Trump ‘s Enemies on Right and Left–A Plague on Both their Houses

The Trumpster is in trouble again. In this week’s tempest in a teapot, he is:  A) Derided for apparently  backing off on the promise to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem—Mark Levin is livid, and I can’t imagine why!  B)  Accused of sharing information with the Russians on how to fight ISIS—the news room of the Washington Post is said to have cheered the report.  C) Deserted by the professionally  dumb blond of the conservative press, Ann Coulter.

In reverse order:  If you have ever cared about what Ms Coulter—a perpetual adolescent who will not act or dress her age, or even get an age-appropriate haircut, then you have my condolences.  Think of her as the GOP’s answer to Lady Gaga or as Kim Kardashian with a law degree, and your delusion will pass.  All that matters to Ann is getting her name in the news, and neither facts nor decency has ever got in her way.  I hope this is the last time I see her name on this website.

As for Trump sharing information on terrorists with the Russians, this is not only defensible but right and proper.  The Russians have tried to help us in the past—and we ignored them to our cost.  Yes, there are frictions, some of then caused by Putin’s overweening ambition and part of it stemming from the dishonesty and bad manners of the Obama and Trump administrations.  But any member of Congress who seeks to make hay out of this alleged indiscretion is morally a traitor to his country, especially since there is no evidence to persuade us that the charges have any validity.  As much as I despise the Republicans, the party of Maxine Waters and Chuck Schumer needs to be forced into exile.

And, when the Washington Post's staffers cheer a partisan news story, they give up the lest shred of decency, which was the leftist news media's pretense of objectivity.  It was always a lie, of course, but some hypocrisy is necessary in public life.  What the American media apparently cannot understand is either the fact that they are despised by half the population of the United States or why.

Finally, the Jerusalem kerfuffle.  Listening for a few moments of Levin, I thought I had slipped into Glen Beck’s parallel universe.  For “the great one,” Donald is not only betraying the most important campaign promise; he is committing a grave injustice.  Using the language of the ultra-Zionists that I have heard ridiculed in Israel by senior policy experts, he insisted on referring to Samaria and Galilee and claimed they were the perpetual possession of Israel in the ancient world.  In fact, Solomon gave up Galilee, which was only recovered at the end of the Second Century B.C.  Thirty years ago, I was opposing such moves, but after decades of Islamic terrorism, I do not see any practical policy but to support Battleship Israel, Europe’s last great colony. This is a difficult situation, and Trump is right to walk delicately.  Netanyahu is looking for a big victory, but it may be premature.   Whatever he does, he should nothing precipitously.

Let me say it again:  Like many people, I voted for Donald Trump, knowing that he is more or less a buffoon.  By this I did not mean to suggest he is stupid:  Far from it, he is probably intellectually the sharpest man in the White House in many decades, maybe since Herbert “Wonder Boy” Hoover, and I have no doubt he will be a better President than Hoover.

No, he is not stupid, but he behaves like an irrational spoiled adolescent—and gets away with it.  I don’t know him personally, thank goodness, and I don’t have to watch him on TV or listen to him on the radio, and I don’t.  His courage makes Trump the President America needs; his bad manners, lack of dignity, and childish lack of self-control make him the President this country deserves.

I voted for Trump for two reasons.  The second reason is that he promised he would implement policies that any sane American should applaud:  Halt or at least dramatically slow down the invasion of illegal immigrants from South America, crack down on terrorism, dismantle trade and tax policies that are costing the United States  hundreds of thousands of decent jobs.  The first reason, however, is that he is not only not Hillary Clinton but that he is nothing like her and her Republican clones,  John McCain, Lindsay Lightfooted Graham, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz…..

I figured from the beginning, a Trump administration would be a great success if it delivered half of what it promised on half the major issues.  We knew perfectly well that any other candidate—especially any candidate favored by the so-called religious so-called right—would act out the biblical story of Rehoboam :  “Bush and Obama scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

But even if Trump does not deliver 10% of one promise, I still support him.  In the 1970’s many political mavericks tried to put “None of the Above” on ballots. For the most part they failed.  But in 2016, Americans were given the chance to reject the entire political class. That is what dummies like Ann Coulter and the editors of the Washington Post do not understand.  A plague on both their houses!

