Thursday, March 4, 2021

What Continued Support for Donald Trump Really Means

By David Stockman

 If CPAC’s uproarious welcome of Donald Trump on Sunday is any indicator, then the cause of liberty, peace, free market capitalism and small government is at an all-time  nadir.  

The Donald stands for none of these core values, yet the largest and most important annual gathering of purported conservative activists greeted him yesterday like he was the second coming of, if not Jesus Christ, than at least Grover Cleveland.  

That’s right. These badly deluded people apparently want another Trump candidacy and  presidency in 2024, thereby helping the Donald to match President Grover Cleveland’s  lone case of winning in 1884, losing in 1888 and winning again in 1892.  

But here’s the thing. Grover Cleveland stood for something worth winning the White  House to advance. That is, staunch adherence to the gold standard, free trade, fiscal  rectitude, non-intervention abroad and a small Federal government at home.  

Indeed, without welfare domestically and foreign wars abroad, Cleveland was able to  leave the $1.62 billion public debt he inherited 25% lower at $1.22 billion when he left  office. That is, classic liberalism was then in its heyday and Grover Cleveland was the  closest thing to its living, breathing embodiment to ever occupy the Oval Office.  

Needless to say, the Democrats gave up half of Cleveland’s classic liberal legacy under  Woodrow Wilson and his foolish war to make the world safe for democracy aboard and  government hospitable to interventionist progressivism at home. And the rest of it  disappeared entirely when the greatest egomaniac to occupy the Oval Office prior to the  Donald—Franklin Roosevelt–installed the permanent Welfare State and Warfare State  on the banks of the Potomac during 1933-1945. 

As it happened, the GOP of Congressman Howard Buffett (Warren’s father), Senator  Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan made worthy efforts to  reclaim the mantle of Grover Cleveland during their time on the stage of American  politics. But Cleveland’s only true heir in modern times was former congressman and  presidential candidate, Ron Paul.  

And that crystalizes the irony and tragedy of yesterday’s insipid display of hero worship  of a man who is no hero whatsoever when it comes to the true conservative gospel  articulated by Grover Cleveland.  

Back in the day (circa 2008) Ron Paul was the toast of the CPAC town. Now it has  backslid so far as to embrace the very opposite: Namely, an egomaniacal big government  Ceasarist who peddles a dog’s breakfast of protectionism, nativism, law and order  demagoguery, monetary crankery worthy of William Jennings Bryan and fiscal  profligacy that puts FDR, LBJ and Barrack Obama to shame.  

Read the rest here.

Worse still, the foundation of his menacing brew of anti-liberty bromides, shibboleths  and dime-store patriotism is an infantile egotism and obsession with “winning” that  should leave any adult citizen—conservative or otherwise—cringing, if not  downright nauseated.  

After all, after single-handedly loosing the US House in 2018 and the presidency and  Senate in 2020, what even minimally self-aware politician would greet the CPAC  conference as the Donald did with these words?  

And slobbering all over the flag before taking the podium didn’t make it any better.  “Hello CPAC Do you miss me yet?” Mr. Trump said. “Do you miss me?”

Of course, the Donald was just getting started. After pages and pages of semi-coherent  blather about immigration, trade wars and his alleged victories over both Biden and the  Covid (via dangerously rushed to market vaccines), the Donald let loose a beauty of pure  Ceasarist self-adulation:  

Thank you. Thank you very much. So nice. I started that hearing, we really  where … we’re getting word of that, hearing that during some of the  rallies, especially the latter rallies where we set records. We had 56  unbelievable packed rallies. And nobody’s ever had anything that we had.  And we started hearing, “We love you.” 

And I asked somebody because we really like Ronald Reagan, right? He was a  great president. We had others. But I said, “Did anybody ever say that to  Ronald Reagan or to any of our great … .” And to the best of all of these political  professionals’ knowledge and pollsters. Nobody’s ever heard that yet  before, man. So it’s an honor. Believe me, it’s an honor. Great honor. That’s a  great honor. When you think about, we love you.

