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Defying the Odds: Trump’s Bronx Speech and Its Impact

Donald Trump’s Bronx rally on Thursday was memorable not only for its display of political virility in a foreign—i.e., Democrat—clime but also for the rhetorical excellence of the speech that Trump, in his usual circuitous manner, delivered.

Tweeting (or X-ing) the column I wrote about the event, I dilated on the suppleness of Trump’s speeches. “I know this sounds odd,” I wrote,

but here goes: Donald Trump has delivered some of the very best political speeches in American history.  We’re not supposed to notice that because, well, Trump.  But it is true.  Go back and listen to his 2017 speech in Warsaw.  It is a masterpiece.  Ditto his 2020 speech at Mount Rushmore. Although delivered in a different register, his speech yesterday in The Bronx will, I predict, turn out to be one of the most significant of the 2024 campaign.  Among other things, it will be seen to mark the moment when Trump’s gathering momentum became unstoppable.

Time will tell whether I am right about that concluding observation. While we wait, I thought I would share some reactions to my column—or, rather, to a misreading of something I said in response to a reader. I was asked “Do we know who writes [Trump’s speeches]?” I replied,  “Well, I do!” meaning I, like many people, know who writes Trump’s speeches, not that I write them myself.

A London-based friend whom I have not seen in a while wrote me an anguished, imploring note:  “Please tell me it isn’t true that you are writing Trump’s speeches. Surely it wasn’t you who advised him to say that immigrants were poisoning the blood of America? Straight out of the Mein Kampf playbook.”

Nope, not I. I am pretty sure the remark in question  was fermented and mis en bouteille by Trump himself.  Tout le monde—at least, the world of the elite media—was appalled by the remark just as they had been appalled by Trump’s calling shithole countries like Haiti “shithole countries,” his referring to Nikki Haley as “bird brain,” or many similar exercises in invective. In my view, none of Trump’s remarks bear any similarity to Mein Kampf, nor do I think he is an “authoritarian figure.”  My friend did say that “I wasn’t implying that Trump was actually a Hitler figure, but that his use of those words showed a staggering ignorance of their historical associations. I don’t see him as a fascist but as an ignoramus.” From “Hitler” to “ignoramus” is a slight upgrade, I suppose,  but not exactly the cat’s meow.

My friend and I went back and forth on Trump. In the course of the exchange, she went from comparing him to Hitler to saying that “most alarmingly he seems to be Putin’s useful idiot.” To that charge, I responded that “I know some people say that. I do note that Putin did not invade Ukraine during Trump’s presidency.  And I doubt Putin regarded Trump’s  destruction of hundreds of Russian troops in Syria in 2018 as a gesture of friendship, but who knows?”

My friend then allowed that “Putin annexed Crimea long before he went for the full invasion. What is most alarming is that Trump seems to feel he has Putin under his influence when it is really the other way around.”

I replied: “Right, 2014, back during Trump’s first term—oh, wait, Trump wasn’t POTUS yet.”

It was that other guy [I continued], the guy who sent blankets to Ukraine to show US support. In another demonstration of his subservience to Putin, Trump sent Javelin missiles instead of blankets.

In my view, the “Trump-is-Putin’s-puppet” meme is right out the Hillary “reset button” Clinton playbook, aided and abetted by such upstanding patriots as James Comey, Robert Mueller, Andrew Weismann, and Stefan Halper, with supporting roles for Christopher Steele, James Clapper, and John Brennan, not to mention the credulous left-wing media in this country.

My friend then offered this: “But look at his most recent claim that he could get Putin to release the US journalist held by Moscow immediately when he came to power, which was instantly (and humiliatingly) denied by the Kremlin.”  Quoth I:

I don’t quite see that his claim about being able to arrange for the release of the WSJ reporter was rebuffed means that he is “Putin’s useful idiot.” . . . I would also note that it is one thing for the Kremlin to respond to the statement of someone who, though famous, is a private citizen, and something else again for them to respond to someone who is the sitting President.  If Trump is reelected, I would not be surprised if that reporter is released, and I would expect it to be done sotto voce so that most people would not know whether it was done post hoc or propter hoc.

