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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Because he fights, Trump can’t be spared -- but he still must win the war

I can’t spare this man, he fights!” – President Abraham Lincoln allegedly proclaimed in 1862 in response to critics condemning Ulysses S. Grant’s generalship after the bloody battle of Shiloh.

Lincoln admired Grant not because the latter was a brilliant tactician or was highly ranked in the hierarchy of successful military men of the age; no, Lincoln appreciated Grant’s willingness to take the army he was given and deploy it against the enemy. It’s often been asserted Grant won the Civil War by drowning the Confederacy in blood; but the humble soldier from Illinois understood what others didn’t – namely, that the Union could US Grantsustain long drawn-out campaigns much more readily than the manpower and resource starved South ever could. To win, the Union needed to keep up the pressure on the rebels. Attrition alone would turn the tide.

For that reason we’ve remained the United States.

The same sort of “he fights” lesson could be applied to the current political stalemate in America. There is one side (the Democrats) that appears to have the numbers and resources to win a long sustained political war. Unlike the civil war south, however, the other side (the Republicans) has a great many attributes in its favor as well -- but do they have the political will to carry on the fight? Can they keep up the pressure on the “enemy”?

After last week’s humiliating (for the GOP) elections, the issue now becomes how well Republicans respond to the messages garnered from their battle losses – particularly in Virginia. Will they rally behind someone who fights or will they bow to critics and abandon what the man fights for?

The “man” is Donald Trump. Ever since Trump announced his candidacy it’s been one relentless battle against the establishment, both in his party and in Washington. It’s a war that cannot be won by sitting around and waiting for the enemy to quit. The Democrats always have plenty of fight in them. Will the Republicans respond accordingly?

Senator Orrin Hatch described some of the Democrats’ ruthless tactics last week. Writing in Roll Call, Hatch explained, “Democrats want to make confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees as cumbersome and time-consuming as possible.

“At this point in President Barack Obama’s first year, when Republicans were in the minority, the Senate took cloture votes on fewer than 1 percent of the executive and judicial branch nominees we confirmed. This year, with Democrats in the minority playing confirmation spoiler, the Senate has been forced to take cloture votes on more than 27 percent of the nominees we confirmed. In fact, including those we will take this week, Democrats have forced us to take 51 cloture votes on President Trump’s nominees so far this year. That is seven times as many as during the combined first years of all nine presidents since the cloture rule has applied to nominations.

“Lest we forget, in 2013 Democrats abolished the ability of 41 senators to prevent confirmation. Today, they are demanding the ability of one senator to prevent confirmation. If that is not an abuse of the confirmation ground rules, it’s hard to tell what is.”

It’s not difficult to detect the anger and frustration in Hatch’s voice. The Utah senator may not have been delivering a speech on the floor of the upper chamber yet his raw emotions were obvious despite the words being laid flat in an op-ed for a political newspaper.

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency a year ago the Democrats’ “resistance” has been plain and frightfully clear. Not only are the Dems not playing nice, they’re not even trying to make it look like they’re doing it. They’ve claimed Trump colluded with the Russians to win the election; they’ve tried to tip the Electoral College; they’ve boycotted his inauguration; they’ve called him illegitimate and vowed to oppose practically everything he’s done; and they’ve outwardly called for his impeachment despite possessing no grounds to remove him.

They’ve even questioned his sanity and attacked his family in various capacities. Democrats mean business – when they reach the field of battle there is no quarter offered or granted.

And, as Hatch artfully pointed out, they’ve abused institutional rules to milk every minute of delay against Trump’s nominees, both for his cabinet picks and his constitutionally-sanctioned judicial appointments.

Needless to say the Democrats spared no tricks in bludgeoning poor nice guy Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in last week’s Virginia election. They repeatedly called Gillespie a liar and accused him of wanting to deprive school children of a decent education and poor people of healthcare. Then there were the racist insinuations as embodied in the nakedly hateful “nightmare” ad.

As if all of this weren’t bad enough, a deranged leftist neighbor physically assaulted Senator Rand Paul too. JulieGrace Brufke reported in the Daily Caller, “Sen. Rand Paul’s neighbors are coming out in droves to defend the Kentucky Republican, who sustained serious injuries after being attacked outside his house in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Friday.

