Op-ed: Explaining Donald Trump

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Monday, June 13, 2016 7:23pm
  • Opinion

NEW YORK — If there is one explanation for Donald Trump’s success it is this: Unlike most Republicans, he fights back. He may not have the late Muhammad Ali’s finesse, but he sees himself as more than capable of dealing a “knockout” punch to Hillary Clinton in November. That ought to be the goal of any GOP presidential nominee.

During an interview in his Trump Tower office June 6, I asked about his temperament, a subject often raised by critics. Hillary Clinton recently said he shouldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes and that he is so thin-skinned he might start a war.

Trump said, “She’s the one who raised her hand for the war in Iraq and I’m the one who has been fighting it from the beginning … (Hillary) is the one who has a terrible temperament … she’s weak … she has a hair trigger and it’s just the opposite with me. I have a strong temperament. … I couldn’t have built the strong companies I’ve built if I didn’t have a strong temperament.”

Well, yes, and many considered Teddy Roosevelt just as brash and his likeness made it onto Mount Rushmore.

What about the references to race and ethnicity that have brought criticism from leading Republicans? I suggested that most Americans don’t care about the civil lawsuit against Trump University (which alleges the university is a scam), the ethnic background of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the case or whether Trump is being treated “fairly.” What Americans care about are jobs, the economy and terrorist threats. Does Trump plan to pivot from such things and start focusing on what resonates with most voters?

“Yes,” he said, “it’s starting very soon.” In a statement released Tuesday, however, Trump addressed the Curiel issue one more time. “It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. … I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial…”

He then vowed not to speak about the matter again.

In our interview, Trump noted he has received more votes than Ronald Reagan. Yes, but primaries are but a small percentage of the larger number of people who will vote in November. A considerable number of them will vote for Hillary Clinton; some conservatives and Republicans will refuse to vote for Trump.

Trump says his formula for making America great again begins with putting the country first: “I hate to use the word ‘change,’ because Obama used to use that word … but (people) are hungry for real change; they’re hungry for making things right.”

He’s right and both parties share the blame for the dysfunction.

Trump’s plan for reforming Social Security and Medicare, the main drivers of our debt, consists of eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” and growing the economy to a point where there will be sufficient money to sustain these programs for decades to come.

He promises that the list of judges provided to him by The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation will either be the ones he nominates to federal benches, “or people exactly like them. In fact, I’m going to expand the list by four.”

Trump rejects the notion of a “living Constitution,” preferring the view of the late Justice Antonin Scalia that the document means what it says. He favors school choice, especially for minority children in failing public schools, a position he thinks will help get him African-American votes. He says President Obama, not him, has divided the country, pitting rich against poor and blacks against whites. “I had hoped Obama would be a good cheerleader for the country. He’s really brought the opposite in spirit to the country. He’s a very negative force.” He adds, “If we have four years of Hillary I don’t know if we can ever come back.”

If Donald Trump does adopt a positive view of America that is inclusive of all Americans, he might be able to resonate with a majority of voters. Will he? We’re about to find out.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

teaser
Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.