We started with Hitler, moved on to Putin, and then the conversation got personal. “My whole point,” my friend wrote, “is that [Trump] is seriously stupid and delusional. Not the man to be holding the most powerful office in the free world at the most dangerous historical moment since the end of the Cold War.”

To which I replied at some length:

Well, “seriously stupid and delusional” are heavy charges!  They prompt a few questions, though. Is Trump any “stupider and delusional” than Joe Biden? (A separate but nonetheless pertinent question: is Trump any more dangerous and destructive than was Barack Obama?)

I think we can agree that Trump is not an intellectual.  All things considered, though, I am not so sure that is a liability in a political leader.

Back in 2015-2016, I wrote probably a score of columns making fun of Donald Trump. He is a man that, in some ways, cries out for caricature.  I was at that time backing Ted Cruz. Then Cruz dropped out and it was Trump or Hillary.  To me, that was an easy choice.  I regarded Hillary as the most corrupt serious candidate for President in history (I did not then know about Biden’s unfathomable corruption).  So I cast my lot, somewhat reluctantly at first, in with Trump.  But the more I listened to him, the more I was impressed with what he said: about the inner cities, energy, regulation, the border, the media, foreign affairs.  True, he was not a master of the honeyed phrase, but I agreed with him about many things.

Then there was his actual performance.  He actually accomplished almost everything he promised to do (the great exception was getting rid of Obamacare: John McCain, in his last fit of pique, prevented that).

Trump pushed through a huge tax cut that benefitted the majority of taxpayers and increased federal revenue by billions.  He exploited our energy resources and made America energy independent.  He drastically curtailed illegal immigration.  He drastically reduced the regulatory burden on businesses. Until Covid hit, the economy boomed. Inflation and unemployment were low—minority unemployment was the lowest on record—and wages, especially wages at the lower end of the scale, soared.

Trump managed to get three Supreme Court Justices and hundreds of federal judges approved.  He challenged the destructive ideology of  critical race theory and what’s come to be called DEI.  In foreign affairs, he moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, something that had been promised since the time of Bill Clinton but which was never done. He brought into being the Abraham Accords, a world historical achievement, in my opinion, which should have won him the Nobel Peace Prize.  He destroyed ISIS.  He rebuilt the US military infrastructure. And he did all this, remember, to the steady drum beat of a hostile media and deep state apparatus that kept screaming about (we know now) illusionary Russian collusion, etc.

Trump’s two biggest liabilities, in my view, were incontinent spending and poor personnel choices.  I am afraid that he has not learned to forgo the former.  About the latter, though, he seems to have made great strides.  If he is elected we won’t see anymore Rex Tillersons or Jim Mattises.  Whether he will be able to navigate the perilous, weed- and snake-infested waters of The Swamp is another question.  I have recommended he bypass Washington altogether, beginning with holding his inauguration elsewhere.  I don’t think he will, though, and I think it is an open question whether he can triumph over the entrenched elite that actually governs the country.

But the bottom line, for me, is that Trump was, despite the monolithic hostility of the establishment, an extraordinarily successful president.  Was that the work of a “seriously stupid and delusional” figure?  I don’t think so, but opinions, I’ve noticed, vary.

Having begun with Hitler and moving on to Putin, we ended with Mussolini. My friend wrote that

Over here we are appalled by the choice between Biden who is certainly dangerously incompetent and Trump who looks to Europeans like Mussolini. We feel we are much closer to global threats than Americans and find Trump’s isolationism terrifying. I really hoped that Biden would stand aside. I still think it possible for him to find a VP who would make an acceptable replacement if and when he becomes totally incapable. It is difficult to convey just how much panic there is here over the state of US politics

As of my sitting down to write this, I had the last word. “I confess,” I responded,

that I don’t see the Trump as Mussolini (or Hitler) meme. We saw what he was like as president and, leaving aside the media hysteria, I would argue that there were no fascist signposts.

