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Assault on America, Day 244: Trump’s 2020 focus must be fighting DC elite spending swamp

Rand Paul Penny Plan
With Labor Day weekend in the rearview mirror it’s time to focus on the fall political campaign season.

At least that’s the way it used to be. With the pervasive presence of electronic media, a plethora of 24-hour cable news channels and a public obsessed with the latest happenings of America’s celebrity-like partisan class, following politics is now a 365-day-a-year endeavor (366 if you consider every presidential election is a leap year). For better or worse, the news cycle never ends.

Whether you choose to pay undying attention to it is everyone’s choice. President Donald Trump keeps Americans up-to-date with his practically incessant Twitter fingers, ensuring his name remains prominently in the news and also guarantees the media -- both friend and foe alike -- that there’ll be fresh tidbits to talk about even in the slowest of times (such as holiday weekends).

Hurricane Dorian is all anyone needs to think about these days and it’s got nothing to do with Washington.

Regardless, there are those who claim Trump’s losing some of his political magic due to a lack of clear “enemy” to concentrate his ire on. #NeverTrump critic Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review last week, “[A]fter what has seemed like a personal best in whackadoodle statements over the last few weeks, cable-news networks and prominent Twitterati are ratcheting up the talk that the president’s wheel might still be turning but the hamster’s dead.

“Whether it was his tweet declaring that American companies ‘are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative’ to doing business in China, or his decision to cancel a trip to Denmark because the Danish prime minister didn’t have a ‘nice’ reaction to his desire to buy Greenland, or his suggestion that Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell might be a greater enemy than China’s premier-for-life, it did seem as if the West Wing’s nurse might have accidentally switched Trump’s meds for M&Ms…

“[H]is situation is getting more precarious and that is making Trump’s Trumpiness more obvious. Specifically, I think the fizzle of the Mueller probe was a grievous blow to the president, for the simple reason that it removed an extremely useful political and psychological bogeyman.”

As usual, Goldberg presents a number of thought-provoking themes in his piece though the National Review Trump-critic is unintentionally laugh-out-loud amusing without trying to tickle anyone’s funny bone. It’s kind of the opposite of Saturday Night Live (though admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve seen the show), with its liberal writers desperately working to create humorous skits yet invariably failing because there’s much more bias than quirky irony involved.

Goldberg’s predisposition is still anti-Trump despite the vast majority of his old #NeverTrump fellow soldiers having dropped their grievances to join with traditional Republicans and conservatives to get behind the president by nearly nine-to-one strength. Therefore Goldberg’s material has to be taken with a big grain (chunk?) of salt for he appears to make his living by pretending to be objective but is frustrated by the fact he can’t establish a point (that Trump’s “tone” and behavior is disqualifying) that is provable one way or the other.

The sad state of the vastly dwindled #NeverTrump cohort will exist as long as there’s an establishment media hungry to offer airtime and column space to any self-identified conservative or Republican -- such as Bill Kristol -- who chooses to draw attention to him or herself by uttering something controversial and inflammatory about Trump. This has been going on for well over four years now and the whiners aren’t any closer to knocking off Trump than they were the first day, though back then at least there were over a dozen GOPers contesting Trump’s apparent message dominance of the party.

Goldberg’s correct that Trump seemingly lacks a clear-cut “foil” after the demise of the Mueller investigation, though there’s still plenty to comment on via social media or in press appearances with “reporters” getting a rise out of speaking to the president as if he’s a dimwitted dunce incapable of understanding how heinous and racist he really is. Because Trump doesn’t toe the politically correct line (by describing illegal aliens as “undocumented immigrants,” for example) doesn’t mean the chief executive is senile or crazy.

If you want that type of hype you can always read about the most recent (daily?) inexplicable Joe Biden gaffe or delve into Bernie Sanders’ latest attempt to prove he’s not too old to be president (Sanders made headlines by nearly being nailed by a recoiling boxing speed bag during a visit to the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky). The Democrat presidential candidates provide plenty of comment-worthy material all to themselves, and we’re not even mentioning “Chucky” Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, “The Squad” and practically every unhinged Democrat member of Congress here.

