Trump, Not as a 2012 Candidate, but as a Blueprint

April 7, 2011

My brother, Rush, said on his program Thursday that Donald Trump, in taking the fight directly to President Obama, has provided a winning blueprint for defeating him in 2012.

Rush was referring to the way in which Trump — think what you will about him and his politics — has boldly challenged President Obama on a number of issues, including the notorious birth certificate fracas, obviously unconcerned about fallout from the liberal media.

The issue here is not Obama’s birth certificate; it is Trump’s aggressive, offensive posture in challenging Obama across the board. He rightly recognizes that America’s financial condition is in shambles and contends that Obama’s incoherent approach to foreign policy is making the U.S. a laughingstock in the international community.

Trump is not my candidate for a number of reasons, including that I don’t believe he’s been reliably conservative over the years, but I have no doubt that Republicans can learn great lessons from his direct, fearless approach.

The first application of the Trump blueprint should be the congressional Republicans’ approach to the budget war, in both the short-term battles over the umpteenth continuing resolution and the battle over Rep. Paul Ryan’s long-term budget proposal.

Too many Republicans have paralyzed themselves with fear about the potential negative fallout from a government shutdown over this year’s budget. They believe Bill Clinton successfully pinned the blame on Newt Gingrich over the shutdowns of 1995 and 1996 and greatly damaged GOP electoral prospects as a result. They believe the liberal media will be able to crucify Republicans.

Let me tell you — in a nutshell — why I believe Republicans must not succumb to their fear and compromise on the $61 billion and why my conservative colleagues should not be squeamish about this path.

–It’s not clear that Republicans lost the PR war over the budget battles of the ’90s — a point Michael Barone made in a recent column.

–Besides, today is radically different from 1995-96, especially in terms of the catastrophic financial crisis that hangs over this country as the flames of hellfire hung over readers of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Even the co-chairmen of the bipartisan budget commission acknowledge this.

–Voters understand that we are in a crisis, and they cast their votes accordingly — resoundingly — in the November congressional elections.

–A government shutdown wouldn’t be pleasant, but it would not be the end of the world. Essential services would remain in operation. On the other hand, our failing to get the financial crisis solved would be the end of the prosperous and free America we love.

–If a shutdown occurs, it will not be the Republicans’ fault, and we don’t have to accept a narrative to the contrary. For the first time since 1974, Democrats, despite their control of Congress, did not pass a budget last year, and it is their failure that has led to all the wrangling over these continuing resolutions. Moreover, the Democrats have not acted in good faith toward our national debt crisis, particularly respecting the trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities with our entitlements programs.

–The liberal media have lost both credibility and clout since the ’90s, while the alternative media have gained in both. Also, an information explosion has occurred, making facts instantly available — universally. Facts are on the Republicans’ side.

–Obama and the Democrats have lost immeasurable popularity and credibility in the past few years, especially concerning the nation’s financial health and the economy.

–Obama has been exposed for presenting recklessly erroneous information on his 10-year budget proposal (understated by $2.3 trillion) and Obamacare (understated by hundreds of billions of dollars). He has been AWOL on these budget negotiations and presented no plan for entitlement reform.

–Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was caught saying that the Democrats’ strategy was not to compromise with Republicans, but to torpedo them. Reports also surfaced that other Democratic leaders are strategizing for a shutdown because they have no authentic plan and have no ammunition against Republicans apart from demonizing them.

–Polls have shown that most people would prefer a government shutdown to Congress’ failing to resolve the budget crisis. Separate polls have shown that even independents would favor a shutdown.

–What moderate conservatives fail to understand is that there is little downside to Republicans sticking to their guns but an enormous downside to their caving. The media will vilify Republicans as uncompassionate, whether or not there’s a shutdown; just wait for the debate over Ryan’s budget. But if Republicans breach their promise to make these cuts, there will be hell to pay with the base.

You don’t defeat the Democrats by picking your battles; you fight them at every turn — thereby gaining political capital, not using it up.

Nothing would energize the base — and ultimately the majority of the electorate — more than Republicans standing their ground and fighting Obama aggressively. They’ve tried the milquetoast approach before and been punished for it — most recently in 2006. So, Republicans, man up and follow the blueprint.