"These are my principles. And if you don't like them, well, I have others."
Gentle and Valued Reader might not be surprised at this editorial. Although this newspaper has a recent history of endorsing the Republican candidate for president, and a longer history of endorsing conservative candidates for many other political offices. But how find the conservative among the candidates of the two major parties this year? You'll not find him, her or it. Even the Republican candidate hasn't been a Republican very long. It wasn't long ago that Donald Trump was giving money to the Democrats, praising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and giving interviews to TV types (of course) pushing all manner of liberal orthodoxies.
No, Gentle and Valued Reader, not to mention Careful Observer, you might not be surprised at this editorial, because for a year now we've been pointing out Donald Trump's wholly unacceptable ideas, words, goals and temperament. When was the last time any serious politician, let alone a candidate for president, got into a war of words with a beauty contestant? (Why doesn't somebody take away the man's phone, or at least cancel his Twitter account?)
Where to start? How about with the Clintons: When Bill was finally caught in l'affaire Lewinsky, he begged for forgiveness. Now the Republican Party has nominated a man who writes books bragging about his infidelities. ("If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller."--Trump: The Art of the Comeback.)
But recently, campaigning in Iowa, somebody asked Donald Trump if he'd ever asked anybody for forgiveness. To which he replied he'd never done anything he thought he needed to ask forgiveness for. The first perfect man in 2,000-plus years! Who knew?
But, as somebody said just last week, we're not electing a saint next month. We're electing a president. So what kind of president would Donald Trump be?
First, he wouldn't be a conservative one, not if he believes half of what he's been saying during this campaign.
What are some of the bedrocks of conservatism thinking that President Trump would defend?
Strong military alliances around the world to fend off our enemies large and small? Donald Trump said this summer that he'd be open to getting out of NATO: "If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries . . . . then, yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, 'Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.'"
And Vladimir Putin smiled.
How about free trade? That's been a bedrock of conservative thinking for years. Donald Trump wants to tear up NAFTA, opposes the trans-Pacific deal and wants to implement tariffs on imports. He's even suggested a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. A trade war! Just what this economy doesn't need.
He wants a $10 federal minimum wage, which is $5 less than Hillary Clinton's plan, but hardly a conservative position to take. A limited government? Not when his administration would have to hire a deportation force of thousands, at least. But at least he's for nuclear proliferation. He's said Japan and South Korea should get their own nukes.
The rule of law? He has said he'd order the U.S. military to go after the families of terrorists, clearly a war crime. He'd allow interrogation methods "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." And he'd order the military to do it. What would become of any Americans who'd fall into enemy hands after that, he didn't mention.
Speaking of American POWs, this is the man who made fun of one who was captured and tortured in Vietnam. That was about the time he'd made fun of a disabled reporter. And that was about the time he came up with the lame excuse that he couldn't release his taxes because of an audit.
There's a reason that Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Sowell, George Will and most of the staffs of the National Review, the Wall Street Journal and conservative editorial pages across the land are shaking their heads in disbelief. This election has been left without a conservative to choose from.
How did that happen? That will be the subject of books in years to come. Some will say that the angry Republican primary voter just picked the most vulgar person on the stage--a message sent to the Republican elite. Unfortunately for the country, perhaps, Republican voters were more interested this time around in sending messages than winning the 2016 election. Every poll in the last 12-15 months showed Donald Trump losing to Hillary Clinton in the general election.
(What's the best way to elect somebody with a 57 percent disapproval rating? Nominate somebody with a 67 percent disapproval rating on the other side.)
Democrats, for their part, like to win. Which is why they flirted with Bernie Sanders, but went with the odds-on favorite.
Some will say that there were just too many candidates on the Republican side this year, which allowed a non-conservative but famous TV personality to win a plurality of votes in early states. Some will say that the WWE-style debates favored a celebrity with experience on reality TV. Some will say that folks thought anybody should be able to beat Hillary Clinton, given the percentage of people who tell pollsters they distrust her, so why not give the guy promising a wall on the Southern border a chance?
Who knows what the history books will say? But here's a certainty: The Clintons are the luckiest political team ever when it comes to opposition draws. Bill got elected, twice, without getting a majority of the votes cast either time. You can look it up. He had three-man races in 1992 and 1996 with an independent taking a number of votes from the front-runners. (His name was Ross Perot, for those too young to remember.) And this year, Hillary Clinton has drawn Donald Trump.
For the longest, the Clintons have reminded some of us of Tom and Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. They barrel through life, causing all kinds of destruction, and always come out on the winning side, no matter what the trail behind them looks like. America has never had a couple that have benefited so much, financially, from their time in public service, and now they might benefit yet again, this time politically, because a blowhard huffed and puffed his way to the GOP nomination. And since the Clintons have amassed several hundred million dollars so far, think of how much more they could make with another Clinton presidency.
Come 2020, we hope the parties nominate better candidates. And save us from the Tom and Daisy Buchanans out there. And the Donald Trumps.
Call today's dual editorials a non-endorsement. We realize America will have to make a choice, but we can't in good conscience endorse either major-party nominee for president.
Editorial on 10/09/2016