The Enigmatic Donald Trump

Would I bet serious money that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton will continue to be presidential candidates on Election Day 2016? No, I might bet $10 or $20 they won’t, but bet the family farm?  No, that would be too much of a gamble because, while I may be reading the political tea leaves correctly, I could also be terribly wrong.

Donald Trump was never cut out to be a presidential candidate. In fact, to watch him campaign on a day-to-day basis one wonders if he might be actually trying to elect Hillary Clinton.  No man or woman with serious ambitions for the presidency would ever say or do the things that Trump says and does on almost a daily basis.  I don’t agree with Hillary Clinton on much of anything, but when she claims that Donald Trump does not have the temperament to be president of the United States I have to concede the point… and Trump tries every day to prove her right.

In fact, if the American people had hired an executive search firm to prepare a list of the top 1,000 Democrats and the top 1,000 Republicans, those most capable of serving as president of the United States, it’s almost a dead certainty that the names Obama, Clinton, and Trump would not appear on that list.

Not only is Trump unattractive, physically, he has a most unattractive personality. If he were an average man with a modest net worth he would never have had women named Ivana, Marla, and Melania in his life.  Nor would he have many male friends.  Most men are very much aware of the shortcomings of other men and tend to recognize the “warts” that other men possess.  To put it bluntly, men find boorishness, boastfulness, and misplaced egocentricity to be most unattractive in other men and they generally avoid others with those characteristics.

From the time he first entered the presidential primaries on June 15, 2015, Trump has been a perfect example of how not to attract supporters. His speaking style can best be described as “underwhelming.”  Instead of making his political points firmly and objectively, in a forceful but modulated tone, he has a tendency to scream and shout at his audiences… his face beet red and his eyes bulging.  However, sometime during the week of August 8, 2016, someone in his organization must have coached him a bit on his delivery.  As a result, when he spoke before the National Association of Home Builders on August 11, his delivery was so low-key that he appeared to be falling asleep at the podium.  If he has any hope of winning in November he will have to find a middle ground.

There are men such as Dr. Myles Martel who could work wonders with Trump if allowed to do so. As the nation’s premier leadership communications advisor, Martel has coached countless political leaders, including presidential candidates, governors, senators, ambassadors and cabinet members, as well as heads of major corporations and professional organizations.  But the question arises, is Donald Trump coachable?  Is he capable of taking good advice?  His actions to date would seem to indicate that it would be easier to turn a supertanker around in a backyard swimming pool than to convince Trump that “being himself” is a certain prescription for defeat.  Trump clearly adores himself just as he is.  It matters little to him that more than 300 million people who have a major stake in his political success or failure might feel otherwise.

However, in his August 8 speech before the Detroit Economic Club, Trump appeared to be falling in line with longstanding Republican principles. He reminded his audience that, “When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own.  The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit.  Our roads and bridges fell into disrepair, yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.”

In order to turn our economy around and provide much-needed jobs, Trump proposed an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans; a simplification of the federal tax code; a reduction in the number of tax brackets to just three (12%, 25%, and 33%); a maximum corporate tax rate of 15%; a child-care deduction for working parents; the repatriation of trillions of dollars of business profits now deposited overseas; elimination of the “death tax;” and a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations.  He also promised to develop a list of all regulations imposed by federal agencies which are not necessary, do not improve public safety, and which needlessly kill jobs.  He said, “Those regulations will be eliminated.”

During the week of August 14 he appeared to continue his turnaround and he left his detractors with a bit of hope. In three speeches in which he covered national security, the fight against international terrorism, the economy, and race relations, he read from a teleprompter and actually began to sound presidential.

Addressing the Obama/Clinton approach to radical Islamic terrorism, Trump was right on target. He said, “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of radical Islam.  All actions should be oriented around this goal, and any country which shares this goal will be our ally.  We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.”

As a matter of policy in a Trump Administration, he proposed bringing to an end the era of nation-building.  He said, “As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal.  We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel.  We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”

On the subject of immigration, he said, “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people… In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law…

Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.  To put these new procedures in place, we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism…

“Finally, we will pursue aggressive criminal or immigration charges against anyone who lends material support to terrorism…  To accomplish a goal, you must state a mission: the support networks for radical Islam in this country will be stripped out and removed one by one.  Immigration officers will also have their powers restored.  Those who are guests in our country that are preaching hate will be asked to return home.”

