Bill Kristol, Editor in chief at the Weekly Standard was convinced that tax reform would never happen during the Trump Administration, and especially not this year:
Kristol sounded off on this unlikelihood in August.Tax reform won't even get a vote in Congress this year. I'd be surprised if it made it through committee in either house. https://t.co/WMJBpwKrmZ— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) August 29, 2017
Here were are two days before Christmas, and tax reform has been signed into law. The biggest win is the lowered corporate tax rate, which has alarmed other countries who had induced business investment with their lower tax rates compared to the United States. Until the tax reform bill had been signed into law, the highest corporate tax rate stood at 39%! Ireland's tax rate is 15%, which explains why so many American businesses expatriated to the Celtic Tiger.
Yet Kristol's aminus for Trump goes deep. His flagship publication routinely belittles Trump, attacks his presidency, hounds him as illegitimate. Friends of mine on the East Coast informed me that they canceled their subscription to The Weekly Standard, because of his Trump Derangement Syndrome.
What's going on here?
Dinesh D'Souza offered his take on this deep disdain for the President:
Spectacular" is the word, since Kristol has displayed his opposition so frequently about the President. He even spoke on a key guest panel at the 2017 Politicon in Pasadena, CA, where I dressed him and his fellow panelists on their anti-Trump bias:Again Bill proves to be spectacularly wrong, qualifying him for a perch at mainstream media outlets where such ignorance is highly valued https://t.co/JI0tDGuXFL— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) December 23, 2017
My immediate take on Bill Kristol's dislike for Trump:
President Trump is not polished enough, not "graceful" enough for the country-club conservative set.@BillKristol is an arrogant snob who can't handle the fact that a non-intellectual (yet very intelligent) real estate broker and reality TV star is now President and his establishing conservative victories like no one else.#SheLost #HeWon Get over it, Billy boy!— Arthur C. Schaper (@ArthurCSchaper) December 23, 2017
Trump talks in near monosyllables, at least in the opinions of his critics. He is boorish, unintellectual, not interested in the finer points of debating policy. But Trump has not only won over voters, but he enacted the very policies which Kristol and company have bandied about for decades. They could only accomplish writing monographs. Kristol comes from a stories literary and political tradition because of his father Irving. Yet Trump just showed up on the scene without a long-standing conservative pedigree.
And yet Trump has been the paragon of conservative virtue and success. Fundamentally, conservative intellectuals and talking heads don't like Trump because he is not "one of them."
Ironically, the one who called the blinding snobbery of the political writing and chatting classes missed out what a success Trump would become.
Thomas Sowell described this Establishment sneering when the media turned their guns on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in 2008.
First, he established her intellectual profile as far exceeding the degradation from conservatives:
The conservative intelligentsia who react against her have remarkably little to say that will stand up to scrutiny. People who actually dealt with her, before she became a national figure, have expressed how much they were impressed by her intelligence.
Sowell outlines in one phrase first why the conservative chatterati did not like Palin:
Perhaps the best way to try to understand these reactions is to recall what Eleanor Roosevelt said when she first saw Whittaker Chambers, who had accused Alger Hiss of being a spy for the Soviet Union. Upon seeing the slouching, overweight and disheveled Chambers, she said, "He's not one of us."
Not one of us", but not just because he was not as well-dressed, as well-bred as the rest of the political elites in Washington DC at that time. He didn't belong to the Ivy League school pedigree. He wasn't one of the "cool kids" and he didn't get to sit at the "cool kids' table".
That pretty describes President Trump, but ironically enough describes George Washington and even our first stand-out Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. Some reports indicated that Marshall still ate predominantly with his hands, and Washington hated the fawning celebrity which party guests would place on him. The attitude and self-involved bearing of elitism didn't drag down Washington, Marshall, Palin, or Trump.
Sowell's last remark is particularly telling:
Whether Governor Palin runs for national office again is something that only time will tell. But the Republicans need some candidate who is neither one of the country club Republicans nor-- worse yet-- the sort of person who appeals to the intelligentsia.
That candidate ended up being Donald Trump, and yet Sowell savagely rejected the New York City real estate mogul and reality TV star. As far back as 2011. when Trump first appeared on the scene, Sowell worried that such a candidate would have ensured Obama's re-election.
What Trump has that so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking is the ability and the willingness to articulate his positions clearly, forcefully and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, "he played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace."
