and were then justifiably disappointed.

    To make things worse, the TP movement was starting from scratch so they had few real conservatives of their own to nominate at the national level and they had to choose from those candidates already in the Republican pipeline or Republican candidates, most of whom were RINOs.

    But look at the TP success at the state and local levels – over 900 seats were taken from the Marxists in 2010 and 2014. Now we’ll have candidates with actual conservative records to nominate for national office. We should be primarying the hell out of every RINO in Congress in 2016, including the many TP traitors like Ayotte and Ernst. That’s how to take over the Republican Party – from the bottom up.

    Instead all this anger and enthusiasm is being used to push a man of questionable character, a liberal with no discernible principles, who could just as easily have run as a Democrat, who admits he’s not a conservative, likes the worst of the Marxists – Pelosi, Reid, Schumer and Obama -and is running as a blank slate on a campaign of slogans.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    You’ve probably bought into Trump’s personal slurs, smears and lies about Cruz, but he’s a solid conservative who’s been fighting for the Constitution and the rule of law his entire life. He’s taken on the Establishment in the Senate almost singlehandedly. Try reading his resume sometime if you think he’s not a conservative.

    With the enthusiasm of the misguided Trump supporters behind him, Cruz would be the favorite in November. Instead, Trump and his loudest supporters have embittered the TP against him and would stay home if Cruz won the nomination.

    If Trump is nominated, even if he wins, then the Tea Parties themselves will be hammering the final nail in the coffin of our republic.

  65. Eric Says:


    Explanation of the law and policy, fact basis of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    On the law and the facts, the decision for OIF was correct.

  66. The Other Chuck Says:

    PatD, the comparisons to Fascist/Socialist dictators and movements is unfortunately very apt, if not yet to the degree of a Mussolini or Hugo Chavez. The one big thing that stands out is Trump’s use of blaming outside forces for our problems. Whether it is the Mexicans or the Chinese, it springs from the same playbook ALL would be dictators use to gain power.

    Michael Bury, the financial genius who is portrayed in the the movie The Big Short, recently gave an interview where he reflected on the aftermath of the housing bubble collapse and financial crisis of 2008. He made a statement about the American people that has wider application than just housing because it gets to the root of our problems as a society:

    The biggest hope I had was that we would enter a new era of personal responsibility. Instead, we doubled down on blaming others, and this is long-term tragic.

  67. Dennis Says:

    Eric Says at 8:53 am
    “On the law and the facts, the decision for OIF was correct.”

    I agree that OIF was legal. That does not mean that it was wise. The facts you linked to are undoubtedly true, but there were other facts which Bush should have considered which would have dissuaded him from taking action. I’m not harshly critical of Bush because it is easy to criticize anyone with the advantage of hindsight but it is time we recognize that many lives were lost without any tangible benefit. Knowing what we know now, OIF was a very bad idea.

    I agree with Trump that Bush did not keep us safe over the long run. If Bush had been forthright about the dangers of mainstream Islam and Islamic Sharia law he could have done much to block the deluge of unassimilated Muslims into Europe and the United States which has made our lives much more dangerous.

  68. Eric Says:

    “As far as George W. Bush goes, he had eight years to defend his policies.
    He chose not to.”


    “It’s just not true that George W. Bush offered no defense of the Iraq War during his time in office.”


    I found that the more you learn the primary sources of the mission to cut through conjecture and misinformation, the more it becomes apparent that President Bush was right, and dutiful, on Iraq. Not perfect, but right.

    OIF under Bush was a hallmark of American leadership of the free world.

    “This “Bush lied, people died” meme needs to be put to death once and for all.”

    Neo’s flawed premise in this post is her assumption that the Republican base is a reliable constant on the Iraq issue.

    They’re not. The Republican base is susceptible because, along with the rest of our culture, they’ve been prepped by leftist propaganda. Most Republicans, even ostensible subject-matter experts, misunderstand the grounds for the Iraq intervention.

    For example, most Republicans believe the fundamental false premise that the casus belli for OIF was the pre-war intelligence. Yet the law and policy plainly show the casus belli was established by the UN weapons inspections that confirmed Iraq’s material breach of the US-enforced, UN-mandated “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” for the Gulf War ceasefire.