Then, in an August 19th speech in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump charged boldly into waters that other Republicans have been far too cowardly to enter in the past 60 or 70 years.  Speaking directly to the African-American community, he said, “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed… What the hell do you have to lose?” It is a question that is long overdue in the American political arena and Trump is to be commended for his willingness to raise the issue.

But then, in a most un-presidential tirade, he renewed his long-running feud with former congressman Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe program.  Following some unflattering comments made by Morning Joe guests, Trump just couldn’t resist the temptation to respond.  In his tweet he threatened to expose details of Scarborough and Brzezinski’s longtime romantic relationship, referring to the two of them as “clowns” and describing Ms. Brzezinski as “off the wall, a neurotic, and not very bright mess.”

If Trump is unable to ignore criticism from political commentators on a failing network with dismal ratings, how would he ever manage to deal with the same steady drumbeat of criticism directed at Barack Obama on a daily basis?

In an August 25 column by Caroline Glick, she took issue with those who say the presidential race is over and that Clinton has won.  In reply, she said, “the ‘official campaign’ won’t begin until September 26, when Clinton and Trump face off in their first presidential debate. Clinton is not a stellar debater and Trump, a seasoned entertainer, excels in these formats.

I believe that Glick is seriously mistaken and that the exact opposite is true. Clinton is a skilled debater and will be armed with all the necessary facts and figures to make her positions at least sound plausible to liberals and Democrats, while Trump has shown himself to be a skilled gutter-fighter with only a rudimentary grasp of the issues… capable of reversing himself on important policy issues on almost a daily basis.  If he attempts to use the same approach to Clinton that he used in his many debates with his Republican opponents, Clinton will wipe the floor with him.  The one thing that Trump has going for him is that he has tapped into the issues that most Americans are concerned about.  And while a clear majority of Americans agree with what he has to say on the major issues, they also wish that someone else was carrying that message.

What it all boils down to is this: If Donald Trump wins a majority of the electoral votes on November 8, we can all refer to him as our next president.  Conversely, if Hilary Clinton wins a majority of the electoral votes we will all be correct in referring to her as our last president.  If she is elected in November, the final days of this great experiment in self-government will be numbered.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.


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Political Correctness Taints the Olympics

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games are always a breathtaking spectacle. With each Olympic experience, one wonders what great technical and artistic miracles special effects technicians will produce for future Olympic ceremonies.  This year we were told that we could also look forward to seeing the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps… the winner of 19 gold medals in previous Olympics… marching at the head of the U.S. contingent, proudly carrying the stars and stripes.

But when the U.S. team entered the stadium we were immediately distracted. There, in the first row of athletes, just off Phelps’ left shoulder, was a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab.  What were the chances that, of the 554 members of the U.S. team, the one Muslim athlete on the team would end up marching in the front row?  Was it an accident… pure chance?  Or was she purposely placed in the front row by U.S. Olympic officials in an excess of political correctness?

It didn’t take long for the young woman, Ibtihaj Muhammad, to answer that question for us. In an interview with the Associated Press, she said, “I wish that, not just my life, but the lives of Muslims all over the world were a little bit easier, particularly in the United States.  I’m hoping that with my first time appearance as a member of Team USA here at the Olympics, I’m hoping that the rhetoric around the Muslim community will change.”  She went on to say, “I am excited to represent not just myself, my family, and my country – but also the greater Muslim community.”

A report in the August 8, 2016 edition of, titled “Muslim-American Olympian Criticizes her Country,” explained that, while Michael Phelps was elected by his teammates to carry the American flag, he was pressured to decline the honor in favor of Ms. Muhammad. According to the report, a CNN op-ed piece addressed to Phelps by W. Kamau Bell, suggested, “America has enough tall, successful rich white guys hogging the spotlight,” and that, “Muhammad carrying the flag would be nearly a one-stop inclusion shop.”

One wonders whether Ms. Muhammad has ever expressed concern over the difficulty of everyday life for Christians living in countries with Muslim majorities… assuming they are even allowed to live there. It is difficult to avoid the thought of what fate might have in store for a young Christian or Jewish woman who might go to a Muslim country and complain publicly about her “treatment.”

