Statement one: Within the last week, Donald Trump has attacked President Bush for failing to prevent 9/11, accused the Bush administration of intentionally lying the nation into war, and is now flat-out endorsing the central pillar of Obamacare -- a law he claims to oppose. Statement two: According to the polls, Donald Trump is about to win deep-red South Carolina by double digits tonight. Am I awake? Watch this exchange from last night's CNN town hall forum, and try to remember that this is the Republican primary:
"I like the mandate...I don't want people dying in the streets."
Mind-melting stuff on several levels. Trump has been running around accusing Ted Cruz of "lying" about him for, among other things, linking Trump to Obamacare and noting his support for government-run healthcare. Thing is, Trump is an advocate for big government healthcare, having proposed an incoherent mess of a plan under which coverage is mandatory, universal and paid for by the government. Trump has now made this even more explicit, embracing the central pillar of Obamacare: The individual mandate tax, which happens to be one of the law's most-despised features, especially among conservatives. Whenever he's challenged on these views, Trump employs the demagogic, dishonest left-wing talking point that the alternative to his Statist solution is a hellish dystopia in which Americans are expiring in gutters. Oh, and remember how Trump has been ripping Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz for "giving us" Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who's been "a disaster" on Obamacare? Roberts' historic sin was switching his vote at the eleventh hour and finding a way to uphold the law by inventing a justification for -- ta-da! -- the individual mandate. Which Trump now applauds. Surreal. His Obamacare endorsement should be featured in Rubio and Cruz ads immediately, even if they prompt more irate, empty threats of a frivolous lawsuits.
Meanwhile, Katie noted earlier that new evidence unearthed from 2002 proves that Trump was actually in favor of the Iraq war before it was launched, directly contradicting a claim he's made over and over in speeches and debates. Trump has been pretending that he was a bold, fierce, prescient opponent of the war before all those awful politicians set it into motion -- proof of his superior judgment. Several people have pointed out that there's no contemporaneous evidence of this alleged stance; now we know for a fact that it's a self-serving false fairy tale. When confronted with the 2002 audio clip by Anderson Cooper, Trump concedes that he may have said he favored the invasion at the time...but that it doesn't matter because he wasn't a politician at the time and he eventually turned against the war anyway, or something. Then there was this Iraq-related exchange with a voter:
Trump now says that he doesn't really know if Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, come to think of it. Besides, "I'm not talking about lying," he asserts. Excuse me? Let's go to video tape from, um, six days ago:
"They lied! They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none!"
Does he not remember the words that come out of his mouth? Or does he not care, secure in the knowledge that most of his fans will cheer and defend whatever his latest statement might be. To recap: Trump says he hates Obamacare, but he'll keep its tent pole standing, and expand the government's role. He says he had the foresight and wisdom to oppose the Iraq War before it started, except he didn't. He insists Bush lied, or maybe Bush didn't, plus, no one ever mentioned lying anyway. Couple that volatility with Trump's wild flailing on the "stolen" Iowa election and Ted Cruz's eligibility, and a picture emerges of a reckless, erratic, ignorant man who increasingly adopts left-wing views and talking points while running down members of his own alleged political party. I'll leave you with my discussion of Trump's feud with the Pope:
Parting thought: Given Trump's strong proclivity toward instigating and escalating wars of words, imagine the damage he could do if empowered with the ability to wage actual wars. He instinctively overreacts and overreaches out of anger. Just what you want in someone in command of the world's most powerful military.