Yes, the 2020 national election was probably the worst ever conducted in the US owing  to the state- and locality-run electoral system’s complete unreadiness to handle 65  million mail-in ballots out of more than 160 million votes caste. And undoubtedly the  incidence of inappropriately tabulated ballots exceeded even the 1960 election when the  Democrats “stole” the election from Nixon with a a huge turnout in Chicago’s Grant  Park Cemetery and 95:5 vote pluralities in the far-flung precincts of Texas, which were  bought and paid for by Lyndon Johnson’s operatives.  

Still, Trump did loose the popular vote by 8 million. And he did loose 37 votes in the  Electoral College (and therefore the election) by a total of just 42,900 out of nearly 12  million votes caste in the states of Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.  

Yet he found no way to effectively contest these outcomes even though there were  Republican governors, secretaries of state and legislatures in Arizona and Georgia and  no serious claims that the Dem’s fiddled with the election rules and machinery in  Wisconsin.  

So by now Walter Mondale’s famous slogan from the 1984 about “where’s the beef” has  become dispositive. But that did not interfere with the Donald’s same old  megalomaniacal bluster that issued until his very last day in the White House, which, we  might add, was expressed in a level of verbal incoherence that would be hard to match  even in the typical seventh grade English class (where it is still taught):  

Actually, as you know, they (the Dems) just lost the white house, but it’s one  of those. But who knows? Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a  third time, okay…… 

In the history of our country, (corruption) has taken place for years in  Pennsylvania and Detroit and various other places. But there’s tremendous,  never like this, because they used COVID as a way of cheating. That’s what  happened. And everybody knows it. Hundreds of thousands and millions  of ballots…… 

Our election process is worse than that in many cases of a third world country.  You know that, you saw what was going on. Even if you consider nothing else, it  is undeniable that election rules were illegally changed at the last minute in  almost every swing state with the procedures rewritten by local politicians …  you’re not allowed to do that … and local judges. They want more time, they  want this, they want that. All done by local politicians or local judges, as  opposed to state legislatures as required by the Constitution of the United  States. 

And these are just numbers that are massive. These aren’t little numbers, these  are numbers that in each state is a transformative number. It changes the  outcome of the election. And it’s not close….. And the supreme court,  again, didn’t have the guts or the courage to do anything about it.

No more dangerous words than the last bolded sentence have ever been spoken by an  American politician, let alone one who claims the mantle of conservative leadership.  Make the Supreme Court, rather than the states and their voters, the arbiter of  American presidential elections—thereby institutionalizing the mistake of 2000—and  the Founders’ finely wrought machinery of democratic governance will be soon heading  for the dustbin of history.  

Nevertheless, having claimed to have won an election that the practical machinery of the  American electoral process in the end said he lost, the Donald then let loose with a  barrage of braggadocio and babble that is just plain insensible.  

Contrary to his delusional claims, the Donald did not start a popular uprising around  principles and purposes that transcend his own cult of personality. He only rubbed raw  popular discontent with the reigning liberal ruling class without offering any progress at  all, or even a future blueprint, capable of ameliorating their own valid economic  grievances.  

Again, the level of verbal incoherence is one for the record books:  

And for us, it’s our movement. As I said, a movement, like has never been seen. I  think we can probably say, never been seen anywhere in the world. And  nobody’s ever seen a movement like this. I’d grow out and I’d watch somebody  who came in second in New Hampshire or first in Iowa and that was the end  and they became famous for the rest of their lives. We won the election twice. I  mean you know think about it. The task for our movement and our party is to  stand up to this destructive agenda with confidence and with resolve. 

Got that? If not, here’s more of the same.  

The future of the Republican Party is as a party that defends the social,  economic, and cultural interests and values of working American families of  every race, color, and creed…..That’s why the party is growing so rapidly and is  becoming a different party. And it’s becoming a party of love. You have  to see outside the streets. I mean, there’s such love. The flags …  Amazing. 

