Rethinking Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s freewheeling and narcissistic presidential campaign has earned the consensus contempt of the mainstream media and establishment politicians, but that’s partly because he has dared challenge dangerous orthodoxies, like the neocon/liberal-hawk mania for “regime change,” writes Sam Husseini.

By Sam Husseini

The Establishment so wants everyone to unfriend Donald Trump’s supporters on Facebook, there’s even an app to block them. That’ll teach them!

Yes, Trump plays a bully boy as he appeals to populist (good) as well as nativist, xenophobic and racist (bad) sentiments. The bad need to be meaningfully addressed and engaged rather than dismissed by self-styled sophisticates, noses raised. The good should be recognized and encouraged.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Focusing on the negative aspects of his campaign has blinded many people to what’s good in it and I don’t mean good like “Oh, the Democrat can beat this guy!” I mean good like it’s good that some important issues like the militarized role of the U.S. in the world are getting aired.

Trump is appealing to nativist sentiments as Pat Buchanan did in the 1992 campaign but along with Buchanan’s “America First” arguments came a distrust of imperial adventures. Similarly, Trump recently said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity. … The Middle East is a total disaster under her.”

Now, I think that’s pretty accurate, though U.S. policy in my view may be more Machiavellian than stupid, but the remark is a breath of fresh air on the national stage. So, at times, Trump is a truth-teller, including when he says politicians sell themselves to rich donors and when he calls out “free-trade” deals for costing American workers their middle-class jobs.

But the mainstream meme about Trump is that he’s a total liar. The New York Times recently purported to grade the veracity of presidential candidates. By the Times’ accounting, Trump was off the scales lying. But I never saw anyone fact-check his assertion about former Secretary Clinton’s record of bringing bloody chaos to Libya, Syria and other Mideast countries. That’s not an argument that establishment media wants to have.

Of course, a few sentences after Trump’s comment about Clinton’s death toll, he turned to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the CIA station in Benghazi, causing Salon to dismiss him as embracing “conspiracies,” which is all that many people will hear, not the fuller context.

Shouldn’t someone who at times articulates truly inconvenient truths be credited for breaking “politically correct” taboos, such as acknowledging the obvious disasters of U.S. interventionism across the Mideast? Trump speaks such truths, as he did during the Las Vegas debate about U.S. wars:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.”

Frankly, that is a stronger critique of military spending than we’ve heard from Sen. Bernie Sanders of late. But Trump’s — or Sen. Rand Paul’s — remarks about U.S. policies of “regime change” and bombings are often ignored. It’s more convenient to focus on U.S. kindness in letting a few thousand refugees in than to examine how millions of displaced people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somali and other countries lost their homes as a result of U.S. government policies.

A Long-Ignored Constitution

Some critics say Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants is unconstitutional (although that argument is debatable as a matter of law regardless of what one thinks of the morality and practicality of his idea).

But there’s also the question of how frequently recent presidents have violated the Constitution in recent years with hardly a peep from the mainstream media. News flash: the sitting Democratic president has bombed seven countries without a declaration of war. We’ve effectively flushed the Constitution down the toilet. Does that justify violating it more? No. But the pretend moral outrage on this score is hollow.

And there’s some logic to the nativist Muslim bashing. It’s obviously wrong on many levels, but it’s understandable given the skewed information the public is given. Since virtually no one on the national stage is seriously and systematically criticizing U.S. policy in the Middle East, such as the multiple U.S. “regime change” invasions and the longstanding U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel, it makes sense to say that we’ve got to change something and that something is separating from Muslims.

Some sophisticates also slammed Trump for acting in the Las Vegas debate like he didn’t know what the nuclear triad is (the Cold War-era strategy of delivering nuclear bombs by land-based missiles, strategic bombers and submarine launches).

Well, I have no idea if he knows what the nuclear triad is or if he was just acting that way. But I’m rather glad he didn’t adopt the administration’s position of saying it’s a good idea to spend a trillion dollars to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal so we can efficiently threaten the planet for another generation.

People may recall that for all the rhetoric from President Barack Obama about ending nuclear weapons, it was President Ronald Reagan, after all his bluster about the Evil Empire and basing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, who almost rose to the occasion when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev proposed eliminating nuclear arsenals.

For today’s mainstream journalists, it’s just easier to go with the flow and hate Trump, as all the major media outlets want us to do. After all, much of our political culture lives off hate. Apparently hate is what gets people to do what you want them to do. So you scare them by building up villainous bogeymen, such as Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin.

