Trump's Mistakes: PC Isn't among Them

Perhaps Donald Trump’s most attractive trait to his diehard supporters, and even those of us who are less enthused, is his stubborn refusal to bow to leftist political correctness (PC). So it is predictable that those Republicans still clinging to the Never Trump mantra would attempt to attack this broadly popular facet of his campaign.

This occurred most recently in a piece by National Review’s David French, the erstwhile pick of some Never Trumpers as an alternative presidential candidate -- an offer which French wisely refused. But French still appears all in to oust Trump, attacking Trump’s frequent crudity as merely providing ammunition to the other side. But while Trump’s overactive mouth and undisciplined campaign continue to cause problems, his refusal to play the left’s game of guilt, regret, and recrimination over minor stumbles and alleged “insensitivity” to this group or that, remains a great strength.

As with critics on the left, French focused largely on Trump’s missteps last week, which should have been a great one for his campaign, but ended up something less than that. It began with Hillary getting off the FBI’s hook but taking a verbal bashing from Director James Comey. For Trump this was the best of both worlds. He’s better off with Hillary in the race and Comey fed him plenty with which to attack the Democrat. But by the end of the week Trump was fending off attacks from Hillary, the mainstream media and even fellow Republicans for his own mistakes, thanks to a lazy tweet, and a not smart comment about the merits of Saddam Hussein.

I’ve wondered before if Trump really knows what it takes to win, and last week did nothing to answer doubts in that regard. Comey’s action was disastrous for the country, but for Trump just what he needed. Trump’s political prospects are better against Hillary, whose negative ratings rival his own, and who is demonstrably more corrupt and dishonest. Plus, supposedly Trump has both the combativeness and chutzpah to take her on when other Republicans might not. Comey’s reprieve, accompanied by an incongruous litany of all the reasons the reprieve should not have been granted, has provided Trump with a clear template for attack until November, though Trump now seems to be backing off somewhat, claiming in a recent interview that audiences were tiring of the topic.  

To the extent that Trump did attack Clinton last week, he was almost immediately derailed by counterattacks on his campaign for putting out that lazy tweet which appeared to have anti-Semitic overtones. Evidently a Trump staffer found a graphic juxtaposing Hillary, stacks of money, and a Star of David on a white supremacist website, and forwarded it up through Trump’s organization (such as it is) where it was innocently put to use, without anti-Semitic intent. Still, this drew predictable demagogic attacks from Democrats, including Clinton, and helped divert attention from her blatant criminality and corruption. Trump worsened the messaging with his baffling praise of Saddam Hussein’s counter-terror credentials. 

The tweet -- once the origins of the graphic became clear -- could be clearly interpreted as anti-Semitic, and subject to reasonable criticism. Trump’s campaign realized this and took the image down, explaining that they interpreted the image as a sheriff’s star.  

But Trump, as is his wont, refused to back down, and in this showed both good and bad aspects of his character and that of his campaign. He took issue with his own campaign’s decision to delete the image, then further confused the issue -- and was made to look rather silly -- by comparing the six-sided star not just with a sheriff’s badge, but with its use in the animated kids’ film Frozen. This provided the mainstream media much joy and opportunity for mockery. But then a strange thing happened -- the issue mostly died.

It’s ludicrous to believe that Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, considering that his obviously beloved daughter married an observant Jew, converted, and that Trump’s grandkids are Jews. And Trump, however awkwardly, simply refused to give an inch on the issue. No apology for alleged insensitivity, no mea culpa for perhaps harboring hidden prejudices, no promises to atone for a sin he did not really commit. These are all things which Republicans usually do when faced with a liberal PC attack with the result of feeding a “controversy” rather than putting it to rest. And this week Trump is polling much better despite the supposed controversy.

Conservative critics of Trump, like French, would have us believe that Trump’s verbal insensitivity only aids the left’s PC agenda. His brief against Trump includes not only the tweet with the Jewish star, but Trump’s comments on women, illegal Mexican immigrants and his bashing of a Mexican-American jurist who is presiding over a lawsuit against one of Trump’s businesses.  