Thereafter came a recitation of the Greatest Economy Ever myth and the delusions of  grandeur in which it is embedded.  

But this gets to the meat of the matter. The GOP is supposed to be the guardian of the  preconditions for prosperity and sustainably rising wealth and living standards. That is,  sound money, fiscal rectitude and minimum intervention by the state’s regulatory and  police powers.  

None of those things got the time of day during the Donald’s tenure. The great economic  successes he claimed to the CPAC convocation were nothing more than the business  cycle reaching its peak about one year before the end of his term—-a peak that was weak 

by all historical standards, and which, in any event, was the work of tens of millions of  workers and businesses on the free market, not anything which emanated from the Oval  Office:  

Over the past four years my administration delivered for Americans of all  backgrounds like never before, like never before. We built the strongest  economy in the history of the world, raised wages, and achieved the  

lowest African American, Hispanic American, Asian American unemployment  rates ever, ever, ever recorded. It was so great for everybody of all backgrounds  that even after the China virus, we are leading the world, nobody’s even close.  We’re leading it in the comeback. Our economic comeback has been incredible.  That’s because the financial and economic foundation we built was so strong  that unlike other countries, who are having a hard time, we didn’t break. We  came roaring back and now our stock market and your 401ks are  again at record levels, higher than ever before actually. 

The fact is, presidential terms and the business cycle do not coincide and in the era of  massive money-printing by the central bank and the resulting destruction of honest  price discovery on Wall Street, the stock indices measure little more than the egregious  financial bubbles emanating from the Eccles Building.  

Still, while the Donald is obsessed by his own scoreboards, even they do not prove what  he claims. That’s especially the case when you don’t let him off the hook owing to last  year’s deep economic setbacks.  

After all, it was not the Covid which clobbered the US economy last spring. The culprit  was government ordered Lockdowns—a folly the rose directly from Donald Trump’s  panicked actions in March 2020.  

It was Trump who called for the original economy- and liberty-killing stay-at-home  mandates. And it was Trump who unleashed Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, the CDC, the White  House Coronavirus Task Force and the rest of the Virus Patrol to wreak havoc with  normal economic function and to foster a level of public hysteria wholly unwarranted by  the actual facts of the disease.  

In fact, after an entire year of unprecedented emergency conditions, the Covid has  generated CFRs (fatality rates among those infected by the disease whether sick or  symptomatic or not) that are only slightly higher than those calculated by the CDC for  the influenza seasons of 2017-2018. Among the non-elderly, the CFRs are virtually  identical as shown below.

That gets us to the bottom line. The truth of the matter is that the real GDP growth rate  during the Donald’s term was the absolute lowest of any presidential term since 1950,  and by a country mile in virtually all cases. The Greatest Economy Ever claim just  doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  

Real GDP Growth Per Annum During Presidential Terms Since 1950: 

Eisenhower (1953-1960): 2.52%;  

Kennedy-Johnson (1961-1968: 5.19%;  

Nixon-Ford (1969-1967: 2.73%;  

Carter (1977-1980): 3.19%;  

Reagan (1981-1988): 3.55%;  

Bush the Elder (1989-1992): 2.21%;  

Clinton (1992-2000): 3.81%;  

Bush the Younger (2001-2008): 1.75%;  

Obama (2009-2016): 1.94%;  

Trump (2017-2020): 1.25%. 

Of course, what the Donald did excel at was running up the Federal debt like never  before. Even compared to the previous three big spenders in the Oval Office, the Donald  won the prize for shackling future taxpayers, born and unborn, with heretofore  unimaginable amounts of new debt:  

Average Annual Increase in the Public Debt: 

Clinton: $203 billion;  

Bush: $655 billion; 

Obama: $1.132 trillion;  

Trump: $2.334 trillion. 