People were so encouraged to hate Hussein that many backed the disastrous invasion of Iraq. They were propagandized into hating Assad so much that U.S. policy helped give rise to ISIS. Putin has been transformed into such a comic-book villain that people who should know better talk casually about shooting down Russian planes and seeking “regime change” in Moscow.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the supposedly “reasonable” Republican “moderate,” says “it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose.” Who cares about risking nuclear war? Don’t we all just hate Putin?

Now, many Americans Republicans and Democrats alike are demonizing Trump. Whatever he says is put in the most negative context with no expectation of balance. He has become the focus of hate, hate, hate. He’s a black-hatted, black-hearted villain. But why can’t we just view people for who they are, seeing both the good and bad in them?

Asking Why the Hate 

Trump calls for a cutoff of immigration of Muslims “until we can figure out what the hell is going on” — which, given our political culture’s seeming propensity of never figuring out much of anything might be forever, but the comment actually raises a serious question: why are people in the Mideast angry at U.S. policy?

Says Trump: “There’s tremendous hatred [among Muslims toward the United States]. Where it comes from, I don’t know.” But Trump — unlike virtually anyone else with a megaphone — is actually raising the issue about why there’s so much resentment against the U.S. in the Mideast.

Virtually the only other person on the national stage stating such things is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, though his articulations have also been uneven and have been a pale copy of what his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has said.

Of course, what should be said is: If we don’t know “what the hell is going on!” — then maybe we should stop bombing. But that doesn’t get processed because the general public lives under the illusion that Barack Obama is a pacifistic patsy. The reality is that Obama has been bombing more countries than any president since World War II by his own count seven Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

Half of what Trump says may be borderline deranged and false. But he also says true things — and critically, important things that no one else with any media or political access is saying.

At this week’s Las Vegas debate, Trump said: “When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.”

Granted, Trump’s comment was mangled and imprecise he may have been referring to President George W. Bush’s extraordinary decision to let rich Saudis, including bin Laden family members, onto the first civilian planes allowed back into the air after 9/11 so they could avoid intensive FBI questioning and possible hostility from the American people but Trump’s remark raises the legitimate question of Saudi Arabia’s relation to 9/11.

Yes, Trump says he’ll bomb the hell out of Syria, as does virtually every other Republican candidate. (Sen. Ted Cruz wants to see if “sand can glow in the dark,” phrasing usually associated with nuclear war.) But Obama’s already is bombing Syria and Iraq albeit without much media fanfare. So people think it’s not happening and thus believe that Obama’s passivity is the problem.

What Americans are right in sensing is that President Obama, former President Bush and the rest of the Establishment are playing endless geopolitical games and keeping them in the dark. As citizens in what is supposed to be a democratic Republic, they’re right to be sick of it. Many of the people supporting or sympathizing with Trump seem to sense that he may be the only one ready to tip over the furniture and make a fuss.

Trump, the Anti-Imperialist?

Trump touts his alleged opposition to the Iraq War, although I don’t recall him attending any of the anti-war rallies in 2002-03. But he apparently made a few critical remarks in 2003-04. Certainly nothing great or courageous. But it’s good that someone with the biggest megaphone is saying the Iraq War was bad.

People who are getting behind Trump thus may be reachable regarding the U.S. government’s proclivity toward endless war. And think for a minute about what a Trump-Clinton race would be like, given that she voted for the invasion of Iraq — and then promoted violent “regime change” in Libya and Syria. Trump might end up as the anti-imperialist candidate.

At least, Trump conveys the impression that he would act like a normal nationalist and not a conniving globalist. And much of the U.S. public seems to want that. And, if that’s true, it’s a good thing. It’s also a positive that Trump is energizing some people who had given up on politics.

Trump — apparently alone among Republican presidential candidates — is saying that he will talk to Russian President Putin. Having some sense that the job of a president is to attempt to have reasonable relations with the other major nuclear state is a serious plus in my book. He conveys the image of being a die-hard nationalist, but — unlike most of our recent leaders — not hell-bent on global domination. People who want a better world could use that.

No prominent Democrat has called for a serious reexamination of how the United States conducts its foreign policy. Hillary Clinton wins praise from arch-neocon Robert Kagan for what he calls her “liberal interventionism,” which he correctly assesses as virtually the same as neo-conservatism. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]

Though Bernie Sanders voted against the Iraq War, he has displayed little interest or sophistication about who’s fueling much of the extremist violence in the Middle East. He wants the Saudis to “get their hands dirty” when they have already done so by financing and arming brutal Sunni jihadist forces, including those tied to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Sanders doesn’t seem to understand that the Sunni jihadists are, in effect, paramilitary forces that the Saudis have supported since the 1980s when Afghan fundamentalist mujahedeen were funded and armed to overthrow the Soviet-backed secular regime in Kabul. That conflict gave rise to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the modern jihadist movement.

