A Note From Rod
Terror in Nice
Trump’s Personnel Choices
Inside the Platform Committee
Latest Poll Numbers
Dallas and Race
I had finished this letter and was ready to put it (and myself) to bed, when I got the news of the Nice terror attacks.
84 more people are dead. We don’t know a lot more than that. We do know ISIS is celebrating and telling it’s people to use #Nice; but of course we’re being encouraged not to assume anything.
We also know that we are now witnessing attacks on major NATO cities about once a week. There was one terror attack on U.S. soil in the entire Bush era. But ISIS has murdered over 5,000 people in the last month alone, nearly twice as many as died on 9/11.
Shepherd Smith is on TV bloviating about how nothing can be done to stop this. But obviously that’s not true.
How many more innocents have to die on the altar of the left’s politically correct insanity? That is the question.
We’re in Cleveland this week, the week immediately before the Republican National Convention, in several meetings, including and especially of the Council for National Policy.
There’s a lot to say about that. We’ll get to it in a minute.
But first, I just wanted to note that – as I predicted – the world did not in fact end with Brexit. Yes, I know, we’re all bankrupt now, and the world has entered a new dark age (as more than a few have seriously suggested would happen), and a new world war is expected to break out any day.
Yeah, right. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 have set record highs this week. Indeed, London’s FTSE 100 just hit its own 11-month high – nearly its all-time high – and the pound is rallying, not heading toward parity as nearly everyone predicted.
Could it be – and yes, I know this is crazy talk – could it be that all the hysterics were so much propaganda? That the Remain campaign, the media and elite “expert” opinion conspired in a campaign of fear-mongering to advance their own biases and maintain their own cozy deals with an unaccountable, unelected bureaucracy in Brussels at the expense of the sovereignty and interests of the British people?
Why yes, yes it could. And the next time you hear elite leftists tell you the sky is falling (literally or figuratively), you would be wise to remember it.
Oh, and for those who care about such things, Theresa May just sacked nine cabinet ministers – including the treacherous Michael Gove – and named Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary.
God Save the Queen.
Moments ago, Mike Pence was announced as Donald Trump’s Vice President. I can tell you this is a huge disappointment to me, for one very good reason: I really wanted Newt Gingrich.
Pence badly fumbled his state’s religious liberty fight. But he’s otherwise been a good governor and is certainly a very sound choice. He’s long identified himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” He helped launched the fight to defund Planned Parenthood. He was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and was John Boehner’s principle opposition for leader in 2006 (promising a return to the values of Newt’s 1994 Republican Revolution). He has strong foreign policy credentials and fought to reform the abuse of earmarks. He fought to defeat No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D and the 2008 bank bailouts.
Pence also puts a Midwesterner on the ticket, helping shore up Indiana, which Obama won in 2008, and potentially helping in Ohio without forcing Trump to pick up the abominable John Kasich.
I won’t pretend Pence excites me. But he’s a conservative, and pro-life, and I’m grateful that I don’t have to defend a choice like Chris Christie, or worse, Mike Flynn, or a host of others who would have been unpalatable at best.
Newt would have been a better choice for many, many reasons. I am, though, much encouraged by a statement The Donald made several weeks ago, to wit: “Newt has been my friend for a long time. And I’m not saying anything, and I’m not telling even Newt anything, but I can tell you, in one form or another, Newt Gingrich is going to be involved with our government. That I can tell you.”
A lot of us still have a lot of reservations about Donald Trump. But as one of our movement’s founding fathers, Morton Blackwell, has always taught us,personnel is policy. It frequently doesn’t matter if the candidate is conservative if he ends up appointing leftists (as is too often the case); or if he’s liberal if he ends up appointing conservatives (as is almost never the case). The staffers have the officeholder’s ear; they are also the ones who implement his policies in detail, indeed detail he rarely sees except in one-page briefings.
This can be far worse than you might think. I have personally seen trusted appointees lie quite directly to the officeholder to implement the exact opposite of his vision. Personnel is policy. Personnel is everything.
