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The GOP Entertainment Wing’s Flight of Fancy

Donald Trump is not running for president.

Oh, he acts like he is a candidate on a stage. And Trump has filed the requisite paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, as have hundreds of others. But he is not running a presidential campaign.

It might come as no surprise that the gaffe-a-minute reality television star has claimed that he has no use for pollsters. “I don’t want a pollster,” he told the New York Times. “Because if a pollster’s so good, why aren’t they running?” The logic is impeccable. But pollsters are not the only political professionals whose services Trump has eschewed. If the alleged presidential candidate had hired a consulting firm with a graphics department, he probably would not have promoted his candidacy by sending out an image with the American flag superimposed over the soldiers of the Nazi Waffen-SS that someone on Trump’s team apparently mistook for American troops. Say what you will about political consultants, at least they know the difference between U.S. soldiers and the German division responsible for their massacre at Malmedy. Perhaps that lapse explains Trump’s evident low regard for American servicemen and women who endure torture and deprivation in enemy custody.

Nor has Donald Trump or his team displayed much interest in the technical aspects of running for the president. Little things like developing an organization in the early primary states that is tasked with winning the requisite delegates to secure the party’s nod and transitioning into a grassroots general election support structure. “I met Mr. Trump for 30 seconds on May 9. Gave him my card. He hasn’t called me thus far,” South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore revealed. Moore’s frustration is shared by Iowa and New Hampshire’s GOP operatives who say they have had little contact with Trump or his organization. That does not, however, mean the reality TV star has ignored the early states entirely. Earlier this month, Trump hired as his Iowa campaign co-chair a former contestant on his canceled reality television program The Apprentice. The move generated quite a few headlines and, for the Trump campaign, that seems to be an end in itself.

Anyone with even a passing understanding of how political campaigns are waged and won knows that what they are witnessing is a spectacle. This is not a presidential candidacy; it’s a vehicle for self-promotion. That makes the unwavering support that Trump has received from prominent members of what constitutes the “entertainment wing” of the GOP, its popular radio talk show hosts and commentators, that much more egregious. Showmen and women themselves, they recognize one of their own when they see him.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board admirably drew fire from the right this week when it briefly scolded an unnamed cadre of “conservative media elites” who serve as Trump’s “apologists,” but those the Journal admonished do little in the way of apologizing for the target of their affections. “Abettors” is perhaps a more apt description of those who would willingly facilitate a grift. Some of the most accomplished, seasoned, and bright members of the conservative movement’s commentary class have inexplicably given succor to a figure who is flagrantly misrepresenting himself and misleading their audiences.

Mark Levin, a constitutional scholar and a deservedly successful radio host, bizarrely declined to challenge Trump in the same way that he has other Republican candidates who have joined him on his radio program. “You know, your biggest problem is going to be the Republican establishment,” Levin advised after noting how his candidacy has resonated with the public and lamenting how the Republican members of the legislative branch are too quick to seek compromise with the country’s executive. This is a far cry from the Mark Levin of 2011 who called Trump an “airhead” whose tenuous grasp on free market economics sounded “stupid” to him.

When Trump refused to express support for Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal that reformed entitlement spending — very much an “establishment” Republican goal from an “establishment” Republican officeholder — Levin savaged the real estate developer for spouting the same vacuous platitudes he spouts today. When Trump advised Ryan to “sit back and relax” on the issue of entitlements, Levin reprimanded him furiously. “Apparently all your supporters are going to give you a pass on every damn thing you’ve ever said or done,” Levin exclaimed. “But not me.” What changed? Trump certainly hasn’t.

One of Levin’s radio colleagues, the accomplished radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, appears equally blinded by frustration with congressional Republicans. “Trump filled a vacuum existing in GOP,” she said in praise of his willingness to attack “Bushism” and congressional Republicans. “Prediction: Trump numbers will not change — could go up after McCain dust-up. Establishment approval will go down.”

That’s a bizarre prediction, considering the pollster in the field on Sunday after Trump’s insulting remarks about Senator John McCain’s service record noted that the candidate who drew nearly 30 percent support over the weekend was down in the single digits after those comments generated publicity.

“So Trump won’t commit to supporting GOP nominee if not chosen,” Ingraham said of Trump’s refusal to rule out a third-party bid for the White House. She asked if Senator Marco Rubio or former Governor Jeb Bush would support Trump if he secured the requisite delegates, but she must know that there is a rather substantial distinction between not supporting a party’s nominee and actively trying to handicap him or her.

