Monday, January 25, 2016

Comparing Resumes, Part II

Here we are a week before the first (Iowa) primary, so we’re looking at the top two Republican candidates. In Part I, we looked at Ted Cruz’s qualifications. Today we’ll look at Donald Trump.

We’ll start with the resume.  I didn’t find it listed out exactly like Ted Cruz’s, but between Wikipedia and various other sources, we can get the basics.
Trump at New Hampshire townhall,
August 2015
photo from Wikipedia

·         Born and raised in Queens, New York, son of real estate magnate Fred Trump.
·         Attended private Kew-Forest School, where his father was on the board of trustees.
·         Attended New York Military Academy for high school.
·         Attended Fordham University for two years, and then finished at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a BS in Economics in 1968, specializing in real estate.
·         He was eligible for the draft during the Viet Nam War era, but got four education deferments, followed by a health deferment related to heel spurs (he doesn’t remember in which foot).
·         He was given a job at the family real estate business, Elizabeth Trump and Son.
·         Three years out of college, following several successful real estate projects with his father, he was given control of the company and changed the name to The Trump Organization.
·         Successful projects include the conversion of the Commodore Hotel to the Grand Hyatt, the Javits Convention Center, repairs on the Wollman Rink in New York City, and Trump Tower.
·         Following problems with the Taj Mahal casino, He underwent a business bankruptcy in 1991, following failure to pay loans. Three other of his businesses also went through bankruptcies.
·         Upon the death of his father, he received a quarter share of $250-300 million inheritance.
·         His net worth is estimated by Forbes as $4 billion.
·         Trump claims his net worth is $8.7 billion, but at least $3.3 billion of that consists of "Real Estate Licensing Deals, Brand and Branded Developments," described by Business Insider as "basically [implying] that Trump values his character at $3.3 billion."
·         Besides real estate, his investments and projects include some stock market investments (a small portion), sports (including WWE and Wrestlemania), beauty pageants (particularly the Miss Universe Organization), and media.
·         He is most well-known for his reality television show The Apprentice, which began in 2003. He filed a trademark application for the phrase, “You’re fired.”
·         He claims to be close friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and invited them to his daughter’s wedding.
·         He has listed his party affiliation as Republican, Independence Party, Democrat, and "decline to state." He toyed with a presidential run as a Reform Party candidate in 2000. He considered presidential runs in 1988, 2004, and 2012 but did not register to run, and also as New York governor in 2006.
·         He has contributed to both Democrat and Republican candidates; of the top ten, six were Democrat, and four were Republican. After 2011, his donations leaned more toward Republicans.
·         While it was the Hillary Clinton campaign that started the “birther” question about Barack Obama in 2008, Trump pursued it. He is currently pressing a “birther” movement against his closest competitor, Ted Cruz.
·         He has declined donations for his campaign, claiming that makes him free from obligations to donors; it also takes away the ability to compare his fundraising to others, as a measure of support.
·         Following his announcement to run in June, he has been a major news topic, which has allowed him to receive media attention with very little campaign expenditure. On December 28, 2015, Trump was named the Top Name in Global English by the Global Language Monitor finishing ahead of Pope Francis, Vladimir Putin, and Angela Merkel.
·         His populist campaign theme is, “We are going to make our country great again," with a second most common phrase being, “Believe me.” Details are scarce, but his tax plan gives less relief to the middle class than the plans provided by all the other candidates.
·         His main issue is the border. He uses a broad brush. He says we will build a wall on the southern border and Mexico will pay for it (because his strong personality will make them pay for it). He has recently suggested refusing entry to any Muslims, until the US has a better vetting process. As recently as last summer, he was in favor of a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. His current plan appears to be what is referred to as “touchback”: deport long enough for technicality, then immediately allow re-entry with a path to citizenship.
·         He has supported Planned Parenthood, opposed limiting partial-birth abortion, and until a nuanced recent change has supported pro-abortion policies.
·         Has supported Obama and his policies, saying: “He understands how the economy works on a comprehensive level. He has also surrounded himself with very competent people, and that’s the mark of a strong leader.”
·         He has supported single-payer socialized health care for years, and has made no promise to repeal Obamacare.
·         He supported the 2009 stimulus and Obama’s efforts to nationalize banks.
·         He claims to be a Christian, specifically Presbyterian, but seldom attends church more than at Easter and Christmas; he once said that his favorite book is the Bible—they are often given to him as gifts, and he keeps them in some unspecified special place that is not his office or his home. He has disparaged the religious beliefs of both Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. He has no history of supporting First Amendment religious freedom rights.
·         He claims to have never felt the need to ask for forgiveness for anything.
·         He supports the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
·         He described his socially liberal views as “New York values,” but attacked Cruz for repeating that phrase, accusing Cruz of disparaging the New Yorkers who survived the World Trade Center attacks.
·         He responds to criticism with swift retaliation, often using untruths and vulgarities to disparage those he considers his enemies.
·         He doesn’t agree that Obama’s executive actions are unlawful and plans to use that end-run around Congress himself—only doing things he likes, instead of things Obama likes, which he asserts makes all the difference.
·         He supports the use of imminent domain to confiscate property from some individuals to make it available to other private entities who want to develop the land for profit.
·         He has been married three times. He and first wife, Ivana, have three children (including daughter Ivanka, who is executive vice-president of The Trump Organization); they were divorced after 13 years of marriage because of his long-running affair with Marla Maples. Maples gave birth to their daughter in 1991; they were married in 1993 and divorced in 1997. He failed in attempts to court Princess Di, following her divorce, while he was still married. His current wife is Slovenian-born model Melania Knauss, whom he began seeing in 1998 and married in 2004. She became a naturalized citizen the following year, and gave birth to son Barron William Trump.

