Loose Trumps (2) [With Comment by John]

A cliché going around for a while is that Donald Trump is just one terrorist attack away from a landslide victory in November. Let’s see how he—and the opinion polls—respond over the next 72 hours to the Orlando attack. It appears the Islamist behind the Orlando attack is a native born citizen, which means the previously proposed immigration ban wouldn’t work as a policy measure, but it does raise the salience of having something serious to say about home-grown Islamic radicalization. Will Trump call for investigating radical clerics and closing down radical mosques? If he does, watch the liberal/media outrage machine melt down.

This thought is not original to me, but bears repeating just now: if you like historical election cycle analogies, we’re going through 1968 all over again, with Trump in the Nixon/Wallace role. The 1968 election was much less about the economy than usual. Though there were some worrying signs in the economy, it was still doing reasonably well, with the trouble being stored up (especially inflation) not becoming apparent for a few more years. The economy today, while not great, is doing okay. The 1968 election was much more a cultural election—a reaction against the irresponsibility and chaos of the Great Society, along with a reaction against a botched foreign policy. Do these factors sounds familiar? Nixon and Wallace together utterly shattered the old Democratic Party electoral coalition.

I wish I had the sense that Trump has even half of Nixon’s political moxie. Nixon’s great abilities weren’t enough to enable him to overcome the leftist onslaught against him. Imagine what life is going to be like for Trump if he wins. It’s going to be the political equivalent of World War III starting the morning after the election, with the aim being to discredit him and drive him from office, just like Nixon. (Yes, I know, the political World War III is already under way; the point is, the campaign against him will continue in being. MoveOn will change its name to, “WaitAMinuteStop/Never Trump”) And like Nixon, I could see it done with the active cooperation of Republicans in Congress. Keep your eye on Trump’s choice of a running mate. If it is Spiro Agnew redux, it will represent an attempt at impeachment insurance.

One thing that will serve Trump well is his instinct to be on the attack all the time. Nixon didn’t always do that. But if Trump’s public approval ratings slump, his attack mode may not help him.

One story out is that Trump says he’ll remember who doesn’t support him in the GOP. Is this the first case in history of someone who gets up an enemies list before the election? And with one more look back at Nixon, as my old mentor M. Stanton Evans commented at the time, anyone who needs to keep an “enemies list” doesn’t belong in politics. Do you really need to look at the anchors of the “Today Show” and say, “Gee—I better check the list to see if they’re an enemy.”

JOHN adds: It is true that a prospective ban on Muslim immigration wouldn’t have prevented the Orlando attack since Omar Mateen was born here. But a great many people will take that attack as more evidence that a certain percentage of Muslims will never be able to exist peacefully in our society, and therefore we should stop importing them by the millions.

By the way, I haven’t yet seen any comment by Trump on the Orlando murders. It will be interesting to see how he responds. It strikes me that there is both risk and reward in relating the incident directly to his proposed policies.

UPDATE: Trump has now weighed in on Twitter.

That’s probably a good approach. It’s tough to argue with “tough, smart and vigilant.” What that means can be left to the imagination.

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