Legacy of John McCain by Tom Donelson

John McCain Legacy for me is a mixed bag, a Senator who served his country first as a soldier who sacrifice much for his country and finally in Congress, first as congressman before moving to the Senate.  The first time I saw John McCain was in 1993 when he appeared at a health care conference opposing what was then Hillary care. Ms. Clinton appeared briefly in the morning, made her statement and left without taking questions from the media or anyone and leaving the heavy lifting to others to defend her position during the rest of the conference.  I covered the event for KC Jones, a conservative newspaper and had a chance to interview people from both sides including McCain.  When John McCain voted against the skinny repeal proposed by his friend, Lindsey Graham, I remember the McCain of 1993 and wonder if maybe Senator McCain of 2017 might wanted to reread his own speeches on health care reform. He betrayed his own voters who he promised in 2016 that he would lead the fight to repeal Obamacare and his past beliefs.  This vote represented for many of us the most frustrating aspect of John McCain career, a man whose often voted conservative most of his career but in many crucial moments over the years, become the Maverick by not just compromising on his beliefs but abandoning them.

It is the Maverick McCain that helped open the door for the National Populist movement that he would spend the last years of his life fighting. In 2000, the McCain express opposed George Bush run to the White House and his campaign was based on a premise that many voters were no longer satisfied with both political parties. He often moved to populist points starting with campaign reform and later opposing Bush Tax cuts from a populist position that mirrored Bernie Sanders and in some respect, Donald Trump.  The 2008 McCain ran a more traditional conservative campaign but his selection of Sarah Palin, who was a Maverick in her right opposing the Republican establishment in Alaska showed that he had not abandoned the populist and anti-establishment route. Throughout the Obama years, he was a leader in opposition to a good portion of the Obama agenda including foreign affairs.

McCain legacy will be the last of what I would call the Wilsonian internationalist who believed in the goodness of America to influence the world as Coco Konski and I discussed his legacy on our podcast,. What is often forgotten, McCain ran on a platform of a muscular foreign policy and American Greatness, influenced by the staff of Weekly Standard in 2000 and it was George W. Bush who ran on a platform of “more modest Foreign policy,” similar to the Trump campaign strategy 16 years later. The American Greatness did evolve into a more Nationalistic view of America that Trump took advantage of.  Trump ran on the more modest foreign policy but he also ran on the greatness of America with the idea of Making America Greater.  After the 2000 election, while McCain still held Bush’s tactics in the 2000 primary against him, both men found common grounds after 9/11 as Bush sided with McCain view of foreign policy.  Bush adopted the Freedom agenda of McCain and we spent the next decade importing Democratic procedure to the Middle East where so far, they have not taken much root.  We can argue the mistakes made in the Middle East and whether the pro-democracy agenda was doomed from the beginning or had a chance for success, sabotage by poor execution and Obama retreat from Iraq. That is a debate for another time.

The Freedom agenda also led to bad judgment including supporting the rise of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and deposing Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  David Goldman describe Egypt plight before the military finally disposed of the Brotherhood, “In 2012, Senator McCain backed the installation of a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt…In July 2013, more than 30 million Egyptians – a majority of the adult population – demonstrated against the country’s Muslim Brotherhood government. Under General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s military took control of the country, which was nearly out of food. Al-Sisi saved Egypt from starvation and chaos…Senator McCain sadly denounced the military takeover as a violation of the democratic process. Technically speaking it was a coup against an elected government, although under emergency conditions and with massive and visible popular support. So beguiled was McCain with the prospect of a democratic Islamic regime that he never accepted that his illusion had vanished.”  The irony is that Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood was seeing the fabric of Democracy already being throttled plus the country was about to enter into chaos and massive starvation.  In the case of Libya, there was no game plan for a post Gaddafi and it became a terrorist playground.

Goldman noted the difference between McCain and Trump when he noted, “The bright line in American policy divides the utopians who believe that America’s mission is to bring free markets and liberal democracies to the benighted, backward nations of the world, and realists like Trump…Senator McCain threw his support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the expectation that it would become a vehicle for Muslim democracy; Donald Trump proposed to insulate America from the problems of the Muslim world.”

The modest foreign policy promised by Bush in 2000 is the basis of Trump’s policy in 2018 and America rejected the more internationalist view of McCain for a more realistic policy that accept the limits to American foreign policy and constructing policy toward a identifying and defending America’s national interest. As I noted in my book, “The Rise of National Populism and Democratic Socialism What our response should be”, Trump foreign policy would be “Donald Trump s bringing back realpolitik, in which our country’s foreign policy will be based on America’s national interest. Idealism will no longer be a reason to send young Americans into combat, but defending our national interest will.”  This approach is not isolationist but a more realistic approach to a world that is now multipolar with different blocs and Nations defending their national interest first, world predicted by the late Herman Kahn in his book, The Coming Boom. I observed in my book, “In 1982, Herman Kahn wrote The Coming Boom, in which he foresaw the economic prosperity of the Reagan years and a new world order that included the rise of regional powers and new challenges to the bipolar power struggle between the United States and the U.S.S.R.  Kahn thought that a multipolar world would eventually stabilize but the era before stabilization could be chaotic.  Kahn’s predictions proved to be accurate.”  McCain worldview has now been overtaken by events and the desire from the American people for a more modest foreign policy.  The world of John McCain internationalism has passed and he, like many within the foreign policy right including William Kristol, fail to realize the changes in the world.  McCain defended those institution that kept the peace just as NATO, Trump is asking the question if these institution serves our national interest.