Even the astute Rush Limbaugh has succumbed to the passions of the moment. “The American people haven’t seen something like this in a long time,” Limbaugh said in praise of Trump’s refusal to apologize for questioning McCain’s record as a North Vietnamese hostage. “They have not seen an embattled public figure stand up for himself, double down, and tell everybody to go to hell.”

“Trump can survive this,” Limbaugh averred. He’s right, but only as long as Trump can count on the help of his friends in the GOP’s entertainment wing.

All the while, Hillary Clinton is relishing the attention she isn’t getting. The New York Times reported that Clinton’s team is weighing how best to give the GOP what it wants and inexorably link Trump, a doctrinaire liberal and Democratic donor, to the Republican Party. Reporting on its own poll of Republican primary voters, ABC News described those of his supporters who are most incensed over the issue of illegal immigration in America “nativists.” The conservatives behind the microphone in this country know exactly what’s happening here. While the Republican Party brass should welcome the chance to repudiate a vile self-promoting pretender like Trump, the conservative movement’s most booming voices seem intent on rendering that effort impossible.

Making one’s way in the business of political entertainment is incredibly difficult. Those who are successful in that profession have achieved their position only after dogged perseverance, years of hard work, and repeated displays of inborn aptitude. No one gets to where these and other accomplished personalities are today unless they are possessed of great talent, prudence, and a wealth of knowledge on history and civics, which makes this whole affair all the more demoralizing. Those who continue to prop up this faltering carnival act based on the mistaken premise that it somehow advances conservatism are making a grave error. All that is being advanced are individual careers. The Americans who truly count on the conservative program to better their lives and right the course this country is on are those who will suffer the most if Trump is allowed to indelibly tarnish their movement.


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17 Responses to “The GOP Entertainment Wing’s Flight of Fancy”


    Rothman epitomizes hypocrisy. For seven years Rothman has chosen, for one or another discreditable reason, not to write one word about Obama’s constitutional ineligibility for the presidency, and Obama’s use of fraudulent ID documents. Now Rothman, instead of denouncing Cruz, Rubio and Jindal for running presidential nomination campaigns although all three are constitutionally ineligible to be president, Rothman produces all-out attacks on Turmp, one Republican candidate who is actually constitutionally eligible to be president. Is there a single establishment Conservative writer who will defend the Constitution from yet another assault, this one engineered by the Republican Party? Apparently not, and certainly not Noah Rothman.

    • PETER SKURKISS says:

      For now, go Trump


      The democrats created the Obama precedent. Therefore criticizing Rubio, Cruz or Jindal is inappropriate.
      But it is politics as usual for the politicians and the mass media.


      Okay, I’ve been skipping this comment as beneath contempt, but decided even though the Constitution seems blatently obvious on this point that both Obama and Cruz are native born citizens, and so was McCain even though he was born in the Canal Zone, but I decided to look into it to see if the clarity of the Constitution on this matter was some how not clear enough. So I found the following pretty quickly: According to his campaign team, two top lawyers definitively settled the question of whether Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is eligible to run for US president with an article published in the Harvard Law Review earlier this month.

      In an email to Business Insider last week, Cruz’s senior adviser Catherine Frazier said the campaign is pointing any reporters who ask about Cruz’s eligibility to the March 11 article by Neal Katyal and Paul Clement.

      “Any coverage on this issue should include the Harvard Law Review article by Katyal and Clement,” Frazier wrote.

      Questions have been raised about Cruz’s eligibility as he was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban-born father.

      Most experts agree his mother’s American citizenship makes him a “natural born citizen,” which is one of the constitutional requirements for presidential eligibility. But in an analysis of the issue published by Politifact in 2013, they concluded there is the “tiniest sliver of uncertainty” about whether Cruz is legally eligible to be president, because the phrase “natural born citizen” has never been explicitly defined by a Constitutional amendment or Supreme Court ruling.

      In their article, Katyal and Clement argue that there is no uncertainty whatsoever about whether children of American citizens who were born abroad are “natural born citizens.”

      Both Katyal and Clement have served as the acting solicitor general of the US. Katyal held the post in the administration of President Barack Obama while Clement served under President George W. Bush. They began their article by noting that they may have different political views but are in complete agreement about the definition of a “natural born citizen.”

