Quotes of the day

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump said late Tuesday that everyday Americans should monitor their neighbors for questionable behavior.

“The real greatest resource is all of you, because you have all those eyes and you see what’s happening,” he told listeners in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“People move into a house a block down the road, you know who’s going in,” Trump continued. “You can see and you report them to the local police.
“You’re pretty smart, right?” he asked his audience. “We know if there’s something going on, report them. Most likely you’ll be wrong, but that’s OK.

“That’s the best way. Everybody’s their own cop in a way. You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it.”

Trump’s remarks expand on his recent calls for surveillance of America’s mosques for potential terrorism.


And then there was the wisp of a story that Mr. Farmer said was most disturbing of all: “That Muslims were dancing on the rooftops and in the streets of Jersey City and Paterson.”

Indeed, pockets of radical Islamists had set up in Jersey City in the past. The 1993 World Trade Center bombers rented a van and stored chemicals and fertilizers in that city.

Open jubilation at the mass death, Mr. Farmer said, might quickly be followed by rioting and more deaths. “If true, we would have had to mobilize the State Police and National Guard and locked the place down,” he said.

“We followed up on that report instantly because of its implications,” he added. “The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.”


New Jersey governor Chris Christie directly challenged an account from presidential rival Donald Trump that “thousands” of Muslims in the Garden State cheered on the day of the Septemeber 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Thousands of people did not cheer in Jersey City on 9/11. It just didn’t happen. I was there that day. Nothing like that was ever shown on the news. There’s no video of that. It didn’t happen,” Christie told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Tuesday. “As I understand it, he says he saw it on the news. It didn’t happen!”…

But Christie says any celebrations in his state weren’t documented on video and were much smaller—”a small number of people, allegedly”—than Trump has claimed. “As I said Sunday, that was a very emotional, difficult day for me, so I can’t say I have perfect recollection of the day, except for the things that I was really concerned about that day, which was the safety of my wife and my brother,” he said. “But if that had happened, thousands of people in New Jersey cheering, and I’d been named U.S. attorney the day before, I think I would have remembered.”


As the combative mogul enters his fifth month at the top of the GOP field, attempts to derail him remain anemic, underfunded and unfocused — and they are likely to stay that way until the Iowa caucuses in less than 10 weeks.

Most of the party’s financiers and top strategists are sitting on the sidelines. Many are reluctant to spend money against Trump after watching others fumble as they tried to handle his counterpunches. Others, citing past elections, remain confident that the race will eventually pivot away from him early next year…

“I’m not sure someone wouldn’t do better to take their money and threw it off a tall building,” said Henry Barbour, a Mississippi-based operative unaligned with any of the campaigns. “I think the voters who are for Trump are not going to move off from Trump.”

After conducting two focus groups of Trump supporters this fall, GOP consultant Frank Luntz said he has concluded that there is no political issue or stance that will turn off his supporters.


[H]is rhetoric has become even more heated—and controversial. Talk of a national registry for Muslims in America, surveillance of mosques and his insistence, contrary to evidence, that Muslim Americans cheered 9/11, among other things, have dominated the headlines, causing rivals to take time from their own campaigns to respond when they would rather draw contrasts with President Obama and Hillary Clinton over foreign policy and national security…

If recent history is a guide, any intervention or strike by the establishment against Teflon-like Trump would only fuel his supporters…

Republican strategist Ed Rollins says he doubts efforts to take down the real estate tycoon will work. “Trump’s support is different,” says Rollins, a former Ronald Reagan official who advised Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Michele Bachmann in 2012. “They already have heard all the negatives and don’t care. … Trump is running as the anti-Washington candidate, and this just makes his case: ‘Washington and the Republican establishment don’t want me because I represent you, not them!’”…

“If you push him too much institutionally, you’re going to make the supporters even angrier,” Rath says. “You have to beat him on the ground.”


“There’s almost no limit” on what he can say, said Frank Luntz, a pollster who gained fame as a phrase-maker for Republicans. “You cannot bring him down by what he says or what he thinks.”…

“I don’t think Trump can be explained as if he arose out of nothing. He didn’t create this moment, as much as he is a product of it,” said Peter Wehner, who wrote speeches and ran the policy idea factory in George W. Bush’s White House. “There’s an environment that allowed him to arise. But having arisen, and being who he is, he has kept pushing the boundaries and knocking down one guardrail after another.”…

“Essentially it is the culture of the blog world and social media,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart. “I do believe that we are in a different era. It is an era where people’s immediate emotions and reactions overwhelm the basic principles of a democratic society.”…

“There is very little discussion of what it means for the Republican party to become a nativist, protectionist party. That is where Trump is taking us,” said Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman and veteran GOP strategist who is supporting Bush.


The fresh accusations of fascist behavior are extraordinarily charged — the term is often equated with Nazism. The use of such a loaded word marks one more step in the evolution of the establishment’s view of Trump, from a political clown to something much more malevolent and dangerous.