But these are largely straw man arguments. Trump’s insulting comment about Carly Fiorina was not politically incorrect. It was ungentlemanly and rude, and would have been so regarded well before PC existed. The Star of David insult to Jews is simply a false accusation caused by arguable stupidity within the Trump campaign, but little else. Trump’s comments about the Mexican-American judge were also not an example of political incorrectness, but Trump’s tendency to personalize everything. If Trump had sound reason to believe the judge has it in for him, he would have had his lawyers file a motion for recusal, but Trump never did this, still hasn’t, and won’t. His comment reflected not racial insensitivity so much as Trump’s highly litigious nature and persecution complex.

Trump’s comments about some Mexican illegals being criminal were politically incorrect and insensitive. But they were also demonstrably true -- he never said all or even most such people were criminal. Not backing down on this took some political strength, endeared Trump to many followers, and undermines political correctness in general. After all, PC is about hiding uncomfortable truths behind feigned politeness. Trump didn’t.

In all these examples Trump reveals himself as an often unpleasant, thoughtless, and even childish man. Only the comment about illegal Mexicans is technically politically incorrect, as opposed to being just stupid or rude, but Trump deserves credit for not caring one way or the other, at least as far as the PC police are concerned. Political correctness in all its forms sacrifices truth and evidence for “acceptable” political dogma, which makes it the antithesis of liberty and democracy. Now it extends far beyond “politics” to all manner of personal interaction and reaction which Trump simply ignores. He appears not to be a very nice man, but he is an antidote to PC and that’s why many like him.  

French argues that Trump’s unapologetic crudity actually hurts the effort to undermine leftist PC, and that the proper way to go about it is through reasoned argumentation that reinforces objective as opposed to leftist truth. That sounds great, but it’s been tried and doesn’t work. The conservative movement has attempted for two generations to arrest the growth of political correctness with no success. Indeed, on all measures it has worsened to the point where terms like “micro-aggression” are part of everyday usage, and thought police now dominate campuses and workspaces.

Traditional conservatism has failed to defeat political correctness. Trump is thick with faults, but his refusal to give an inch on this issue is not one of them.  

Perhaps Donald Trump’s most attractive trait to his diehard supporters, and even those of us who are less enthused, is his stubborn refusal to bow to leftist political correctness (PC). So it is predictable that those Republicans still clinging to the Never Trump mantra would attempt to attack this broadly popular facet of his campaign.

This occurred most recently in a piece by National Review’s David French, the erstwhile pick of some Never Trumpers as an alternative presidential candidate -- an offer which French wisely refused. But French still appears all in to oust Trump, attacking Trump’s frequent crudity as merely providing ammunition to the other side. But while Trump’s overactive mouth and undisciplined campaign continue to cause problems, his refusal to play the left’s game of guilt, regret, and recrimination over minor stumbles and alleged “insensitivity” to this group or that, remains a great strength.

As with critics on the left, French focused largely on Trump’s missteps last week, which should have been a great one for his campaign, but ended up something less than that. It began with Hillary getting off the FBI’s hook but taking a verbal bashing from Director James Comey. For Trump this was the best of both worlds. He’s better off with Hillary in the race and Comey fed him plenty with which to attack the Democrat. But by the end of the week Trump was fending off attacks from Hillary, the mainstream media and even fellow Republicans for his own mistakes, thanks to a lazy tweet, and a not smart comment about the merits of Saddam Hussein.

I’ve wondered before if Trump really knows what it takes to win, and last week did nothing to answer doubts in that regard. Comey’s action was disastrous for the country, but for Trump just what he needed. Trump’s political prospects are better against Hillary, whose negative ratings rival his own, and who is demonstrably more corrupt and dishonest. Plus, supposedly Trump has both the combativeness and chutzpah to take her on when other Republicans might not. Comey’s reprieve, accompanied by an incongruous litany of all the reasons the reprieve should not have been granted, has provided Trump with a clear template for attack until November, though Trump now seems to be backing off somewhat, claiming in a recent interview that audiences were tiring of the topic.  