    The Iraq issue is more than the Iraq issue. It’s a fundamental issue of American leadership. Consider how the Left uses their false narrative of OIF to lay foundation for the political discourse. These days, Left activists and their Democratic subsidiary don’t often raise their false narrative of OIF directly up front because it’s been thoroughly planted as implicit premise for the political discourse. It constantly works at the premise level to discolor and enervate the Right and GOP to boost the Left and Democrats.

    Is it any wonder that disaffected Republicans are tired of it and would welcome exchanging the GOP’s evident weakness on the Iraq issue for at least a salesman’s illusion of strength?

    The Iraq issue has festered as a vulnerability because the GOP has neglected to cure it despite possessing the ready means to re-litigate the Iraq issue in the political discourse.

    Instead, exemplified by how they mishandled the Kelly hypothetical last May, Republicans have repeatedly rationalized the belief that they can avoid the exigency and move past the Iraq issue as ‘old news’. That’s incorrect because the Iraq issue is more than the Iraq issue. It’s a fundamental issue of American leadership. The false narrative of OIF paints American leadership with the GOP one way. Whereas the truth of the matter, as told by the primary sources of the mission, paints American leadership with the GOP a different way.

    As is, the Left’s false narrative of OIF is sunk into the foundation of the political discourse as a constant active premise. Republicans need to take the initiative to dig it out like a cancer and set the record straight with the law and policy, fact basis of the Iraq intervention.

    Until the Iraq issue is cured in the political discourse, it simply makes strategic sense for the Left-mimicking Trump-front alt-Right to exploit the false narrative of OIF for the same purpose that Left activists use it. After all, alt-Right activists are undertaking an insurgency to displace mainstream conservatives and take over the GOP. They mean to chip away, not assimilate GOP traditions.

    So, Neo’s premise for this post is off the mark. Republicans have not sufficiently inoculated their base to the Trump adaption of the Left’s propaganda on the Iraq issue. Republicans need to vigorously re-litigate the Iraq issue in order to re-lay the foundation of the political discourse.

  69. Eric Says:

    “it is time we recognize that many lives were lost without any tangible benefit. Knowing what we know now, OIF was a very bad idea.”

    See answer to “Was Operation Iraqi Freedom a strategic blunder or a strategic victory?”.

  70. Eric Says:

    “but there were other facts which Bush should have considered which would have dissuaded him from taking action.”

    See the answer(s) to “What were President Bush’s alternatives with Iraq?” and “Why did Bush leave the ‘containment’ (status quo)?”, and the rest of it.

  71. Dennis Says:

    There is no question that the Democrats and Obama made things much worse in Iraq. It was the Democrats and the left who supported OIF initially and then turned around and lie about their initial support. That is why it is so dishonest for Trump to use leftist slogans to attack Bush now.

    That said, even under the best of circumstances Bush’s strategy to nation build in the Middle East was doomed from the beginning. Bush began his project with the false premise that Islam is a “religion of peace” and that the entire nation of Iraq was full of freedom loving people just waiting for the opportunity to celebrate human freedom and equality.

    Until Muslims themselves recognize the evil and backwardness inherent in mainstream Islam and Sharia law they can not possibly emerge as genuine multicultural societies. Reform of Islam if it ever happens must come from within Islam itself. It can not be imposed by outsiders.

    Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was successful in temporarily turning the Islamist tide in Turkey but since 9/11, under Erdogan Turkey has been slipping back into the pit at an ever increasing pace. Now Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi has stepped into the breach to try to stem the dark tide. He has gone one step beyond Ataturk and has asked the professors at Al-Azhar University to come up with a peaceful interpretation of Islam. Psonally I’m skeptical but we can only wish him the best in his endeavor.

  72. BD Says:

    I’m late to the party, but wanted to chime in on the original topic of discussion: whether Trump’s outburst against GWB was a strategic ploy to expand his appeal into left-leaning precincts.

    Those who say it was such a ploy are committing a logical fallacy called “special pleading.” They’re claiming, in effect, that, although Trump is serious and sincere in saying the things his supporters want to hear (like that he’s going to build a wall and deport millions of illegals), when he says something that sounds goofy or unhinged, he doesn’t really mean it. Normally, we hold candidates responsible for the positions they take, but that rule apparently doesn’t apply to Trump; hence, special pleading.

    Trump’s defenders should consider the possibility (perhaps the likelihood) that what Trump said in his apparently spontaneous rant reflects the real Donald, and what he says on most other things is calculated to cash in on the overall angry spirit that defines the 2016 electorate. After all, Trump’s public record prior to running for president was pretty liberal (or at least pretty accommodating to the establishment liberal agenda). In other words, they should consider the possibility that they are being duped.