Avatar photo

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

39 Responses

  1. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    As the President is the highest classification authority, he can reveal classified information to whomever he desires. The actual charge, I believe, is that he revealed classified information that had been provided by a foreign intelligence agency and in a manner that may compromise the ability to gather needed intelligence in the future.

    The real and ignored issue is that once again the deep government is leaking information to the media. What is needed is to find out who is leaking and make an example of them.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Yes, it is a charge that so far has as much substance as one I might make. For politicos and pundits to stir up trouble over this is far more reckless than the wildest allegations against Trump.

  3. Dan Bartolo says:

    Wait.. Where do you get that Ann Coulter deserted Trump. She makes th same arguments you made in this article and defends him every day with the same tone you use. Should she get a butch haircut and dresss like Rachel Madow?

  4. Vince Cornell says:

    Honestly, I’m a little confused about all the leaks from White House Aides. Is there a reason Trump can’t just fire 100% of them and hire all new people. The only thing that really bothers me is all the leaks, because that’s the type of problem I expected someone like Trump to be able to handle. Maybe he can fire all the cleaning staff and bring over some hands from one of his nearby hotels? I’d be willing to bet they’d be more trustworthy than anyone who was already part of the DC system.

  5. Dot says:

    I don’t believe half of that about leaks. It is a distraction such that the focus is not on what Pres. Trump is doing but on saying and writing anything that will change people’s opinion to either get him out of office or not run a second term. It is a tyranny of the enemy.

    We import a lot of oil. Most of it comes from Canada. The next largest importer is Saudi Arabia. It is interesting to look this up from the eia U.S. Energy Information Administration on petroleum & other liquids.

    I did not get the above writing and I am a charter member.

  6. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Now Comey has charged Trump with obstruction of justice claiming that Trump asked him to drop the investigation of Mike Flynn. This is starting to sound like a bad novel. This accusation does not pass the smell test. If Comey thought what Trump said or asked was obstruction of justice he should have immediately raised the alarm. As ridiculous as this charge is, it is throwing gas on the liberal fire. We are in for a long four years.

  7. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    First, Coulter publicly expressed doubts about his ability and performance. As a political shill, she knew she was giving ammunition to “the enemy,” that would blow her remarks out of proportion. If she actually believed what she had been saying during the campaign, she is a political idiot who should turn in her license to prevaricate (I mean her press card). My simple point is that Ann Coulter is no more of a grownup than Donald, that she lives for celebrity, and that her fans are as ridiculous as she is and a great deal more gullible. Like Levin and the other conservative Fredo Corleones, she is only in this for herself. Interestingly Rush Limbaugh, while always willing to criticize Trump, has done so in a mature way always giving the benefit of the doubt.

  8. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Comey proved himself a self-seeking twister of evidence during the campaign, a true careerist who is counting on Trump’s reckless pursuit of self-destruction. What he cannot understand is that Hillary and her friends would not forgive him, whatever he does to bring this administration down. I wouldn’t believe Comey if he said the sun was shining and I was standing outside getting burned.

  9. James D. says:

    Dr. Fleming,

    With mad dogs attacking him from all sides and disloyal plants among his own people, how does Trump get any room to move? Before he was removed from office, Spiro Agnew was used to go on the attack and take some of the heat off of Nixon. Pence is a complete zero and likely an establishment plant. I don’t think he could be used in the same way. I’m not sure what Trump can do.

  10. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I don’t know either, but two facts stand out: The first and most obvious is that this was entirely predictable, both the Democrats’ attacks and the Republican’s complicity. When this is added to Trump’s temperament and his adamant refusal to play the game by its rules, we are in a situation somewhere near revolution: In fact, some Leftists are calling for open disobedience and acts of violence against all the people and groups assumed to support Trump. Perhaps the pace has been more rapid, but the basic scenario was written before the election. By the way, Spiro Agnew was for the most part a chump. I do not know this for a fact, but Nixon’s best reason for selecting him would have been his well-known crookedness in Maryland. As one friend of ours in Maryland (a judge) told us, Maryland governors are all crooks, but he had hoped that Spiro would have taken the VP job seriously enough to quit his thieving ways. Nixon himself seems to have disliked Spiro and forced the Greek–who was ordinarily very articulate and correct in his rhetoric–to deliver those ridiculous alliterative phrases for which he became infamous. In the end, it would seem, Nixon outsmarted himself.

