Wall Street Journal (Op-Ed)
By Doug Heye
July 22, 2015
The condemnations of Donald Trump‘s attack on Sen. John McCain’s war record, the calls for apologies, and a scathing Des Moines Register editorial demanding that Mr. Trump withdraw from the 2016 presidential campaign have had no effect other than to keep the absurdity going. Mr. Trump is acting the part of a professional wrestling heel, designed to provoke an audience reaction–and as long as the media and his Republican opponents treat him in this fashion the circus will continue.
A more useful thing to focus on is how Mr. Trump’s remarks at the Family Leadership Summit over the weekend and his reaction to the coverage that followed point up what could be his undoing.
While interviewing a Trump spokesman on Monday, CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked specific questions about reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs. This should not be a remarkable thing. But the answers exposed Mr. Trump’s lack of policy chops and seriousness.
That’s the road to dumping Trump: On issue after issue, pin him down on specifics. On immigration, how, specifically, would a President Trump seal our southern border, what would it cost, and how would he pay for that (i.e., would he raise taxes)? On abortion, does he support the 20-week cutoff? On the economy: What are his specific plans to reduce unemployment and increase take-home pay? On health care: What aspects of a Canadian-style single-payer system did he find most appealing?
A stumped Trump would not be able to repeat talking points on these or other topics; in speeches, he has eschewed issues for insults, and his campaign Web site does not have an issues page.
Questions to Mr. Trump should be pointed and detailed, for example documenting his years of financial support for Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and John Kerry. Then there are his statements in support of choice when asked about partial-birth abortion, or his support for tax increases. How about his praise of Barack Obama as a “strong leader” who “understands how the economy works on a comprehensive level,” or his compliments of Mrs. Clinton’s work as secretary of state? Evangelicals, including those in the early-voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, may want to know what Mr. Trump meant when he referred to receiving the Eucharist (or having “my little wine” and “my little cracker“) as a form of seeking forgiveness from God.
As much attention as Mr. Trump has received, serious scrutiny has been scant. And his undoing could well be in the details.
Parents often tell misbehaving children that if they act like a child, they will be treated like a child. Mr. Trump has been treated like a child in that more kicking and screaming has led to more attention. What if everyone treated Mr. Trump as the thing he is not: a serious-minded candidate for president of the United States? It would quickly become clear that the emperor has no clothes.
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