“Donald Trump is not a true conservative.”
If you live in Iowa and own a television, that message is about to crawl out from your screen and hammer itself into your skull. Our Principles PAC has taken out a seven-figure ad buy in the Hawkeye State to highlight the billionaire’s history of heresies against the conservative cause — from his past support for abortion rights to his praise of Hillary Clinton.
But if the Republican base demanded total adherence to conservative dogma, Trump would never have come this close to Making America a Laughingstock Again. While his rivals have focused on Trump’s decades-old blasphemies against Saint Reagan, the Donald’s 2016 campaign has been chock-full of such heresies. In fact, the best thing about the narcissistic reality star’s presidential bid has been his singular willingness to say very true things that no Republican is ever supposed to say.
Trump displayed this unique gift just this Monday, when he told CNN that right-wing radio host Glenn Beck is a “weird dude” who is “always crying.”
That may sound harsh, but it’s not untrue. It’s just that most Republican politicians prefer not to publicly dwell on the fact that one of America’s leading conservative commentators is a delusional paranoiac with seasonal affective disorder. Trump’s statement doesn’t sound harsh because it’s false but because it’s inappropriately true. It is harsh because it is a truth bomb.
Trump has dropped many such payloads through the first seven months of his campaign. (Of course, he has also told many, many dangerous lies.) And so, to make life a little easier for the attack dogs of the GOP Establishment, we’ve assembled the Collected Truth Bombs of Donald J. Trump. Climb into your bunker and hear them roar!
George W. Bush did not keep us safe.
On a list of the greatest presidential achievements of all time, “allowed only one successful mass-casualty terrorist attack” probably doesn’t rank in the top 10,000. Which is why Republicans have always slipped into selective amnesia when discussing the national-security record of their last president.
Jeb Bush fell into such forgetting at the second GOP presidential debate, when he responded to Trump’s harsh critique of his brother’s presidency by saying, “As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe.” The audience at the Reagan Library exploded into applause. Trump opened his mouth and then shut it — apparently deciding that there would be too much collateral damage if he dropped the truth bomb right now, right here.
Instead he deployed the verity missile one month later on Fox News.
“I’m not blaming George Bush, but I don’t want Jeb Bush to say ‘My brother kept us safe,’ because Sept. 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country,” Trump told the right-wing network.
Afterward, when Jeb Bush — presumably covered in black soot like a post-explosion Looney Tunes character — whined to Trump over Twitter, “the Donald” went atomic.
The world would be safer if Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi were still in power.
Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi were brutal dictators. But the world would probably be a safer place if they were both still brutally dictating.
In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people died in the wake of the American invasion. For its part, the United States lost thousands of soldiers and trillions of dollars. And the result was a decimated economy and civil society, an Iraqi government aligned with Iran, and a fascist death cult carrying out a theocratic fever dream along the country’s Syrian border.
In Libya, 400,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of pervasive violence. The nation’s biggest cities routinely go without power for up to 18 hours a day, while oil output — and, consequently, the nation’s economic well-being — has fallen drastically from where it was during Gadhafi’s reign.
But the idea that overthrowing morally odious leaders does not always make the world a better place is irreconcilable with the Manichean fairy tale that is Republican foreign policy. So no one clapped when Trump summarized the failures of those interventions at November’s GOP debate:
“Look at Libya. Look at Iraq. Look at the mess we have after spending $2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over the place — who I love, okay?”
If we topple Bashar al-Assad, he could be replaced by something worse.
Admitting the failures of past interventions is uncouth. But suggesting that such failures should be considered when contemplating new overseas adventures is outright blasphemy. Back in November, Trump pressed that big red button:
“I don’t like Assad. Who’s going to like Assad? But, we have no idea who these people, and what they’re going to be, and what they’re going to represent. They may be far worse than Assad.”
NAFTA hurt blue-collar workers.
When the United States lowered its trade barriers in the mid-’90s, much of the GOP’s donor class benefited, while a portion of the party’s voting base was hurt. But to acknowledge this would be to acknowledge that there are instances in which the economic interests of the “job creators” and those of low-income white workers diverge — a notion distressingly evocative of the “class warfare” that the Republican Party exists to oppose. And so even though economic research has established that NAFTA drove down the wages of blue-collar workers in the industries affected, Republican presidential candidates rarely criticize the agreement. But back in September, Trump pulled the pin off a truth grenade and told 60 Minutes that the deal was “a disaster.”
