The Trump Tapes, the Trump Vote: Maintaining Perspective
Two days later, the Trump tapes continue to reverberate. As someone who speaks and writes arguing that electing Donald Trump (with all of his imperfections) is far preferable to electing Hillary Clinton (with all of hers), I’ve been challenged by friends who are Democrats–some no longer so friendly–asking whether there is any line for me which, if crossed, would cause me to renounce my support for Trump, and whether Trump’s recently revealed comments crossed it.
My answer: I’m sure there is a line somewhere. But in the context of the 2016 election, this doesn’t cross it. Allow me to explain, comment and address my (remaining) Democratic friends.
1. The comments are inexcusable. Period. But are they that shocking? Do they reveal a side of the man you had never seen before? He’s practically said as much in his own books/interviews already. This really doesn’t move the needle much. If the comments had come from, say, Ted Cruz or Mitt Romney, they’d be stunning. But from Donald Trump? Why the new outrage? Perhaps a raised eyebrow is warranted, but little more.
Along the same lines, Hillary had perhaps the funniest reaction, saying that this shows that Trump doesn’t belong in the White House. I mean, other people can credibly say that; but Mrs. Bill Clinton??
2. I am curious–were those of you who are Democrats/Clinton-supporters this outraged when allegations about Bill Clinton came out? Did you change your party-registration when Vernon Jordan said that when he and Clinton golfed, “We talk pu**y”? (I suspect they were not discussing Hillary.) What about when credible allegations of Clinton-rape emerged? And what about when Hillary’s role was revealed in destroying/silencing accusing women and controlling “bimbo eruptions” (that was the Clinton campaign term) emerged, including the intimidation of Clinton-rape accuser Juanita Broaddrick? My point here is not to equate, compare or rationalize; it is to point out that as disgusted as one may be with the acts of a politician, that doesn’t translate into automatically jumping to the other side of the political spectrum. For people on either side, there are many other factors involved.
3. OK, Trump (at least in the past) could be boorish, a groper, and hit on married women. Seriously, not good.
Hillary hardly strikes me as one who gropes. But–also not good–she does expose national security secrets to hostile governments and gets intelligence assets and foreign service officers killed; runs a pay-to-play foundation slush fund; takes tens of millions of dollars in donations/speaking fees through Bill from governments/entities with business before the State Department while Sec. of State, plus tens of millions more herself since leaving office (I know, she’s such a compelling speaker, she is worth every penny); births ISIS; destroys or hides evidence under subpoena (both from her server, and going back to the Rose Law Firm billing records), initiates the process paving the way to Iranian nukes–a deal she still endorses…the list goes on, but again, the point is one of context and perspective: he is hardly alone in having heavy black marks on his record. Plus, there is a qualitative difference in their respective sins: his are private, and breach interpersonal norms; hers are serial breaches of public trust. That doesn’t whiten his sins or make them irrelevant; but this is, after all, a vote putting someone at the highest level of public trust.
4. The Middle East is on fire (thanks, to a large degree, to Hillary’s exercise of “smart power”). The country is $20 TRILLION(!) in debt. Terror attacks multiply. Illegal immigration is a serious problem, especially from a national security standpoint (and she wants to QUINTUPLE the number of unvettable Syrians brought into the country). Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight, metastasizing regulations are choking businesses, the worker participation rate is at historic lows, economic growth is averaging all of 1.5% (post-recession, yet!)–there hasn’t been any year of this presidency where growth hit even a mere 3%. (If you can’t hit 3% growth while, in effect, writing $10 trillion of bad checks, and with interest rates near 0%, something is seriously wrong.)
The government refuses to focus on anything Muslim when collecting intelligence to stop terror attacks or in counterterrorism training. Police are getting shot (and demonized), crime is suddenly swinging upwards (especially in places like Ferguson and Baltimore), and the social fabric is fraying. Government institutions which most require public trust and must be scrupulously nonpartisan, such as the IRS, FBI and Justice Department, have been politicized and corrupted—often for Hillary’s direct benefit Hillary is more problem than solution to every one of these issues. If I have to hold my nose over some of Trump’s actions to vote against her, so be it; but crude speech taped 11 years ago isn’t enough to swing me towards her. Too much else is at stake. (If the roles were reversed, would Democrats seriously be changing their vote?)
5. On a personal note, those who have bothered to read or listen to anything I’ve had to say over the past year know I am no mindless cheerleader for Trump. My allegiance is to the country, and we’re in a very rough spot. She’ll likely make every one of those problems above worse—certainly worse than he will.
I, too, wish there were different options–at least as much as any of you. But this is the choice we are all faced with. It is not just thumbs-up/thumbs-down on Trump, in a vacuum; thumbs-down brings a Hillary administration, with all that implies. Especially when comparing the respective teams being assembled, we’ll be a lot better off (at least, a lot less worse-off) if he wins than if she does.
As I’ve said repeatedly, for many of us, this is not a pleasant choice–and it’s not becoming any more pleasant. But that still doesn’t mean it’s a hard choice. Even after this episode, I’ll vote against Hillary. And for Trump.—
Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as Counsel to Republicans Overseas Israel.
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