So I find myself quite encouraged right now, much more than I expected to be. You know about Trump’s judicial list, which he promises to be the group from which he will name his Supreme Court picks. A lot of people responded that Trump need not keep his word, and that’s certainly true. But no previous nominee ever offered us a list of any sort: they expected us to trust them too, but without any promises at all.
I’m encouraged by the list. But I’m more encouraged by how The Donald came to it. He didn’t go to the ABA. He didn’t call his leftist pro-abort federal judge sister. No, he went to the Federalist Society. The team at the finest, most conservative lawyers’ group in America is Donald Trump’s chosen source of all counsel on judicial nominations. That is…remarkable.
A bit later I’ll spend some time with Steve Moore and Larry Kudlow, whom along with Art Laffer (of Laffer Curve fame) Trump has chosen to be the architects of his economic policy. These men, plus George Gilder, were the brightest stars in Reagan’s economic firmament. There are a thousand other people Trump could have picked. He picked them.
There are people I’m not thrilled with. I have serious reservations about Paul Manafort, for instance, though he may well be the right guy to run the campaign. I’m no fan of Chris Christie either, though I know people who’ve been asked to join the transition team who are clearly outstanding and would likely have been on a Cruz transition team as well. And quietly, word is out that Trump has deputized the Heritage Foundation to staff his administration, in much the same way he’s tapped the Federalist Society on judges.
Personnel is policy.
I say this objectively from outside the Trump camp. But increasingly, I find that the Trump camp is doing 1,000% better on these most important of things than all the camps I’ve been in since Reagan’s. At what point do we pay more attention to what’s actually happening than to the fears and speculation of a lost primary?
That’s a serious question.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing I’ve seen – in a long time – is what’s happened here in Cleveland this week.
I’m here with Tony Perkins right now. Tony is head of the Family Research Council, by far the most potent, most effective social conservative lobby on Capitol Hill (he’s also the current President of the Council for National Policy, and doing a very fine job of it).
Tony has been shepherding the Platform Committee effort, which is itself a bit surreal. And we’ve won. The Committee has just produced the most conservative platform in modern history. It’s a marvel.
But that’s not why I’m talking about it.
The Platform absolutely matters: if you don’t believe it, consider how vehemently the left and the RINOs (but I repeat myself) fight us over it year after year after year. And this is another “personnel is policy” thing. Good nominees and bad, the nominee’s staff has fought the party (which is overwhelmingly conservative) on the platform every year since Reagan. Bush 41 fought us. Dole fought us. W. fought us. McCain fought us. Romney fought us.
Tony tells me Donald Trump not only let the process work unhindered, he allowed the elected representatives of our party to do their job without arm twisting: Trump’s people actually helped the conservatives.
It’s hard for me to process such a thing. It is the world turned upside down.
One aside: you’ve heard a lot of media reports about how certain Millennials on the Platform Committee were agitating for assorted leftist positions. And that’s true, so far as it goes.
What the media has not reported is that the overwhelming majority of the Millennials on the committee were the people fighting hardest for a more conservative platform, leading the charge to amend planks to strengthen, not weaken, them.
It’s that Brexit thing again, folks. The media tells you what they want you to think. They aren’t telling you the truth. They aren’t your friends, they aren’t objective, and they mean to beat you, not inform you. You better be wise enough to get that.
I’ve been asked why the platform matters. It’s a good question.
First, the platform is a formal statement of who we are as a party, as agreed to by our delegates, elected locally across America through a grassroots process. While they may be bound to a particular candidate on the first ballot, when it comes to the platform they are not bound by anything except their beliefs and the beliefs of those who sent them.
Platforms are a statement. They are also a barometer. And the difference between what our platform says and what the one the Democrats will shortly produce could not be greater.