It was also interesting to ponder the nature of Ms. Muhammad’s sport. Was she a swimmer, a diver, a volleyball player, or a gymnast?  We could quickly reject all of those possibilities because of the skimpiness of the costumes worn in those events.  Participation in any of those sports would have made her an immediate target of Muslim religious police who might have had her stoned to death for exposing too much of her body.  Or they might have ordered her father or a brother to kill her in an “honor killing” for bringing shame upon her family name.

As it turns out, Ms. Muhammad’s sport of choice is fencing. This is understandable because, given the penchant of Muslims for hacking, stabbing, or slashing non-Muslims with knives, axes, machetes, and other sharp instruments, it’s only natural that Ms. Muhammad would gravitate toward the fencing competition.  Fighting and attacking others with knives and other sharp objects appears to be in the Muslim DNA.

If Ms. Muhammad is unhappy in America, or made to feel ill at ease, one wonders why she continues to live here. She is certainly free to live in any one of the many majority Muslim countries of the world.  She would likely be unable to drive an automobile, go to college, marry the man of her choice, participate in sports, or leave her home without being accompanied by her father or a brother.  But what the heck… if that would make her happy then she should go for it.  Most Americans would be happy to help defray the cost of a one-way plane ticket to the destination of her choice.

Like most Muslims in the U.S., Ms. Muhammad appears to be upset that she is expected to fully assimilate into American society. It has apparently escaped her attention that, when Germans, Swedes, and Norwegians arrived in America, they made no demands that the people already here must become Lutherans.  She is apparently unaware that, when Italians and the Spanish arrived here in large numbers, they made no demands that all Jews and Protestants must convert to Catholicism.  And when the British began arriving here in the 16th century, they made no demands that all Native Americans must swear allegiance to the Anglican Church or forfeit their lives.  Yet, in the late 20th century and the early 21st century, Muslims emigrating to America arrive here fully convinced that it is their duty to ultimately convert all non-Muslim Americans, and that the U.S. Constitution and U.S. federal and state law should be superseded by Sharia law.

In a July 14, 2016 article in the Washington Times, titled “Deport all Muslims who support shariah law,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is quoted as saying that, while all Muslim mosques should be monitored, the American ruling class is afraid to do so.  He said, “This is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary…  We better rethink the rules, or we’re going to lose the war.”  He concluded by suggesting that we should identify all Muslims who believe in Sharia law over U.S. law and deport those who do.

Gingrich’s politically incorrect suggestion created a firestorm of criticism from liberals and Democrats, much like Donald Trump’s suggestion that all Muslim immigration should be put on hold until we find a way to adequately vet them. What critics fail to understand is that we already have sufficient statutory authority to do exactly as Trump and Gingrich suggest.

For example, every Muslim immigrant who obtains U.S. citizenship though the naturalization process is required to take the statutory citizenship oath, as prescribed by Congress. The oath reads, in part, as follows: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same… and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

In other words, the U.S. citizenship oath requires all immigrants, including Muslims, to renounce all other allegiances and requires them to agree to abide by the U.S. Constitution and all federal and state laws. And if an immigrant later decides that he/she cannot abide by that oath, and insists upon subjecting themselves to a legal system other than U.S. law, U.S. law provides that they may be subject to a process called “denaturalization,” and ultimately deported.

The grounds for denaturalization are as follows: 1) Falsification or Concealment of Relevant Facts. (Examples include failure to disclose past criminal activities or lying about one’s real name or identity). 2) Refusal to Testify Before Congress. (Naturalized citizens may not refuse to cooperate with congressional committees investigating their participation in groups or organizations whose stated purpose is to harm U.S. officials or overthrow the U.S. government).  3) Membership in Subversive Groups. (Citizenship may be revoked if the government can prove membership in a subversive organization within five years of becoming a naturalized citizen.  Examples include, but are not limited to, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.).  4) Dishonorable Military Discharge. (Immigrants obtaining U.S. citizenship by serving in the military may have their citizenship revoked if they are dishonorably discharged before serving five years). .

Children granted citizenship based on a parent’s status may also lose their citizenship after that parent has been denaturalized. When U.S. citizenship is revoked, the defendant is subject to deportation as soon as the verdict is rendered.

In addition, in the event the bar for denaturalization is set too high, we have Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (the McCarran-Walter Act) which provides no less than 31 criteria under which “classes of aliens shall be ineligible to receive visas and shall be excluded from admission into the United States.”