McCain was a man in full, not a perfect man or the master of the United States Senate and often times, his own view disagreed with his Party. In many cases it was his Party that was right and not McCain. His support for carbon tax to save the planet has been rejected by his Party and with good reason and the one bill that bears his name, McCain-Feingold was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court for the simple reason that it interfered with freedom of speech.

McCain was not perfect and there were times he could hold grudges that last a long time and mistakes were made. McCain would be first to admit that he should have supported Martin Luther King Holiday in 1987 and his refusal to allow Sarah Palin to come to his funeral was more than a mistake since Ms. Palin had stayed loyal to McCain, never uttered a bad word about him and even campaigned for him after 2008.  As Sarah Palin noted not once did McCain ever said to her that it was mistake to place her on the ticket in 2008 only to find out that he would declare this in his last book not yet published.  For many politicians, loyalty is a one way street and John McCain is not the first politician nor will he be the last to throw some of his own past supporters under the bus if need be.  Every politician at some time has but unlike former campaign staffer, Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace, who profited from their own disloyalty, Palin stayed loyal.  National Review John Fund summarize John McCain, “But John McCain was enough of a genuine American hero that he need not be placed on a pedestal and treated like a plaster saint. He was throughout his career what is called “a man in full,” a leader defined by his bold moves, bold personality, and bold accomplishments. He also deserves to be described in our farewells as a man in full, with all of his contradictions, inconsistencies, and expedient behavior…By holding up him up as a paragon of virtue, the media failed last week in their job of telling John McCain’s story in full. I suspect their credibility took another hit with many Americans as a result, a credibility that is already so low that someone like Donald Trump has been able to exploit it.”

McCain served his country and suffered as a result and many of the same people who praised him during his funeral were perfectly willing to call him a fascist, a racist and everything in between when he oppose their agenda and it suited them in his 2008 presidential run against Obama.  McCain was not the perfect vehicle and over the last half of his legislative career, he often abandoned principle to reach across aisle and like many of his generation, he failed to see causes of the present rise of Populism, a movement that he himself help start two decades earlier.  There is much to praise about McCain heroism and much to criticize record wise as a legislator.  History and Historians will make their own judgement years from now and I will let others decide if working across the aisle as Man putting country before Party or simply fool errands that did little to advance the causes he believed in.  I remembered the McCain who took a stand to defend free market reforms in health care in 1993, ran on those platforms in 2008, campaign on them in his 2016 Senate race only to desert them in 2017. This sums up the contradictions of McCain the Senator.

 

 

 

Explaining Trump by Tom Donelson

Another way to look at the Trump phenomena is to understand his populist base is for real and for many Republicans, their future is tied to the success of their ability to combined conservatism with a populist edge.  As I noted in my book, The Rise of National Populism and Democratic Socialism, conservatism Trump populism is compatible with Trump populism as Trump based his individual tax plan on the Rubio proposals from the 2016 election including tax rates. (Trump did add an additional 37% tax rates on the wealthy but he added many tax breaks that benefits the Middle Class, similar to what Rubio proposed.)  The corporate tax plan proposal begin at 15%, similar to Cruz’s 16% rate and ended up at 21%.

Trump own view of immigration is a combinations of amnesty for many of them here illegally now combined with restricting future immigration levels, border security, vista reform and moving toward a more merit base system, most of which is supported by majority of Americans and this is where most Republicans are.  For many Americans, they no longer believe that immigration is a boon to their economic prospect and while many in the political class wants increase immigration levels and amnesty for illegals but little in the regard for border security or change in our present immigration levels.  Immigration increases GNP overall but it also impacts those at the bottom of the economic skills as lower income and Middle Class compete with both legal and illegal immigrants. What we see is that overall economy goes up while those at the bottom of the economic ladder see their overall income go down.

The political class, in particular the left, biggest failure has been in foreign policy.  While we debate the wisdom of the second Iraq war, we can positively say that America was safer in 2009 than in January of 2017.  Isis rose in the ashes of Obama pulling out early, only to force Obama to begin putting America troops back, and his policy in Syria has led to the death of at least 500,000 million civilian and a weakening of our position in the Middle East. The Iranian deal allowed Iran free reign throughout the region and the deal will allow Iran to produce a nuclear weapons.  Russian essentially annexed half of Ukraine and added Crimea.

China has essentially used the WTO to its benefit while applying its mercantilism theory to gain the upper hand in its own quest to turn the Middle Kingdom into the center of the universe in place of the United States.  Many of the post-World War II era institution that kept the peace are fraying and Trump is asking the right questions.  What is the role of NATO today? How do we get our Allies pay more of their defense? What should our relations be with Russia and is Russia a greater threat or is China over the long run?  How do we liberalize trade while dealing with various inequality that exist within the United States?  We could go on but Trump own view is that American interest comes first and while I question his views on trade, it would be ironic that Trump may end up be a more free trader after being elected to be the most protectionist.