    The second fact is that roughly 50% of the American people and nearly 70% of the blue-collar whites think the country no longer belongs to them. Trump as fascist demagogue may suit them to a T. I have been saying from the beginning that the politician Trump most resembles is Il Duce, who wanted to make the Roman Empire great again. He too was a brilliant buffoon and, alas, in the end a fool who destroyed his country for over a generation.

    I should add to what I wrote above that if I have offended any admirer of Ms Coulter, I am happy to have been the one to put in the “wakeup call.”

  11. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    What is amazing and discouraging to me is that so many media types and politicians still believe that Comey is a man of integrity. Apparently, even a majority of FBI employees do too.

  12. Robert Reavis says:

    James D,
    I am not sure he will make it to the end of his term. Buchanan says this is the worst he has ever witnessed in D.C., ( and he should know) worse than the Nixon and Reagan attacks and much more organized. I will be surprised if he finishes his term. He needs experienced men around him who know how to ride, shoot and speak the truth but those types are damned few and far between. I don’t give him much hope unless he starts another war or begins to appease some of the powerful detractors he has either ignored or aggravated. It’s also hard to know if some of this is suppressive fire to create some time for maneuver before the tax bill, or to also get in the necessary facetime with McConnells before the huge infrastructure bill. Trump is not an idiot as to the ways of the world but he is acting like one in the political realm. Very strange times.

  13. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Trump is a prisoner of his own best and worst qualities. He “knows” that he is always right, because in the long run his cocksure approach to problem-solving, deal-making, and empire-building has worked. He needs competent staffers at all levels, just as he needs to get rid of the campaign staffers that helped him into the White House. On the other hand, people who know the score won’t work with him, first because he does not take correction, and second, because if they know the score they are probably part of the problem. Even if he sees out his term, there is little good he can do. Blaming the Democrats for being what they are, however, would be pointless, whereas it would be useful for any sane non-Democrat to repudiate McConnell, Ryan, and all the other GOP leaders and pundits.

  14. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Oh, I must be wrong. Putin has offered to turn over all of Lavrov’s notes of the meeting with Trump, but Marco Rubio–the pillar of selfless integrity and party loyalty–says it makes no difference. I can hear the sleepteaching machines grinding away at the RNC dormitories: “I’m happy I’m a Republican. Democrats are self-seeking crooks and liars, but I’m lucky to be an stalwart Republican, honest, loyal, and true.”

  15. James D. says:

    Sabotage might be his only resort. Start destroying as much as he can behind the scenes before the deep state forces him out. Suspend habeas corpus and throw the antifa protestors and the entire faculty of Berkeley in prison. Have George Soros declared an “enemy combatant.” Freeze his assets and have him taken to a black site in Syria. Be creative.

  16. Christian Crampton says:

    If there is any possibility that Trump either resigns or is taken down another way, wouldn’t Pence be the new President? How bad could that be?

  17. Vince Cornell says:

    Sleepteaching machines! I actually just started listening to “A Brave New World” as read by Michael York yesterday!

    We’re looking at open rebellion as it manifests itself in the modern world. The “establishment” including the media, academia, and all other such fools have decided that they reject the president fairly elected by the people within the established system, so they’re going to overthrow him. Period. For their cause, absolutely nothing is off limits including lying, cheating, stealing, and I’m sure if the opportunity presented itself murdering, raping, and pillaging. They will gladly welcome legions of MS-13 gang bangers if they thought it would help them overthrow the Trump. I’ve a vague notion that if you asked the average San Francisco hipster if he’d sacrifice his first born child to an ISIS warlord in order to destroy Trump, he’d do it with a smile.