In other words, Trump was not an intellectual, but a down-to-earth pragmatist responding to people's individual needs. Sowell even drew a comparison between Trump and Palin, whom he had praised two years prior:
What electrified so many Republicans about Sarah Palin in the 2008 election campaign was that she was such a contrast to the usual mealy-mouth talk that was more common among other Republican candidates, including Senator John McCain. Whether you agreed or disagreed with her position on the issues, you didn't have to wave your hand in front of her eyes to see if she was awake.
Trump and Palin were real, visceral, in your face, and spoke to the heart not just the head of voters. And Palin endorsed Trump, but not Sowell.
The African-American conservative intellectual from Stanford University outlined a long series of concerns which weighed on his mind. The chief concern was the Supreme Court, especially following the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia in early February 2016. Foreign policy concerns had long worried Sowell, too, especially a nuclear Iran.
For him, the best choice was an intellectual with some political as well as government experience: Ted Cruz.
Isn't that strange, though, that for all of Sowell's protestations that Republicans needed to avoid another glib intellectual, he settled for one as the best Presidential pick?
Against this background, the frivolous rhetoric and childish antics in the televised political "debates" are painful to watch. If ever there was a time to choose a president with depth, rather than glitter or glibness, this is it.
Sowell basically feared that Trump could not win the general election, and the fact that he was only picking up a plurality of the votes in key primaries confirmed his fears.
But the fact that Trump leads in the polls does not mean that he is electable in the general election this fall. He is ahead only because the majority vote among Republicans has been split among so many other candidates.
How could an intellectual have gotten it so wrong about Trump? Because even conservative intellectuals, and even when they understand the mechanics and metrics for someone to win an election, it does not mean they understand the incredible impact that the candidate has with voters, or that they understand the dire concerns facing Middle America voters.
Palin understood those needs, and so did Trump. What happened over the last 8 years, ultimately, is that the outstanding, outspoken conservatives could not see past their own intellect. I wasn't thrilled with Trump at the outset, either, since he had a long record of liberal statements and positions in the public eye.
But Trump has exceeded expectations. It's astonishing to me how smart Trump really is, that he he not only doubled down against the corrupt media, but that he fooled Thomas Sowell, who for all of his opposition to Trump didn't recognize how well he measured up to the needed skill set to win as a Republican.
What's going on here? Is it that Trump is not "one of us" in Thomas Sowell's club, even though he clearly slammed the corrupt, out-of-touch elitism of the political class which overlooked Whitaker Chambers as an honest man and a true American?
There's another conservative intellectual who actually lauded Trump, but ended up rejecting him when he became the Presidential candidate (then the winner) in 2016: Ben Shapiro.
Shapiros's glowing article of the New York real estate mogul appeared in April 2011, around the same time when Sowell, who praised Trump's ability to articulate major issues into plain English. For Shapiro, the winning PResidential candidate to challenge the abortive and abysmal Barack Obama needed strong name ID and lots of money:
In the last several weeks, that ideal Republican candidate has materialized.
His name is Donald Trump. His slogan is ready-made: "You're Fired." He does not give a damn what the media thinks of him -- he steamrolled Meredith Vieira during his NBC interview with her last week. He can self-fund to the tune of $1 billion.
Shapiro even predicted how strong his rise in the polls would be once he jumped into the race. The only problem was that Shapiro wrote about this four years earlier:
Pay no attention to the recent polls showing Obama crushing Trump by 20 points in a head-to-head matchup. That disparity is attributable to the public perception that Trump is a loudmouth with no true interest in running. The moment he declares in earnest and gets on the campaign stump, his numbers will rise dramatically.
Yes indeed. Here are other remarks about Trump's appeal, which are particularly revealing in their accuracy:
Trump has across-the-board appeal.
His show, "The Apprentice," routinely draws nearly 9 million viewers per episode.
Blue-collar workers identify with Trump's rough-and-tumble attitude.
This factor was absolutely crucial to Trump's victory and Republicans' ongoing chances to retain majorities not just in Washington DC but throughout the country. Working Americans had been ignored, neglected, and decimated. Once a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, they found themselves in a political wilderness, where leaders in both parties had fallen into the clutches of corporate donors begging for easy tax cuts, corporate weflare, and cheap labor.
