The Corner

Politics & Policy

Donald Trump, the John Scott of Politics

The big news in hockey over the weekend was about John Scott. Scott, a journeyman enforcer and the very antithesis of a star, had been elected by fans to the NHL All-Star Game as a joke candidate, and after resisting blatant and repeated pressure from the NHL establishment to bow out, on Sunday he not only played but scored two goals and was named the MVP.

Donald Trump does not exactly fit the mold of a plucky underdog, and presidential primaries are not the meaningless, low-intensity exhibitions that all-star games tend to be. But, like Scott, Trump is a joke that turned serious, and, like Scott, if elected, he may surprise the world.

Because I work at National Review, people assume that I know more about politics than they do, which is rarely the case. But lately I’ve been going with it (after protesting that 90 percent of my job consists of moving commas around) and explaining that Trump’s political career could well turn out like a corny Hollywood movie, in which the plain-spoken outsider surprises everyone by becoming a uniting figure.

Forget all his wild rhetoric and inflammatory offhand remarks; Trump is nothing if not flexible in his principles (and party allegiance), and he understands the public’s mindset. To be sure, a Trump presidency would not please conservatives. He would work out a deal on immigration amnesty; loosen the rules on Obamacare, reorient it towards premium support, and rebrand it Trumpcare; appoint rightish pro-business centrists to the Supreme Court; and, with luck, ride a cyclical upturn in the economy and proclaim that he cut the deficit (though not spending).

On social issues, he would be squishy; on security, he would be mildly hawkish; and the final scene of this movie would show Trump palling around with the establishment leaders of both parties, because he would have “broken the partisan gridlock,” settled the issues that animate those pesky activists on all sides, and, best of all, elevated “deal-making” into a virtue. In other words, he would have revolutionized American politics by being utterly conventional.

That’s the scenario I’ve been trotting out in situations where I’m mistakenly seen as an expert. Whether it will stand up here on The Corner, where I’m the least knowledgeable guy in the room, is another question . . . 

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