As John discussed in a post below, Donald Trump delivered a major campaign speech yesterday. Overall, I thought the speech was quite good. If Trump can stay on the message he set forth today, and come up with the funds needed to drive it home, perhaps he can make a race out his contest with Hillary Clinton.
Trump started, as he often does, with some boasting:
I have built an amazing business that I love and I get to work side-by-side with my children every day. We come to work together and turn visions into reality. We think big, and then we make it happen.
By Trump’s standards, this almost passes for modesty. The reference to his children softens the boast. Anyway, given the way Hillary Clinton attacked Trump’s business record the other day, a little boasting was not amiss.
Next, Trump went into his “the system is rigged” riff.
The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power and in the money.
That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement: so together we can fix the system for ALL Americans. Importantly, this includes fixing all of our many disastrous trade deals.
Because it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.
It’s rigged by big donors who want to keep down wages.
It’s rigged by big businesses who want to leave our country, fire our workers, and sell their products back into the U.S. with absolutely no consequences for them.
It’s rigged by bureaucrats who are trapping kids in failing schools.
It’s rigged against you, the American people.
Trump, quite sensibly, wants to pitch Bernie Sanders’s supporters, and this is the rhetoric with which to appeal to them. Not surprisingly, given that we’re talking about the intersection of the Trump and Sanders campaigns, Trump’s rhetoric is, in my opinion, demagoguery with scraps of truth.
To be sure, our system isn’t free of corruption; it never has been. But in the main, it is “rigged” to favor those who combine hard work and skill, and above all those with an innovative spirit. There is also a large safety net for people who can’t or won’t make themselves useful. Americans are fairly well served by this system, though obviously there is room for improvement.
Trump really picked up steam when he tore into Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton. . .as most people know, is a world class liar.
Just look at her pathetic email and server statements, or her phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack but the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers, a total self-serving lie.
Brian Williams’ career was destroyed for saying far less.
Trump too has been hammered for saying far less.
I had forgotten about the Bosnia bit. Hillary Clinton is a pathological liar.
Next, Trump defended his business record against Hillary’s attacks. This gave him the opportunity to boast some more.
He wasn’t’ finished attacking Hillary, though:
Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and theft.
She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund – doing favors for oppressive regimes, and many others, in exchange for cash.
Then, when she left, she made $21.6 million giving speeches to Wall Street banks and other special interests – in less than 2 years – secret speeches that she does not want to reveal to the public. Together, she and Bill made $153 million giving speeches to lobbyists, CEOs, and foreign governments in the years since 2001.
They totally own her, and that will never change.
I really liked his next shot:
Hillary Clinton wants to be President. But she doesn’t have the temperament, or, as Bernie Sanders’ said, the judgement, to be president.
She believes she is entitled to the office. Her campaign slogan is “I’m with her.”
You know what my response to that is? I’m with you: the American people.
She thinks it’s all about her. I know it’s all about you – I know it’s all about making America Great Again for All Americans.
From here, Trump launched into his “America first refrain,” which he skillfully used to flog Hillary some more:
I have visited the cities and towns across America and seen the devastation caused by the trade policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton supported Bill Clinton’s disastrous NAFTA, just like she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization. We’ve lost nearly one-third of our manufacturing jobs since these two Hillary-backed agreements were signed.
Our trade deficit with China soared 40% during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State — a disgraceful performance for which she should not be congratulated, but rather scorned.
Then she let China steal hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property – a crime which is continuing to this day. Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs, and effectively let China completely rebuild itself.
In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!
This was the natural place to invoke Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash, and Trump did so with gusto. He even read an excerpt from it.
As John noted, AP reporters Julie Pace and Jill Colvin claim that Schweizer’s reporting has been “widely questioned.” Certainly, Clinton’s backers have questioned it.
But Schweizer shared his reporting in advance with the Washington Post and the New York Times, and these outlets contributed reporting of their own that supports Schweitzer’s attacks on Clinton Foundation corruption. Moreover, there are reports (unconfirmed, to my knowledge) that the FBI may have expanded its investigation of Hillary Clinton to include a look at the Clinton Foundation’s practices.
Will Julie Pace be the Candy Crowley of this election year? Maybe, but the competition will be stiff.
Moving on to Hillary’s foreign policy record, Trump had this to say:
The Hillary Clinton foreign policy has cost America thousands of lives [note: I’m sure how Trump arrives at thousands of lives] and trillions of dollars – and unleashed ISIS across the world. No Secretary of State has been more wrong, more often, and in more places than Hillary Clinton.
Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.
Among the victims is our late Ambassador, Chris Stevens. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed — that’s right, when the phone rang at 3 o’clock in the morning, she was sleeping.
Ambassador Stevens and his staff in Libya made hundreds of requests for security. Hillary Clinton’s State Department refused them all.
She started the war that put him in Libya, denied him the security he asked for, then left him there to die.
To cover her tracks, Hillary lied about a video being the cause of his death.
Here is what one of the victim’s mothers had to say: “I want the whole world to know it: she lied to my face, and you don’t want this person to be president.”
In 2009, before Hillary Clinton was sworn in, it was a different world.
Libya was cooperating. Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence. Syria was under control. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Egypt was governed by a friendly regime that honored its peace treaty with Israel. ISIS wasn’t even on the map.
Fast forward to 2013: In just four years, Secretary Clinton managed to almost single-handedly destabilize the entire Middle East.
Her invasion of Libya handed the country over to the ISIS barbarians.
Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Iran is now the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East, and on the road to nuclear weapons.
Hillary Clinton’s support for violent regime change in Syria has thrown the country into one of the bloodiest civil wars anyone has ever seen – while giving ISIS a launching pad for terrorism against the West.
She helped force out a friendly regime in Egypt and replace it with the radical Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian military has retaken control, but Clinton has opened the Pandora’s box of radical Islam.
Then, there was the disastrous strategy of announcing our departure date from Iraq, handing large parts of the country over to ISIS killers.
ISIS threatens us today because of the decisions Hillary Clinton has made. . . .In short, Hillary Clinton’s tryout for the presidency has produced one deadly foreign policy disaster after another.
Devastating, and mostly true.
Trump is on shakier ground when he says:
It all started with [Clinton’s] bad judgment in supporting the War in Iraq in the first place. Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started.
Actually, Trump did not publicly criticize going to war with Iraq before the war started; if anything, his public statements supported going to war. By claiming otherwise in this speech, he gives Clinton’s supporters something to shoot at — a way of diverting attention from all of the true things he says about Hillary.
And there are plenty more of them in this speech, including additional excerpts from Clinton Cash.
During the primary seasons, Trump liked to say “I haven’t even started on Hillary.” Now he has. But he hasn’t finished.