A Missed Opportunity

During a Democratic debate right after the Paris terror attacks of Nov. 13, Sanders had a historic opportunity to address these issues in a serious way. He could have pointed out the contradiction between U.S. alliances with nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the “war on terror.” He could have explained the fallacy of seeking “regime change” against secular governments as with Iraq, Libya and Syria when that only invites chaos, bloodshed and extremism.

Sanders could have stressed how perpetual war not only is doomed to failure as a strategy against terrorism but is incompatible with the investments that he hopes to make in education, health care, infrastructure, the environment and other domestic priorities. He could have called for a thorough reappraisal of these misguided policies and energized the Democratic base.

But Sanders refused to engage in a thoughtful way on foreign policy, reverting back to his preferred topic: income inequality. Now he’s complaining about a lack of media coverage. Yes, the mainstream media is unfair toward progressive candidates, but you don’t do any good by refusing to engage in what is arguably the great, defining debate of our time.

The only significant candidate on the national stage who has seriously challenged the interventionist impulse was Rep. Ron Paul, who was demonized in 2008 in ways similar to what’s being done to Trump now. It’s true that the comparison is imprecise: Trump has provided few specifics on how he would approach the world differently from either President Obama or his Republican rivals. Many of his comments have been elliptical about his skills as a negotiator rather detailed about policies and he has sounded bellicose when talking about the Islamic State.

If he got into office, Trump might be little different from other recent presidents after all the State Department and Pentagon are staffed with bureaucrats who have risen through the ranks by toeing the establishment lines of neoconservatism and liberal interventionism. But Trump, as a world-wide deal-maker, might be more pragmatic than ideological.

In terms of economics, Trump is alone in the Republican field in defending a progressive tax and he has praised Social Security. Tom Ferguson has noted: “lower income voters seem to like him about twice as much as the upper income voters who like him in the Republican poll.” Trump has “even dumped on some issues that are virtually sacred to the Republicans, notably the carried interest tax deduction for the super rich.”

Trump has been blunt about the corruption in American politics. Writes Lee Fang: “Donald Trump Says He Can Buy Politicians, None of His Rivals Disagree.”

Is There Good in Trump?

So, can progressives pause for a moment and note that it may be a good thing that many discouraged voters fed up with politics as usual are finding someone who speaks to both their fears and their hopes, albeit in ways that are often confused and even offensive.

It’s important to stress: I have no idea what Trump actually believes. Backing him for president is probably akin to guessing what’s behind a door on “The Price is Right.” His political philosophy if that’s the right word is a hodgepodge of conflicting ideas. He could be even more authoritarian than what we’ve seen so far. But, in some ways, he is a welcome break from the Establishment’s ugly orthodoxy.

It’s also possible that he’s just putting on an act to lure the Republican anti-establishment wing and would revert to old establishment policies if he were to get into office much like Obama has done especially on foreign policy. After all, Trump says, “I was a member of the Establishment seven months ago.”

By the way, I have no personal love for Trump. I lived in one of his buildings when I was growing up in Queens. His flamboyance as my dad and I were scraping by in a one-bedroom apartment sickened me. I remember seeing the luxurious Trump Tower in Manhattan as a teen with my father. My dad joked that he’d own one square inch for the monthly rent checks he wrote to Trump for years.

Sam Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of votepact.org — which urges left-right cooperation. Follow him on twitter: @samhusseini.

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23 comments for “Rethinking Donald Trump

  1. Jakester48
    December 28, 2015 at 17:24

    I would be interested to know who the people are who are advising Trump on policy issues and managing his campaign. If he is elected, who will be running his White House? Who will be in his cabinet? Any clues out there?

  2. hp
    December 22, 2015 at 14:15

    Trump is an Expert and ALL the other candidates are, at best, mediocre professionals.

    This is exemplified via Trump’s gracious and proper acknowledgement of a recent compliment given him by another Expert, Vladimir Putin. When one of the (like it or not) most respected and admired leaders in this world gives you a compliment, it really is a big deal. Period. The other shysters? Hahaha. Yeah, they’ll be getting a compliment from Putin real soon, I’m sure..

    Trump’s uber-populism is also exemplified via the Polls, not to mention the panic and cowardly posturing of the M$M snake in the grass, hired Presstitutes.