      “We have both had the privilege of heading the Office of the Solicitor General during different administrations,” they wrote. “We may have different ideas about the ideal candidate in the next presidential election, but we agree on one important principle: voters should be able to choose from all constitutionally eligible candidates, free from spurious arguments that a U.S. citizen at birth is somehow not constitutionally eligible to serve as President simply because he was delivered at a hospital abroad.”

      In their article, Katyal and Clement claimed “the phrase ‘natural born Citizen’ has a specific meaning: namely, someone who was a US citizen at birth with no need to go through a naturalization proceeding at some later time.” They argued “all the sources routinely used to interpret the Constitution” are clear on this definition.

      Specifically, Katyal and Clement cited British common law, which they said “recognized that children born outside of the British Empire to subjects of the Crown were subjects themselves and explicitly used ‘natural born’ to encompass such children” in the 18th Century. They also argued the First Congress in the US and the Naturalization Act of 1790 similarly explicitly defined children born to Americans in foreign countries as “natural born citizens.”

      In their conclusion, Katyal and Clement said there’s “no question” about Cruz’s eligibility to run for president.

      “Despite the happenstance of a birth across the border, there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution,” they wrote.
      Read more:

      Jindal was born in the United States making him a native born American citizen by definition. Rubio was a native born American citizen by definition according to the Constitution and the English tradition of what made one a subject of the Crown. Obama was born to a native born Kansas mother and it doesn’t matter where he was born any more than it matters where Cruz was born as Cruz was born to a native born American mother. Jindal was born in the United States, so it does not matter whether his parents were citizens or not. The Constitution and English legal traditions are clear, and all this “stuff” about Obama, or Cruz, or Jindal, or Rubio is just trash talk pretending to be “deep” and patriotic. Stephen you and anyone who has paid any attention to you have been had. You are Trump people, ever so full of yourselves. Congratulations for, how can I put it kindly, honorary intellectual alien of the year. Perhaps Mr. Trump will honor you with some of his Midas touch. May you live happily ever after. Goodbye.


    I’ve never embraced a conspiracy theory in my life, but I have to wonder if Trump isn’t a Clinton plant; not just looking to distract attention from her, but to besmirch the Republican brand at a time when it has a solid (but too many) group of young candidates seeking the presidency. And that the “entertainment” wing of the party seems to be buying into Trump’s contemptible demagoguery is especially disturbing.


      No such luck, my man. And what, were the following embarrassments Clinton plants as well: Michelle Bachman, 47% Romney with his 47% of the vote, the bar tender that had enough of the .1% talk behind the scenes, Jindal, Dubya, Palin, Cheney, Señor, Bremmer, Scalia, Thomas, Walker, Scott, Limbaugh, Hannity, Kelly, Rove, the Kochs, Adelson, Alito, Coors, the rest of the money bags, the old man money bags straight out of the script of “Being There”, Luntz, don’t forget Luntz the anti-Orwellian master deceiver, Murdoch (talk about alien invaders), that wonderful slaughter-meister Canadian from the NRA that turned the Republican guns on the elementary kids in Connecticut, oh the list is so long. The, oh yes, Steven King, oh wait a minute, is that the horror writer is that the Congressman from the Mid-west I am going to write about next. The nut jobs, you know, your guys and gals. Your supporters. The ones who believe that the Jews are going to be extinguished in Armageddon. The ones you think are such idiots that you gladly take their money, welcome their money, knowing their nuts, but say nothing about it, because what a pleasure it is to take their votes, even it they look forward to the end of times, the end of Israel, the end of Jews. They are a joke to you, but you play them for all they are worth, and you know they are the winning 20% of the Republican electorate in any nationwide vote. You’re smart, I know. And you will use fools even if their intentions are to see you burn in an eternal Auschwitz with no relief if you won’t in the end times convert to Christianity. You will truly deal with the devil. Some won’t. Reminds me of those Transfer Agreements. Doesn’t it you?

  3. M LOUIS OFFEN says:

    How many people beside yourself are in on that secret about the “constitutional ineligibility for the presidency” of President Obama, Senators Cruz and Rubio, and Governor Jindal? Any well-known (and respected) individuals who share your believe that all those politicians (why Rubio and Jindal, who were born in the US?)are constitutionally ineligible to serve as president? Any case law to support you claim or relevant “facts” that are not generally known?