    I’ve never been a fan of the man, but I’m praying for Trump every day. For whatever amount of time he’s going to be allotted, may some good be done. After him, I’m afraid the window is closed for quite some time. Barring some sort of monumental catastrophe that finally breaks the stranglehold of the State upon the people.

    Back when he named Mike Pence as his VP I told friends that was his first and probably most fatal mistake. It more or less guaranteed the Republicans would impeach him in order to get “their man” promoted to his spot. It looks like Dr. Wilson was a prophet, once again. Was it 3 years ago he pointed to Pence’s capitulation to the LGBT lobby as the indicator that this man was the perfect GOP Presidential Candidate?

  18. Christian Crampton says:

    I’m praying for Trump every day also–and hope many others will pray also. God allowed him to be elected.

  19. Frank Brownlow says:

    Pres. Trump is a businessman. Believe it or not, in the world of business there’s a remarkably high standard of behavior, for the simple reason that if you misbehave no-one will do business with you. I know because I grew up in families doing business. Pres. Trump has no conception, I suspect, of the moral corruption of the political & academic worlds which, after all, are always trumpeting their high-mindedness to the rest of us. How could he have trusted a shifty creep like Comey? Answer: because in the real business world that he knows no-one rises as high as Comey unless he’s trustworthy. But where the politicians rule, all things are possible. Look at Mad Bomber McCain: everyone seems to have forgotten the Keating Five, of whom he was, according to some, the worst. Back in 2008 Camille Paglia called him a weird old coot, and that was a remarkably nice way of putting it at the time. Right now, I think we’re really up against it, & under these circumstances I’m not going to criticize people on my side because they don’t wear my kind of ties, drink my kind of wine, or read my kind of books. I’m going to be grateful for friends & allies wherever I find them.

  20. Frank Brownlow says:

    James D. — Oh my, if only….

  21. Jorge Fallas says:

    Regarding the criticisms of Miss Coulter: I think it is a little unfair, since she has been one of the most staunch defenders of Mr Trump, bunt not just a blind follower. She recognizes his temperament and pesonality is not very attractive. But his policies are woth defending.

    What Coulter has done is point to the disappointment of having control of the Legislative and Executive, and still not being able to pass a budget that can advance the policies he ran his campaing on.

    And Coulter is far from being just a snake oil salesman. She was one of the few persons who stood by Joseph Sobran, writing a very touching column on the ocassion of his death. She has been a staunch defender of Joseph McCarthy, sneering and laughing at the idiots who thought he was a danger for democracy. He has chronicled the appalling record of treason and coddling up to the worst dicattors of the Left. And she gave Trump the main issue in the campaing: the control of illegal immigration.

    She has been fearless, holding herself in front of very hostile audiences. You’ve got to admire that.

    The truth is, paleoconseratism is an idea worth to preserve. But it cannot do so without a little fireworks. You might think it noble to retreat and live a quiet life. And I know people have treated you unfairly. But to think you are a mere “salesman” because your books sell well (as Coulter’s does) just points to the fact that her message has resonance in the public. And many otehrs could be.

    Finally, regarding the accusations on Trump: the banality and sheer cravenness of the Democrats might lead to another bad outcome. Just like their critique of Guantanamo and enhanced interrogations of AL Qaeda suspects led to the (worst) policy of drone strikes that kills more innocent civilians, the liberal mcaarthysm of Russia bashing is leading peerilously to a confrontation, or misunderstanding, between the US and Russia that is alarming.

  22. Dominick says:

    Deep State, Intel Community, Partymen: they are still human. For the last couple of years Trump has repeatedly drawn hypocrisy out into the light and let nature take its course. I wonder if it is less his genius as much as the fact that he is content and guiltless about who and what he is and so lacks the politician’s intellectual and emotional contradictions. When comparison is forced – in Trump’s case by his opponents’ efforts to discredit him – the usual political-media-celebrity personality exposes its own incoherence and self-destructs.
    I notice headlines referring to the ‘return’ of the Never Trumpers, as if they were ever gone. They are what they never stopped being and this is the beginning of their light exposure.

