A Very Expensive Lesson

The best lessons come at the highest cost—or so they say.

If that’s true, I hope America is paying attention. We are about to learn a very expensive lesson.

As the parent of an autistic child, I am quite familiar with misdirected anger. Though I know that my son’s occasional outbursts and brain-numbing stems are a manifestation of a disability over which he has little or no control, I still allow them to get under my last nerve from time to time. Despite my best efforts I lose my temper from time to and raise my voice (actually usually just talk in an unpleasant tone). The very short moment of satisfaction I derive from venting my frustration comes at a price and is soon replaced by a lasting regret—lasting because my anger inevitably worsens the situation and delays its resolution. I’m learning but logic, patience, and common sense still elude me from time to time.

Speaking of misdirected anger…. Yesterday, a good friend and enthusiastic Trump supporter confided in me that he now believes the Republican nominee will likely be defeated.  Hillary Clinton, the second-worst presidential candidate ever, is set to become president. Who is the worst candidate ever, you ask? Three guesses; you’ll only need one.

Though my friend honestly assessed the damage done by the latest revelation of Trump’s character—or lack thereof, it didn’t take him long to veer into the land of rationalization. Trump only said words he parroted; Bill Clinton did actions.  Well. I’m not so sure Trump only said words, but even if that were true, remember, as a famous person once said: “Words matter.” Sorry Trump supporters, but most, if not all, of the greatest atrocities in history started out as words. Words have a nasty habit of leading to actions. They are often a way to test the acceptability of actions. If the words are okay, the actions must be also.

It’s just locker room talk, my friend repeated lamely.  Really?

I’ve been in many locker rooms and the language in them is indeed often lewd, crude, and otherwise colorful. In all those times, while I’ve heard many disgusting things about women, and, I’m ashamed to admit, laughed at them from time to time, I’ve never heard a father sanction or condone such talk about his own daughter. Of course, every woman is someone’s daughter and this is why men should cease such talk about any woman. Not just because such talk is disrespectful, but because talk leads to action. Not for everyone, maybe, but for some, maybe even many.  It is precisely why many conservatives have criticized hip hop music for its portrayal of women.  Should such talk be prohibited? Of course not. But understand, free speech has never been truly free; people who engage in the type of speech Donald Trump routinely uses, therefore, should not expect a pass from people judging them in life nor in the voting booth.

Such behavior also calls into question Trump’s judgement.  Sure, he may not have planned to run for president, but for a businessman to disparage women in such a way doesn’t seem very wise.  Wouldn’t he expect to need to do business with women from time to time? Rationalizing his bad behavior by pointing to the bad behavior of Bill Clinton is a weak effort to deflect from his own shameful behavior and not exactly the foundation upon which virtue is built.

The idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency literally scares the hell out of me. It should scare the hell out of anyone who loves America. Unfortunately, like my misdirected anger at my autistic son, the GOP electorate misdirected its anger at the Republican party and in doing so, has virtually guaranteed a Hillary Clinton presidency and a generation or more of liberal supremacy on the bench. The idea that the GOP didn’t fight hard enough to stop Obama is ludicrous.  GOP leadership did everything possible given their numbers to deter the president.  That is why Obama resorted to his illegal executive actions.  Now, those who complained about a lack of real opposition to liberal ideas are about to see what a real lack of opposition to liberal ideas looks like. With another four to eight years control over the executive branch, possible control over both houses of congress and a solid majority on the court, gun rights, religious rights, and even free speech will face the most serious threats in our nation’s existence.

It didn’t have to be that way. We knew who Trump was. But sadly, he wasn’t nominated despite his character flaws; to a large extent, he was nominated because of them. What were so-called conservatives thinking? Now, the same people who decried the establishment sticking by candidates such as McCain and Romney are invoking the same arguments to insist that Republicans stay true to Trump.  Rance Priebus, public enemy number one not so long ago and the very epitome of the mythical “establishment,” is now unwavering in his support for the party’s deeply flawed nominee.  Well.

Meanwhile, true conservatives, who stand by their principles and distance themselves from Trump are the new “establishment.” Give me a break. By any honest standard, Trump is no conservative, no matter how hard Sean Hannity tries to make him seem so.  Sorry Sean, you’re just not that talented. For Trumpeteers, it always comes down to one argument: He’s not Hillary Clinton. True. But really, how far must we follow this sleaze nominee down that road? Could Trump, as he claimed, actually murder someone and still retain his core support? I can hear it now: “What’s one innocent life? We’re talking about the future of our country here.”

Hillary Clinton is such a horrible candidate and was so easily beatable. Any of the GOP candidates—Cruz, Rubio, Walker—hell, even Rand Paul or Jeb Bush—could have easily trounced her, given all the dirt that has come out. Instead, out of anger, thirty to forty percent of the GOP electorate, propelled by Hannity, Coulter, and other loons, foisted this idiot upon us because for a brief moment it felt good to jab their fingers in the eyes of the “establishment”.  Now, that moment has passed, and we are left with only regret. It is likely to be a lasting regret—lasting because it will inevitably weaken if not destroy the republic. If the republic does somehow manage to endure, maybe in the future logic, patience, and common sense will trump (pun intended) the anger that got us into this mess. After all, the best lessons come at the highest cost.

Or so they say.

End of Days for the GOP, America?

