A Look Back and Forth

By James Buckley   |   July 2, 2020

Way back in the Dark Ages (say, the year 1970 or so), the “political season” began the day after Labor Day, in early September. That allowed for a nearly 10-week stretch of politicizing and polarizing to lead up to the first Tuesday in November, which was, putatively, Election Day. Over the years, that paradigm shifted to what we have now: a hodgepodge of various election days, with some states allowing for a month of voting, by mail mostly, not just politicking. Results can now take weeks, even months, to come up with a winner, depending upon how close the race was.

Today, of course, in addition to the one-month-plus time period for actual voting, the political game has extended itself into a nearly year-round marathon, probably in order to fit into the 24/7 cycle of cable news, which demands daily fodder. Clearly, there’s a lot of politickin’ goin’ on out there. Luckily, at least as I see it, all that cable TV-time emptiness that needed to be filled with something was in fact filled by one particular presidential candidate during the 2016 election “cycle.” His name was (and is) Donald J. Trump, and his unique rallies – sometimes as many as five in one day – were consumed by the likes of CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and even network channels. They were seen as welcome respites to the often dry and certainly boring sameness of the talking heads of the day. There was no real “news,” so TV chatter concerned itself mostly with the latest polls, all of which predicted a huge win for the other candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The billion dollars of free publicity given Mr. Trump actually propelled him to becoming the 45th President of the United States, and most of the media has been kicking itself in the rear ever since, believing its herd programming laziness led to the Trump presidency.

And, they’re probably right, although we (I’m using the royal “we” here; I wrote the editorial) supported Donald Trump for president long before those rallies became a ratings hit. And, we were nearly alone among all print media in the entire nation (along with the Santa Barbara News-Press) to do so. It had nothing to do with the 24-hour news cycle and everything to do with the qualifications – or lack thereof – of Mr. Trump’s opponent: Hillary Clinton. The following is my editorial on the subject, printed on 16 October 2016:

Donald Trump for President

“Look, we’ve only got two choices and it’ll be a cold day in Hades when we’d pull the lever, mail in a ballot, or punch a card for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let’s examine the two. Firstly, there is Ms Clinton, the ‘experienced’ one. After all, she was the wife of an Arkansas attorney general, the wife of an Arkansas governor, and the wife of a president. Riding on that marital train, she ran for the U.S. Senate in New York State and beat the luckless and lackluster Republican congressman Rick Lazio, who became the candidate by default after Rudy Giuliani was forced out of the race by, guess what? Revelations about his personal life. Funny enough, that’s what happened in Barack Obama‘s one and only U.S. Senate race, as his opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out after… wait for it… revelations about his personal life, mainly the release of court divorce documents in which his wife makes some rather salacious claims.

“As for the importance of ‘experience,’ we’d like to point out that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had a heap of ‘experience’ before taking on the highest office in his land. He served on the Birmingham City Council beginning in 1911, became Lord Mayor in 1915, was elected to the House of Commons in 1918, served as postmaster general, minister of health, sat in on Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin’s cabinet, was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, finally becoming Prime Minister in 1937. And, except for the political positions he held, as far as we can tell, never did a day’s work in the private sector in his life.

“Most of us remember what happened in Munich when the ‘experienced’ Mr. Chamberlain handed Czechoslovakia over to the excitable Mr. Hitler. If you don’t, you’re probably a product of our 21st century educational establishment.

“Here’s why we’ve chosen Mr. Trump: 1) His superior list of Supreme Court nominees; 2) His proposal to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, and a proposed one-time 10% tax on repatriated off-shore profits; 3) the simplification of the U.S. tax code; 4) strengthening U.S. borders, north, south, east, and west, and the immediate expulsion of convicted felons who are citizens of other countries; 5) [His promise] to reduce the red tape and regulatory state requirements that are killing small businesses will be well received.

 “That’s enough for us.”

Select One of the Following One

Apparently, according to many acquaintances who side with the opposition, there was only one choice, and that was of course, Ms Clinton. I wondered then and continue to wonder that if that were so, why have an election at all? The Montecito Journal (and at the time that was me) was consistently berated for supporting Mr. Trump and for not going along with virtually every other print media in the nation. All I could reflect upon was how closely such “consensus” of opinion reminded me of other issues.

As for President Trump, he pretty much fulfilled a great many of his promises, against serious odds, such as: the southern wall is finally going up. As of this writing there’s about 217 miles of new construction and the pace is nearly a mile a day (although Mexico isn’t paying for it); corporate taxes have been reduced from 35% to 21%, spurring the boom we experienced before COVID-19 crashed upon our shores; Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh became confirmed justices; the one-time tax on repatriated profits was successful; red tape has been severely reduced. Other good points include approval of oil pipelines, the U.S. becoming the largest energy producer in the world, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans Pacific Partnership, etcetera.

We knew we were taking a chance with Mr. Trump, and it has been anything but smooth sailing. Democrats – in league with now-disgraced FBI, DOJ, and CIA operatives – hounded the new president for nearly three years with unfounded charges of “collusion” with Russia, some going as far as calling President Trump’s activities “treasonous” (as did former Obama CIA Director John Brennan and a whole bunch of talking heads on CNN and MSNBC), culminating in a hasty, unsubstantiated “impeachment” for a skewed congratulatory phone call to the new president of Ukraine. It was all a made-up crock (starting with the Steele dossier) but sadly there were no voices on the left or somewhere near the middle who challenged those flimsy claims or were even vaguely curious about the genesis of the accusations.

President Trump has had a tough time of it and he has, in fact, begun to resemble a defeated man, especially in his demeanor. His pace is slower; his tweets – which drive me and many of his supporters crazy – have yet to let up and they mostly hurt him at this point. He hasn’t lost his sense of humor, but his smiles are fewer and far between. He’s been beat up and betrayed by seasoned bureaucrats and by many of those once close to him. As a businessman, his reputation was as a ruthless competitor, and he often doesn’t treat former associates kindly. His uncalled-for insults and tirades directed at people who’ve disappointed him have been costly. That he doesn’t see how he has treated some people badly and others horribly does him no credit.

Donald Trump is a seriously flawed human, yet, he’s been a good president (evidenced by his 85% approval rating within his party) and he obviously loves his country. We who support his policies hope, pray, dream even, that he finds the courage to confront the American public and admit some of his mistakes, some of his failures. It would be refreshing to find that he could graciously accept criticism from friend and foe.

Despite his many shortcomings, I’m still pulling the lever for the re-election of President Trump. The alternative – a ghost of a lifelong politician, Joe Biden, and whatever left-wing activist he chooses as his running mate – isn’t even worth considering, at least not by me. There are two people in this race, right?


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