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Yes, Trump is very flawed; no, that's not a reason to accept the damage a Hillary presidency would do
On a certain level, I completely understand why Donald Trump behaves the way he does. At times, I even like it. I especially love the way he gives the media no respect and no quarter for their dishonest and absurd behavior. I would like to see more Republicans do that. In fact, I'd like to see everyone do that, no matter who they are.
I like the fact that Trump does not concern himself with the established norms of how proper and appropriate people are supposed to behave in the political world. I don't think he's the slightest bit unaware of these norms. I think he knows very well what they are and considers them ridiculous. I think he made a calculated bet that by flouting them instead of following them, he would gain a lot more respect and support than he would lose. And I think he was right about that.
And I like the fact that Trump does not necessarily back down from fights just because the supposedly sage wisdom of seasoned old counselors would say that he should. Sometimes it makes sense to "keep the story alive" a little longer so you can set the record straight or let your attacker know that there's a price to be paid for lying about you. I don't think those sage, seasoned counselors are always right. I just think they've memorized their conventional wisdom and they think you'll consider it worth the hundreds of dollars an hour they charge you to have them spew it to you.
I like all that about Trump, and some of it I like very much.
But let's not pretend the man has no flaws. Of course he does. This business about the early-morning tweets attacking the former Miss Universe - even if what Trump said was 100 percent accurate - was ham-handed and tailor-made for a hostile news media looking for an excuse to describe him as unhinged and unstable.
Now, if everyone who gets into a social media battle with someone else is unhinged and unstable, well . . . then just about everyone I know is unhinged and unstable. But when you've been rising in the polls and the media are looking for a reason to attack you, for God's sake don't give them one on a silver platter.
And if Trump is going to respond to every attack in this way, rather than picking his battles, well . . . that will make for an interesting presidency. And not in a good way.
I realize Trump thinks it's a virtue that he did little or no preparation for last Monday night's debate, as he abhors the idea of being over-programmed and completely lacking in spontenaeity. But Trump sometimes takes the opposite extreme too far as well. You can know your subjects and have a basic idea of what you'd like to say - and of what you might need to respond to - without being the phony baloney, pre-programmed robot that Hillary Clinton is.
This does not mean that some of the more insane charges against him have any validity. Trump is clearly not a racist, despite how often you've heard that line repeated. His track record in business makes the charge that he's a sexist look pretty silly. But things like his attack on Heidi Cruz show he has a vulgar, boorish and sophomoric side that isn't only unpresidential, but unattractive for anyone.
All of this taken together does not mean Trump isn't a good man. The whole of his life's work suggests that on balance he absolutely is. I would not want you to judge me on the worst things I ever did because someone who was there to see them decided to tell the world about them at a time when it would do the most damage to me. But then again, they were still my actions and I am still responsible for them. They don't really tell you the whole story, but I have to be a man and own them. I would hope that by time I'm 70 (which is 20 years and a few weeks away), I would know better than to ever give into my worst behavioral instincts, let alone show a pattern of falling back on them.
Trump would do himself a lot of good if he could accomplish the same.
But as much as I acknowledge these personal flaws in Donald Trump, I have to remember something when I choose a president. His or her personal behavior is what you see, but it's not as important as the likely outcome of electing him or her. I know there are Republicans who think that because of Trump's personal flaws, Hillary Clinton is the only acceptable choice. They've bought into a narrative in which we have no choice but to choose "sane, responsible" Hillary over lunatic Trump.
Now, for one thing, I believe the case that Trump is unfit is vastly overstated, and the case that Hillary is fit is without any merit whatsoever. But we'll explore those points a different time. I'd more concerned right now with the likely outcomes of a Hillary presidency. Let's just look at a few points:
- ObamaCare is collapsing. Premiums are soaring. Insurers are losing a fortune. Health networks are shrinking. The taxpayers look to be on the hook not only for more subsidy spending but, if Obama gets his way, massive bailouts of the health insurers. This is a disaster and it has to be fixed. Hillary will not fix it, and the results of her refusal to fix it will be catastrophic for this country. Donald Trump occassionally acting like a vulgar, boorish jerk will not do the country anywhere near as much damage as that.
- The national debt is right about at $20 trillion, and the percentage held by the public - the part that has to be paid back - is the highest it's been since World War II. The debt is also the highest percentage of the GDP that it's been in decades. This needs to be turned around, and very quickly. Hillary will not turn it around. She will continue the Obama practice of adding more and more spending and daring the Republican Congress to stop her. The Congress will continue to cower and back down for fear of the media accusing them of "shutting down the government," and the debt will continue to soar. This will do much more damage to the country than Trump flaming someone on Twitter, however un-presidential it may be.
- Basic constitutional protections hang in the balance as the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has been lost. If Antonin Scalia's successor is not a conservative in the mold of Scalia, Thomas and Alito, there will be no safeguard remaining to stop the federal government from going hog wild and exceeding all constitutional limits on its authority. A Hillary court nominee will ensure these protections are lost for at least a generation. Nothing that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth will harm the country as much as that will.
- Evil is on the march throughout the world because the United States has abdicated its role as a global leader. Hillary Clinton was one of the architects of this abdication and she is guaranteed to continue it. Donald Trump doesn't know as much as he should about the world - and he's wrong about the Iraq War, for what it's worth - but his instincts are mostly correct. Everything Hillary "knows" is wrong and her instincts are terrible. That is a direct threat to peace and global stability. That is a much bigger problem that Donald Trump's sometimes petulant personal behavior.
I realize there are no guarantees with Trump either. He does not have a long history of advocating any particular ideological philosophy. He has never governed anything. He might not believe some of what he's saying now.
But he does not embrace a philosophy that actively hates the constitutional underpinnings of the United States, that abhors capitalism, that rejects American global leadership and that considers Americans' constitutional rights an inconvenience in the quest for power. Hillary Clinton does all of these things and more. If Trump concerns you because he doesn't know the ropes, you should be more concerned about the fact that Hillary does know them, and fully intends to use them for ill and not for good.
I don't like some of Trump's behavior either. But I'm not willing to subject the country to the consquences of a Hillary presidency because of it. No one should be.