Monday, May 2, 2016

Trump vs Clinton


Last week Donald Trump swept five Republican primaries in the Northeast, including my home state of Connecticut, to get even closer to locking up the Republican nomination for President. His victories were impressive since he won substantial majorities and not just pluralities. More than the size of the victories I was impressed by Trump’s performance after the election results came in.

My wife and I watched the primary reporting that night and the post election speeches by the victorious candidates from both parties. Hillary Clinton, who won four of the five Democrat primaries, was featured at 9:00 pm, and then Trump followed at 10:00. Never mind the content, the difference between the two appearances was striking. Clinton gave her familiar stump speech that only a masochist or fanatical party loyalist could listen to for more than a minute.

On the other hand, Trump made a few remarks but then turned his appearance into a press conference where he fielded questions from reporters on the spot. He did an impressive job of answering these questions and driving home his points without rehearsal or assistance from teleprompters. He seemed in command, one of the qualities one would like to see in a President. It was in marked contrast to Clinton’s banal verbiage, and I wonder if one of the networks took the trouble to have people in a “focus group” give their impressions of the two performances.

I didn’t vote for Trump in the CT primary but I have to admit that I thought he made some very good points in his answers. In the first place, when asked what he thought was the greatest problem facing America, he quickly replied that nuclear armaments and the threat of their proliferation in rogue states like Iran and North Korea constituted the gravest threat to America today. In doing so, he contrasted himself with President Obama who believes that “climate change” is the Nation’s greatest problem.

Secondly, Trump called for new approaches in foreign policy. He appears to believe that it would be better to work with Russia than to continue to regard it and Vladimir Putin as enemies. He thought that NATO might be an obsolete relic of the Cold War and that if European nations did not want to make their agreed upon contributions to their own defense, then the USA should reconsider its role in Europe. Russia and the USA have a common enemy in Islamic radicalism and yet NATO is building up its forces in Eastern Europe causing incidents like the recent one between an American destroyer and a Russian jet fighter in the Baltic Sea.

Trump still wants to build a wall between the USA and Mexico but now supports “legal” immigration. I think the Wall will turn out to be a useless public works project but if he is elected President, he may discover that it would be better to change the laws on immigration than to enforce those made in the 1920s to keep Catholic immigrants out of the country.

In domestic affairs I liked his expressed intention to dismantle the Federal Department of Education and restore control over education to the fifty states. I also liked his intention to reform Obamacare and correct its abuses. What conservative would disagree with those positions?

I also liked his willingness to confront “political correctness” when it comes to calling our Hillary Clinton for continually playing the “gender” card. Commentators demand that Trump act Presidential, but how is Clinton Presidential when she seems to represent not all the people of America but only favored groups like women, blacks, and Hispanics?

Finally, I believe that Trump is correct when he discounts national polls that give him high negative ratings and show him trailing Clinton in a head to head contest. National ratings can turn on the proverbial dime. I recall that after the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, Romney jumped ahead of Obama because of his debate performance, but then faltered after a lackluster performance in subsequent debates. Trump has proved to be a much more powerful debater than more experienced politicians.

I believe that Trump is the only Republican candidate who could possibly win in the November election. It is not the national vote that counts in November but the votes in each state. In November, the Republican candidate must carry Ohio, Florida, and Virginia along with the traditional red states to have any chance of victory. Trump has a good chance in all three states. Actually, his celebrity status could even put New York, Pennsylvania, and even California in play. It will be interesting to see how he does in the California primary.

Only Trump has the potential to create a broad based campaign. Conservatives might not like him but would they rather have him or Hillary Clinton making the next Supreme Court appointment? On the other side of the political spectrum, I believe that Trump also has the ability to attract supporters of Bernie Sanders. In the Connecticut primary, for example, Clinton eked out a victory only with the help of the urban Democrat political machines in cities like Hartford, Bridgeport, and Stamford. The more conservative remainder of the State went for Sanders. It is easy to imagine that a good percentage of those voters might prefer Trump to Clinton. Stranger things have happened in politics.


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