He even has union support -- he's made a political mint bashing outsourcing, and he recently told Human Events that he has made "many billions of dollars working with the unions," though he does not disagree that public sector unions bilk taxpayers.
Yes indeed. The union aspect is key not because of organized labor per se, since Trump praised right-to-work policies, but rather Trump's capacity to appeal to working-class, blue collar Americans on their terms and in their time.
He also talked about his contour and character as a candidate:
Obama directly. He's big enough to stand toe-to-toe with Obama and slug it out.
That's exactly what I liked about Trump before I liked Trump as the general election Presidential candidate. He also slugged it out with the corrupt media, which had created and propped up Barack Obama. Shapiro even called Trump Obama's "worst nightmare", and deemed him as someone who could win.
But then in March 2016, Shapiro would write: "I Will Never Vote For Donald Trump. Here's Why."
Because, in Shapiro's estimation, Trump was not conservative, and he would cause the Republican Party to drift further to the Left. Really.
Here are some of his remarks:
I stand with conservatism. Donald Trump stands against it.
I stand with #NeverTrump.
Strangely enough, Shapiro's remarks are not erudite or thorough. He does not provide information or cite reasons for rejecting President Trump. When I slammed Trump as a closet Democrat, I provided statements and records of his actions in the past.
Shapiro just blurts out some talking points and pouts with "Never Trump."
Charles Johnson outlined two articles that Shapiro tumbled into financial conflicts of interest, especially since Shapiro had written glowing statements about Trump even five months before the 2016 primaries.
Here are the two articles from GotNews.com:
Shilling Ben Shapiro Is Lying About Relationship With AndrewBreitbart & Brawler Steve Bannon To Hurt Trump
I find the above information to be particularly credible.
Shapiro stopped liking Trump because his "The Daily Wire" donors didn't like him. UGH!
With Sowell, he was the victim of his intellectual blindness, an honest reason nonetheless.
Then there's Peggy Noon, who urged Republicans to get tough, "It's pirate time" following their unexpected defeat in 2012:
Now is the time to fight and be fearless, to be surprising, to break out of lockstep, to be the one thing Republicans aren’t supposed to be, and that is interesting.
Sounds like Donald Trump.
In political terms this means: Reorient yourselves. Declare for Main Street over Wall Street, stand for the little guy against the big interests. And move. Don’t wait for the bill, declare the sentiments of your corner..
Really, it’s pirate time.
People think the GOP is for the bankers. The GOP should upend this assumption. In this case good policy is good politics.
Republicans make too much of order and discipline. Sometimes a little anarchy is a good thing, a little disorder a sign of creativity and independence of thought.
Fight back with a renewed, populist conservatism. Show a strong stance with working people and not the rich". Be a little chaotic, a little disheveled and have some fun.
Again, that's Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, Noonan's suggestions in the rest of her article stressed that Republicans needed to the move to the left on key issues, like gun control and amnesty. Not winning issues at all. Once again, the intellectual Peggy Noonan, the former speech writer for Ronald Reagan, didn't get it. She would later confess:
"Republicans can't win with Trump, but they can't win without Trump's voters."
How wrong she was, just like Thomas Sowell. The intellectuals missed the intelligence of Ronald Reagan and his populist outreach. Perhaps like many journalists on the left and the right, they have become convinced that changing demographics made the all-American conservative of Ronald Reagan impractical and unwinnable.
They didn't realize, however, that Reagan is dead, and that the issues affecting this country are widely different from the early 1980s. They were still living in the past, not paying attention to the present, and completely out of touch with the hopes and dreams, the concerns and fears of working Americans.
Noonan expressed shock that Hispanic Americans were voting for Trump!
Right now, I know that I have written an extensive if obtuse and rambling analysis of conservative intellects and writers who had either praised Trump, or praised his skills, or raised the importance of his kind of skill set--yet ultimately rejected him as a candidate.
I think that their stark inability to see him as a winning candidate and a winner President is pretty stark and profound, considering that they have been the conservative conscience for the reading American public for a number of years.
This kind of intellectual elitism has not only been a Democratic problem, but in other ways a very Republican issue, in that the desiccated governing class and the writing class had become more invested in political and intellectual talking points rather than winning elections, and winning those elections with a blunt conviction and confrontation.
No wonder Breitbart Editor John Nolte's latest article was so direct and refreshing about these Never Trump types: