‐ Bernie Sanders’s campaign is fading, leaving his supporters red, white, and blue.
‐ It is neither a surprise nor an accident that the latest major Islamist terrorist attack to befall Europe targeted Brussels, the heart of European multiculturalism. Decades of willful blindness to the problem of ideological fanaticism left the capital of the European Union neglectful of serious threats to its security. In March, the Islamic State exploited that vulnerability, detonating explosives at Brussels’s Zaventem Airport and a major subway station during the morning rush hour, killing more than 30 people and wounding at least another 230. It would be dangerously naïve to doubt that the Islamic State is planning to export its brand of terror to the United States as well. For this reason, America cannot repeat the mistakes of Europe, foremost among them lax borders and irresponsible immigration and refugee-resettlement policies. Inside our borders, we should direct limited law-enforcement resources toward monitoring likely sources of radicalization — certain mosques and community centers, for example — allying, wherever possible, with the many Muslims who have no interest in seeing their communities co-opted for jihadist recruitment. Until recently, New York City had a successful, muscular surveillance program of this sort. It should be restarted immediately, and other cities should follow suit. Of course, defeating the Islamic State once and for all will require eradicating it in Iraq and Syria. A decisive air campaign, ultimately backed up by American forces on the ground, is the only way to rip up the Islamic State by its roots. The attack in Brussels is a grim reminder that we are at war, and we require a serious strategy, carried out by leaders serious about keeping America safe. We fervently hope that they formulate and execute that strategy before the Islamic State crops up at JFK and Grand Central Terminal.
‐ Get in line behind Donald Trump, or you’re responsible for making Hillary Clinton president: That’s the message coming from Trump supporters these days. But it’s nearly the opposite of the truth. Almost all polls find her leading him, often by large margins. Those margins, now at an average of ten points, have been heading upward. More than 60 percent of Americans say they have an unfavorable impression of Trump. They view him as just as dishonest as Clinton. Keep in mind that Trump has achieved these dismal numbers before the Democrats have spent any money pummeling him. If they persist, a lot of Republicans will vote third-party, or just not vote. Guilt-tripping them won’t work, and wouldn’t get Trump close to victory if it did. Based on all the available evidence, a vote for Trump right now is a vote for at least four years of Clinton.
‐ Mitt Romney stood tall again, blasting Trump ahead of the Utah caucuses. “Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism,” Romney wrote on Facebook. “Through the calculated statements of its leader” — note calculated: Trump knows what he is doing — “Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence.” We would add, ignorance, protectionism, and Putin-passivity, but this will do for starters. “I am repulsed by each and every one of these,” Romney continued, and urged Republican voters in Utah and all further contests to support Ted Cruz. His hope is for an open convention; ours is for an outright Cruz victory. Both are aimed at saving the GOP from falling into the hands of (to borrow a term of Theodore Roosevelt’s) a blue-rumped ape.
‐ Military hero and a man after God’s own heart, King David marches winsomely through the pages of the Bible and straight into the scripturally informed imagination of Western culture, where he looms as a sort of Renaissance man — eloquent, musical, resourceful (nice idea, that slingshot), physically graceful, and a statesman as well as the slayer of “his ten thousands,” including Goliath. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, notes cynically that David was also “an adulterer” and suggests that here the characters of Donald Trump and David intersect. Let’s compare them. David after he did wrong fasted and, see Psalm 51, begged God fervently for forgiveness. Trump: “I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.” As a boy, David fought his way to the front line so he could avenge a fearsome giant and blasphemer against the God of Israel. Trump? America waged a war when he was young, and he stayed home. Avoiding sexually transmitted disease was his “personal Vietnam,” he snarked. “I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” David (loosely translated): “Why do you boast about your cowardice, you effete blowhard?” (Psalms 52:1).
‐ John Kasich has no chance of winning a majority of delegates in the first round of balloting at the Republican convention. His only chance of winning the nomination, a slim one, is an open convention that begins with no candidate enjoying a majority. Yet he is doing what he can to make it easier for Trump to get that majority — contesting states where he has no chance but his effort likely ensures that some delegates go to Trump instead of Cruz. Meanwhile, his campaign has failed to field a full slate of delegates in Maryland. Is he running to be Trump’s running mate, or does he just have no idea what he is doing?