But Goldberg does get it right by suggesting Trump needs something to jab at on Twitter. Ever the showman, Trump thrives on making pithy observations, stirring controversy and constantly driving liberals and #NeverTrumpers back to their computers and phones to make yet another try at convincing Trump’s most ardent backers that he’s the political anti-Christ (like they see him as) and he therefore should not be granted another four years to wreak destruction on the poor and brainwashed American public.

#NeverTrumpers acknowledge there’s little value in supporting a GOP primary challenger next year yet can’t explain how it is that Trump would otherwise fail to appear on the general election ballot. Not even Senators Mitt Romney or Ben Sasse are heard from much anymore, they and their small group of worrywarts having likely realized the media uses them as patsy stooges whenever liberals deem it advantageous. Unlike with the Democrats -- several of whom are passing up a chance at reelection to run for president -- there isn’t a single noteworthy Republican who feels emboldened to throw-in against Trump.

Even the Republican establishment is mostly silent these days, probably fearing that overtly challenging Trump would result in a rhetorical right-cross to the jaw. Trump never hits first -- but he’s more than ready to return any digs. Democrats earn their pay by relentlessly pecking at the leader of their political opposition, but it’s relatively quiet in Republican-land.

So who can Trump go after? If anything, Trump could make additional political headway by turning his focus on the lingering problems within his own party. Traditionally speaking, Republicans win elections by pushing a three-fold agenda of fiscal responsibility, strong national security (and military) and adherence to traditional conservative social policy. But party leaders -- especially those in Congress -- have drifted far away from fighting for these things.

With the possible exception of judicial nominees, every time it comes to battling Democrats over vital interests -- like border security -- GOP leaders melt like snow cones at a summer county fair. Trump could easily win approval from fed-up American voters by running, once again, against the swamp and promising to get tough and nasty -- not only with the Democrats, but the wishy-washy do-nothing intransigents in his own party as well.

It’s what he did in 2016. Now Trump’s got to do it again, with even more gusto. Need an enemy? How about the “swamp”? No one wants to swim in the bog.

Which certainly includes the exploding national debt. To do anything less is simply immoral. Michael Tanner wrote at National Review, “While I realize that Congress controls the purse strings, it is also true that President Trump has shown exactly zero interest in restraining spending. The only time he speaks out on budget matters is to demand more money for his latest pet project.

“As bad as this is, we can hardly look to the Democrats for relief. Their spending plans would make Caligula look like Scrooge McDuck ...

“[T]here is a moral dimension as well. Every child born today inherits a portion of that debt. We are living at our children’s expense. You can’t get much more ‘taxation without representation’ than that. If only someone in Washington cared.”

Tanner’s writings clearly reveal he’s no big fan of Trump either, though his critiques seem more genuine and impartial than Goldberg’s. And there are plenty of people in Washington who care about the budget deficit but far too few who would draw a line and stick to it. Every time there’s a question of fiscal discipline at hand -- debt ceiling, cut cap & balance, budget sequesters -- the media and establishment elements of both parties cry foul, predicting doom for the whole country if constituency x doesn’t receive its full benefits checks year after year.

Senator Rand Paul’s “penny plan” would be a good place to start the budget reduction negotiations conversation but the Kentucky senator -- and like-minded lawmakers like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee -- aren’t in the leadership and therefore are at the mercy of “the turtle” Mitch McConnell and the rest of the big spending establishment elites. And lord knows they won’t get any backup from the House side, not with non-entity Kevin McCarthy in charge of the people’s House’s minority faction.

Want budget sanity and a fighting spirit? Support Jim Jordan and the Freedom Caucus members. Imagine if Jordan were the House’s Republican leader -- he’d be on the news every night battling the powers-that-be from both parties instead of some empty-suit GOP stiff touting the usual talking points about Nancy Pelosi and the other awful Democrats.

Spending is a Democrat problem and a Republican problem. Trump’s post-Mueller “enemy” could be the congressional big spenders from both parties. Talk about a winning electoral platform…and he’d have numerous things to Tweet about as well. Something to consider as we leap into the fall campaign season.

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