It is around noon on a beautiful day in San Diego, temperature near 80 degrees and perfect to go out and play beach volleyball. I’m 70, but I still can play with “kids” half my age, at least for about an hour. Then my feet grow roots, I have the mobility of a stone and I recall Cinderella’s coach becoming a pumpkin again at midnight.
However, instead of doing what I love I’m sitting here typing because I was captivated by a press conference with Donald Trump around noon, shown on MSNBC, FOX, CNN and perhaps other stations. I hesitate to admit it but Trump was great. I haven’t felt that watching him at other times, but this time he just seemed in such command of the situation, handling every question with ease. In short, he seemed presidential. At least some of the time.
That does not mean I don’t have a slew of questions about what a Trump presidency would look like, nor that I don’t fear him becoming president, but I was impressed by his performance in a way I haven’t been before. I was also impressed by his boldness in the recent Republican debate when he took dead aim at the Bush legacy, 9/11 and Iraq.
This in South Carolina, where the Bushes have been popular. That’s why G. W. Bush has finally joined the campaign trail with his brother. Not so popular in many places, G. W. is popular here.
So, what did Trump do? He slammed G. W.’s involving us in Iraq which has destabilized the Mid-East, and went so far as to accuse G. W. of “lying” about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction. OMG! Surely the Donald had gone too far. And – Republican sin of sins – he ignored the platitude that G. W. had kept us safe, pointing out that it was under G. W.’s reign that the twin towers were destroyed.
Today in the press conference, he returned to that theme using the analogy of a baseball team being outscored by 19 runs in the first inning and then holding the score down for the rest of the game. The message being: Don’t tell me how you’ve kept us safe for years after the biggest terrorist attack in our history took place early on your watch.
This dismisses a segment of the ongoing Republican narrative that G. W. Bush kept us safe and Obama less so. Surely Trump had gone too far. But with him, is there really a too far?
My sense is that there is so much anger in the Republican party at its leadership while questioning the narrative they have woven, that traditional “truths” are being dismissed along with the establishment. Donald Trump is viewed as the truth teller, and many trust his narrative of events more than that of the Republican establishment.
It is a bold move by Trump going straight at the heart of Jeb Bush’s strategy employing G. W. Bush’s popularity in South Carolina to turn his campaign around. But throughout his campaign Trump’s outrageous talk has just made him a stronger and stronger candidate and my guess is he will prevail here as well.
We will soon see if Trump’s tactic will work as the South Carolina primary is only five days away.