  23. Dominick says:

    hopefully this is the beginning of their light exposure

  24. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Excellent point, Prof Brownlow. If Donald were in a play by Shakespeare, which character(s) would he be? Mutatis mutandis, I am thinking part Coriolanus–he cannot stoop to fawn–and part Othello–can be duped by creepy inferiors.

  25. Dan Phillips says:

    While I’m not happy with the bombing of Syria or some new Arab NATO, it is possible to express disagreement without being part of the pile on. Trump’s enemies are the real enemies, and their coup attempt must be resisted.

  26. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Trump’s enemies never actually attack his message, only him personally. We need rational discussion on how to reduce immigration and why it is necessary to do so, why climate models are wrong and useless for predicting climate change, the benefits of tax and spending reductions and how to do it, how to separate health insurance from health care (in the sense that covering pre-existing conditions is not insurance, but another entitlement), and a range of other issues. Will enough people recognize that the political establishment of both parties is interested only in protecting themselves?

  27. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I agree with Dan-Red entirely. It is a sad day when I have to praise Rush Limbaugh for being exceptional and statesmanlike, but that is what we have come to.

  28. Bagby says:

    Is it just me, or is the room spinning faster?

  29. Ken Rosenberger says:

    Trump still has all the right enemies (Democratic and Republican), and that may be the best reason to support him. Maybe the only one. Sadly, he is the best we’re liable to get, but on the upside I’m cured (for the third time in my life) of believing the good guys can ever win much through politics. Better tend our own gardens (in my case figurative gardens), beware of hipster-manque dads peddling something called the Benedict Option (the poor saint must be spinning in his celestial sphere), and do your Summer Symposium reading. Or as the great man Bill Fields once said, “three things my father told me, you can’t cheat an honest man, never give a sucker an even break, nor smarten up a chump.”

  30. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Fields is, in my not so humble opinion, the greatest American comedic personality. I can watch any of his films over and over. His radio broadcasts with Edgar Bergen and Don Ameche verge on the surreal. “Clang clang clang,” went the bell. “Bill, that was last week.” “Clang clang clang…” He is still the best argument for alcohol poisoning I know of.

  31. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Maybe I do not understand the Benedict Option, but it appears to me that it essentially says “tend your own garden” in a self-selected community of family and friends. I once belonged to an Orthodox church where many families were trying to locate in the neighborhood surrounding the church. It sounded like a worthy effort.

  32. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    There are several problems with the so-called “Benedict” option. Starting with perhaps the least serious objection, St. Benedict established a monastic rule for monks, not very everyone. He was laying down a system for committed celibates and not a life-style “option” for everyman and everywoman. Second, it is probably a mistake to use language like “option” to refer to serious questions of how we should live. Finally, the author is a very silly and unstable person who changes religions more frequently than I have changed my style of hat. Whenever we get involved in of these self-cults, we are ensnared in the silliness of the age. If we are not eating the paleo diet or choosing the Benedict option, we are seeking salvation through dancing or good health through jazzercize. Anything that can be marketed through a phrase that fits the size of a bumper sticker is almost always a childish scam. Even truths become scams when reduced to “Choose life” or even “Jesus Saves”.

  33. Ken Rosenberger says:

    The author Dr Fleming cites above has also taken to referring to his pet idea in the annoying shorthand “Ben-Op.” Oh, look how cool: it’s so well known among my worshipful minions, I don’t need to say the whole thing. It reminds me of, I don’t know, J-Lo. Also, whenever someone critiques his philosophy, such as it is, he responds in his blog that so and so doesn’t understand what the “Ben-Op” is. It reminds me of the deconstructionists I would run across in the 90s. If you took some issue with what they were up to, you didn’t understand what it was (and any normal person who ever tried to read a single article by Derrida, would quickly discover that they didn’t care to find out). Perhaps in the author’s old age he will join with the old Marxists and say things like “how can you say the Benedict Option was a failure when a true Ben-Op was never tried.