    In fairness, since we are being asked whether Trump’s anti-W rant should be dismissed as a nod to lefties, then shouldn’t we be asking the same question about Rubio’s involvement in the Gang of 8? Why isn’t Marco entitled to the same speculation about something he did that could also have been calculated to make him appear more tolerable to liberals?

  73. Dons Says:

    There is a vocal subset on the right which will agree with Trump on this

  74. neo-neocon Says:


    Special pleading is a favorite among Trump supporters, who pick and choose what they want to believe that Trump believes. In this case, though, their argument is especially irrational, since Trump has been saying these things consistently and vigorously since 2008 or so. There is little question these are his actual beliefs.

  75. Yancey Ward Says:

    And in the GOP in South Carolina and pretty much everywhere, his view is a highly unpopular one.

    I don’t think this view is as nearly unpopular as you think, Neo. I wouldn’t have described the pre-invasion runup as a bunch of lies, but rather as a bunch of self-delusions- but, in the end, you wind up in the same place. I thought at the time that the invasion of Iraq was a strategic error- I even had the exact same thoughts about how Afghanistan was being prosecuted, but thought the consequences would be less severe due to the country’s geographic position away from the Persian Gulf and Arabic Africa.

    Sure, Obama made things much, much worse, but that makes the initial mistake even more glaring- such follow-on incompetence should have been a key consideration in making the initial moves. It is disconcerting and dispiriting that many Republicans can’t acknowledge the errors.

    Maybe Trump is making the move to the general election too early, but I doubt it, and he is most definitely doing exactly what his supporters claim. From an overall electoral point of view, the strategy is the right one- one has to make that move to the center before the nomination is secured, not after. The battle on the Democratic side is what makes this an easy call- they have totally abandoned the middle as they argue over who is more socialist.

  76. neo-neocon Says:


    I think you are misunderstanding my premise. I do NOT think the Republican base is not susceptible to the idea that the Iraq war was a mistake. It is clear they are susceptible to that, and have been for over a decade.

    I did not think, however, that so very many of them were susceptible to the twin arguments of (1) Bush LIED (2) 9/11 happened during Bush’s REIGN and therefore he’s to blame for not “keeping us safe”

    Those were the two arguments of Trump’s I’ve been talking about, not his objection to the Iraq War itself.

  77. neo-neocon Says:

    Yancey Ward:

    See my comment directly below yours.

    The right used to understand the difference between the idea of a mistake to get into a war and a purposeful lie to get into a war. You write “I wouldn’t have described the pre-invasion runup as a bunch of lies, but rather as a bunch of self-delusions- but, in the end, you wind up in the same place.”

    Are you serious? If this is the way a lot of people on the right think, then we’re lost. I know this is common “logic” on the left—mistake, lie, whatever. But you seem to be advocating it from the right. If that sort of moral and logical error is that enormously commonplace and widespread, I give up. There is no point in discussing things.

    And that’s a completely separate issue from whether the war actually was an error or not, which we discussed ad nauseam on this blog for years.

  78. Oldflyer Says:

    Dennis, don’t know where you are coming from on this. In retrospect, which everyone is working from, Hussein was over thrown; and the opportunity to develop a friendly entity in an enormously important area was worth while. That result was achievable, and in hand before Obama took office.

    Hidden in all of the finger pointing at Bush is the fact that the original Bush-Rumsfeld post invasion plan was hijacked by Powell and Armitage. Bush’s biggest mistake was trusting Powell, and deferring to him on that. Still, after a messy period, he made adjustments and Iraq was generally on track when he left office.

    However, the comparison between Bush and Iraq and the last Democrat initiated war is this.

    In Vietnam the U.S. suffered 58,151 dead (all causes) in pursuit of an ambiguous goal, and achieved a negotiated settlement which was subsequently squandered by the Democrat controlled Congress.

    In Iraq the U.S suffered 4,425 dead to free a country. The achievements appear to have been squandered by a Democratic President, and Democratic Congress.

    There are points of commonality in these two scenarios. Hint: certainly not the cost of the endeavor, not the unambiguous goal of freeing a nation and a region from a tyrant, and not the level of success in achieving the original goal.