Included among these, Section 212(a)28 of the Act denies access to all aliens “who are anarchists, or who have at any time been members of or affiliated with any organization that advocates or teaches the overthrow of the government of the United States by force, violence, or other unconstitutional means.” It is this statute that President Carter cited in his Executive Order of April 7, 1980, invalidating the visas of all Iranians then in the United States and prohibiting the issuance of new visas to Iranians for the duration of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Not only is Islam completely incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, making it impossible for a devout Muslim to hold full allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, Islam is the only “religious” movement on Earth that proposes to extend its dominion to every corner of the globe by rape, murder, terror, and oppression. Speaker Gingrich warns, “We better rethink the rules, or we’re going to lose the war.”  I disagree.  There’s no need to “rethink the rules.”  The necessary laws are already on the books.  What we lack is the courage to enforce them.

Ms. Muhammad may be honestly concerned that the lives of Muslims all over the world could be “a little bit easier, particularly in the United States.” I would suggest to her that it would be difficult for us to make life in the U.S. any easier for Muslims.  It’s too bad she can’t feel the level of unease that most Americans feel every time radical Islamists decide to kill large numbers of innocent people… just because their interpretation of the Koran tells them it’s their duty to do so.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.






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The Passion of Political Movements

Since the early years of the Great Depression in the late 20s, the United States has witnessed four great political movements in which the principal outcome of the movement was a lasting imprint on our political and cultural history.

The first of these was the Roosevelt administration and its signature program, the New Deal… a collection of social and economic experiments that changed forever the political and economic foundations of our great nation. It was during those years, between 1933 and 1952, that Democrats initiated the long process of assembling a diverse coalition of special interests… each wanting something from government that they were unable to acquire through free and open competition… and to define Republicans in the hearts and minds of working men and women and the poor in terms that were totally unrelated to reality.

The false image of conservatives and Republicans created in that era remains to this day, while conservatives and Republicans continue to think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the man most responsible for bringing our nation to the tipping point of American greatness… the point in time when our great nation began to turn its back on the founding principles of our country.

Then, in the early 1960’s, following a long succession of Republican presidential candidates selected, promoted, and nominated by the so-called eastern liberal establishment, a small group of young Republican conservatives decided it was time for the Republican Party to send a true conservative to the White House. Their goal was to find a way to nominate a conservative to challenge the 1964 reelection of John F. Kennedy.

It was during those years that this writer entered the political arena as a card-carrying member of the Draft Goldwater Committee. Throughout 1963 and 1964, I made numerous weekend delegate-hunting forays, in company with other young conservatives, into key cities in Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.  Organizing conservatives from the grassroots upward to the county and statewide level in every state of the nation, we were able to assemble enough delegates to win a first ballot nomination for Senator Goldwater at the July 1964 convention.

What we could not have foreseen was that John F. Kennedy would be assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. On that day it was clear to us that Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, armed with the “sympathy factor” resulting from Kennedy’s assassination, would not only win the 1964 General Election, but win by a landslide.  But for the assassination of Kennedy, the 1964 General Election would have been a highly competitive contest.

However, the eastern liberal establishment saw those developments as an opportunity to regain control of the party and the nominating process. Accordingly, on July 15, the third day of the 1964 convention, they placed in nomination the name of Pennsylvania Governor William W. Scranton. The Scranton nomination served only to infuriate the young conservatives who had engineered the Goldwater nomination.  Goldwater defeated Scranton by a vote of 883 to 214 on the first ballot and the liberal stranglehold on the GOP nominating process was broken.

The Goldwater nomination was the result of a conservative political movement designed to transform the GOP from a pale imitation of the Democrat Party.  It is what Ronald Reagan had in mind in a March 1, 1975 speech when he said, “Our people look for a cause to believe in.  Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”  The attempt to deny Senator Goldwater the 1964 nomination through the eleventh-hour nomination of William Scranton created such animosity within the ranks of young Republicans and other conservatives that the names Rockefeller and Scranton are as reviled in conservative circles today as they were in July 1964.

The 1964 conservative movement was followed twelve years later by a movement that arose out of an attempt by conservatives to deny incumbent president Gerald R. Ford, the candidate of the eastern Republican establishment, the 1976 Republican presidential nomination. In September 1973, I was invited to participate in a meeting of ten or twelve young conservative leaders at the Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City. The meeting was hosted by former Senator Tom Van Sickle, of Kansas, a regional coordinator for the Draft Goldwater Committee from1961-64, and Judge Ed Failor, of Dubuque, Iowa, who served as deputy director of the Draft Goldwater Committee.