And it also reflects an increasingly visible and acute level of frustration and disbelief about Trump within the GOP, as Republicans view Trump’s candidacy as an explosive mixture of economic populism with strongman personality politics. While it’s unclear whether Trump is motivated by any coherent political philosophy, it’s hard to recall another recent presidential candidate who has campaigned so openly on solving problems by sheer personal will…

At a Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, a black protester was physically attacked by a handful of Trump fans in the crowd. Video captured by CNN shows the man being shoved to the ground, punched and at one point even kicked. The next day, Trump drew fierce backlash when he said that perhaps “he should have been roughed up.”

The sentiment was then echoed by Trump’s senior counsel Michael Cohen. “Every now and then an agitator deserves it,” Cohen said on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning.


With that said, it is true that there are fascist movements, and it’s also true that when you strip their cultural clothing—the German paganism in Nazism, for example—there are common properties. Not every fascist movement shows all of them, but—Eco writes—“it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.” Eco identifies 14, but for this column, I want to focus on seven.

They are: A cult of “action for action’s sake,” where “thinking is a form of emasculation”; an intolerance of “analytical criticism,” where disagreement is condemned; a profound “fear of difference,” where leaders appeal against “intruders”; appeals to individual and social frustration and specifically a “frustrated middle class” suffering from “feelings of political humiliation and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups”; a nationalist identity set against internal and external enemies (an “obsession with a plot”); a feeling of humiliation by the “ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies”; a “popular elitism” where “every citizen belongs to the best people of the world” and underscored by contempt for the weak; and a celebration of aggressive (and often violent) masculinity…

Alone and disconnected, this rhetoric isn’t necessarily fascist. Some of it, in fact, is even anodyne. But together and in the person of Donald Trump, it’s clear: The rhetoric of fascism is here. And increasingly, the policies are too. The only thing left is the violence.


Are Trump’s comments really making us less safe? I fear that’s so: Professional counterterrorism experts say that the United States has had relatively few “lone wolf” attacks partly because Muslim Americans believe they are part of the national community. They have a stake in the United States and its security. The FBI and local law enforcement agencies work 24/7 to build this sense of trust and cooperation so that when Muslim communities see extremists in their midst, they will report them to authorities.

These essential threads of interdependence are what Trump is ripping apart. Try to read his words as a Muslim neighbor would, when Trump said Nov. 17, “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”…

Let’s state the problem in the simplest terms: If Muslim Americans come to believe that prominent leaders (such as the top GOP presidential candidate) view them as less worthy of rights and protections than others, then the job of the Islamic State’s recruiters will become easier. The work of intelligence officers, cops and soldiers who have been trying to stop our terrorist adversaries will become more difficult.

It’s hard to imagine that someone would put the country at greater risk for personal political benefit. But that’s exactly what Trump has been doing. It’s outrageous behavior, and responsible Republicans must insist that it stop.


RUSH:  Holy cow, folks.  Trump Derangement Syndrome is spreading.  Trump Derangement Syndrome is everywhere.  It literally is everywhere.  Well, we’re not deranged here because we don’t get deranged about anything, but, I mean, the Drive-Bys, the Democrats, many in the Republican Party are just beside themselves now.  They don’t know what to do. 

For example, from CBS News:  “Get Trump Off Ballot, Demands Ex-New Hampshire GOP Leader — A former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party wants Donald Trump off the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot.” The guy’s name is Fergus Cullen. “Fergus Cullen filed a formal complaint Monday –” wait ’til you hear this “– challenging Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot as a Republican due to his ‘inconsistent views.'”  He should not be permitted on the ballot because of, quote, “his inconsistent views” and, quote, “his purpose to sabotage the Republican Party.”…

So the great minds of political science in Washington and New York and Boston, the corridor, have gotten together, and they’re trying to analyze why Trump does this, and they think the answer can be found in Trump’s statements previously about how to negotiate a deal.  And they’re just grasping.  And now they’re worried, why do these people who say they’re gonna vote for Trump, why does none of what he says that’s so outrageous, the Drive-Bys, why does it not bother any of his supporters.  They just can’t understand it.  And once again that is even more evidence of the great disconnect between people who work and live in Washington vis-a-vis the rest of the people in the country. 


“As we mentioned yesterday, if you look at the demographics, at least as expressed polling data, the bulk of Trump support is what we all have been led to believe the Republican Party wants: blue-collar people, moderates and independents,” suggested Limbaugh. “I mean there’s the fact that they don’t control Trump, and the real thing is they don’t have any money invested, and as such they have no say-so over what he does at all.”

Limbaugh claimed, “There’s a genuine adversarial relationship. It isn’t new, folks, but it keeps intensified. I mean, the adversarial relationship was plain as day back in the in the ’70s when Reagan was attempting to become the Republican nominee, and the establishment Republicans of that day had similar animus to Reagan, and they did their best to discredit Reagan with his supporters.”

Back in the day they joined a bunch of Democrats in the media trying to portray Reagan as dangerous with his finger poised to the nuclear weapons button, the launch button,” insisted Limbaugh. “And I think it is becoming more and more irrational.”