    I have become accustomed to Bush being pilloried by Democrats, and their media/academia accomplices. It is very annoying to see him treated with more disdain than were JFK/LBJ on a basically conservative forum.

    So to review; 58,000 dead versus 4,425 dead. Yet, Bush’s legacy is tarnished while the man who originally took us into Vietnam on a fool’s errand is revered.

  79. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I’m not harshly critical of Bush because it is easy to criticize anyone with the advantage of hindsight but it is time we recognize that many lives were lost without any tangible benefit. Knowing what we know now, OIF was a very bad idea.” Dennis

    My emphasis. OIF was a flawed strategy because it was based on the faulty premise that the desire for self-determination supersedes cultural imperatives. But “many lives were lost without any tangible benefit” because of the traitorous actions of the congressional democrats and the mass media’s propaganda, which eroded public support for the OIF.

    Had the democrats and mass media placed country before ideology, Bush would have had the political support needed to credibly and directly threaten Iran after Saddam’s Iraq fell and, faced with the certainty of American military action, it is probable that the mullahs would have dropped their pursuit of nukes, just as Libya’s Gaddafi did.

    Iraq and Turkey have proven that democracy cannot be ‘grafted’ onto Muslim societies but Libya proved that they can be dissuaded, when the threat is credible and direct enough.

  80. Steve D Says:

    ‘It’s not that he is vulgar.’

    It is because he is shameless. There is no line he wouldn’t cross if he felt he had to. That’s why the answer ‘At least he fights’ is ridiculous. Caesar fought, Napoleon fought, Mussolini fought. The question is what did they fight for.

    ‘That result was achievable, and in hand before Obama took office.’

    It would have taken a long time though, several administrations. Bush trusted the next few presidents would think the way he did and stay the course. It didn’t work out that way.

    ‘The achievements appear to have been squandered by a Democratic President, and Democratic Congress.’

    This of course was predictable from the beginning.

  81. LJB Says:


    “The country you grew up in has already gone. Obama transformed it and you didn’t notice.”

    Oh, I noticed alright…been watching this train wreck coming for more than a decade, and I was late to the watch party as it was. I would just prefer not to speed up the destruction.

    You said:

    “Trump is the first candidate to address these issues head-on.”

    No. Emphatically no. Trump is the SPLASHIEST candidate to address those issues (and I would also differ that he is addressing them “head on” – slogans don’t equate with solutions, and I don’t hear a lot of solutions from him, just finger pointing and trust me’s), but by no mean is he the first or the only one. Ted Cruz has been speaking on all those issues since 2010, at least, and so, to a large extent, has Rubio and Sessions and Fiorinia and so on. Heck, Steve Largent used to try and address some of this stuff. Trump is very much late to the game and very much cribbing talking points from others before him.

    And more importantly – I DON”T BELIEVE HIM. His walk doesn’t support his current talk (and that’s putting aside that his talk changes substantially from day to day. I know all politicians tailor their message to the target audience, but that’s not what Trump is doing…he’s all over the map in his statements.)

    “Will he be a tyrant? I would argue that Obama is already a petty tyrant and he became one because the GOP did not exercise their constitutional power over the purse. If Trump shows tyrannical tendencies then the GOP has the power to rein him in.”

    Don’t you see that you undermine your own point? If the GOP did not exercise control over an opposition President…why would you think they would “rein in” one of their own party and risk their own power and prestige? Last I checked, the Congress has not been suddenly repopulated with Cruz and Session and Lee like-minded public servants, who actually have a record of doing so.

    Which is part (just part) of the danger Trump represents over Hillary or Bernie. It’s expected there will be resistance from a Republican Congress to a Democrat President’s maneuvers, but to a Republican President???

    And the notion, floated here somewhere (sorry, couldn’t find the exact quote again) that Trump is pro-capitalist, is, I think, mis-reading him. He is pro-whatever system gets him power. When the system he had to work with was capitalism, then he showed he would twist it to his own ends, not support it.

    If a tyranny would get what he wants and becomes available, I fully expect he would use it also. He seemed very admiring of LB Johnson’s “arm twisting and threatening” in that book quote.

  82. Ann Says:

    “9/11…An inside job?” — Tweeted on Sept. 11, 2012 by Katrina Pierson, who serves as national spokeswoman for Trump’s presidential campaign.

    Great crew, that Trump team. That’s smack-dab in Rosie O’Donnell territory.