  3. December 22, 2015 at 10:36
  4. December 22, 2015 at 09:54

    I think Trump as candidate for president is not the same as Trump as president. He is, first and foremost, a businessman. Seemingly a good one. And a patriot. A USA guy, not a global guy. Also, I think he presently surrounds himself with people who know a lot about things he doesn’t know a lot about and is a fast learner. I agree with one of the other commenters; Trump vs. Clinton? Trump it is. Hillary Clinton is a liar and warmonger and is owned by
    every corporate entity that exists, also Israel.

    • hp
      December 22, 2015 at 14:21

      Yes, the politicos and M$M are always bragging how “the business of America is business,” a quote hard to disprove, but just WHO IS the Alpha Businessman on the stage? Jeb? Ted? Marco? Bernie? The former First Snake?
      I only see one..

  5. yaridanjo
    December 22, 2015 at 00:59

    Trump seems to be too pro Israel for me.

    His children are married to the tribe.

  6. Mark Thomason
    December 19, 2015 at 11:03

    If it is Hillary vs Trump, then we are in lesser evil territory.

    There is a good argument from Democratic values that Trump would then be the lesser evil.

  7. NikFromNYC
    December 19, 2015 at 09:16

    Trump will win exactly because reasonable articles like this are extremely rare, and voters are sick of being demonized for expressing common sense. Trump is also calling out climate alarm as the “BS hoax” that it is.

    After he wins it will be fully exposed as an extension of Enron, basically, and this will topple the progressive left for a generation or two. All those indoctrinated kids will become deaply resentful that the system allied with the media decided to whitewash a blatantly obvious scam in favor of terrifying them out of their wits in school.

  8. Abe
    December 19, 2015 at 01:44

    The Austrian journalist and satirist, aphorist, Karl Kraus, wrote Die Dritte Walpurgisnacht (The Third Walpurgis Night) in 1933.

    This satire on Nazi ideology begins with the now-famous sentence, “Mir fällt zu Hitler nichts ein” (“Hitler brings nothing to my mind”).

    The first fragments appeared in Kraus’ own newspaper, Die Fackel (The Torch). Kraus withheld full publication in part to protect his friends and followers hostile to Hitler who still lived in the Third Reich from Nazi reprisals, and in part because “violence is no subject for polemic.”

    Honoring the wisdom of Kraus, there is nothing to re-think about Trump, Clinton or any of the other Goldfasanen of the ONE Party on parade for the Presidency.

    ————–

    “‘Golden pheasants’ was a term applied to the gaudily uniformed functionaries staffing the higher Party administration, especially in the occupied territories; it implied self-importance, ostentation and inordinate cupidity.”
    — The 12-year Reich: A Social History of Nazi Germany, 1933-1945 by Richard Grunberger (1971), pg 69.

  9. Will Mott
    December 18, 2015 at 23:56

    The increase in Zionist control over successive American governments is matched equally by a decrease in the long term safety of the American people.

  10. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    December 18, 2015 at 19:40

    Washington, D.C. has been running on Group-Think for several decades now. Does it really matter who sits in the White House?! Look back since Reagan took office and see if you can tell any difference in what America has been doing on the world stage?! As for the economy, it goes into cycles of bubbles and bursts and keep repeating………..American Politics has become part of the American Culture which could be described in one word “Entertainment”………elections are like football/basketball/baseball/boxing or whatever sport you like matches………those who follow politics and elections love the blood sport that it has become………People who go into politics do that as a step to a money career in consulting or lobbying……Trump is in it because he is an entertainer and win or lose, he will become a bigger entertainer with more money coming in…………….it is all FREE advertising…………

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 19, 2015 at 00:52

      Dr. Soudy, you are a mine reader. Your comment here is somewhat close to what I was thinking, after reading Mr. Husseini’s article. Earlier this evening, over dinner with some friends, a woman made a remark, to what was to happen to all those presidential candidates after the nomination was made. I replied, not to worry how I had good information to how there was a sequel in the works. That this new sitcom would be scripted by the actual candidates, since production groups were having an awfully hard time finding screenwriters that stupid to write the plots. Everyone, at our dinner table had a laugh, but I seriously believed what I said. If possible, I may do a write in for Jill Stein, if not possible I will vote for all others running for office, and leave blank my pick for president. As bad as that sounds, I just can’t bring myself to feel the angst I get, over voting for a liar once more. Just can’t do it.

  11. LondonBob
    December 18, 2015 at 15:41

    If the left can look past the propaganda they will find a lot they can agree with. It probably takes an egotistical bombast like Trump to take down the powers that be.

    Will note lefty Piers Morgan endorsed his friend Donald Trump on British TV last night.