In large part, Donald Trump is a Jacksonian, the tradition originally associated with the Scotch-Irish heritage in America and best represented historically by the tough old bird himself, Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory might be mystified that a celebrity New York billionaire is holding up his banner (but, then again, Jackson himself was a rich planter). Trump is nonetheless a powerful voice for Jacksonian attitudes

Trump has trampled on almost every political piety, and gotten away with it, even when he has been factually wrong or had to backtrack. “The Jacksonian hero dares to say what the people feel and defies the entrenched elites,” Mead writes. “The hero may make mistakes, but he will command the unswerving loyalty of Jacksonian America so long as his heart is perceived to be in the right place.”…

Trump never sweats the details. Jacksonians, according to Mead, believe “that while problems are complicated, solutions are simple.” The side in a public debate that “is endlessly telling you that the popular view isn’t sufficiently ‘sophisticated’ or ‘nuanced’ — that is the side that doesn’t want you to know what it is doing, and it is not to be trusted.”…

Trump isn’t ideologically consistent. The Jacksonian philosophy, Mead notes, “is an instinct rather than an ideology — a culturally shaped set of beliefs and emotions rather than a set of ideas.”


The goal of convincing a Republican primary electorate that Trump is personally unequal to the job of president is unlikely to succeed. They’ve seen Donald Trump dominating and commanding all the other Republican presidential candidates (except Carly Fiorina) in one-on-one personal confrontations on the debating platform. They know, or think they know, that Donald Trump built a gigantic business empire. They have watched as a network “reality” television show portrayed him over 14 seasons as America’s supreme problem-solver and team leader. Now the same party leaders who insisted that Sarah Palin could do the job of president, if need be, want to persuade the rank-and-file that Trump can’t? Good luck with that…

When a Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio attacks Donald Trump as an unfit commander in chief because of this wild statement or that (and Trump’s statements can be plenty wild!), they miss the point. Reckless talk about the Iran nuclear deal, or the war in Syria, or the Russian assault on Ukraine may trouble voters—but the deal is made or unmade on a candidates’s credibility on border security. On that issue, the elected-office Republicans have all crowded together where the party isn’t, and Trump alone dominates the ground where the party is. He is the one positioned to attack them as naive and weak, not the other way around.

And how about the suggestion that Trump is a fascist dictator in the making? Good luck with that, too. Yes, over the past week, Donald Trump has wandered into territory where democratic politicians do not go. Jeb Bush and John Kasich have spoken up—a show of courage and character that should redound to their credit. Yet if there is one concept that conservative media have tried to pound into the heads of their listeners and readers, it is that fascism is always and everywhere a left-wing phenomenon. By definition, therefore, Trump can’t be a fascist—and anybody who says otherwise is probably a covert liberal himself or herself.


Then Trump got to the heart of the matter. “The word compromise is absolutely fine. But if you are going to compromise, ask for about three times more than you want. You understand? So when you compromise, you get what you want.”

Perhaps deporting all illegal immigrants is the political version of asking for about three times more than you want…

Asking for about three times more than he wants helps Trump keep up his image with supporters. Perhaps the biggest part of Trump’s appeal to those supporters is that they see him as strong, and other candidates as weak. Trump has to keep sounding strong to keep their support — even if the things he says scandalize others.

It’s all part of the campaign. In a new interview with GQ, Trump essentially concedes a tendency to go over the top. That would change, he said, if he became president. “I would imagine I would be quite a bit different,” Trump explained. “I would feel differently about things as a president. Right now, I’m fighting a lot of people. As a president I would be more measured.”


Even if Trump doesn’t win the nomination, barring a horrible performance in Iowa, his influence on the primary process is virtually assured to be both dramatic and catastrophic.

I have spent hours with RealClearPolitics interactive delegate predictor going through every reasonable scenario based on the race’s current trajectory. The largest variables are when Jeb Bush finally gives up and whether Ben Carson’s balloon slowly loses air (as I previously predicted it would in these pages) or pops all together. Assuming Bush gets out before being humiliated in Florida and Carson remains viable throughout, there is simply no way, with Trump hanging on to his current base of support, that anyone runs away with the nomination.

Trump simply takes too much of the support that Cruz would need to do so, and the “establishment” vote isn’t large enough for Rubio to get the margins he would need in a four-person race to clinch the nomination before the convention. This means that, at the very least, Trump would be by far the most significant power broker (especially with the news media obsessing over his every move) at what would effectively be a “brokered” convention. He might even be able to blackmail the convention into nominating a Trump/Cruz ticket (though Cruz is suddenly showing signs he might not be interested in that), or see certain defeat as he threatens to tell his portion of the base to stay home, or worse. 

All of this is why it is so important for real conservatives to knock out Trump in Iowa before this remarkable rocket ship he has built has a chance to get fully off the ground. If that is to happen, the time to “freak out” is clearly right now. In fact, it might already be too late.




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Beege Welborn 8:01 PM on February 03, 2023