I also don’t think that “America First” is isolationist; rather, it is an attitude that urges caution about foreign adventurism.  It has been a theme in one major current of American policy since George Washington’s Farewell Address, which bears re-reading.

The subject of “global threats” is a large one.  I myself am much more worried about Xi than Putin, but I understand that opinions on the threat Putin poses differ. I think it is still possible that Biden will be pushed aside.  It may well be that the June debate is a sort of audition for his retirement foisted on him by his puppet masters. If, as is eminently possible, he blows it, the calls for him  to withdraw may become overwhelming.  The party is in a jam, though, because it will be very difficult for them to replace Kamala Harris and were she the candidate Trump would win in a landslide.  I am coming to think that he might well win in a landslide anyway, but we’re still six months out and, as Harold Wilson famously observed, a week is a long time in politics.

We’ve come a long way from the rally in the Bronx. But Trump’s peroration is still ringing in my ears: “It doesn’t matter whether you are black or brown or white, we are all Americans. We all want better opportunity—and I’m not just going to promise it, I’m going to deliver it, as I did against all odds for four straight years.”

The man I heard in the Bronx bears scant resemblance to the bumbling yet dangerous ogre that the world has fabricated around the name Trump.  But the very fact that he has been so effectively demonized should give us pause.  If nothing else, it shows what a large task awaits us all.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for task task says:

    Trump is not the problem. The progressive, left, the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party, which now appears overwhemlmingly to be the entire elected party, is so out of touch with the American electorate that the only way they can win is to import votes, buy votes, and rig elections. There are exceptions and they are notable. The newly educated, and yet to be productive, floating above the fanfare with loans based on printed fiat money, think the problems in the world exist because they were educated to believe that there is not enough communism and too much capitalism. Women, for as long as I can remember, have been taught that men, and not nature, are responsible for any perceived frailty and that they can make money as well as gestate, deliver and raise children simultaneously. I wonder how Herman Melville would have written “Moby Dick” if the ship, named the Pequod, would have been populated with only women sailors with the likes of a Hillary Clinton as the Captain? There are differences in what men and women do well, as designed by nature, which will eventually be assisted and augmented by AI and technology but the psychology the individual is born with, as a species, can never be edited or eliminated by all the reeducation the teachers’ unions can manage to create and institute under a never ending barrage of acronyms that do the same thing as does DEI associated with its symbiotic brethren, the Civil Right’s Act of 1964, that spawned it, along with the cultural radioactive fallout, generated since its inception, that all of us will be forced to deal with, civilly, this November.

  2. So much attention is showered upon candidates’ personalities during elections, which misleads the public about the qualities necessary to a good executive. Chiefly among those qualities is good character. Very little discussion of that crucial element is ever discussed in relation to candidates for high office, probably because it is as rare in those circles as Diogenes’ honest man was. To that end, Trump does not fit the bill for those of us who look for good character in a president. As a bonafide fuddy-duddy when it comes to marriage and the fidelity given to the Office of the President of the United States, can anyone trust a man who can’t make his marriages work? Who cheats on wife #3 after giving birth to their child? Who is obsessively concerned with “Me! Me! Me!”? Trump had some astounding failures along with those so-called successes: massive piling-up of debt, COVID response (two weeks to slow the spread lie, turning over governance to Anthony Fauci, legendary fight with Thomas Massie over proxy voting in the House and passage of a fraud-and-waste laden PPP Act), his failure to uphold promised exits (not “renegotiations”) from NATO and out of NAFTA/CAFTA and the rotten trade agreements signed by his predecessors. I won’t harangue his elevation of his special JarED to advisory role, which was flat-out nepotism. To me and others, the most important promises he made were unfulfilled. I do not agree that he can save the country. We are responsible to save our country, regardless of who holds public office. This is OUR country, not Trump’s or Biden’s or any individual’s land.