The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether we could unite behind a single conservative for the 1976 nomination… much as we had for Barry Goldwater in the early 60s. The only 1976  presidential hopeful to send a representative to our Kansas City meeting was California Governor Ronald Reagan.  However, by the time we adjourned on Sunday afternoon, the consensus was that, as of September 1973, Governor Reagan did not possess the key political and financial network necessary to wage a successful national campaign for the 1976 nomination.

At the 1976 Kansas City convention, Reagan was narrowly defeated for the nomination by a vote of 1,187 to 1,070, falling just 59 votes short of the nomination. But the intensity of the campaign for the 1976 nomination made it clear to all observers that yet another conservative movement was taking shape within the Republican Party.  And as Ronald Reagan set his sights on the 1980 nomination he was able to build on his growing cadre of western political/financial supporters, creating yet another political movement across the nation.

Reagan arrived at the 1980 national convention in Detroit, Michigan, with a sizeable delegate advantage over his nearest competitor, George H.W. Bush, the candidate of the Republican establishment. I was in Detroit as a senior aide to former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon who, along with former congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY) and former Defense Secretary Donald  Rumsfeld (R-IL), was on Reagan’s “short list” for vice president.  However on the second day of the convention, establishment Republicans, convinced that Reagan was incapable of leading the nation, created a groundswell of support for a proposal to force Reagan to select former president Gerald R. Ford as his running mate.

In order to put an end to that subversion and to unite the party, Reagan was forced to select George H.W. Bush as his running mate and the eastern Republican establishment was back in business. The 1980 Bush vice presidential nomination cut short the Reagan conservative movement, giving the Republican Party 12 years of Republican presidents… from 1989-93, and from 2001-09… in which the tepid leadership style of Bush (41) and Bush (43) encouraged Democrats to continue unabated their long push toward collectivism.

Finally, the fourth major political movement occurred in the 2016 election year, a year in which the American people on the left and on the right made it clear that they were fed up with the apparent inability of inside-the-beltway Republicans and Democrats to solve any of our major national problems. As a result, Senator Bernie Sanders, a disgruntled old man from Vermont… a self-described socialist… waged a highly-competitive campaign for the Democratic nomination.

However, when Sanders became a serious threat to frontrunner Hillary Clinton, defeating her in 23 primaries and caucuses and winning 46% of pledged delegates, a movement was born.  But when Sanders’ rabid young supporters became aware that, within the Democratic Party, 713 of the party’s 4,765 convention delegates (15%) were unelected “super delegates,” nearly all party leaders whose job it was to insure that the “fix” was in for Hillary Clinton, they staged angry street demonstrations outside the convention hall.  And when they learned through leaked emails that the leadership of the Democratic National Committee had conspired to “rig” the 2016 nominating process, a political rift was created that will likely last for generations.

On the Republican side, a parallel movement was created when disaffected conservatives and Reagan Democrats across the country nominated a totally untested political neophyte, billionaire Donald Trump, a man who, while promising to “make America great again,” quickly became the most unattractive and the most egocentric presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Running against Hillary Clinton, a woman who embodies all the worst characteristics of Lyndon Johnson, Barack Obama, and her husband, Bill Clinton, Trump was in a position to literally “waltz” into the White House by concentrating all of his energies on: a) restoring the economy and creating jobs, b) defeating the international threat of radical Islam, and c) solving the problem of illegal immigration… all issues that represent a toxic “poison pill” for Democrats. Instead, he’s spent the majority of his time in childish name-calling, in “walking back” previous oratorical faux pas, and in alienating friend and foe alike.

Anyone who might still have doubts about the comparative value of the primary system versus the caucus/convention system might want to study the Trump nomination. It was the primary system that allowed those least politically astute, those most informed by political generalities and 30-second sound bytes, to swing election after election to Trump.  His debate style was best characterized by a propensity to engage in unprecedented playground-level name-calling.

Now there is talk of a political “intervention,” a process in which party leaders would remind him of who his true enemies are and to point him once again in the direction of those who, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, would lead our nation down the path of no return. But the question arises, if Trump is not smart enough to know that Hillary Clinton is almost certain to mop the floor with him in debate, is he smart enough to know when he’s being given good advice?   And is he man enough to finally subordinate his own larger-than-life ego to what is in the best interests of the country and the American people?  That remains to be seen.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.




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