‐ Senator Marco Rubio quit the presidential race after losing the primary in his home state of Florida. We were early fans of the senator, supporting him when he beat the wayward incumbent Republican governor of his state, Charlie Crist. He was full of energy, good ideas, and an unusual talent for communicating them. We parted ways on his deeply misguided immigration legislation in 2013. That failed effort hobbled his presidential campaign, especially since his record on other issues was too conservative to win him heavy support from moderates. And he never did the organizational spadework that presidential runs usually require. Toward the end of his campaign, he began speaking out with more and more alarm about the threat posed by Donald Trump to Republican, and what’s left of republican, government: an honorable stand that will ultimately be vindicated.
‐ After dropping out of the presidential race, Dr. Ben Carson endorsed Trump. His endorsement wasn’t the warmest. Even if Trump turned out to be a bad president, Carson said, “we’re only looking at four years.” It was pointed out to Carson that Trump had likened him to a child molester. Twice. With his famous serenity, Carson said that Trump “was concerned about the fact that he couldn’t shake me. I understand politics, and particularly the politics of personal destruction, and you have to admit, to some degree, it did work. A lot of people believed him.” Well, then. Actually, Trump didn’t discredit Carson nearly as much as Carson is discrediting himself now.
‐ President Obama has said that Bernie Sanders is nearing the end of his campaign and that the party must unite behind Hillary Clinton. Obama spoke off the record to a meeting of Democratic donors in Austin, Texas, but three of them confirmed his remarks to the New York Times, as did an unnamed White House official. So Obama has decided that, much as he dislikes the Clintons, they are his best shot at a third term. It probably follows that the odds of Hillary’s being indicted for her grotesque mismanagement of government secrets have dropped from slight to zero. Hillary will have to be beaten by an opponent who will subject her policies and her behavior to tough, knowledgeable criticism. How fortunate for her that the GOP front-runner is a trash-talking ignoramus and Clinton donor.
‐ Norms of voting have changed over the last 200-plus years. Eighteenth-century elections were conducted at county seats by voice vote; the candidates themselves were often on hand to thank supporters, while hecklers jeered all who voted the wrong way. The secret ballot was a bulwark against both flattery and intimidation. But a recent innovation, in the name of convenience, risks undermining the process. Early voting, sometimes weeks in advance, insulates voters from last-minute developments and in primaries risks “orphaned” votes for candidates who subsequently drop out. Make Election Days as convenient as possible (e.g., with long hours to accommodate 9-to-5 workers). But keep voting an act that is both individual (private) and communal (roughly simultaneous). The laws that the winners will enact affect each of us, and all of us.
‐ Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Garland is a well-respected appeals-court judge, but we have no reason to think that he dissents in any significant way from the left-wing judicial consensus. (No Democratic nominee since the early 1960s has.) That means yes to unrestricted abortion, and no to gun rights and religious liberty, regardless of what’s actually spelled out in the Constitution and the statute books. Senate Republicans have vowed that there will be no confirmation this year, in the hope that someone without Obama’s anti-constitutional politics will be in a position to fill the vacancy next year. That hope may be waning, but the cause remains just.
‐ On immigration, as on so much else, the Democrats have become the party of Obama — only more so. In a debate co-hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders effectively promised an end to American immigration law. Clinton, who had previously affirmed her support for President Obama’s DACA and DAPA, both flagrantly unconstitutional amnesties covering together some 5 million people, promised not only that she would not deport children — an assurance that every “unaccompanied minor” who has crossed the southern border in recent years would be permitted to stay — but also that she would not deport anyone without a criminal record, period. This would guarantee a permanent home to almost every illegal immigrant residing in the country and effectively reduce crossing the border illegally to a minor and ignorable infraction. Clinton also reiterated an earlier commitment to somehow reunite families separated by deportation. Sanders concurred with all this. Donald Trump’s bluster has made it easier for Democrats to portray Republicans as wild-eyed radicals on the subject of immigration. But either Democratic candidate would be a truly radical president, effectively abrogating by fiat a whole swathe of American law. The alternative is simple and entirely reasonable: enforcing laws already on the books, implementing E-Verify nationwide, increasing penalties for visa overstays, erecting physical barriers along the border, and cracking down on sanctuary cities. This is the middle way between the ill-informed theatrics of Trump and the lawlessness of the Democrats, and it is imperative that the GOP take it.