  34. Robert Reavis says:

    I don’t know Rod Dreyer and have never been interested enough to seek him out. I don’t like popularization in general whether it is lesser men like Trump popularizing Buchanan themes, or some young intellectual making money off what determined lovers, like Clyde Wilson did for free when it was much harder to do under a helluva lot more duress. Our in house poet, Mr. Navrozov, commented some time back about Russian authors and poets who did the heavier lifting years before Solzenitzen and others brought their hard earned gold to the surface. One of the problems with popularization is that while the crowd grows broader it also grows thinner. Buchanan for instance would have picked a replacement for Comey, would have called Comey to say we are going in a different direction and then held a conference similar to the one held when Gates replaced Rumsfeld. There are ways to do things and when done well, may at time rise to levels of art like statesmanship, or in even rarer cases, sanctity. I admire Trump’s savvy and the platform he ran on but not his incompetence in dealing with real enemies and his inability to give anyone else credit for the good why always whining about the viciousness of his detractors. For me Dreyer is a little bit of a footnote to two much deeper traditions: the contemplative life which is real and utopian experiments which are stupid. But in his defense, I did watch him one evening on CSPAN peddling his book in D.C. and he was not as chumpy as I had suspected. Naive? Yes. A bit shallow ? Yes, but not arrogant and insincere.
    You wrote, “beware of hipster-manque dads peddling something called the Benedict Option.” I would agree with that in so far as it goes but then add, ” and knock off the smarmy disparagement and ignorant intellectual pretensions of picking on old aristocratic saints like Boethius and Benedict.”

  35. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    If I read friend Robert’s conclusion rightly, he is enjoining all of us not to coopt saints and philosophers to serve some trifling movement we are launching or joining, Amen to that. Poor Marx in old age used to say he did not know what he was, but it was certainly not a Marxist. Far far greater and nobler men would have more reason to complain, starting with St Augustine and St. Thomas–and what about the many people who like to refer to this or that strand of Christianity, whether they like it or not, as “Pauline.” I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t claim, facetiously of course, to belong to the party of Apollos. After all we don’t really know what he taught, so we’d have cover for all manner of humbuggery.

    “Oh well,” as the young lady used to say on a once-famous TV show, “life’s not all bad. If I can’t stand the Church I go to or find the preacher too censorious, I can always find a new faith in some pyramid scheme for selling cosmetics or vitamins.”

  36. Ken Rosenberger says:

    I really love the “conversations” possible on this website, and to Dr Fleming and Judge Reavis I can only say “Amen.”

  37. Robert Reavis says:

    Dr. Fleming,
    I like the Boethius club and am a founding member. A good name for the times too because the consolation of philosophy and not just the book is about all we have left . I would join any club you founded regardless of the name, Sinners for Civility, The Billy Goat Boat People, Latin for Lovers or The Remnant with Raft! Our detractors would call that sycophantic on my part and they would be half right because admiration or honest friendships are an unfamiliar reality for them.

  38. James D. says:

    “If you took some issue with what they were up to, you didn’t understand what it was…”

    This reminds me of the devotees of the game of soccer. If you say you don’t care for soccer and that you find it boring, they rabidly insist that you just don’t understand it and you aren’t intelligent enough to appreciate the nuance. Nope. I get it. Its just boring.

  39. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    To Mr. Fallas, I offer my sincere sympathy tinged with more than a little envy. Those who have been spared the misfortune of knowing a good part of the conservative movement’s leaders–scholars, journalists, powerbrokers–are in no position to understand their dishonesty and cowardice. Coulter is no coward, but, then she has nothing else to offer, only what she has gleaned from reading Buchanan, Francis, and others. Her self-promoting antics and mood swings should have long ago eliminated her from any serious discussion, but this is the new millennium. Her remarks on Trump, coming from a scholar, political analyst, political independent, or serious intellectual, could be taken in good spirit, but coming form a mercenary cheerleader, they are unacceptable.

    Let me add: This is a discussion forum for grownups, and personal insinuations are out of place. Having been one of two people who coined the term “paleoconservative,” please accept my assurance that you do not understand what we meant, but since the thing no longer exists, there is hardly any point in defending it.