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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Democrats’ cultural vulnerabilities to produce November reckoning

I think most people (even liberals) would agree – someone like Bill Clinton shouldn’t be talking about how to treat women and the “Me too” movement. After all, guys such as philandering ‘ol Bubba Bill are more or less responsible for starting the phenomenon having moved on practically every female of childbearing age during his years in elected office.

Bill ClintonBill’s well-documented prurient history isn’t preventing him from snapping back at critics questioning his character these days, however.

Jim Geraghty wrote in National Review, “Bill Clinton assures us that he was the hero during the impeachment and scandal relating to his affair with Monica Lewinsky: ‘Former President Bill Clinton spoke out about the MeToo movement and the Monica Lewinsky scandal as NBC’s Craig Melvin sat down with him and author James Patterson, saying, ‘If the facts were the same, I wouldn’t’ act differently today than he did at the time. ‘A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted,’ he says. ‘I defended the Constitution.’

“Rarely do you see such a symphony of hypocrisy and not-so-suppressed rage.

“’I think partly they’re frustrated that they’ve got all of these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office, and his voters don’t seem to care,’ Clinton says in the interview.”

No doubt there are many jaws agape at the astonishing two-facedness being displayed here, but remember, it’s Bill Clinton we’re talking about. He’s the guy who famously demanded a clarification on the meaning of the word “is” during a deposition under oath regarding the “relations” he had with Ms. Lewinsky all those years ago.

To clarify, it isn’t merely what Bubba Bill did back then that gets protectors of the office so animated – it’s the fact he lied about it to investigators trying to get to the bottom of whether he used the vast powers of the presidency to secure a cushy position (in this case a job) for Ms. Lewinsky in order to silence the 22 year-old intern about his having showed her alternative uses for cigars and various other tricks during their many rendezvous in the Oval Office library.

It appears Bill is mad at the world these days, primarily because President Trump’s own colorful “Me Too” past wasn’t judged a disqualifier by the voting public in 2016, but there are definitely distinctions between the two presidents. Not to go out of my way to defend Trump’s early sense of morality but all of his alleged extramarital encounters took place over a decade ago, long before the political phase of his life even began.

By most contemporary accounts Trump is happily married to Melania and unlike Hill and Bill in the 90’s, there seems to be genuine affection between the two – not just staying together to maintain a political marriage of convenience. Hillary didn’t exactly “stand by her man” back then as much as she remained tethered to the biggest hot air-filled balloon that could possibly float herself into the presidency one day.

Hill used her years as First Lady to become a carpetbagging senator from bluer-than-blue New York and subsequently accepted Obama’s secretary of state offer as a consolation prize for being denied her preliminary attempt to ascend to the top job.

Both of them are making fools of themselves in Donald Trump’s world; maybe it’s because they’re no longer adored by the Democrats’ brainless followers; perhaps it’s due to the “Me Too” movement drawing Bill into the violators’ circle of sleaze. Who knows? The only thing for sure is there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of repentance to go ‘round with the Clintons.

There’s little doubt Bill has a lot of nerve to get snooty over the matter. Caitlin Yilek of the Washington Examiner reported the other day, “Donald Trump Jr. said he’s almost speechless after former President Bill Clinton said Monday he doesn’t owe former White House intern Monica Lewinsky a private apology for how she was treated.

“’Did Bill Clinton just #metoo Monica Lewinsky??? I (almost) have no words… Props for always being ahead of the curve as the first male to publicly somehow claim victim-hood from his actions against women. Balsy! Stupid… but balsy!!!’

“Clinton added that he doesn’t think he owes Lewinksy a private apology because he already apologized publicly at the time...”

It looks like Bill never actually called Monica to personally express contrition. Not that one would ever expect it from Bubba, but he’s proving to be every bit the classless scumbag he’s always been – and not even the nearly two decades since he left office has changed the man (except for maybe his trimmed down frame). Democrats will go on loving him – and Hillary too – and the party’s preeminent power couple can do no wrong in the personal realm.

Do liberals seriously believe if Trump were chasing skirts half his age in office now that conservatives and Republicans wouldn’t care? I wouldn’t bet on it – them not caring, that is. All of the policy victories in the world wouldn’t mask the character deficiencies of a man while sitting behind the same desk Ronald Reagan famously leaned on.

The truth is people don’t care about Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape or his purported foibles with Stormy Daniels (just wondering, where did she go?) because both episodes took place so long ago that they’re just not relevant anymore. Does this mean there’s a statute of limitations on personal conduct where Trump is concerned? It’s not for anyone to say – but generally speaking most conservatives are thrilled with Trump’s job-related behavior these days.

It’s gotten to the point where Trump is even beginning to embody a new kind of conservative/populist movement. Longtime conservative Daniel Oliver wrote the other day at The Federalist, “[T]he problems of culture and debt remain, each potent enough to do America in, as sobering a fact to contemplate as a Cold War battery of totalitarian missiles aimed at the land of the free. Conservatives do not lack for challenges!

“Still, battles have been fought and won, which indicates that it is still possible to fight and win battles. No one would be likely to describe Donald Trump as the Repristinator-in-Chief. But the country is already better off than if Clinton, or even any of Donald Trump’s Republican opponents, had been elected president.