      “Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Isn’t that how it goes, or something like that any way. So it goes with case law here. We thunk it so it must be true, because we here are on the side of the angels, don’t you know?


    Who is the official mouth piece for Trump?


    Lot of articles on Trump. Kind of irresistible, isn’t it? I mean the entertainment part. I’ve subscribed for years but hadn’t really thought of Commentary as an entertainment magazine.


      Well it is now. The readership has changed quite a bit since the old days, don’t you know.

  6. VERNON GRIMES says:

    For years I have emailed and tweeted various Fox News shows and begged them to stop giving Trump a voice. From Peter Doocy in the morning until Sean Hannity at night, they seem to drool over him when everything this commentary describes is and has been abundantly clear.

    Like Michael (above) I think it’s almost enough to wonder if Trump is out to sabotage the GOP. However, that would mean Trump cares about anyone of anything other than Trump, so it can’t be true.

    However, after reading this and Tobin’s article about Kasich (“Bad Timing”) back-to-back I am convinced it’s intentional for Fox News. Fox *wants* Trump in that debate. Period. Great ratings, and days if not weeks worth of follow-up fodder.


      “Vernon tweets Fox Doocy and Hannity!” Vernon you just slimed yourself. And they didn’t seem to drool, that was drool, Vernon. And that was money they were wiping it up with.

  7. K T NOELL says:

    Uh-Oh. Trump is not campaigning the way Rothman thinks he should. We can’t have that. No-o-o-o.

    I am not going to fault Trump for not knowing something, or for changing his position on something. Not after “57 States, corpseman” Obama. Not after “maverick” McCain, the unindicted Keating Fiver. Not after Mr. Nice Guy, Romney, who declined to go for Obama’s throat; too unseemly, doncha know.

    I’m with Trump for giving them hell, RINOs and Dems both. Shades of Harry Truman!


      Unite for once

      Dear Commentary commenters,

      Over the last few days, almost everyone in America has voiced an opinion on the remarks made by Donald Trump about Senator John McCain’s war service. IAVA has joined every leading veterans group in America in condemning the remarks. This was not about politics. It was about making sure people understand and respect the service of our veterans. IAVA is a fiercely non-partisan organization representing veterans of all political backgrounds. We may have many different views, but are united as a veterans community. And when a national figure attacks one veteran’s heroic service as a POW, it is an insult to us all.

      Mr. Trump has shown that there are still people who have never served, but make ridiculous, insulting comments about veterans. Comments that should have been left behind long ago, in the dark days after Vietnam when too many civilians blamed the warriors for the war.

      IAVA members from across America and I have had the honor of working with Sen. McCain on key veterans legislation, including the historic Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which, thanks to your support, was finally signed into law by President Obama earlier this year. That inspiring effort united Republicans and Democrats in support of our community-and showed all of America what is possible if we stick together.

      But since that historic signing, the national media attention for our issues has waned. The media is not telling the stories of #VetsRising in communities nationwide. They’re not covering the VA backlog or ongoing challenges too many of us face in getting care. And they’ve already moved on from covering the loss of five of our brothers in Chattanooga, Tennessee last weekend.

      Last Tuesday, our Rapid Response Referral Team received four calls from suicidal veterans. Four in a single day. Our brothers and sisters are facing challenges transitioning every single day. They are literally calling out for help. And that’s a story that must be told.

      If there’s a silver lining in this recent controversy, it’s that the national media is talking about veterans again. IAVA will fight to ensure they use that attention to focus on the issues that matter most to our community–issues like protecting the GI Bill, better support for female veterans and reforming the VA. We’re using this renewed focus on veterans to urge Congress to pass the VA Accountability Act, scheduled for a House floor vote next week, which will allow the VA Secretary to remove staff for poor performance or misconduct. We’ll be in touch with you more about this bill next week

  8. K T NOELL says:

    Sheesh! Did you miss this from Rothman?
    “No one gets to where these and other accomplished(political)personalities are today unless they are possessed of great talent, prudence, and a wealth of knowledge on(sic) history and civics.”
    I guess Rothman means Obama. Accomplished, as a liar. Prudence, oh yes. And a wealth of knowledge, to be sure.

    Let’s hear it for Obama, Mr. Rothman. Mark Twain had a word: Chucklehead.

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