“Paul, who suffered six broken ribs and a pleural effusion, was blindsided and tackled by his neighbor of 17 years, Dr. Rene Boucher, 59, while he was mowing his lawn, which sits inside a normally quiet gated community…

“While neighbors largely said Boucher kept to himself and would smile and wave on occasion, one resident, who sits on the board of the Home Owners Association and who requested anonymity, said it isn’t the first time they had heard he exhibited aggressive behavior toward someone in the area.”

Press reports claim Boucher’s attack wasn’t politically motivated, but if everyone in the neighborhood says it wasn’t Paul who provoked the brutality, what else could it be?

It also shouldn’t be overlooked that Paul was present in June when avowed Bernie Sanders-supporting leftist James Hodgkinson shot up a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. At that time Paul escaped the same fate that gravely wounded Congressman Steve Scalise and several others, but to endure bodily harm (or the threat of it) twice within a matter of months because of one’s political views is truly beyond the pale.

Be it in Congress or in one’s own front yard, to Democrats, the “war” is real. The “Antifa” inspired viciousness in the streets, on college campuses and in places like Charlottesville last summer demonstrates that the left comes prepared to inflict wounds and if decent citizens are to protect themselves they better be ready to “fight” back.

No, I’m not advocating for physical confrontations or a shooting war, merely a suggestion that “politics as usual” will not be sufficient to combat what the party faces vis-à-vis its opposition. Republicans need to be ready to rally around the Trump agenda – and to some extent, Trump himself – simply because, like Lincoln said of Grant, he “fights.”

That’s not to say Trump couldn’t or shouldn’t make changes to the way he does things. Though I believe Congress can make the greatest strides in rectifying the current Democrat-leaning political situation, Trump needs to acknowledge that he’s his own worst enemy when it comes to his favorable/unfavorable ratings.

The methods Trump used to systematically bump off his opponents during the Republican primaries and Crooked Hillary in last year’s general election are beginning to fail him now that he’s occupying the Oval Office. Though a great many of the media’s criticisms of his tweets have been unfair and off-base, there are a number of reputable conservatives who are imploring the president to be more careful nonetheless in how he handles social media.

Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in National Review recently, “The president undoubtedly has the power to interfere in criminal cases that are brought under his authority. He abuses that power, though, when he fails to affirm the rule of law and the public integrity of the judicial process.

“I am not being hysterical. This is not an abuse of power over which President Trump is going to be impeached, and I doubt voters will hold it against him — at least those who are not already disposed against him. But it’s really stupid for a president to comment on pending cases. He should stop doing it. One hopes it will not take a judge dismissing a high-profile indictment for the lesson to take hold. There are well over 300 Obama appointees on the federal bench, many of whom would leap at the chance.”

Criminal cases (such as the one with deserter Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl) are just one area where Trump must refrain from commenting but there are a number of political topics that similarly should be off-limits simply because they present the portrait of a man who picks fights but can’t take a punch.

Trump was perhaps justified in hitting back at establishment Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker last month but it didn’t make him look more presidential. Flake and Corker are retiring; Trump already won. They’re history; that “war” was already settled.

The president needs to take into account the big picture and make changes to his modus operandi. For a man who’s accomplished so much during his lifetime – including being elected president – it shouldn’t be too tall of an order to impose a little self-discipline upon himself in pursuit of winning for the larger political cause.

“Fighter” Grant made a number of alterations to his command approach when he moved from the western to the eastern theater to combat Robert E. Lee. After Grant’s army endured a severe and fruitless beating at the battle of Cold Harbor (Virginia), for example, Grant vowed to order no more useless frontal assaults in the face of the enemy’s artillery. Instead, Grant changed tactics and laid siege to Lee at Petersburg -- and the war ended within a year.

Can Trump make a similar strategic transformation?

The Editors of the Washington Examiner wrote, “[T]he ‘Trump model’ is probably a winner only for Trump. He was a reality television star, and his most important trait, apart from universal name recognition, was his foreignness to politics and complete disregard for political norms and political correctness.

“The ‘Trump model’ is not a winner nationally, either, for anyone but him. He defeated the most unpopular Democratic nominee in a generation. Northam showed that a generic Democrat, rather than a uniquely unattractive one, can win big. And, of course, Trump actually lost the popular vote. His crucial wins in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan were not blowouts. He underperformed the winning Republican Senate candidates in four of those states.”

Donald Trump is no fool; one hopes he will accept the lessons of 2017 and alter his course enough to win the only political struggle remaining before him – namely, the battle to become popular. If Trump truly wants to make America great again, it’s his only means left to do it.

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