While Trump makes a vaguely positive claim that he can “make America great again,” he offers no indication that he will apply the Constitution to do that.

Rather than compare Trump's resume to Cruz's, I'm going to do a little comparison with Mitt Romney's.

The claim that Trump is a great businessman falls flat coming from those who weren’t satisfied with Mitt Romney four years ago. Romney didn’t have a fortune handed to him, and a company placed in his lap. His education was not provided by parental patronage. Romney worked hard, while raising a family, and earned both law and MBA degrees from Harvard. He worked hard at jobs he got himself, and his work came to encompass helping other businesses succeed. He became the turnaround expert, which came into play when he left the business world to enter public service, first with the Salt Lake Olympics, and then as governor of Massachusetts.

Romney lived life as a free-market capitalist. Trump embodies crony-capitalism. He does business by buying and trading favors with people who can do something for him. Maybe he’s running, in the first place, because the possibility of a Cruz presidency—or anyone else willing to enforce the Constitution—would put an end to his crony-capitalist power, and he wasn’t willing to let that happen.

Romney was never for socialized, single-payer health care, and was against forcing Massachusetts citizens to buy health care, preferring to use incentives rather than penalties. While I think Massachusetts went too far—because 87% of its Congress was Democrat—Romney and The Heritage Foundation had prevented much worse. Any claim that “Romneycare” was the forefunner of Obamacare is an outright lie.  Yet Trump is all for Obama’s actual socialized medicine scheme.

Romney was known by friends and fellow businessmen as scrupulously honest and ethical. No one makes those claims about Trump. There are hundreds of lawsuits against him. He is considered ruthless and opportunistic. He seems to not have close friends beyond wives and girlfriends.
Romney has always been known as generous and giving. Trump gives when it benefits him and builds connections, or obligates people to him.

Romney was berated for having very slight changes in policy toward abortion (change from “as governor, I don’t expect to have any effect on Roe v. Wade and don’t plan to change the law” to “when a law to make abortion more available comes before me as governor, I can’t sign that”). Trump has been openly pro-abortion, even to support partial-birth abortion; during the campaign suddenly he claims to think abortion is a bad idea, because of a servant’s experience. But he hasn’t done anything to prove any sudden change to pro-life views.

Romney was berated in 2008 as an outsider, because he was a governor and hadn’t spent years working with the national party. He spent four years, at his own expense, supporting the most conservative Republican candidates he could find, all around the country, and proved his loyalty to the party. In 2012 he was berated as an insider/moderate. Trump, a progressive, can’t even prove he didn’t vote for Obama, once or twice, and receives a pass for his lack of Republican—let alone conservative—bona fides. In the last couple of weeks, even the party establishment is starting to embrace him, because he’s a deal maker, and they can compromise with him, which they fear they cannot do with Ted Cruz, whose loyalty lies with the Constitution.

Trump’s appeal seems to be based entirely on his brash willingness to speak his mind. Fine. But his mind isn’t focused on truth—he claims truth is whatever he says it is right now. He isn’t focused on limiting the government to the Constitution. He isn’t focused on the basic economic principle of allowing the person earning the money to decide how to spend it. He isn’t focused on God-given rights, and moving society to live the civilizing Ten Commandments—valuing God, family, life, truth, and property.

In Spherical Model terms, he’s firmly in the southern hemisphere, where you get tyranny, poverty, and savagery. Trump offers an alternate flavor of those bad ends, but nothing that would lead us out of those negatives.

Would he be better than a communist/socialist/progressive Democrat? Unknown. Totally depends on what he has the urge to do on any given day. He’s a power-monger. He’s a crony-capitalist. He’s a serial adulterer. That puts him southern hemisphere in the political, economic, and social spheres.

It’s not like he’s the least of various evils; he’s the least conservative of the GOP options. It’s hard to be certain that he would be the lesser of two evils up against an open socialist.

So why is Trump getting so much traction? 

My only guess is that he has a lot of money to buy outcomes. He is a media celebrity. And, just like in high school where the “most popular” person wins the class elections, people who support him are doing so for the shallowest of reasons.

The future of our great nation is at stake, because too many people like in-your-face brashness, regardless of content of words or content of character.

If you love freedom, prosperity, and civilization, a vote for Cruz gives us hope for that. A vote for Trump guarantees that we may lose it for decades, maybe forever.

You don’t want to take my word for it? Besides the collection of 22 conservatives weighing in at National Review last week (“Conservatives against Trump”) here are a few more worth reading:

·         The Establishment's Irrational Fear of Ted Cruz,” David Limbaugh
·         Donald Trump’s New Ad Shows His Contempt ForVoters,” Streiff at Red State
·         Paths to The Nomination: Trump, Cruz, and Rubio,” Robert Tracinski (This piece is about the campaign game, which goes against my grain, and I don’t agree with it in entirety, but I think the explanation of Trump support based on his TV celebrity is accurate.)
·         When Conservatives Needed Allies, Donald TrumpSided with Obama,” Glenn Beck for National Review

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