‐ Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency promising to put the coal industry out of business: to “bankrupt” it, he promised. He didn’t quite get there, but Hillary Rodham Clinton promises to finish the job, gleefully boasting of her plan to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado: You have been put on notice. Mrs. Clinton said this in the context of fantasizing in public about building a “clean energy” economy — Senator Obama made the same promise — that will need no coal and will employ all those coal miners she plans to put out of work, as though human beings were simply chessmen to be moved from one square to the next by god-emperors in Washington. Democratic primary voters were shocked to hear a Clinton speaking the truth, and so the candidate immediately tried to explain away all that unemployment she dreams of, sending a letter to Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) largely disavowing her own words. She still wants to kill coal, she wrote, but not on a timeline that would inconvenience any Democratic officeholders or their financial patrons. Ted Cruz, who knows a little something about the energy industry, should remind voters which party it was that scoffed at drilling our way to $2 gas last time around and ask the voters whether they’d prefer to pay more or less in electric bills for the next eight years.
‐Gawker, an Internet publication, has lost a huge judgment to former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan ($140 million and counting; at issue is publication of a sex tape) and now positions itself as a martyr to the First Amendment. It isn’t: In 2014, it called for the arrest and imprisonment of “climate deniers,” meaning those with unpopular opinions on global warming. When National Review raised the alarm about that, the response was predictable: “Oh, it’s just Gawker. Don’t make a big deal about it.” The deal got bigger: Robert Kennedy Jr. came out in support of global-warming prosecutions, the State of New York began proceedings against Exxon for its political activism, and now Loretta Lynch — who, incredibly enough, is attorney general of the United States — has embraced the persecution of global-warming dissidents and critics. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) has been pressing for the prosecution of those holding nonconforming views on global warming under RICO, the organized-crime-racketeering statute, and the attorney general not only has endorsed doing so but has referred the matter to the FBI “to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action.” This is straight-up police-state stuff, and Americans should be worried: Exxon may not be the most sympathetic plaintiff, but they are not going to stop with Exxon.
‐ In a series of interviews with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, President Obama has unburdened himself of his Big Foreign-Policy Thoughts. Goldberg writes that Obama has rejected “Churchillian rhetoric and, more to the point, Churchillian habits of thought.” That’s for sure. Obama drew a red line in Syria and then shrank from it. “I’m very proud of this moment,” he says. For years, Washington made a fetish of credibility. Obama is proud to be free of it. Also, Goldberg quotes the king of Jordan, who said, “I think I believe in American power more than Obama does.” Our president has come to a number of conclusions, says Goldberg. “The first is that the Middle East is no longer terribly important to American interests.” Unfortunately, the Middle East has something to say about that. There is one thing that Obama is absolutely staunch on: “climate change,” and the threat it poses to mankind. He is a perfect progressive mind.
‐ Some interesting things happened on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Cuba. The dictatorship arrested more than 300 people. At sea, the Coast Guard picked up 18 rafters, desperate to leave the island. Nine had died. The survivors were half dead. Starwood, an American hotel company, announced a deal with the Cuban military, which runs tourism in Cuba. Once he got to the island, Obama posed for pictures in front of the secret-police headquarters, replete with a giant mural of Che Guevara. Obama agreed with Raúl Castro that human rights include economic rights such as health care — which ordinary Cubans lack in any case. Our president invited FARC, the Colombian terror group, to a U.S.–Cuba baseball game. And so on. Obama’s national-security aide Ben Rhodes said that the purpose of the presidential trip was to make Obama’s policies toward the Castros “irreversible.” We hope that a better president has something to say about that.
‐ Finally, after years of atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry has officially designated the persecution “genocide.” The word carries weight. In international law, genocide is the “crime of crimes,” the most abhorrent violation of human rights. That the United States no longer fears to call it by its true name is a step toward moral clarity, but the official designation also supports practical measures that the State Department should now take on behalf of the persecuted. These include the issuance of U.S. refugee-resettlement visas, from which displaced Christians and Yazidis have been almost entirely excluded. Kerry hinted at military action to liberate ISIS-occupied territory. Many thanks are due to the Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea. For years, at National Review Online and elsewhere, she has persistently sounded the alarm in behalf of the genocide victims and martyrs to their faith.