To the extent that Trump did attack Clinton last week, he was almost immediately derailed by counterattacks on his campaign for putting out that lazy tweet which appeared to have anti-Semitic overtones. Evidently a Trump staffer found a graphic juxtaposing Hillary, stacks of money, and a Star of David on a white supremacist website, and forwarded it up through Trump’s organization (such as it is) where it was innocently put to use, without anti-Semitic intent. Still, this drew predictable demagogic attacks from Democrats, including Clinton, and helped divert attention from her blatant criminality and corruption. Trump worsened the messaging with his baffling praise of Saddam Hussein’s counter-terror credentials. 

The tweet -- once the origins of the graphic became clear -- could be clearly interpreted as anti-Semitic, and subject to reasonable criticism. Trump’s campaign realized this and took the image down, explaining that they interpreted the image as a sheriff’s star.  

But Trump, as is his wont, refused to back down, and in this showed both good and bad aspects of his character and that of his campaign. He took issue with his own campaign’s decision to delete the image, then further confused the issue -- and was made to look rather silly -- by comparing the six-sided star not just with a sheriff’s badge, but with its use in the animated kids’ film Frozen. This provided the mainstream media much joy and opportunity for mockery. But then a strange thing happened -- the issue mostly died.

It’s ludicrous to believe that Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, considering that his obviously beloved daughter married an observant Jew, converted, and that Trump’s grandkids are Jews. And Trump, however awkwardly, simply refused to give an inch on the issue. No apology for alleged insensitivity, no mea culpa for perhaps harboring hidden prejudices, no promises to atone for a sin he did not really commit. These are all things which Republicans usually do when faced with a liberal PC attack with the result of feeding a “controversy” rather than putting it to rest. And this week Trump is polling much better despite the supposed controversy.

Conservative critics of Trump, like French, would have us believe that Trump’s verbal insensitivity only aids the left’s PC agenda. His brief against Trump includes not only the tweet with the Jewish star, but Trump’s comments on women, illegal Mexican immigrants and his bashing of a Mexican-American jurist who is presiding over a lawsuit against one of Trump’s businesses.  

But these are largely straw man arguments. Trump’s insulting comment about Carly Fiorina was not politically incorrect. It was ungentlemanly and rude, and would have been so regarded well before PC existed. The Star of David insult to Jews is simply a false accusation caused by arguable stupidity within the Trump campaign, but little else. Trump’s comments about the Mexican-American judge were also not an example of political incorrectness, but Trump’s tendency to personalize everything. If Trump had sound reason to believe the judge has it in for him, he would have had his lawyers file a motion for recusal, but Trump never did this, still hasn’t, and won’t. His comment reflected not racial insensitivity so much as Trump’s highly litigious nature and persecution complex.

Trump’s comments about some Mexican illegals being criminal were politically incorrect and insensitive. But they were also demonstrably true -- he never said all or even most such people were criminal. Not backing down on this took some political strength, endeared Trump to many followers, and undermines political correctness in general. After all, PC is about hiding uncomfortable truths behind feigned politeness. Trump didn’t.

In all these examples Trump reveals himself as an often unpleasant, thoughtless, and even childish man. Only the comment about illegal Mexicans is technically politically incorrect, as opposed to being just stupid or rude, but Trump deserves credit for not caring one way or the other, at least as far as the PC police are concerned. Political correctness in all its forms sacrifices truth and evidence for “acceptable” political dogma, which makes it the antithesis of liberty and democracy. Now it extends far beyond “politics” to all manner of personal interaction and reaction which Trump simply ignores. He appears not to be a very nice man, but he is an antidote to PC and that’s why many like him.  

French argues that Trump’s unapologetic crudity actually hurts the effort to undermine leftist PC, and that the proper way to go about it is through reasoned argumentation that reinforces objective as opposed to leftist truth. That sounds great, but it’s been tried and doesn’t work. The conservative movement has attempted for two generations to arrest the growth of political correctness with no success. Indeed, on all measures it has worsened to the point where terms like “micro-aggression” are part of everyday usage, and thought police now dominate campuses and workspaces.

Traditional conservatism has failed to defeat political correctness. Trump is thick with faults, but his refusal to give an inch on this issue is not one of them.