    I am voting for Donald Trump because he is not Joe Biden and he is not a Democrat. I hope that his election will mean a return to the United States as sovereign territory in every sense. The breadth and depth of foreign influence in the United States must stop. Eject Mexican, Chinese, and other officials and diplomatic staff who meddle in our governance and elections. Authorize states to do the same. Organize an Eisenhower-inspired mass deportation, end of visa “guest worker” fraud along with revocation of F-1 EB, H and other such visas which are abused beyond any reform, and finally a massive tax on all foreign remittances. If he can accomplish all of that, he will begin the journey of restoration of the republic. It will not end with him. It will take decades to reverse the damage done by the Bushes, Clintons, and Obama and other nefarious actors in the White House over the years.

  3. Matt Drudge has gone nuts today with his 80 point headlines regarding Trump’s appearance at the Libertarian Convention----falsely claiming Trump was nearly booed off the stage. I watched the linked videos and saw a mix of reactions----some good, some not. With not seeing the faces in the crowd, it was hard to tell if some were angry jeering or good-natured jeering. Libertarians (I’m a small “ell”) are a funny bunch. The point is that whenever the situation might be ambiguous, the media chooses “dark and destructive” negative connotations.

    I’m mostly immune to it all. But Kimball’s essay strikes the nail on the head. All of those who see Donald Trump as the second coming of AH do so from the gut, not the brain. As shown by Kimball, each of their examples of Trump as ogre are based on factual errors and misrepresentations by an antagonistic press. What saddens me is the enormous number that fall for that clap-trap. It says much about our decline of rationality.

    As far as Trump’s Bronx appearance goes----even the anti-Trump press was forced to admit that were a great number of Bronx-ites (Bronxians?) there giving very vocal support. Joe has a minority problem. A very big minority problem. And it isn’t going away. Much of it is due to local Progressive mayors and city officials giving preferential treatment to illegal aliens, but much of it sticks to him, as well, because of stupidly loaded racial remarks he has delivered in the past.

    In the last 10 years (as I think it began during Obama’s last two years in office) there has been a huge demographic shift between the Democrat and Republican Parties. Democrats first abandoned the working class and then they were exposed as do nothings when it came to actually doing things to make life better for minorities. At the same time they grew fonder of the elite, the love of war, the embrace of the Deep State, and a hot blooded affair with large corporations. All (most?) of these disaffected Democrats began shifting to the Republican Party.

    At the same time, Chamber of Commerce Republicans began a clandestine affair with Democrat leadership. As did the Neocons. War is good for business after all. Illegal immigration provides very cheap labor.

    I expect to see the new lines of Party participation will harden this election season. My hope is that those at the top of the Republican Party truly realize and accept this shift and act accordingly. Else, we will lose all that we have gained.

  4. Mr. Kimball’s summation of PDJT’s accomplishments–and they were many–and his relatively few failures, makes the NeverTrumpers / anti-Trump folks appear either childishly naive, politically obtuse, or just plain anti-American–or perhaps a varying blend of the three.

    I would agree that Trump is rather inarticulate (though listening to his speeches, one could argue otherwise), and is woefully thin-skinned and prone to falling into political traps professional politicians could see coming from next week. And, as Mr. Kimball notes, Trump’s personnel choices hampered his administration as much as the Mueller/Weissman investigation witch hunt.

    But all things considered, Trump’s term in office was a resounding success, which makes the shrill and bleating lamentations of the NeverTrump crowd all the more perplexing. As adults, we all come to understand that unless one is born as a trust-fund baby, you cannot have everything you want in life–there are compromises. This verity is no better exemplified than in the choice of a life-partner. There are trade-offs and give-and-take that must accompany a stable, relatively happy coexistence with a partner. And, I would argue, it is no different in the choice of a leader.

    As none other than the noted political philosopher, Mick Jagger, mused;
    You can’t always get what you want,
    But if you try sometime
    You’ll find
    You get what you need

    America needs Donald Trump. I hope and pray we get him back.

  5. The last thing we need as President is an intellectual. As Trump and Ronaldus have proven we need people used to risk and the use of practical leverage; both men understood America unleashing hydrocarbon energy - economic leverage - neutered our enemies powered by oil. Intellectuals care more about offending our enemies which is why we are where we are.

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