A Week of Insult, Jail, and Redemption - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Week of Insult, Jail, and Redemption

Donald Trump is a brave truth-teller…right?

When he says to Rolling Stone about Carly Fiorina, Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” don’t you think he’s probably talking about her face? Don’t you think he’s just calling her ugly?

Instead, he claims he was talking about Fiorina’s “persona.” Seriously, Donald? You expect us to believe such an obvious lie? Even Hillary couldn’t get away with such a whopper. So grow a pair and fess up.

Trump then went on to slam Fiorina’s professional career and called Ben Carson an “OK doctor.” A one-man wrecking crew, The Donald.

Every other word out of this man’s mouth is “tremendous” or “fantastic” or “phenomenal” when talking about his sister or his (temporary) friends or the Mexicans he doesn’t think are rapists. And when talking about people he doesn’t like much, including President Obama or his Republican foes, he says that they’re “failures,” “terrible” and “stupid” people whom he’ll beat “so easily.” His level of dialogue and range of vocabulary is one step above Valley Girl.

When it comes to seriousness of policy, I’d call Trump a mile wide and an inch deep but that’s an insult to people who are a mile wide. Trump is more like a yard wide and a molecule deep. He is perhaps the least substantive candidate for president this year, and that’s saying a lot in a field that includes Martin O’Malley.

For those of you who suggest that Donald Trump must be right because, as one upset reader put it, “I’d be more careful of casting around accusations of ‘economic ignorance’ for a man who’s made $Billions over the course of his career,” I’ll take you seriously when you show me that you’ve made similar comments in support of Mitt Romney (or George Soros or Tom Steyer).

When I recently wrote an article critical of Trump’s immigration “plan,” I received a remarkable quantity of negative and angry comments and e-mail including being called — these are among the most polite — a “leftie” and “The International Jew” (which the writer meant as the opposite of a patriotic American). If these are Trump supporters, you can damn sure count me out.

Speaking of polite, many in the punditry have been too much so to Mr. Trump, perhaps out of fear of his well-known and often effective verbal retaliation. There’s no doubt that as Fox News’ Chris Stirewalt put it, Trump doles out the “sickest burns” in the GOP field. But what’s Trump going to do to me?

So let me speak clearly in language that Mr. Trump and certain of his supporters — those who seem most interested in e-mailing me — can understand: Donald, you’re a loudmouth low-class fake-conservative mendacious ego-maniac (I had a less polite word here but didn’t quite want to sink to Trump’s level)  who isn’t redeemed by his probably over-stated fortune. Yes, I’m talking about your persona.

All that said, angry people — such as many American voters who have good reason to be angry given the calamity that is the Obama presidency — often abandon their better judgment (as I’m sure Trump-bots think I did in the previous paragraph though, like Trump, I am utterly unapologetic). So in anticipation of continued GOP-base fury and consternation I shall continue to avoid predicting the downfall of candidate Trump as much as I’d love to see him implode.

Regardless of my feelings about Mr. Trump, it’s amusing to see liberal pundits bemoan “the radicalization of the GOP” as if nobody has noticed that a self-described socialist — Bernie Sanders — is leading Hillary Clinton among Democrats in both Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s not that Sanders is wildly more radical than many in today’s Democratic Party, including our current president or any of the party’s presidential wannabes including Hillary; the Democrats have been drifting steadily leftward for years.

Similarly, most of Donald Trump’s precious few comprehensible policy positions are within or just slightly more extreme than the range of those expressed by other Republicans in recent years with the notable exception of deporting the American citizen children of illegal aliens. (Trump supporters: don’t bother arguing that he didn’t really propose that very thing; he clearly did.)

The Republican Party is no more radicalized with Trump than the Democrats are with Sanders (though the comparison really does end there as Nate Silver correctly explains).

If you want to talk radical, you’ll find it in Rowan County, Kentucky, where the only thing more overwrought than the comparison of County Clerk Kim Davis (by her attorney) to Martin Luther King was the comparison of Mrs. Davis (by Mike Huckabee) to Abraham Lincoln. Raising the ridiculousness an additional notch was Huckabee’s laughable offer to serve Davis’ jail sentence. If that’s not the sign of the most desperate presidential campaign in America, I don’t know what is. And that’s saying a lot in a field that includes Martin O’Malley.