Second, our platform is not the platform of one Presidential race, but of all Republicans and all Republican candidates for all of the more than 500,000 public offices in this country, for the next four years. Some will scoff at it: that’s their right. But they will do so knowing they’re endangering their position in the process. The success of the Tea Party has made that clear, as has (on the other side) the defeat of Hillary Clinton by Barack Obama and her near defeat by Bernie Sanders.
Third, some of the guys who scoff at the platform would quickly tell you how much it matters and how much the party had betrayed us if, for instance, the platform were changed to endorse gay marriage or abortion. And they’d be right, because the platform is a statement of who we are, and to a large degree is why most people choose one party over the other, even if they haven’t read the documents themselves. When we say this or that politician has “betrayed us,” we are generally holding them to the standard of the platform.
But perhaps most important, the platform matters for two very specific negative reasons. 1. If the platform ever shifted left, many of our candidates would immediately shift with it, and many of us would find ourselves without a party. And 2. Most Presidential candidates have attempted to cause exactly that shift, presumably partly because they were RINOs, and partly because they were ashamed of us and of our party.
Again, Trump’s handling of this is…remarkable.
A couple weeks back, a lot of my #NeverTrump friends (while I have not endorsed Trump, but I have never been #NeverTrump) were telling me that The Donald was done. Hillary was ahead (never mind that the Democrat is always ahead at this point) and that was that. Game over.
Kind of like Brexit in the days and even hours before the vote.
Today – which is to say, before there’s been time for a bounce from the Convention or (if such a thing is possible) from Mike Pence – the picture is quite different. Rasmussen has Trump 44%, Clinton 37%. Crucially, #NeverTrump notwithstanding, Trump is holding more of his party than Hillary is of hers, with many Sanders supporters incensed at his “betrayal” in supporting her this week.
Possibly even worse for the Hildebeast: in the aftermath of the FBI’s findings on her handling of state secrets, voters now question her qualifications for office, and see the non-politician Trump as at least equally qualified. 41% see Clinton as better qualified vs. 40% for Trump. But in April, Clinton led 50% to 27%.
CBS/NYT has the candidates tied at 40% all. But the real story is in the Times’ lede: “Hillary Clinton has emerged from the F.B.I. investigation into her email practices as secretary of state a wounded candidate with a large and growing majority of voters saying she cannot be trusted.” Indeed: 67% now say she is not trustworthy, and almost 60% say she should have been indicted.
Oh, and in a still problematic “recovery,” Trump beats her on economy and jobs 52% – 41%.
Still, national polls are hooey. It’s the state-by-state stuff that matters. And that’s even more interesting still.
Yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll has Trump with a 3-point lead in Florida, 42% to 39%, and tied in Ohio, 41% all. These numbers matter because no Republican is going to win the White House without these two states, period.
Far more impressive though (and a good sign for embattled Pat Toomey) is that Trump now has a 2-point lead in Pennsylvania, 43% to 41%. No Republican Presidential candidate has won Pennsylvania since 1988, and a Trump lead here goes a long way toward validating the belief that Trump puts new states (and traditional Dem constituencies) into play.
If Trump wins Pennsylvania, that’s the election. Even if Trump loses Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire.
A lot of this will turn on turnout. But Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama, and her trustworthiness numbers aside, primary turnout shows it. GOP primary turnout was up this year a shocking 62%. Democrat turnout – even with all the intensity of Bernie’s fans – was down a disconcerting 21%.
All of which tells us that the comparison to the Brexit upset may be quite valid. And oh by the way, to date, Hillary has outspent Trump 31-1 in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
We didn’t publish last week, so I didn’t talk about Dallas. But lots of other people did, probably more eloquently than I would have. George W. Bush’s speech at the memorial service was especially special. Whatever else may be said of him, he was and is a great man.
I have lived in very poor neighborhoods while driving really old, crappy cars, and I can tell you that the police do treat you differently. Very differently. Frequently not-at-all-okay differently.
I solved my problem by buying a brown minivan and moving to a better neighborhood. It turns out that brown minivans are stealth: you can actually drive 127 MPH and no cop will ever notice. Presumably this is because they figure the driver is likely to be a mommy with five screaming babies, and no one – no one – wants to deal with, much less interrupt, that.