Hedge-fund managers can afford to pay more taxes.
Hedge-fund managers often make a lot of money. But because the government taxes income from investments at a lower rate than income from labor, many pay a smaller percentage of their yearly earnings to Uncle Sam than middle-class workers do. That isn’t a very popular policy with middle-class workers, who know that hedge-fund managers can afford to pay more taxes. But there is nothing that the Republican Party likes more than cutting taxes on the rich. And since hedge-fund managers are rich, Republican candidates generally aren’t keen on saying that we should raise taxes on them. But Trump not only said we should, but he also told CBS News that it’s borderline criminal that we aren’t already doing so.
“The hedge-fund guys are getting away with murder,” he told the network. “They’re making a tremendous amount of money. They have to pay taxes.”
Bill Kristol is terrible at predicting things.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is eerily bad at predicting things. He’s so bad at predicting things, if he ever tells you that you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, you should immediately call your family and say that you love them. But Bill Kristol is the son of Irving Kristol, one of the intellectual forefathers of the modern GOP, so few non-Trump Republicans ever mention what an extraordinarily bad political pundit he truly is.
Donors give money to buy influence.
Common intuition and political science suggest that big-money donors buy influence with their political contributions. But most Republican candidates depend on big-money donors for their very livelihoods, so they tend to characterize political giving as an exercise of free speech rather than sheer will to power. Trump, on the other hand, is his own power-seeking rich person. So he set off this improvised honesty device at the first GOP debate:
“Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. And that’s a broken system.”
George W. Bush sold out seniors to drug companies.
One way this “broken system” hurts Americans is by driving up the cost of their pharmaceuticals. Thanks to the political influence of Big Pharma, the federal government has banned Medicare from negotiating directly with drug companies for lower prices. Republicans are loath to admit that their last president sold out seniors for the Martin Shrkeli set. But on Monday, Trump damned this truth torpedo, per Politico:
The Associated Press quotes Trump as telling a crowd in Farmington, N.H., that Medicare, a huge buyer of prescription drugs, could “save $300 billion” a year if it negotiated discounts.
“We don’t do it,” he said. “Why? Because of the drug companies.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board does not know what it’s talking about.
The editors of The Wall Street Journal are the high priests of conservative economic thinking. Which is to say they’re modern-day alchemists who have no idea what they’re talking about. For nine years, the Journal’s editorial board has wrongly predicted runaway inflation and the debasement of the dollar.
But since the paper performs the valuable service of assuring country-club Republicans that avarice is a virtue, no GOP politician will admit that the editors have no clothes.
Except, of course, for Trump, who carpet-bombed Business Insider with candor late last year:
“I’m suggesting that The Wall Street Journal editorial board doesn’t know what they’re talking about, that they’re third-rate,” Trump told the site. “They write so many bad editorials. Whoever the editorial-board top person is — and I think I actually know who the top person is — they ought to resign because they’re incompetent.”
If the government stops subsidizing poor people’s health care, poor people will be dying in the streets.
If the government doesn’t subsidize the health care of very poor people, those people are more likely to suffer from preventable health problems. When poor people’s preventable health problems become severe, they go to hospitals, where they rack up bills they can’t afford to pay. That leads hospitals to increase charges to those who can pay, like the government. Thus, in many cases, it costs more over the long term to withhold health-care subsidies than to provide them. The only way for the government to completely wash its hands of sick poor people would be to deny the indigent access to hospitals and allow them to die in the streets. But Republicans rarely acknowledge this reality, because most of their budget plans require cuts to health-care spending for the poor.
So when Trump said the following to Iowa radio host Simon Conway back in October, the radio station exploded in a hot white flash of truth.
“I don’t want to see people dying in the streets, Simon, and neither do you … and neither do great Republicans. I mean, the Republicans don’t want people dying in the street. There are gonna be some people that aren’t gonna be able to have — they don’t have any money!”