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News from the Votemaster

National Review Eviscerates Donald Trump

The flagship publication of the conservative movement, National Review, which was founded by the late William F. Buckley, Jr. in 1955 (in New York, of all places), came out yesterday with essays by 22 conservative authors pummeling Donald Trump. Here is an executive summary, organized by the main thesis of each essay:

Trump is No Conservative
Glenn Beck, broadcaster and author: "Over the years, there have been endless fractures in the facade of individual freedom, but three policies provided the fuel that lit the tea-party fire: the stimulus, the auto bailouts, and the bank bailouts. Barack Obama supported all three. So did Donald Trump."

L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center: "Enter Donald Trump, not just with policy prescriptions that challenge the cynical GOP leadership but with an attitude of disdain for that leadership—precisely in line with the sentiment of the base. Many conservatives are relishing this, but ah, the rub. Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all."

Erick Erickson, broadcaster: "He supported the prosecution of hate crimes. He favored wealth-confiscation policies. He supported abortion rights."

Dana Loesch, broadcaster and author: "His 'conversion' raises serious questions. Trump wrote in his book The America We Deserve that he supported a ban on 'assault weapons.' Not until last year did he apparently reverse his position. As recently as a couple of years ago, Trump favored the liberal use of eminent-domain laws. He said that the ability of the government to wrest private property from citizens served 'the greater good.' Is that suddenly a conservative principle?"

David McIntosh, president of The Club for Growth: "Trump beguiles us, defies the politically correct media, and bullies anyone who points out that the emperor has no clothes. None of that makes him a conservative who cherishes liberty."

Katie Pavlich, author and editor of TownHall: "Given the high stakes both at home and abroad, America cannot afford to elect a man who is not rooted in conservatism. And Donald Trump, a political con man who sympathizes with hit man Vladimir Putin and 'Republicans' such as Charlie Crist, manifestly is not."

Trump is Totally Unqualified to Be President
Mark Helprin, author: "[H]e is astoundingly ignorant of everything that to govern a powerful, complex, influential, and exceptional nation such as ours he would have to know."

Andrew C. McCarthy, columnist and former federal prosecutor: "The presidency's most crucial duty is the protection of American national security. Yet, interviewed by Hugh Hewitt months into his campaign, Donald Trump did not know the key leaders of the global jihad... A president may not have to be good with names to oppose it effectively, but he has to grasp the animating ideology, the power relations, and the goals of the players—and how weakening one by strengthening another can degrade rather than promote our security. Donald Trump does not have a clue about any of this."

Trump is a Power-Hungry Dictator-in-Waiting
Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist: "To the degree we take him at his word—understanding that Trump is a negotiator whose positions are often purposefully deceptive—what he advocates is a rejection of our Madisonian inheritance and an embrace of Barack Obama's authoritarianism."

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard: "Isn't Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained?"

R. R. Reno, editor of First Things magazine: "He presents himself as a Strong Man who promises to knock heads and make things right again. In this, he has a lot more in common with South American populist demagogues than with our tradition of political leaders."

Thomas Sowell, economist and author: "The actual track record of crowd pleasers, whether Juan Perón in Argentina, Obama in America, or Hitler in Germany, is very sobering, if not painfully depressing."

Trump is a Racist Who Will Wreck the Republican Brand
David Boaz, libertarian activist: "Not since George Wallace has there been a presidential candidate who made racial and religious scapegoating so central to his campaign."

Michael Medved, broadcaster: "If Trump becomes the nominee, the GOP is sure to lose the 2016 election. But the problem is much larger: Will the Republican party and the conservative movement survive? If Asians and Latinos come to reject Republican candidates as automatically and overwhelmingly as African Americans do, the party will lose all chance of capturing the presidency, and, inevitably, it will face the disappearance of its congressional and gubernatorial majorities as well."

Trump is an Egotistical Maniac With No Substance
Mona Charen, columnist and author: "Trump has made a career out of egotism, while conservatism implies a certain modesty about government. The two cannot mix."

