By all that is reasonable in the world of campaign politics, thoughtful people ought to be wrangling over Donald Trump’s economic plan, announced Monday in Detroit.
It does, after all, present the possibility of an ambitious return to supply-side policies; encouraging private businesses both large and small with lowered taxes and a regulatory freeze.
This could have been an important pivot, considering the long-suffering economy is not only a top concern but also an area where voters trust Trump more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Alas, the key word here, however, is “reasonable.”
This election left “reasonable” for roadkill long ago. So long, in fact, a team of skilled paleontologists couldn’t find its desiccated corpse.
No, instead, we’re freaking out over what might (or might not) have been a stream-of-consciousness suggestion for gun-rights advocates to take out Clinton if she’s ever in a position to appoint Supreme Court justices hostile to the Second Amendment.
I’ve listened to the clip more than a dozen times, now. I kind of, sort of, get what his dedicated army of spinmeisters is trying to peddle: Bowing backs like never before, Second Amendment advocates would flex their political muscle against any egregious nominee.
Like I say, I get it. In an absolute vacuum — or if we were in a customary campaign universe — what they’d like us to believe wouldn’t be considered that outrageous.
But the campaign we find ourselves in is neither a vacuum nor customary.
Instead, Trump the campaigner (much like Trump the businessman/celebrity) churns up mayhem.
Granted, even if Trump supporters represent nowhere near a majority within the party he opportunistically commandeered, there is a substantial, noisy part of the electorate that finds his disruptive nature attractive, welcome and overdue.
Well, fine. He created the battlefield; he now must fight on it.
After campaigning as a brawler most of the past year — saying he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters; encouraging fans at rallies to slug demonstrators; vowing to pay the legal bills of his impromptu enforcers; declaring he wanted to “hit” his detractors speaking at the Democratic National Convention — Trump doesn’t get, nor deserve, the benefit of doubt.
When Donald Trump says “Second Amendment people” might be able to prevent a President Clinton from nominating anti-gunners to the high bench, even supporters must concede he’s implying the threat of ballistic violence.
Yes, even supporters.
Who hasn’t seen the video of the bearded Trump fan in the background, pulling a face of surprise and shock when the Donald mentions his “by-the-way” scenario? Even if you have, it’s worth one more look.
The moment begins at the 0:54 mark of the linked YouTube video here.
The man and his companion laugh afterward — oh, that Donald; what a prankster! — but at the moment, it was obvious. Trump — whose way forward is hitting, pounding and giving trouble (so much trouble) — was all but recommending a hit.
It took less than that for Henry II’s loyal Knights to take out Thomas Becket.
And it doesn’t matter what his surrogates said. Actually, much of what they said only made it worse. “Trump isn’t a professional politician, so his rhetoric isn’t precise … He comes from the business world, where blunt talk rules.”
This was embarrassing. There’s a difference between bluntness in a board room, where you’re negotiating contracts with union chiefs or zoning disputes with city staff, and firing off loose talk in front of a global audience.
Donald Trump has been in the public eye for going on 40 years, and he’s been running for president for 14 months. He still hasn’t acquired a clutch to regulate between what hatches in his brain and emerges from his mouth. Terrible.
Today, yes, we ought to be kicking around Trump’s pro-growth economic plan, about which the Wall Street Journal editorial page finds much to like.
Or, if we are Republicans looking for a fresh skirmish to sully Hillary Clinton’s sterling post-convention rise, we ought to be asking about Seddique Mir Mateen, the father of the Orlando nightclub butcher with ties to the Taliban. What does it say that he wound up with a prime behind-the-candidate spot in Herself’s Kissimmee appearance?
Please, tell us more about your refugee vetting plan, Sec’y. Clinton.
Or perhaps Republicans could be pressing for answers on fresh evidence that, while running Foggy Bottom, Hillary played vending machine to some supremely bad actors who contributed to the Clinton Foundation.
Instead, all the oxygen is consumed by the fire of Donald Trump’s own creation. His pants are a conflagration, all the way up to his collar.
And rightly so.
Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.