‐ Russia has a president in Vladimir Putin who is a master of old-style power politics. The opportunity to show what he can achieve came some months ago when Bashar al-Assad appeared to be losing the civil war in Syria. President Obama had always insisted on the downfall of Assad but had done nothing to further it. Putin’s dispatch of troops and aircraft to Syria was unexpected but decisive: Assad may have lost territory, but his presidency and indeed his life were saved. Bewildered American officials and jubilant Russians met in Munich and Geneva for what are euphemistically described as “closed bilateral talks,” i.e., horse-trading. In another unexpected tactical move, Putin suddenly announced that the military had completed its mission “at least in part.” Some troops have begun to return home but seemingly several thousand continue to occupy reinforced bases in Latakia and Tartus. Having shattered the credibility of the United States and even caused some American-backed groups to fight one another, Putin has levered Russia to be a regional power. It is possible that he withdrew some troops only to indicate that Assad is now on his own and dispensable, and he, Putin, will decide the future of Syria. In view of Russian economic weaknesses and Western-imposed sanctions on Moscow, the feat is extraordinary; perhaps less so in view of the identity of the U.S. president.
‐ A curious number of prominent Russian personalities come to untimely ends, and Mikhail Lesin is one of them. In November of last year, the body of this 57-year-old was found in his room at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, D.C. His family said that he had died of a heart attack, but they might have said that because some people would have wanted to kill them if they had said otherwise. When Vladimir Putin became president, one of his first steps was to muzzle free speech. The dirty work of ruining owners of independent television stations and newspapers fell to Lesin. His nickname was “the Bulldozer,” and his reward was to become head of Gazprom-Media Holdings, in effect the propaganda outfit of Putin’s state. It so happens that Lesin owned property in Los Angeles worth $28 million. The D.C. medical examiner reports that Lesin died of “blunt force trauma to the head.” A precedent is Walter Krivitsky, once a senior Soviet secret policeman who defected and denounced Stalin. He too was found dead in a Washington hotel. The date was February 1941, and the crime that even one as notorious as this has yet to be solved.
‐ German voters have begun to revolt against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-borders policy. In state elections in March, the Alternative for Germany party, a new populist-right party that favors reduced immigration and an exit from the euro zone, made surprising gains at the expense of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its governing coalition partner. Since Merkel issued an unqualified invitation to asylum seekers last year, some 1 million, many of them economic migrants rather than true refugees, have settled in Germany. While other European governments have responded to the migration crisis by instituting border controls, Merkel has thus far clung stubbornly to what she insists is the humanitarian high ground. “The federal government will continue the refugee policy with all our strength, at home and abroad,” her spokesman vowed in the wake of the elections. She should expect continued resistance from those who stand to bear its costs.
‐ As of March 20, any migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece will be returned to Turkey, according to a recent agreement struck by Ankara and the European Union. In exchange for helping stem the flood of migrants that continues to wash ashore — often literally — in Europe, Brussels has promised that it will give Turkey financial aid, that it will take in one refugee for every refugee who returns to Turkey, and that it will let Turkish citizens travel visa-free in the Schengen common-visa area. Given the recent attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, this last concession seems ill advised. The EU needs to establish a tough border, to enforce stricter immigration and asylum controls, and to end the Schengen Agreement — not to expand it. But the EU has always expressed a preference for short-term palliatives over long-term cures. If it is to endure, that approach to its problems can’t.
‐ Brazil is in crisis: Leftist president Dilma Rousseff faces the possibility of impeachment, former president (and Rousseff mentor) Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva faces corruption charges, millions of anti-government protesters have taken to the streets, and the political class teeters on the brink as an economy built on a decade of big spending on social services fueled by high commodity prices sinks into recession. Corruption and graft are the name of the game in Brazil — billions of dollars are thought to have lined the pockets of the well-connected through a massive bid-rigging and bribery scandal at the state-owned oil company, Petrobras. Lula — the erstwhile leader of the Workers’ party — has been controversially appointed to Rousseff’s cabinet in a bid to shield him from prosecution (only the supreme court can hear a case against a government minister), but the move has been blocked for now. Brazil needs free-market reforms, good government, and strict adherence to the rule of law from the powerful and the not so powerful. Come to think of it, that’s good advice for our own country as well.
