I learned a little bit about the Donald Trump phenomenon after my appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show this week, as my comments led to galactic feedback on Twitter — some positive, some negative.
Hannity showed segments of his interview with Trump and asked me and the other guests to respond to various aspects of it. Some of the Twitter critics were upset with Fox News, alleging that it failed to provide a balanced picture, seeing as all three of us appeared anti-Trump.
In this case, Fox News deserves to be defended because I believe it tried to achieve balance, as the producers indicated to me they were interested in bringing me on for the segment partially because I had written a column favorable to Trump.
Indeed, I have written several columns praising Trump for unapologetically taking on establishment Republicans, political correctness and liberal Democrats. I attributed much of Trump’s support to horror over President Obama’s destruction and the impotence or unwillingness of Republicans to fight back.
Trump fights back, and when challenged, instead of cowering, he bites back harder, and that is a refreshing change from feckless politicians.
I remember defending then-Sen. Trent Lott years ago for an innocuously flattering introduction to Strom Thurmond, which the liberal thought police had twisted into the false narrative that Lott was thereby embracing Thurmond’s allegedly racist past.
Even after many defended Lott, he caved and apologized for the insensitivity of his remarks, giving credence to the underlying allegations and vindicating the bullies. This type of surrendering from conservatives happens every other day, whereas liberals almost never apologize for their outrageous statements.
Along comes Trump, who speaks bluntly, especially about immigration, and the thought police swarm. Trump not only doesn’t backpedal but also doubles down. How can conservatives not rejoice over that?
On “Hannity,” I said I believe that some of Trump’s supporters are in his camp because he is giving voice to their frustration. That is, some of Trump’s support is attributable as much to his delicious counterattack on the media, liberals and the GOP establishment as to his positions on issues.
To some extent, I misspoke, because what I really meant is that not all of Trump’s defenders are necessarily his supporters. I am in that camp. I love that Trump is attacking the establishment and status quo, and I agree with him on a number of issues, but he is not my first choice in the GOP presidential race.
My Twitter feed went wild after the show. Many agreed with my comments, but some Trump supporters were furious, thinking I’d thrown him under the bus as part of an anti-Trump conspiracy, which is unfortunate. Some were insulted that I had presumed to know their thoughts. That might be a fair criticism, but again, that is mainly because I didn’t make the point as clearly as I should have.
But that’s not the only reason they were annoyed. On the show, I indicated that I disagreed with Trump’s position on Planned Parenthood — and I still do. He said he would end federal funding of the organization’s abortions but continue funding of other services that help women. I don’t believe that you can construct a firewall inside that thoroughly corrupt organization, and I am not sure how I could have answered the question otherwise without betraying my principles.
Some went ballistic, seeing it as further proof I’d sold out to an anti-Trump cabal. That’s ironic, because I admire a number of things about Trump and appreciate his firing back at the bully stewards of political correctness and setting an example on that score. I actually like the guy.
But in the various Twitter exchanges, I noticed the passion among his supporters. At the risk of presuming to read their minds again, it seems they believe that only someone with the no-nonsense fearlessness of Trump can turn this country around.
I don’t believe this is just emotional. People are quite rational to think that the existing ruling class simply hasn’t the will or the ability to reverse the statist nightmare that threatens the nation. They are reasonable to believe that only an outsider with spectacular business success can restore America’s greatness.
My concern, as I’ve said in my previous columns, is I’m not convinced Trump is reliably conservative on several issues. His supporters indignantly protest that Ronald Reagan used to be a Democrat. “Why can’t Trump have a change of heart?” they ask.
Well, in the first place, I don’t remember Trump claiming to have had a conversion. When he changes his positions, it seems he usually claims that circumstances have changed, such as with Obamacare — not that he was wrong or had a change of heart. Personally, I believe the evils of socialism are timeless.
There are other issues on which I’m not convinced yet of his present conservatism. But I’m open to the possibility.
It is still early in the campaign, and we have many great candidates running whose conservative credentials are far stronger, in my view. I don’t want to trash Trump or his millions of supporters, but I hope they can also respect those who prefer others at this point and not try to read our minds or motives, either.
I believe that the majority of Americans are fed up to the eyeballs with the path this nation is on, and I am exceedingly grateful that Trump’s supporters have reached their limit with the abuses of Washington. I love that so many wonderful candidates have stepped forward to try to answer the call of duty.