A great many readers both here on Power Line and elsewhere are aligning with Trump and complaining that our criticisms are wrongheaded. Let me pose some “interrogatories,” as I call them in my graduate classroom, to see if we can clarify this discussion. Please comment below, and if you’re not signed up for Facebook or another of our comment filters, feel free to email me directly ([email protected]). I won’t be able to answer everyone’s emails personally—I can barely keep up with my regular traffic—but I may try to feature a few in a follow-up post. (If you choose to send an email, please let me know if it is okay to use your name if I include it in a follow-up post; otherwise I’ll leave names out by default.)
So here goes:
• Other than Trump’s position on immigration, what other issue positions of his do you find compelling? After he finishes building the border fence, what then? Does he have a tax reform plan comparable to Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz? Having previously declared his support for entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, where would he cut the federal budget? Will he seek to repeal or amend Obamacare? If he’s changed his mind on these issues, how and why?
• Why should we have any confidence in judicial appointments from a President Trump? Does he even have a discernible judicial philosophy? Yes, yes, I know: if either President Bush appointed decent judges it was almost by random accident (Alito, for example). The incompetence of GOP Supreme Court appointments for decades is going to be part of a book I’m working on right now, so much more on this at a later time. On the other hand, have you paid attention to Chris Christie’s judicial appointments in New Jersey? Or Jeb Bush’s in Florida? Not reassuring.
• Similarly, does Trump have any discernible philosophy about our regulatory state? He’s never seemed to complain about it when he was using it to his business advantage (i.e., his love for eminent domain). Does he, for example, have a position on the REINS Act? I hope Hugh Hewitt will ask him this question in one of the debates.
• I get it that people like his outside-the-rules bluntness (especially about media darling John McCain—I have to admit that was fun to watch), and especially the challenge he represents to the Beltway establishment. But why isn’t Ted Cruz your candidate? (For that matter, a Trump-Cruz ticket would have the amazing feature of casting Cruz as the level headed moderate.)
• If you like Trump because he is a non-establishment, non-Washington candidate who flummoxes the media, why is he superior to Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina, who do the same with greater skill?
• Are you happy that Trump is essentially a stalking horse for Jeb Bush? If Trump wins some early primaries in a crowded field it will be with less than 20 percent of the vote, but it will likely cause the party establishment—such as still exists—to rally around Bush, just as Democrats rallied to Michael Dukakis in 1988 after Jesse Jackson swept a round of Super Tuesday primaries in the South and caused panic at DNC headquarters. I’m happy to declare that in a hypothetical Trump v. Hillary race, I’d vote for Trump, on the chance that if he really pledges his troth to the GOP you’d get a better administration than Hillary for sure, though I wouldn’t hold out for much in the way of results. Conversely, will you vote for Bush if he is the nominee?
Addendum: When I guest-hosted Bill Bennett’s radio show a couple weeks back, I asked pro-Trump callers who their second choice was. Most people said Cruz. I should have asked that same question here. For Trumpeters out there, if you have a second choice to Trump, I’d be curious to hear who and why.