“True conservatism was never a rigid ideology and never a political program defined by a particular politician. Conservatism is a way of life, a practical program for keeping the people of this country (shaped by history, faith, and culture) safe and free, and if necessary, more safe and free than prosperous…”

It's hard to argue with Oliver; contrary to the stubbornly persistent claims of the few remaining #NeverTrumpers, conservatism seems to be thriving under Donald Trump. As he suggested, this doesn’t mean there aren’t many, many challenges ahead – but at least we now know our fighting forces are on the field of battle and there’s someone leading them. To his credit Trump seemingly realizes conservative solutions equate to making America great again.

Or maybe it’s because Mike Pence works so closely with Trump, or there are other staunch and proven conservatives in high positions of influence such as John Bolton or Mike Pompeo. Trump’s advisory team has ebbed and flowed over the months but a quick perusal of the top people in his inner circle now shows hardly any establishmentarians. There’s an easily detectable “outsider” look to his administration too. If Americans ignored Trump’s past moral failings to promote such political success, that’s the sign of intelligent voters, not apologists.

On the other hand, the swamp is now embodied by people like Robert Mueller and the horde of Obama justice department holdovers who are daily being boiled in the hot water of public opinion for their obvious abuses of power in the lead-up to (and after) the 2016 election. Everyday brings new revelations of insider corruption – Trump is having a field day tweeting about them at every opportunity.

It's unlikely, however, that conservatives are now ready to call Trump a principled conservative; if he were there would be a lot more emphasis (by his administration) on reducing the size of government and the federal budget deficit would receive more than mere lip service.

Take the bad with the good, but on balance Trump has been a boon for conservatism. And here’s thinking he’ll end up being a net positive for the Republican Party too. The fact Democrats are imploding could help the GOP cause as well.

In an article titled “Are Democrats Blowing It?Ben Shapiro wrote at National Review, “…Trump hasn’t flamed out. Mueller so far hasn’t come up with credible evidence of Russian collusion, and even the high hopes surrounding porn star Stormy Daniels have gone flaccid. Trump himself seems alternatively irked by his office and trollishly empowered by it, but never willing to walk away. That’s dispiriting to the Democratic base, which spends each morning fuming over the latest Trumpian twitterstorm, thrilling to the extremist musings of kooks such as Maxine Waters (D., Calif.).

“All of which means that Democrats have been forced to turn to the second prong of their 2018 attack: policy.

“But on policy, the Democratic record looks even worse. Trump’s rhetoric continues to fuel feelings of unmoored chaos, but the markets continue to soar, the job market grows, and we’re not in the middle of any serious foreign-policy crisis…Democrats promised a dystopian hellscape. Instead, they got an economy so good that the New York Times ran a piece headlined ‘We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are.’”

All of this must be causing considerable indigestion at Democrat party headquarters. The once glowing reports of massive fundraising advantages have now disappeared (full disclosure: I don’t actually know the numbers) and with the generic congressional ballot down to around the margin of error in most polls, everything looks highly competitive going into the fall.

Trump will find a way to spin next week’s meeting with Kim Jong-un into a success whether it turns out to be or not. Trump excels at the entertainment production of politics – it’s one big show on a grand stage with the cast of characters played in real time by world leaders. If it’s said “politics is show-biz for ugly people,” Trump is proving that attractive folks can excel at it too.

For better or worse it appears Trump’s strategy to completely dominate news cycles is slowly paying off for him. His millions of social media followers (currently 52.5 million on Twitter and 24.6 million on Facebook) receive messages directly from him, therefore bypassing the establishment media entirely. The liberal networks relentlessly bombard him like a WWII battleship shelling a beach but it hasn’t resulted in Trump’s popularity plummeting.

Democrats aren’t sunk but they may be listing badly. Might they be rescued by Trump’s tariffs? Josh Kraushaar of National Journal wrote, “The issue of trade will test whether politics in the Trump era are fully tribal, or whether a policy position can alienate his otherwise-loyal supporters. Many of his supporters who benefit from trade—like those in Greenville, whose congressional district Trump carried with 60 percent of the vote—have justified his tough trade talk as an opening bid in a negotiation. With the abrupt imposition of tariffs against our allies, before any sort of compromise could be reached, it’s becoming harder to see Trump as a master of the deal.

“Trump needs a unified Republican base heading into a turbulent midterm election as a lifeline against surging Democratic enthusiasm and significant suburban defections. There have been some encouraging signs that his party’s standing has been improving, especially in the battle for the Senate. But after his impulsive decision on tariffs, he threatens to sabotage the GOP’s chances.”

This is the popular view advanced not only by establishment sources like Kraushaar but a good many conservatives as well. These people believe a few higher prices on certain products will send the Trump train rushing back in the other direction. I don’t agree; with a strong economy few people will even notice the tariffs – and his supporters will give Trump room to maneuver on the issue.

Not everyone votes with their pocketbook alone.

With five months to go until the midterm elections Democrats are looking increasingly desperate. Even party stalwarts like Bill Clinton can’t defend their cultural vulnerabilities and conservatives are beginning to consolidate around Trump. Will it change? Stay tuned.

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