  83. neo-neocon Says:


    I very much agree.

    Let me add that I’ve dealt with this “Trump said it first” and its companion “Trump is the only one who…” meme many times in the comments section. Trump supporters ordinarily have no response except to repeat the meme again and again.

    I wrote some posts on the subject, for example here.

  84. Richard Saunders Says:

    Dennis, on your argument we would say that America’s participation in World War II was a mistake – hundreds of thousand of Americans died, but Germany dominates Europe and Japan, if it chose to do so, could dominate Asia.

    I do agree that the assumption that Iraq would democratize itself was wrong — but I had always anticipated, and was disappointed not to see, that an American Military Government was not put into place, that American troops did not occupy and police the country, and that a Generalissimo was not put in charge to reform the society. You can blame W for that, but not for the invasion in the first place.

  85. Yancey Ward Says:


    A self-delusion is still a lie, even if one believed it at the time.

    However, to flesh out what I am saying- the Bush Administration wanted to invade Iraq get rid of Hussein, and they were willing to believe anything in order to justify that decision. I don’t believe they knowingly told lies to do that (though I have more doubts today about that belief), but all critical thinking was turned off just the same.

    And this doesn’t even address the clear self-delusions about how it would all turn out 13 years later. I voted for Bush in 2000 quite happily, but now wish Gore had won the election. I voted for Bush in 2004, and still think that the right vote, but I only thought that because Kerry winning was the one of the paths to a bad Iraq War outcome that I had foresaw, and that was culminated in Obama in any case. We started a war that it was clear the country would never have the resolve to see through to the end.

  86. Yancey Ward Says:

    As for 9/11- probably it should have been noticed beforehand- the evidence that something was being planned was pretty abundant- however, pulling it all together would probably required a different kind of organization with the information at hand. The world is a very imperfect place and mistakes happen, and it is usually only afterwards that the nature of the mistakes is clear. The evidence was missed and/or misinterpreted by people in both Clinton’s and Bush administrations. I tend not to blame either one, but it is undeniable that the actual even occurred while Bush was president, but I don’t for second believe it wouldn’t have happened under President Gore.

  87. neo-neocon Says:

    Yancey Ward:

    Wrong, wrong WRONG. And if I could scream it in your ear, I would do so.

    When you start with a sentence like “A self-delusion is still a lie, even if one believed it at the time” I need to read no further. You have uttered a moral absurdity.

    A lie requires consciousness of the lie. Period.

    By the way, you may not have seen this new post.

  88. Yann Says:

    I would remark that the “self-denial” defense would be as much applicable to Obama as it is to Bush. We don’t have any real evidence that Obama is lying on purpose when he says (for example) that Islam has nothing to do with Jihad. Let’s say this one or any other surrealist statement made by the US first laddie. Not any more than we have about Bush. Both can be lying, both can be in self-denial. If the benefit of the doubt is to be applied to Bush, good standards recommend to do the same with Obama.

    That doesnt happen here:


    or here, for example


    which suggests that there is a double standard or (likely) an emotional reaction to Trump’s statements.

  89. Ymarsakar Says:

    Did people really think that if they could pin the blame for Iraq on Bush II, that they wouldn’t have to fight the war again, next time with 4th generational warfare breathing down on their front and back steps?

    These are fools, utter fools.

  90. PatD Says:


    We do consider the possibility we are being duped. Trump may well revert to some of the liberal positions he has held in the past. The only protection we have is that he is not bought and he has taken huge political risks in his positions on illegal immigration and Muslim immigration.

    We have been duped by the GOP too many times to trust them again. The omnibus bill was the last straw.

    Take Rubio, for example. He betrayed the Tea Party groups that propelled him past Charlie Crist by joining the Gang of 8. Now he claims he is for securing the border. Then we find out that one of his major backers is Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire who advocates for open borders, Common Core and LGBT equality. Would you trust Rubio to build a wall, deport illegals and block any path to legal status? I wouldn’t.

    Cruz’s positions on illegal immigration have evolved over time. He also has his billionaire hedge fund backers in Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel.

    Who do politicians respond to? Ordinary voters or super PAC contributors? Omnibus and TPPA suggest the latter.

    Trump is a Hail Mary pass by fed-up Americans. If a politician with stature. gravitas and integrity had come out with Trump’s positions on immigration, Muslim immigration and the loss of jobs to China and Mexico, Trump would be out of the race. Too late now.