Well, October is upon us, and with it, the homestretch of the 2016 presidential election, otherwise known as the End of Days for the GOP and potentially for our republic as we have known it. After a crushing defeat in the first general election presidential debate, Donald Trump, who appeared unprepared and ill-informed (in other words, genuine) is in yet another self-induced tailspin, and Hillary Clinton, who should be losing this election, and losing it badly, has not only recovered from her recent swoon (both physically and in the polls), but has in fact jumped ahead entering the final month of the campaign.

To be clear: despite an electoral map that greatly favors Democrat candidates, this did not have to be an uphill battle for Republicans. Hillary Clinton is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad candidate. First of all, she has no true accomplishments, either in the private sector (unless you count cattle futures), as first lady, or in her sham of a senatorial career.  Her tenure as Secretary of State is more memorable for scandal and ineptitude, lost emails and murdered diplomats, failed interventions, and lack of foresight, than for true accomplishments, notwithstanding her flimsy claims of negotiating hostage releases and human rights agreements. She lacks charisma and is possibly the worst public speaker ever to get paid to do so more than once. In short, she is nothing and has nothing save the tattered coattails of a disgraced and impeached husband.

Yet, she is leading and likely to win. How? Because, against all odds, the Republican electorate, with some help from disaffected industrial workers, is on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory because it nominated someone equally flawed to oppose Clinton.

Donald Trump claims to be some kind of business miracle worker. He is rich and savvy, at least he would have you believe he is, though he refuses to release tax returns that might shed light on just how rich he really is, while his history of bankruptcies, reneging on contracts, and shady partnerships (not to mention, the probably fraudulent Trump University) do seem to cast some doubt on the savvy part. We are supposed to believe he is really, really great because, well, he tells us he is—a lot. We are supposed to believe everything he would do as president would be “so good” because, well, he tells us it will be—constantly, with little or no specifics. Remember, though, during the GOP campaign he said he would beat Hillary and it wouldn’t even be that hard. Well, okay.

In the past several weeks, as the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency has loomed ever larger, hesitant GOP leaders, including Ted Cruz, have climbed reluctantly aboard the trump train. This late change of heart is apparently a last-ditch effort to save the Supreme Court, which will surely be lost for a generation if Hillary is elected, because, technically, Trump is ever so slightly less certain to do permanent damage to the constitution, grasping at straws being, after all, a warped version of optimism.

Trumpeteers, predictably are already preparing for defeat by peddling yet again their ridiculous claims that the so called “establishment” of the party has undermined the people’s choice. This is of course ludicrous, being that whatever “establishment” mechanism actually exists within the party has allowed and even aided the bombastic populist in his efforts. It is interesting that anyone who opposes Trump is quickly labeled “establishment” even the face of contravening logic. If there truly was an establishment, why didn’t they choose a candidate (Jeb Bush was the supposed favorite of this group) and then twist the arms of the other “establishment” candidates (pretty much all the rest of them to hear Trump supporters talk) and get them out of the race so to clear the path for their candidate. At that early juncture of the primaries, it wouldn’t have taken more than 35 or 40 percent to oust Trump. The truth is, it was all of the so-called anti establishment candidates clogging the field that divided the sensible conservative vote.

Walker, a fiscal conservative who cut taxes, lowered unemployment, erased a budget deficit, and took on labor unions, all while successfully warding off multiple efforts by democrats to unseat him in a state that has been consistently democratic blue for some time, never gained any traction.  Perry, another former tea party favorite, who was among the first to drop out, never really had a chance.  Ditto for Rand Paul, whose foreign policy agenda could be summed up with the question “Can’t we all just get along?”

Rubio of course, lost his bona fides due to his flirtation with immigration reform (the failure of which resulted in the open borders policy better known as Obama’s Executive Amnesty).  That bill may look pretty good in retrospect and surely will once Hillary Clinton opens the borders. Interestingly enough, Trump’s immigration policy, depending on the day and to the extent anyone can actually figure it out, may end up softer than that of Rubio and the Gang of Eight.  Go figure. Cruz apparently was unacceptable because he was not a very nice guy. Really.

If there truly is a Republican establishment , it is certainly one of the most inept bodies ever to try to control an election. If this “establishment” had any real power, they would have cleared the field for a chosen candidate. Wrong. Instead they engaged in a circular firing squad where everyone was a target except Trump. When the smoke cleared, they had damaged each other just enough to allow Trump to win in  South Carolina. These actions hardly support the conspiracy theories of a coordinated effort to push an establishment candidate. What they suggest instead is a collection of egos that all expected Trump would eventually flame out (what rational person didn’t?) and their self serving hopes to be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces. Now what?

Well, now, as it becomes more and more evident that Hillary will prevail, regret is beginning to sink in. Too bad. Seldom have the stars aligned so perfectly for a Republican victory, with a deep bench of young and successful senators and state governors pitted against the poster child for the left’s tired old progressive agenda with emphasis on the old and the tired. Hillary Clinton, literally wobbling under the weight of her scandal-ridden past and present, was a GOP landslide waiting to happen.  The architect of many of the worst liberal policies over the past eight years – from the Arab spring to the Russian reset, she barely fought off an 80-year-old avowed socialist. The momentum of a strong GOP candidate might have propelled the senate to a filibuster-proof majority instead of crossing our fingers and hoping that the democrats do not regain control. Oh what might have been.

So why won’t that landslide and GOP wave happen? Because conservatives in their zeal to clean house in their own party, destroyed their best candidates and left standing the only one who could actually lose to Hillary. And he will.