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Presidential Horse Race 2016: A new way to look at Trump’s lack of foreign policy chops

With the Republican presidential nomination race already decided and the Democrat contest most likely to be resolved one way or another after next week’s final primaries, many are still torn over the apparent lack of “choices” in this year’s fall election.

Here’s what I’m hearing from folks I talk with and callers on the radio: “I’ll hold my nose and choose Trump… I can’t vote for either one of them… Hillary would do less damage to the Republican Party than Trump would…At Donald Trumpleast Hillary comes along with Bill.”

For all the lack of clarity out there, there appears to be a great deal of certainty and agreement that the candidates themselves are horrible. The doomsayers are out in force for both parties. But it seems to me the #NeverTrump people are paying too much attention to the media narrative because they’re only getting it half right.

Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review touches on the dilemma. “Anti-Trump conservatives … argue that a President Trump would do more profound and long-lasting damage to conservatism than a President Clinton would. Her liberal initiatives would elicit nearly uniform opposition from Republicans; his would split them. He would make the Republican party less conservative while simultaneously discrediting conservatism with large portions of the public, possibly for many years…

“Some conservatives who work in foreign policy have already declared a preference for Clinton. In part that is because Trump sometimes makes Buchananite noises. But even people who disagree with Pat Buchanan on foreign policy have to admit that he has given some serious attention to the topic, as has Clinton. Trump acts as though bluster is all a president needs.”

This latter group, who really could end up backing Hillary Clinton, fear Trump’s lack of a background in foreign affairs makes him less knowledgeable about the world and therefore potentially dangerous.

To these “conservatives”, foreign policy is just one huge “gotcha” question. When someone running for office can’t name the president of Djibouti, they’re deemed unfit. (For the record, the answer is Ismaïl Omar Guelleh! Yeah, I win!)

As if being intimately familiar with the ethnic strife in some obscure tiny country halfway around the world with a GDP the size of Maricopa County is going to make one more “qualified” to make decisions on America’s best interests.

But that’s beside the point. Why does being an “outsider” with plenty of worldly experience necessarily make Trump less competent than a politician who’s been “playing by the books” for years, leading to an ill-defined and ineffective foreign policy around the globe?

Our own benevolent dictator Obama said recently that Trump’s candidacy has “rattled” world leaders. Cassandra Vinograd of NBC News reports Obama told the press while in Japan, “They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements but they're rattled by him — and for good reason, because a lot of the proposals that he's made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude.”

Has Obama’s vast knowledge of world affairs and “seriousness” gotten us very far? America is the weakest it’s been in world standing since the sorry days of Jimmy Carter. Simply put, foreign leaders believe they can trample all over Obama because they understand he’s guided by a basic belief that America is just one nation among many in the world and we should treat all other peoples as equals.

Obama’s also a servant to the radical environmental Left and its crackpot theories, hence his emphasis on cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions while looking the other way when India and China build hundreds of new coal burning power plants.

If Trump’s foreign policy “rattles” foreign leaders it’s likely because they realize the “rattling” sound they hear is American gold and silver in a ship’s cargo hold on its way back to the homeland.

While the parameters of Trump’s foreign policy are still somewhat ill-defined, The Donald has said many times he will put America’s interests first when dealing with other nations. This means Europe and some Asian countries will have to pay a larger share of their own defense costs – hardly a frightening consideration to anyone except those nations that have relied on America to shield them since WWII.

It also means Trump will not sell out America’s sovereignty to the United Nations nor leave important policy decisions to the World Court in The Hague.

If there’s one area of policy I am comfortable with Trump, it’s his beliefs on America’s place in the world. His is truly an “outsider” approach that doesn’t care in the slightest about maintaining status quo relations with “frenemies” like Saudi Arabia.

And Trump’s the only one who’s spoken common sense in regards to curbing Muslim immigration from countries dominated by elements of radical Islam. If this “rattles” world leaders, then so be it. Europe has been ruined by a foreign invasion from Muslims, aided by policies that encourage more immigration.

It makes zero sense to follow Europe down the same rat hole with a program that appears humanitarian on its face yet its consequences mean the perpetual threat of terrorism and economic ruin.

Ronald Reagan was the most effective American leader in recent times at home and abroad precisely because he understood the country’s role in the world. Reagan rebuilt the military in order to avoid going to war, using force only sparingly during his two terms and talking more about strength than actually using it.

We’re not sure Trump will follow suit in the same manner, though it’s clear he’s much more willing to allow stability to govern in regions that could potentially turn into powder kegs with too much outside involvement.

All in all, that sounds pretty good to me.

I would argue the neoconservative element of the Republican Party, led by folks like Bill Kristol and Max Boot, really are more at home with Hillary and the Democrats. They should stop claiming they’re simply #NeverTrump and start admitting they’re only in it for the power.

Pollsters put to the test in determining who’s for whom and who will vote

Since it’s clear the public is still having a hard time coming to grips with Trump versus Clinton in November, voters aren’t the only ones concerned with the prospect of choosing between two nominees they don’t like.

