I must confess that I’m mystified as to why so many Republicans are utterly convinced that Donald Trump will be a better president than Hillary Clinton. Trump, of course, makes it easy for them to delude themselves, because each time he begins to sound like Noam Chomsky, he’ll immediately pivot to mimic Rush Limbaugh, and he never stops talking long enough to be pinned down. But which words matter? Which words can we trust?
The answer, of course, is none of them. But for those people who might be clinging to some tiny shard of hope that the presumptive Republican nominee now has coherent, conservative principles despite his well-documented left-wing past, I present to you the following non-exhaustive list of liberal, extreme, and outright insane things he’s said in this campaign. Let’s begin:
Donald Trump: There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, “No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.” But –
Scott Pelley: Universal health care?
Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.
Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?
Donald Trump: The government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.
2. Trump supported raising taxes. And he keeps supporting raising taxes. Again, here he is in that same 60 Minutes interview:
Scott Pelley: Who are you going to raise taxes on?
Donald Trump: If you look at actual raise, some very wealthy are going to be raised. Some people that are getting unfair deductions are going to be raised. But, overall, it’s going to be a tremendous incentive to grow the economy and we’re going to take in the same or more money. And I think we’re going to have something that’s going to be spectacular.
3. Trump supported large-scale touchback amnesty for illegal immigrants. Yes, the man who wants to build a wall and deport ’em all also said this:
I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal. . . . A lot of these people are helping us . . . and sometimes it’s jobs a citizen of the United States doesn’t want to do. I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal.
Also note that he buys the “jobs Americans won’t do” justification for large-scale, low-skill immigration:
4. Trump is running to Hillary’s left on trade — expressing greater skepticism about the virtues of free markets than even the Democratic front-runner.
5. He thinks it’s “wonderful” when the government seizes private property and gives it to powerful corporations. In a move that should trouble anyone who purports to trust his judgment on judicial nominations, Trump praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London, a case that upheld the right of the government to take private property from one private landowner and transfer it to another private landowner. In other words, if Trump had his way, the government would be given the power to turn your home into a Target parking lot.
6. As long as we’re on the topic of judicial nominations, let’s not forget that he said his leftist, pro-abortion sister would be a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice.
7. And then of course there’s his scorn for the First Amendment. During this campaign he’s expressed a desire to “open up” libel laws:
One of the things I’m going to do if I win — and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading — I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when the New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.
8. Trump has now signaled support for job-destroying minimum-wage increases, in a breathtakingly brazen flip-flop:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Minimum wage — all through the primaries, you were against an increase. Now you’re saying you’re looking at it.
So what’s your bottom line on this?
TRUMP: Well, I am looking at it and I haven’t decided in terms of numbers. But I think people have to get more.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that’s a change from where you were during —
TRUMP: It’s not a very (INAUDIBLE) . . .
STEPHANOPOULOS: — the primary.
TRUMP: Well, sure it’s a change. I’m allowed to change. You need flexibility, George, whether it’s a tax plan where you’re going to — where you know you’re going to negotiate. But we’re going to come up with something.
9. He keeps praising Planned Parenthood, saying that it does “good work for millions of women” and slamming the “so-called conservatives” who disagree.
10. Trump not only expressed support for gender-neutral bathrooms, he used corporate-progressive bullying to justify his position:
Q: Tell us your views of LGBT and how you plan to be inclusive. Please speak about the North Carolina bathroom law.
A: “North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems,” said Trump, who would have left things as they were. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble.”
He said that instead, the new law has brought tremendous economic “strife” for the state, including various boycotts by entertainers and major businesses. “Leave it the way it is.”
11. Going farther than any Democratic candidate, Trump has advanced the completely discredited conspiracy theory that George W. Bush deliberately lied about weapons of mass destruction to justify the war in Iraq:
Trump: You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I wanna tell you: They lied.
John Dickerson: Okay.
Trump: They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.
12. In the category of non-ideological craziness, Trump actually expressed a belief that he could defeat ISIS by “bomb[ing] the sh*t out of them” and then sending in Exxon to mop up:
ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because of the oil that they took away — they have some in Syria, they have some in Iraq. I would bomb the sh*t out of them.
I would just bomb those suckers, and that’s right — I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.
And you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there, and in two months — you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? — they’ll rebuild it brand new . . . and I’ll take the oil.
13. And who can possibly forget his oft-repeated vow that he would order American troops to commit war crimes by deliberately targeting terrorists’ families and torturing detainees, followed by this chilling promise:
14. Trump has repeatedly parroted the Democratic line about 9/11, completely ignoring or glossing over the failures of two successive administrations, including the Clinton administration’s wholly inadequate response to the African embassy bombings and the near-sinking of the USS Cole.
15. Finally, there is this now-infamous bit of lunacy, which can’t be stressed enough: Trump tied Ted Cruz’s father to John F. Kennedy’s assassin:
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”
“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump continued. “It’s horrible.”
Trump recently declared that, “This is called the Republican party, it’s not called the Conservative party.” That may be the single-most accurate statement he’s made in the course of the campaign. But if the Republican party isn’t conservative, what does it stand for?
The list above provides a clue to Trump’s answer: It stands for whatever will put him in power. And to think there are still Republicans who ask me to trust that Trump will do the right thing. The only thing I trust is that Trump will do what he wants, when he wants, and that neither principle nor reason will stand in his way.
— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.