  91. expat Says:

    You say that Trump is not bought. No, he supplies the money in return for deals that bring him even more money. The Trumpsters don’t seem to have paid any attention to issues until Trump started screaming. It’s because of their ignorance that they support Trump.
    BTW, why is it that all these “true conservatives” think that their vision of America must be reached by tomorrow? Getting other people to come over to your point of view is hard, and like it or not, many voters don’t agree with us. The constitution was supposed to give us a framework to discuss, argue, and come to a balance without getting into a civil war. If the Trumpsters were half as good at making their case as they are at screaming, we may have made a bit more progress.

  92. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “A self-delusion is still a lie, even if one believed it at the time.” Yancey Ward


    Definition of lie:

    a : an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive

    b : an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker

    The first definition makes clear that, when someone lies, they know or believe it to be a lie and intend to deceive.

    The second definition is in regard to whether an assertion itself is objectively true with the state of belief irrelevant to the inherent nature of the assertion.

    You are confusing someone telling a lie, knowing it to be untrue with intent… with the objective untruth of the assertion itself.

  93. geokstr Says:

    Yann Says:
    I would remark that the “self-denial” defense would be as much applicable to Obama as it is to Bush. We don’t have any real evidence that Obama is lying on purpose when he says (for example) that Islam has nothing to do with Jihad.

    We have so many examples that prove Obama is a bald-faced liar on so many issues it is possibly a pathological trait with him.

    1) Even before he repeated ad nauseum that “You can keep your doctor and keep your health plan” his own analysts quietly inserted their study into the Federal Register that said up to 88 million would lose their health care under ObamaCare. The left wing WaPo “fact” “checker” even made him “Liar of the Year” for that one.
    2) He’s on record saying two dozen times that he doesn’t have the power to use Executive Orders/Memos to do with immigration what he then did anyway.
    3) and many many others I don’t feel like digging up right now

    If you wish to claim that Bush was guilty of self-denial then was that also true of the Clinton administration, the CIA and the intelligence agencies of England and other countries? Do we also include as “self-deniers” Pelosi, Hillary, Kerry, and most of the other lefties, including His Majesty Donald Trump Himself, in his own book: Trump Wrote Iraq WMDs Were Threat Year Before Bush Took Office.

  94. Richard Saunders Says:

    Yancey Ward, Yann, Dennis — okay, forget about the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (which, obviously, you’ve never heard of and can’t be bothered to look up), forget the other 21 grounds for going to war with Saddam (you don’t believe any of them, either).

    Just imagine you are sitting in the Oval Office, and in walks your Director of Central Intelligence (incidently, named by your predecessor of the other party), thumps his fist on the Resolute desk, and says, “Mr. President, it is a slam dunk that there are WMDs in Iraq.”

    And you, being the cautious and wise person that you are, ask “Wait a minute George, have you cross-checked this with other intelligence agencies?” And he says “Yes, Mr. President, every intelligence agency in the world, even those who oppose going into Iraq, like the Russians and the French, they all say Saddam has WMDs. Even Hans Blix thinks Saddam has WMDs, but he wants six months to find them before we go in.”

    Now, tell us what you do.

  95. Dennis Says:

    Richard Saunders Says at 6:22 pm
    “Yancey Ward, Yann, Dennis — okay, forget about the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (which, obviously, you’ve never heard of and can’t be bothered to look up)…”

    I’m not sure I get the point here? This was a bill signed by President Clinton but apparently Clinton didn’t believe that it impelled him to go to war with Iraq since he didn’t.

    Oldflyer Says at 1:08 pm:
    “Dennis, don’t know where you are coming from on this.”

    I support Cruz. I’m not trying to justify Trump’s statements.

    As with so many issues, I believe Trump’s argument has merit since it begins a discussion about a topic which has largely been off the table on the right because of the slogans and lies from the left which has tainted the topic. Trump’s problem is that he has stated his position by using slogans from the left in a distasteful and dishonest way.

    My take on the situation in Iraq is that Bush was honest in his appraisal of the situation in Iraq and that there probably were some WMD at some point during the lead up to the war but not anywhere as many as he expected. It is not necessary to impugn Bush’s motives to arrive at the conclusion that OIF was a mistake in retrospect and to draw the necessary conclusions about what is possible in trying to bring freedom to Muslim countries.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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