Edwin Meese III, academic and Attorney General under Ronald Reagan: "Questionable assertions that an opponent is not eligible to run, or that another cannot be elected, or that still another lacks enthusiasm or energy, are a poor substitute for addressing the real issues that should be the basis for a positive campaign: restoring economic growth, strengthening national security, eliminating cronyism and corruption, and improving the lives of all Americans."

Michael B. Mukasey, Attorney General under George W. Bush: "We remain the world's strongest power and can recover; but to inspire the respect that creates fear and trust when and where each is necessary, we will need a president who summons our strength with a reality-based strategic vision, not one who summons applause with tantrums and homicidal fantasies."

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine: "Trump is an unbalanced force. He is the politicized American id. Should his election results match his polls, he would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime."

Cal Thomas, columnist and broadcaster: "Anger is not policy. Trump channels a lot of the righteous (and some of the unrighteous) anger of voters and sees the solution as himself. Isn't a narcissist what we currently have in the White House?"

Trump is Immoral and Unchristian
Russell Moore, Baptist minister and author: "One also cannot help but look at the personal life of the billionaire. It is not just that he has abandoned one wife after another for a younger woman, or that he has boasted about having sex with some of the 'top women of the world.' It's that he says, after all that, that he has no need to seek forgiveness. At the same time, Trump has made millions off a casino industry that, as social conservatives have rightly argued, not only exploits personal vice but destroys families."

The President is not the Manager-in-Chief
Steven F. Hayward, author and academic: "[H]is inclination to understand our problems as being managerial rather than political suggests he might well set back the conservative cause if he is elected, if not make the problems of runaway executive power even worse."

Yuval Levin, intellectual and author: "American conservatism is an inherently skeptical political outlook. It assumes that no one can be fully trusted with public power and that self-government in a free society demands that we reject the siren song of politics-as-management."

The National Review, both in this issue and in general, is written by conservatives for conservatives. As such, the issues raised in the essay collection give a pretty good sense of the lines of attack that will be used against Trump in the upcoming weeks and months by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX, whose opinions of New York Republicans must surely be improving) and any other Republican who might want to try to dethrone The Donald. It is worth noting that the list of criticisms above reads like a mirror image of the main points in Cruz's marketing pitch (e.g. he's a true conservative, with Washington experience, who believes in limited government, etc.).

It is clear that the Review's editors saw the writing on the wall—that none of the "establishment" candidates would seriously challenge Trump—rather earlier than most other observers. Editor Rich Lowry, in an interview published just as the new issue was hitting newsstands, explained that planning began in earnest over a month ago. At that point, recall that Trump was still being seriously threatened by Ben Carson, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was widely seen as the favorite to take the nomination once sanity returned to the proceedings.

Also clear is that some deeply-held convictions, ones that outweigh business and other more base considerations, are on display. Several of the contributors—Kristol and Reno, for example—are the Review's competition, but put that aside in service of the cause. And National Review is going to suffer some blowback for taking this stand. The comments on the article linked above, and on their Facebook page and Twitter feed, make clear that a fair number of Trump-supporting subscribers will be jumping ship. Further, the magazine was removed as host of the February 26th GOP debate. This was both expected, according to Lowry, and was also entirely apropos. There is simply no way that anyone could have confidence that Trump was being treated fairly if Lowry or some other Review staffer was on stage.

Trump's response was predictable and, to a fair extent, proof of concept for the magazine. In a series of tweets (naturally), Trump declared:

National Review is a failing publication that has lost it's way. It's circulation is way down w its influence being at an all time low ... Sad! Very few people read the National Review because it only knows how to criticize, but not how to lead ... The late, great, William F. Buckley would be ashamed of what had happened to his prize, the dying National Review!

On that last point, Trump is unquestionably wrong. Foreseeing this line of attack, the Review presciently included in the issue an essay on Trump written by Buckley in 2000, a few years before his death:

Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today's lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents —midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War—had little to do with a bottom line.