‐ Between 2012 and 2015, the pass rate for Oklahoma’s bar exam dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent. Since the exam has not changed much over that period, students at the state’s three law schools seem to be getting less capable, in line with national trends. What to do? Step up recruitment? Cut class size to maintain standards? Close one of the schools? Of course not. Instead, the state’s supreme court has ordered the board of bar examiners to make the exam easier, so more people will pass. Since Oklahoma’s exam was already rated tenth-easiest in the nation, the decision’s main effect will be to increase the Sooner State’s supply of mediocre lawyers — which, the law schools should teach, is apparently now a “compelling governmental interest.”
‐ One might expect that a black transgender woman speaking on campus about “trans liberation, racial justice, and intersectional feminism” would be treated like a movie star who had also won the Nobel prize. Yet when Janet Mock, a triple threat of the type just described, was invited to speak at ultra-progressive Brown University, student outrage was so vociferous that she had to cancel the appearance. Why? Because her talk was scheduled to take place at the campus chapter of Hillel, a pro-Israel Jewish group. “We do not condone the use of queer people of color as props to hide occupation,” a petition thundered. Race, feminism, and gender identity are reliable subjects for academic fury, but anti-Zionism can beat them all combined.
‐ In March, the Yale Bulldogs won their first NCAA-tournament basketball game in 50 years — but team captain Jack Montague was forced to watch from the stands. In February, Montague, a senior, was expelled after a disciplinary panel determined that he had sexually assaulted a female student in October 2014. Yale refuses to comment on Montague’s case, citing privacy concerns, but the available evidence is far from conclusive. The alleged victim, now a junior, says that Montague forced her into non-consensual sex when the two were alone; Montague says the encounter was consensual. According to the independent investigator hired by the university, the pair had had multiple previous consensual sexual encounters, and the woman contacted Montague a few hours after the alleged assault and spent the night with him. Furthermore, the woman never filed charges with the New Haven Police Department or Yale University Public Safety, and reported the alleged incident to Yale’s Title IX coordinator only a year after its alleged occurrence. In fact, the complaint that spurred the investigation was filed by a university official. Perhaps the Yale panel had access to additional, more definitive evidence. But dubious verdicts, following dubious, Star Chamber–style proceedings, are increasingly the campus norm, thanks to the Obama Department of Education. Montague plans to sue Yale, beginning what is sure to be a drawn-out, unpleasant process for everyone involved. These sorts of suits, ruined reputations, and much more would be avoided if colleges left criminal investigations to police and prosecutors.
‐ With the sale of the Orange County Register to Denver-based Digital First, part of the Alden Global Capital investment fund, a peculiar American story comes to a close. Southern California was for generations home to a tough, libertarian-leaning Republicanism — the western conservatism of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan — and the Orange County Register was the voice of that movement. The publishing group that became Freedom Newspapers was founded in the 1930s after the Register’s acquisition by R. C. Hoiles, a newspaperman for whom the adjective “irascible” may as well have been invented. Hoiles was a tireless crusader for the moral principles underpinning a free society, both in print and in fact: Among his other exploits, he directly challenged Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era wage and price controls, defying the president by giving his staff an illegal pay raise. (This might have been the last time an American newspaper staff received a raise.) In the shadow of Los Angeles’s unthinking progressivism, the Register campaigned against taxes, government-run schools — and the internment of Japanese Americans during the war, a position few others had the courage to take. Poor management and infighting among the heirs eventually laid Freedom low, and at the ignominious end it was trying to satisfy simultaneously a bankruptcy court and antitrust regulators micromanaging the sale of its assets. The newspaper survives for now, but its unique voice is lost.
Ted Cruz for President
Conservatives have had difficulty choosing a champion in the presidential race in part because it has featured so many candidates with very good claims on our support. As their number has dwindled, the right choice has become clear: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
We supported Cruz’s campaign in 2012 because we saw in him what conservatives nationwide have come to see as well. Cruz is a brilliant and articulate exponent of our views on the full spectrum of issues. Other Republicans say we should protect the Constitution. Cruz has actually done it; indeed, it has been the animating passion of his career. He is a strong believer in the liberating power of free markets, including free trade (notwithstanding the usual rhetorical hedges). His skepticism about “comprehensive immigration reform” is leading him to a realism about the impact of immigration that has been missing from our policymaking and debate. He favors a foreign policy based on a hard-headed assessment of American interests, one that seeks to strengthen our power but is mindful of its limits. He forthrightly defends religious liberty, the right to life of unborn children, and the role of marriage in connecting children to their parents — causes that reduce too many other Republicans to mumbling.