But my solution is not an option for lots of black people (they also don’t have the option of not looking like black people). So Newt Gingrich’s speech was also right. I know it bothered some people. But it needed saying.
What did not need saying was the loathsome race-baiting of both Obama and Hillary, the unending tweets by BLM “activists” calling for people to kill cops (in which Twitter is actively complicit), and the general outpouring of abject racism by Democrats across this country.
A reality check is needed.
First, on a per-arrest basis, more white people get killed by cops than blacks: about 1 death per 22,615 arrests for whites vs. 1 death per 24,750 arrests for blacks. It’s not a big difference, but that’s the point.
Second, most police shootings happen in high-crime areas. And most high-crime areas – for whatever reason – have relatively high concentrations of African Americans. This is evidenced by the 490 murders last year in Democrat Chicago alone, and the whopping 342 murders in that same city in just six months so far this year. (And no, those were not murders committed by police officers.)
Indeed, it is reasonably safe to say that high violent crimes rates are better correlated to a city being run by Democrats, and to their having strict gun laws, than they are to race. But I digress; and in any case, cities run by Democrats are generally also heavily black.
So if a police officer shoots someone, which is more likely to happen in a high crime area, he is by definition more likely to shoot a black person. This is just math.
And if you happen to live in one of those places, you can be certain that the cops are always a lot more on edge than they are where I live. And the residents get a certain resentment toward them, as I did myself when I lived in those poor neighborhoods back when. So the way people there act around cops is different, certainly more aggressive. And the cops are more likely to react badly to that.
Does any of this tell us anything about racism? No it does not.
But it does tell us a great deal about the leaders of the Democrat Party, who have run all these cities for decades, in many cases for over a century. They have allowed these things to fester. They have pursued policies that have consistently made things worse. And they have used the divisions thereby caused to divide people, and to profit by that division.
That’s what Hillary was doing last week. It was blatant, and it was shameful. Meanwhile, her supporters were calling for the murder of more and more cops, and of white people generally.
Why now? Why the rising crescendo? For the same reason the Obama White House “can’t understand” the Islamic terror aspect of Orlando and San Bernardino and focuses instead on guns: if the threat is foreign, Trump wins. If the threat is domestic, Hillary’s chances are better. And if the threat is to gays and blacks – and from Christians and whites – then turnout improves and Hillary wins.
Dallas was a tragedy. So is the needless death of any citizen. But there’s a reason 60% believe race relations have gotten worse under Obama. And the only way to stop it is to defeat the people enflaming it.
A final point on this. Grover Norquist noted a few weeks ago that the Democrats seem to be committing the same suicide as they did in 1994, when they ran on a shrill cry for gun control. Bill Clinton later admitted that it was that mistake that produced the first Republican Congress in decades. That wasn’t all there was to it, but he wasn’t wrong.
Hillary seems to be adding to that error the “brilliance” of the summer of 1968.
If memory serves, the “law and order” candidate won that election too.
Like many of you, I have my issues with Reince Priebus. But I’m sitting in a meeting with him right now, and he’s talking about his faith and how it relates to his work at the RNC. And I’m struck by the fact that we truly are blessed to have a man like this at the head of our party. He’s been hindered by many forces beyond his control, and by the limits of his own power. But if we had 1,000 Reince Priebuses, the Republican Party – and America – would be a far better place.
Finally, there are some people here calling for a coup to “free the delegates” in hopes of their dumping The Donald on the first ballot. A few hours ago, the Rules Committee crushed their effort: it was pretty overwhelming. But efforts continue.
Space does not permit me to address that in this newsletter, but I encourage you to read my article on this. They are courting a disaster.
Next time, we’ll have convention wrap-up, but also several technological stories that are about to change everything, and also some disturbing religious liberty matters that are genuinely menacing. It’s been a rough couple weeks on that front. We’ll address it.
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