It is really quite remarkable that nearly 16 years ago, Buckley not only suspected that this day might come, but that he anticipated three or four of the main arguments made by the anti-Trump forces in their essays.

The bottom line is that the GOP has now turned upon itself, thus initiating an intra-party civil war (to use a term being deployed very liberally today). How long will it last? Nobody knows, of course, but at this point Reince Priebus and the leadership should consider themselves lucky if the rift is reasonably well patched up by the time the Republican convention adjourns on July 21. More likely, it lingers until Election Day in November, with many partisans of the defeated candidate(s) staying home, voting independent, crossing party lines, or even doing a write-in. And perhaps, as several of National Review's essayists suggest, we may be looking at a schism that lingers for years, or decades. And old Chinese proverb says, "may you live in interesting times." In 2016, at least for political junkies, that wish has been granted in spades. (Z)

Cruz's Father, Not His Mother, Determines His Citizenship

A lot of ink and pixels have been used up discussing whether Ted Cruz is a natural-born citizen. Much of it (incorrectly) states that since his mother was an American, he is automatically an American. As we have pointed out before, under U.S. law at the time Cruz was born, that would be true provided his mother had met certain residency tests. But a new article by history professors Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg brings up yet another issue: matrilineal descent vs. patrilineal descent. While there is no doubt that Cruz's mother, Eleanor Darragh Wilson, was an American citizen at the time of his birth, there is also no doubt that his father, Rafael Cruz, was not. The problem here is that at the time the Constitution was adopted, women were not equal to men under the law. For example, free, white men could own property and serve on juries but free white women could not.

In 1802, Congress passed a naturalization bill that specified how a noncitizen could become a citizen. It also dealt with the question of who was a citizen at birth and didn't need to be naturalized. In 1961, the Supreme Court took up on the meaning of the 1802 law and in Montana v. Kennedy ruled that it granted citizenship to a baby born abroad only if the father was American. American mothers could not transmit citizenship to their children. While the law was later changed, if one is trying to decipher what "natural born" meant at the time the Constitution was adopted, it would definitely not have included Cruz as a natural-born citizen. (V)

O'Malley Supporters Could Determine Which Democrat Wins the Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa Democratic caucuses are not like a primary election where you go in, vote, and go home. It works like this: At each caucus location, areas (rooms or parts of rooms) are designated for supporters of Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Martin O'Malley. After a bit of explanation how the process works, the chair tells all the people present to go to their respective areas. There the people discuss how to best present their candidate to the whole group and elect someone to make the presentation.

When all the discussions are finished, everyone gets together in a plenary session and each candidate's presenter makes a speech about the candidate. Then a vote is held to determine how much support each candidate has. Now here is the key part: Under Democratic Party rules, any candidate getting less than 15% of the vote is declared to be nonviable and is eliminated from further consideration. Supporters of nonviable candidates have to find a new candidate to caucus with. The process is then repeated until all remaining candidates have at least 15% support. At that point, delegates to the county caucuses are allocated in proportion to the vote. The final step is an election in which caucusgoers can run for bound delegate to the county caucuses. For example, suppose the viable candidates in some precinct are Sanders (60%) and Clinton (40%). If the precinct gets 5 delegates to the county caucus, three people are then elected as Sanders delegates and two as Clinton delegates.

It is almost certain that Martin O'Malley is going to be declared nonviable in most, if not all, of Iowa's 1,781 caucus locations. This means that his supporters will have to choose between Clinton and Sanders. If you want to become the most popular kid on the block, be an O'Malley supporter, as both the Clinton and Sanders groups will be grabbing your arm and trying to drag you into their group and convince you to vote for their candidate on the next vote. If it is close in any precinct, a few O'Malley supporters could make the difference. (V)

The Only Jewish Candidate in the Race Probably Won't Get Much Jewish Support

In an era when identity politics is everything, it is ironic that the first Jewish candidate who stands a good chance of winning a presidential primary or caucus, Bernie Sanders, will probably not get much support from Jewish voters. Most Jews are Democrats and a large fraction of them support. Hillary Clinton. Clinton has already locked up scores of influential Jews, from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to megadonor George Soros. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who is Jewish, said that Clinton, "has been great on not just Israel but on issues of concern to the Jewish community globally." Many Jews regard foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, as very important. Clinton knows all the players there extremely well, and Jewish voters like that and respect her judgment.