Because the two candidates vary so widely in public opinion, pollsters aren’t sure how they’re going to approach turnout models for the fall election.

Niall Stanage of The Hill reports, “The two prospective nominees' high unfavorable ratings, and their fame, mean pollsters are facing one of their most difficult tasks in conducting polls that correctly model who will vote in November’s election.

“As many people are likely to come to the polls this fall to vote against the candidate they dislike as to vote for a candidate they support — something that makes polling difficult.”

Other factors scaring pollsters include potential Trump voters being hesitant to admit to pollsters that they support The Donald as well as determining which candidate will motivate the most people to vote against him – or her.

But probably the biggest problem for the professional forecasters is dealing with the unexpected.

It’s true polls conducted now have little predictive value of the eventual outcome. Looking back to 2012, late deciders bucked history and went heavily for Obama after the president used his office to look presidential in dealing with the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy and his infamous “hug” with Republican Chris Christie along the New Jersey shore.

There’s nothing like the promise of doling out federal grants for blighted people to warm the hearts of the uninformed. We’ve endured another four years of Obama because of a windstorm.

Needless to say, no pollster could have predicted Sandy would wreck the New York area just days before the election. But they also messed up badly on turnout predictions in 2012, which was down fairly significantly for the Democrats from 2008.

This year, I can’t help but think Trump’s performance in the primaries gives some indication that he’ll keep people motivated for the general election. Clinton certainly has her own intrinsic advantages, but Democrats will mostly be driven by voting against Trump. Trump’s voters not only really like him, they can’t stand Hillary at the same time.

I’m not a pollster but I think Trump will eventually peel off enough elements of the Democrat coalition to not only allow him to compete, but give him a reasonable chance to win.

We’ll see if the pollsters are able to tap into that feeling.

Stubborn Trump throws a wrench into the best laid plans of the RNC data crunchers

Somewhat unrelated to the pollsters’ dilemma but still in the realm of identifying voters is Donald Trump’s aversion to adopting a first-rate data operation, which is evidently throwing the RNC for a loop.

David McCabe of The Hill reports, “Donald Trump’s apparent uninterest in using data and analytics in his campaign is putting pressure on the Republican National Committee (RNC), which could be forced to fill the gaps in the general election.

“The RNC says it is ready for the challenge, having spent millions of dollars after Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat to build a data and digital infrastructure able to compete with Democrats.”

Trump made no secret of his contempt for the way campaigns are usually run this year. Instead of investing heavily in data operations and television ads, The Donald splurged on elaborate campaign rallies and relied on the major media’s hunger for ratings to provide all the electronic media exposure he’d ever need.

He also generously employed Twitter to blast out his moment-to-moment thoughts to his millions of followers. With such handy communications at his fingertips, who needs data?

It’s hard to tell if the same strategy would work for the much larger-in-scale general election. It’s said in war that generals are always trying to refight the last battle. In politics, the parties are perpetually patching the holes from the previous election.

No one’s saying data isn’t important, but things are quite a bit different than they were four years ago. That being said, Trump can’t be everywhere at once, so rallies will be limited in their effectiveness. But there’s always TV news, which Trump will likely dominate, even with the well-known Clinton as his opponent.

The fact Trump is just as hard to poll as he is to predict just adds another unique character to this all important election of 2016.

Faux “suspense” is over: Paul Ryan moves to the Trump column

Finally this week, perhaps it was due to an honest belief that Donald Trump is the best candidate this year or maybe it’s because he sees #NeverTrump as a pathetically failed enterprise, but former vice presidential candidate and current House Speaker Paul Ryan has decided he’s going to publicly support Trump now.

John Bresnahan of Politico reports, “Ryan's announcement ended weeks of drama over whether the Wisconsin Republican would formally back the business mogul and reality TV star, who has seized control of the GOP en route to his party's presidential nomination. The endorsement came just as Hillary Clinton declared in a speech that it would be a ‘historic mistake’ to elect Trump.

“A source close to Ryan said the speaker's decision to endorse was made this week and not in consultation with Trump's campaign.”

This is a no brainer and the only reason it’s news now is because Ryan’s been waffling over the matter for a couple weeks. Everyone knew Ryan would eventually end up backing Trump, so there wasn’t any drama involved (despite what Bresnahan said above).

Or maybe Ryan caved now because he’s sick of the questions about his support for Trump taking away from his attempts to tamp down conservative resistance to his establishment agenda in the House.

Whatever the reason, Trump would be wise to put distance between him and Ryan during the campaign. Americans have a very low opinion of Congress and its leaders, so merely being associated with the GOP establishment is like the kiss of death.

Ryan realizes he needs a strong majority in the House to hold onto his power and only by uniting the party can he ensure that he keeps it. Trump will do his part and say nice things about Ryan and the House and do whatever it takes to make sure down ballot races are served well.

But should The Donald end up as President Trump, expect there to be quite a bit of tension between these two. Now THAT will be dramatic.

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At last an explanation of conservatives in name only

Great discussion of how the term conservative means little when it comes to real policy. I think some conservatives could best be described as well dressed and well spoken liberals
The author got it all right in this piece.