Yes, it would be better if there were a state accommodation for Mrs. Davis as has been created for public officials in North Carolina. Yes, it would be better if no American were put in jail, even if briefly, for abiding by her religious convictions.

But Kim Davis took an oath to uphold the Constitution and — whether she or you or I like it or not — the Supreme Court has told us what the Constitution means when it comes to government recognition of marriage.

When she was asked under what authority she was refusing to issue marriage licenses, she said, “under God’s authority.” That’s far from arguing that the Supreme Court got the Constitution wrong which, even if true, is also a losing argument although at least one which a public official can make and still be in keeping with her oath of office.

If she wants to work for God, Kim Davis should get out of her family’s chosen business (Davis’ mother was the county clerk before her, and Davis’ son works for her now); her refusal to abide by the law and blocking her deputies from abiding by the law made her jailing proper even if unfortunate and preventable.

Where Davis, a Democrat, turned, for me, from being a person intent on defending herself from government-imposed “heaven and hell decisions” into an anti-gay marriage crusader was when her attorney claimed, while Mrs. Davis was in jail, that marriage certificates issued without her name on them are invalid.

So, per the lawyer, all Mrs. Davis wants is to have her name off the documents. But without her name, people are getting documents “not worth the paper they’re written on.” Heads I win, tails you lose. Mrs. Davis, via her lawyer, is not just defending herself but continuing an already-lost battle against gay marriage in the United States. This cannot be tolerated by government employees operating in their official capacities. (Note: I’ve interviewed two of Mrs. Davis’ attorneys on the air. They seem as committed to the Christian cause as Davis is. You can hear one of the interviews starting about 35 minutes into this podcast.)

If the Supreme Court had ruled against gay marriage (in a parallel universe in which they ruled that states could not allow it either) and a liberal California county clerk began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, would not Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz and all of Kim Davis’ other supporters be screaming that the highest court in the land must be obeyed? Of course they would.

The next possible shoe to drop will be Mrs. Davis’ return to work, likely either today or Monday, at which time we’ll all be watching to see if she will try to stop her deputies from issuing marriage licenses, including to same-sex couples, as ordered under penalty of jail by federal judge David Bunning (the son of Hall of Fame pitcher and former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning). Davis’ helpful attorneys would not say whether she would in fact interfere which would likely cause her to be jailed again; indeed they implied that she might because “nothing has changed” for her.

Deputy clerk Brian Watson says he will continue to issue same-sex marriage licenses even if Davis orders him not to. It’s not as if he’ll be extremely busy: As of Wednesday, he had only issued ten licenses since last Friday, of which seven were to same-sex couples. I’m guessing that’s the vast majority of the small rural county’s marriage-seeking gay couples; indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the seven weren’t even from Rowan County but instead went there to make a political point.

There are two other county clerks in Kentucky who oppose having their name attached to same-sex marriages in a way which implies (or states directly) their approval of such unions. The state should endeavor to find a way which allows them to live by their religious convictions but which guarantees that the government — with no additional delay — issues the licenses to gay couples. Everybody should try to avoid having more clerks go to jail unless they not only refuse to obey the law but also try to stop others in their office from obeying.

Speaking of jail, I’d like to recommend one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison. Jeff Smith was a Missouri state senator who, during a campaign for Congress (a race he narrowly lost), committed a minor campaign finance violation (allowing his staff to coordinate with a third party in the production and mailing of a post card criticizing his opponent) and then made the disastrous mistake of lying to the feds about it.

A year in Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) Manchester (Kentucky) taught Smith a lot, many of the lessons painful (but not in the way you’re thinking, Mr. Sick Mind), and he’s written a book that is simultaneously a riveting story — including his best friend wearing a wire to trap him, why not to sit on somebody else’s bunk in jail, the fascinating things used as prison currencies, and the long-run harm caused by the nationwide epidemic of prison rape — along with a worthwhile commentary on the state of America’s correctional system and important suggestions for reform.

Jeff Smith’s work is well-written by any standard, not needing a caveat like “quite good for a politician’s writing”; it is engaging, informative, and balanced, with moments of sadness and happiness, anger and fear, gratitude and righteous indignation. It’s well worth the price and, more importantly, well worth your time.

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