That forthrightness is worth emphasizing. Conservatism should not be merely combative; but especially in our political culture, it must be willing to be controversial. Too many Republicans shrink from this implication of our creed. Not Cruz. And this virtue is connected to others that primary voters should keep in mind. Conservatives need not worry that Cruz will be tripped up by an interview question or answer it with mindless conventional wisdom when a better answer is available. We need rarely worry, either, that his stumbling words will have to be recast by aides and supporters later. Neither of those things could be said about a lot of Republican nominees over the years.
We are well aware that a lot of Republicans, including some conservatives, dislike the senator and even find him unlikable. So far, conservative voters seem to like him just fine. We do not wish to adjudicate all the conflicts between Cruz’s Senate colleagues and him. He has sometimes made tactical errors, in our judgment; but conflicts have also arisen because his colleagues have lacked direction, clarity, and urgency. In any case, these conflicts pale into insignificance in light of Republicans’ shared interest in winning in November and governing successfully thereafter.
No politician is perfect, and Senator Cruz will find that our endorsement comes with friendly and ongoing criticism. His tax plan is admirably growth-oriented but contains too much indirect taxation of employees. He has done little to lay out a plausible replacement for Obamacare, and especially to counter the idea that replacing it would involve stripping insurance from millions of Americans. His occasional remarks to the effect that the general election can be won by mobilizing conservatives who have heretofore been politically quiescent seems fanciful. As the nominee he will have to adopt a more empirically grounded strategy, just as he has done in the primaries.
What matters now is that Cruz is a talented and committed conservative. He is also Republicans’ best chance for keeping their presidential nomination from going to someone with low character and worse principles. We support Ted Cruz for president.
Trump: The Prospect of Violence
Early in March, demonstrators inside and outside the venue of a Trump rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago were so numerous that the Trump campaign called the rally off. The protesters became aggressive, waving vulgar signs (we shut sh** down), shouting obscenities at Trump supporters, and throwing bottles (a policeman was hit in the head). Trump supporters and opponents at the event shoved one another and exchanged blows. Days later, other demonstrators blocked a highway leading to a Trump rally in Fountain Hills, Ariz., near Phoenix.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are designed primarily to protect political discourse. Free and open campaigning is more important than nude selfies, avant-garde theater, commercial advertising, or even the New York Times (or National Review). If a citizen running for office and addressing fellow citizens is silenced or shut down, it is an attack on republican government. The perpetrators should be arrested if they have committed crimes in the course of their mob actions; their intended victims may also have legitimate legal cases against them. The discovery process might be entertaining: How much rent-a-mob funding comes from George Soros?
So far Donald Trump has taken none of his tormentors to court. If anything, he seems excited by the scuffling, encouraging his outraged fans to react in kind. At a rally in Cedar Rapids in February, he told supporters, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you, seriously. . . . I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” More recently, Trump has turned his zest for combat on the GOP, opining that if he were to lose the nomination at the Cleveland convention despite having won a plurality of delegates, “I think you’d have riots. . . . I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.”
Taking their cue from their prompter, a few hot-headed Trump supporters have manhandled hecklers. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has gotten into the fun, sucker-grabbing Michelle Fields, a reporter from Breitbart.com, as she was about to ask his boss a question.
The aftermath of the Fields encounter was illuminating. Lewandowski and the Trump campaign denied that any such thing had happened, even though video showed Fields being pulled back and Ben Terris, a Washington Post reporter, confirmed her account. Breitbart cravenly refused to stand by Fields, whereupon she, her editor Ben Shapiro, and two other Breitbart staffers resigned. Trump asks, Who will rid me of these troublesome hecklers and journalists? When his minions do so, he and the Trumpkin media shut their eyes.
Cartoonists, headline writers, and comedians reach for hyperbole, and Trump is often compared — casually, or maliciously — to the darkest forces of 20th-century Europe. It would dishonor the victims of totalitarianism to equate their exterminators with a political grifter. But bad things do not become good simply because they are not as bad as Hitler. Trump enjoys bullying and brawling, and blesses it in those who admire him. Anti-Trump protesters are often worse, but Trump is shameful.