In 2000, when Joe Lieberman ran for Vice President on Al Gore's ticket, he was widely praised by Christians because he was so overtly religious and made no effort to hide it. A 2015 Gallup poll showed that 91% of Americans would vote for a Jewish candidate for President, 10 points higher than for a Mormon candidate and 30 points higher than for a Muslim candidate. So oddly enough, at a time when the Republicans are falling all over each other to show they are more Christian than the next guy, nobody seems to care that Sanders is Jewish—least of all, Jewish Democrats. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Jan22 Sanders and Trump Lead in Iowa, but with a Footnote
Jan22 Republican Leaders Are Arguing About Whether Trump or Cruz is the Biggest Threat
Jan22 National Review Tries to Take Down Trump
Jan22 Is Palin Not All She's Trumped Up to Be?
Jan22 Thanks, Obama!: Ted Cruz Edition
Jan22 GOP Establishment Not Yet Sold on Rubio
Jan22 Clinton Tweaks Approach to Sanders
Jan22 Democrats Want A Debate Between Iowa and New Hampshire
Jan21 Thanks, Obama, Sarah Palin Edition
Jan21 Republican Donors Beginning to Accept Trump as Nominee
Jan21 Could John Kasich Foil the Republican Establishment's Plans?
Jan21 Harvard Law Professor: Cruz Is Not A Natural-Born Citizen
Jan21 Bob Dole Warns of Cataclysmic Loses with Cruz
Jan21 Super PAC hits Cruz Where it Hurts
Jan21 What Would Happen If Sanders Won the Democratic Nomination?
Jan21 Republicans Are Helping Sanders
Jan20 Sarah Palin and Terry Branstad Endorse Donald Trump
Jan20 Glenn Beck is Backing Cruz
Jan20 RNC boots NBC
Jan20 Even if Sanders Wins IA and NH, He's Not Home Free
Jan20 Bush and Rubio Tied for Third Place in Florida
Jan20 A Growing Demographic: Latino Nonvoters
Jan20 Delegating the Delegates
Jan19 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Jan19 Sanders Releases His Healthcare Plan
Jan19 Democrats Preparing for a Long Battle
Jan19 Report: 62 People Own as Much as Bottom Half of World's Population
Jan19 A Record 12,900 Ads Have Run in Des Moines
Jan19 Trump Calls for Christians to Unify
Jan19 British Parliament Debates Banning Trump from Entering Britain
Jan18 Democrats Dance in Charleston
Jan18 Clinton Ahead of Sanders by 25 Points Nationally
Jan18 Is Rubio Using Giuliani's Strategy?
Jan18 Court Strikes Down Two-Tiered Voting System in Kansas
Jan18 Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele Says Trump Will Be the Nominee
Jan18 What Happens If Trump Loses Iowa?
Jan18 When Will Candidates Stop Saying They Can Bring Us All Together?
Jan17 Democrats Take Their Turn in Charleston
Jan17 Clinton Campaigns as Obama's Heir in South Carolina
Jan17 Clinton Is Seriously Worried about Sanders
Jan17 Chuck Schumer Defends Trump
Jan17 Let the Anti-Ted Cruzsade Begin
Jan17 Christie Donated to Planned Parenthood
Jan17 Why Is Nobody Attacking Trump on the Air?
Jan17 Trump Was Once a New York Liberal
Jan17 Might Scott Brown Be Trump's Veep?
Jan17 Are All Journalists Suffering from Pauline Kael Syndrome?
Jan16 Republican Debate Postmortem
Jan16 New York Daily News Is Not Happy with Ted Cruz
Jan16 Bettors Are Putting Their Money on Trump