For the Republicans, a new coalition is within reach that includes a portion of the minority whose economic interest no longer served by Democratic policy, blue collar workers and the Middle Class, and need to get some of those suburban whites who deserted Trump.  The Democratic Party has moved to the left and within the Democratic Socialism movement, many Trump voters understand the when it comes to Democratic Socialism movement, the Democracy is expendable when it comes to push socialism and as Trump voters see their own views censored on many of the social media sites, they understand that what stands between them and the political class is Donald Trump.

Why Do Trump Voters Stick With Him? By Tom Donelson

Despite recent convictions of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, many Trump voters still stand by their man as Salena Zito noted, “Last week, a woman in her mid-40s who lives in a tidy suburban enclave just outside of Columbus, Ohio, summed up her continued support for President Donald Trump despite his morals, values and behavior not matching hers nor matching her expectations she had for any president of the United States. (the woman stated) “For decades I have been inspired by aspiring politicians and elected officials who took to the podium or the camera and delivered poetic speeches to earn my trust and my support. They would sway me with expressive words and artfully delivered promises. It took me a while to realize those words weren’t theirs, but skillfully crafted sentences that had been massaged and focus-group tested by a full staff of speechwriters and strategists.”…While the words were beautiful, they never manifested into anything tangible in her community.”  For many, Trump is producing results as Zito added, “Along comes Trump in 2016. She cannot abide anything he tweets, finds his speeches a stream of consciousness that is hard to unscramble and considers his morals in the gutter. She reluctantly voted for him and knows she will vote for him again, something she admits even surprises her. Why does he hold her support? He delivers results.”  He got tax cuts passed and the economy has continued its upward trajectory, we may witness the first 3 percent growth since 2007.  This recovery is now starting to impact many of the blue collar workers, minorities and others left behind in the Obama recovery.

Many Trump voters understand his moral failings and figure that into their calculations as they understood that he is what stands between them and the political class they viewed have screwed them over.  Zito added, “Right now the value of Trump to the Trump voter is he is all that stands between them and handing the keys to Washington back over to the people inside Washington. That’s it. He’s their only option. You’ve got to pick the insiders or him.”

If anything, Trump has exposed the incompetence of the present political class and how they truly feel about the people they governed.  For many of the political class, many Trump voters are merely deplorable and they see their values mocked by the political class.  This is the worse political class since the end of World War II, combined with an Academic and Science class that no longer seeks truth but are so politicized that the search for truth no longer matters.

The hatred for Trump expose the length that the political class will go to protect themselves including the pursuing the Russian collusion that can’t even be proven to exist but was designed to undermined the Trump administration and seek to overturn the 2016 elections as Paul Sperry noted, “Bitter to the core, Hillary Clinton and her campaign aides hatched a scheme, just 24 hours after conceding the race, to spoon-feed the dirty rumors to an eager liberal media and manufacture the narrative that Russia secretly colluded with her neophyte foe to sabotage her coronation… The plan, according to the book, was to push journalists to cover how “Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign,” and it succeeded to a fare-thee-well. After the election, coverage of the Russian “collusion” story was relentless, and it helped pressure investigations and hearings on Capitol Hill and even the naming of a special counsel, which in turn has triggered virtually nonstop coverage.”  The Steele Dossier, paid for by Clinton’s administration, became the basis for FISA warrants and used to spy on the Trump campaign and administration.  While Manafort was convicted on crimes that occurred before the 2016 campaign and Cohen was pursued over other crimes nothing to do with Russian Collusion but in one case, it dealt with paying off porn stars to keep quiet about affairs. Investigation now spread into Trump Foundation and Trump organization so the political class has spread it tentacles beyond the Collusion.

What many voters understand is that the class protects its own as Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration allowed the Russian to get 20 percent of uranium reserve, on investigating the Clinton Foundation which could be describe as a pay to play including foreign contributors, how the FBI and DOJ tanked the Clinton’s email investigation, and the IRS went after conservative groups and no one pay the legal price. They know that there are two standards, one for the political class and one for them.  Trump, the imperfect vessel, is what stands between them and the political class.

Blog From Right to Left

By Tom Donelson

Donelson Files will feature writers from Left and Right plus everyone in between.  The Donelson Files is a podcast, that features dicussion left to right featuring Tom Donelson, long time political operative, chairman of Americas Pac and project director/research associate of Americas Majority Foundation.  Coco Konski, writer and author, represent the left.  We will feature other writers and cover a variety of issues.

Not all issues will be political since not all of life is political.  We will feature reviews of books and entertainment along with Sports to lighten the load and go beyond the political. Sometimes what we see in sports and the entertainment world reflects the political or is it the political that reflects the happenings of our culture?

The Donelson Files is on 6 pm EST Wednesday on the Batchelor Pad Radio Network and you can call in at 646-929-0130.