  12. Nena Najdawi
    December 18, 2015 at 14:40

    America’s best people for the job of President of the United States don’t go into politics – they run the politics. Now, we have one of the best on our side. Don’t be fools, grab the opportunity an RUN with it! Donald Trump is the last hope this country has to recover economically. When there are “real jobs and business opportunities (that pay enough to support a family) then everything else falls into place. We must be strong economically, militarily, and in foreign affairs.

    The behavior of the main media is disgusting. The people of this country look to them for unbiased reporting; they are an embarressment to us all.

    • Pointman #1
      December 20, 2015 at 06:57

      I agree….Donald Trump is our only real-hope of rebuilding America and establishing world peace.

  13. F. G. Sanford
    December 18, 2015 at 14:29

    I’m about 2/3’s of the way through “The Devil’s Chessboard”, by David Talbot. There isn’t much in this book that an avid reader couldn’t have discovered through other sources; every paragraph rings true based on stacks of other volumes I have read. The difference lies in the dosage. Talbot’s book is a seemingly endless smörgÃ¥sbord of rancid, putrid, despicable and corrupt American government gluttony laid out on a long banquet table in sequential order. It documents an unbroken chain of plutocratic hedonism akin to a Roman orgy of parasitic exploitation, murder, blackmail, treason, subversion and perversion unmatched in any other book I have read…except one. It depicts a government which has transgressed every moral sensibility at the behest of the whims of what C. Wright Mills called, “The Power Elite”. The mechanism by which the richest among us have subverted democracy and stolen the American dream was defined by Mills as, “The Permanent War Economy”. The Nixonian corruption outlined in Talbot’s book is alive and well today in the person of Hillary Clinton, who smugly accepts donations from shady international benefactors who no doubt expect favors in return, just as Nixon did. I was a kid when they killed Kennedy. Shortly after that cataclysm, I read, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, by William Shirer. If you liked that book, you’ll love Talbot’s. Talbot isn’t as ‘tongue in cheek’ sarcastic as Shirer, and may require that some readers make periodic trips to the ‘vomitorium’, just as the Roman gluttons did in their day. My bottom line on Trump is this: He isn’t a Franklin Roosevelt or a John Kennedy, but I’ve had enough of Nixons, Bushes, Clintons and Obamas. So far, he’s found an intuitively obtuse manner in which to put the fraud of 9/11 and wars for profit on the Grand Marquis without getting painted with the “Conspiracy Theory” label. Is he a narcissist and perhaps an intrinsic fascist? Well, that begs the question: “Aren’t all the other choices demonstrable self-serving sociopaths?” Call it a protest, but if the Democratic party runs Hillary Clinton, Trump will get my vote.

    • bobzz
      December 18, 2015 at 22:41

      F. G., I hope your text of Talbot’s book has the footnotes. All the end notes are in the back all right but totally unassociated or missing from the text. Disappointing to say the least. Unfortunately, I started marking my text up before I noticed.

  14. Bill Bodden
    December 18, 2015 at 14:03

    Sam Husseini has made a case that Trump has redeeming qualities. Can anyone do the same for Hillary Clinton?

    • LJ
      December 18, 2015 at 17:51

      Maybe, if they want to get published in a national rag that is. Trump bashing is getting ridiculous. It is hard to fathom the billionaire Trump as the little girl who said the Emperor is wearing no clothes, much to the embarrassment of everyone. I think I can speak for all of us when I say , Donald, Please don’t make us look at Hillary without the triumphalism, the makeup and lies,,,,, Disrobed. As Charlie Brown said so eloquently, “Arrgggh”.

    • Eileen K.
      December 21, 2015 at 21:42

      Truth is, Bill, nobody having integrity will make any case that Hillary Clinton has any redeeming qualities .. unlike Donald Trump, the Hildebeast has NO redeeming qualities. Her reaction to viewing the torture-murder of Libya’s President Muammar Gadhaffi is a case of pure evil. While the rest of the high-level officials in the Situation Room silently watched the event, Hillary cackled like the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” and twisted Julius Caesar’s quote following his conquest of Gaul .. “I came, I saw, he died”. Caesar’s actual quote was, following his conquest of Gaul: “I came, I saw, I conquered”.

    • Bobby
      December 22, 2015 at 02:18

      NO.

    • hp
      December 22, 2015 at 16:51

      Hahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, a Venusian slime lizard once said she had nice eyes.

  15. dahoit
    December 18, 2015 at 12:53

    This proud nativist will vote for the candidate who represents America,and not who represents our mortal enemy,Zion.Right now,it looks like Trump.
    Notice the MSM not publicizing his Shillary responsibility for the disaster in the ME and Africa.
    Hopefully,next Trump will pin the whole shebang on the actual enablers,the Zionist media,

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