Likewise, the modern Fed needs no encouragement from the White House to expand its  balance sheet aggressively and thereby pump fiat credit into the canyons of Wall Street,  where it mostly lingers to inflate the prices of financial assets skyward.  

But in the Donald’s case, he not only encouraged a reckless rate of money-pumping from  the Eccles Building; he demanded it in relentless, bully-boy fashion.  

Accordingly, the data below is the true skunk in the wood pile. At the end of the day,  sound money is the sine qua non of capitalist prosperity, and the GOP is its designated  watchman in the context of America’s two-party democracy.  

On that score the Donald failed miserably.  

And on that score a conservative conference worthy of the name should have booed this  monetary lunatic right off the stage.  

Per Annum Change in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, 2000-2020: 

Bush (2001-2008): $185 billion;  

Obama (2009-2016): $295 billion;  

Trump (2017-2020): $750 billion.  

Even on the matter of the Forever Wars, which the Donald at least verbally condemned  while he was in office, he couldn’t leave well enough alone with respect to his huge  Iranian nuke deal error. Yet that foolish action did more to keep the Warfare State in  business than all of his verbal jousting with the interventionists follies of his  predecessors combined.  

On that score, the facts are plain: Iran’s tiny $18 billion defense budget is no threat to  the American homeland whatsoever. They Iranian/Shiite side of the age-old Islamic  schism has never launched an attack upon or even threatened American soil. That was  the work of their bitter enemies on the Sunni side of the aisle—enemies that were more  often than not financed and sanctioned by Washington’s co-called allies in the region.  

Moreover, even the official NIEs (national intelligence estimates) of the nation’s 17  intelligence agencies have conceded that beyond a small research program abandoned  in 2003, the Iranians have never pursued the development of nuclear weapons. That  truth was confirmed by the IAEA report after the nuke deal was signed by Obama in  2015—and was reinforced by the fact that the Iranians lived up to the strict letter of the  deal until the Donald unilaterally cancelled it to please the Netanyahu fifth column in  his inner circle.  

Of course, the Donald had no affinity for a peaceful, non-interventionist foreign policy  in the first place. His rap on the Forever Wars was just a way of dinging the foreign 

policy establishment which had first snubbed him to a man, woman and they; and was  also a way of pitching his tiresome line that his predecessors were stupid deal-makers,  not even remotely in his own self-vaunted league.  

But the problem in the middle east and around the planet was not bad deals. It was an  imperialist foreign policy that was draining the nation’s blood, treasure and moral  authority for no good reason except that a democracy would never maintain a $750  billion defense budget—more than the next 15 nation’s combined—unless its elected  representatives could be persuaded of false threats to national security.  

That is, such as the trumped up case that Iran was attempting to get the nuke or that it  was the foremost state sponsor of terrorism merely because it was aligned with Shiite based governments in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere. Stated differently,  the only foreign policy Iran is allowed to have is one that is vetted and approved by  Washington. 

The fact is, the real threat to peace in the region is the brutal US economic sanctions on  the Iranian economy imposed by the Trump Administration after it shit-canned the  nuke deal. These measures are causing immense hardships for the everyday Iranian  people and amount to illegal international brigandage that blackens America’s good  name.  

But the Donald thinks that making economic war on a nation for no good reason is  simply part of the “Art of the Deal” and that non-intervention is apparently just for  wusses, traitors and clueless business people: 

At the same time, the new administration unilaterally withdrew our crippling  sanctions on Iran, foolishly giving away all of America’s leverage before  negotiations have even begun. Leave the sanctions, negotiate. Does anybody  understand what I’m saying here? Are there any good business people? You  don’t have to be a good. Are there any bad business people? They took off of the  sanctions. They took off the sanctions. They said, well, we’re going to not have  any sanctions. Let’s negotiate a deal. I don’t know, Matt Schlapp, I don’t think  you would have done that. Do you think so, Matt? I don’t think so. Mercedes  wouldn’t have. 

He also apparently thinks that his massive defense increases helped strengthen  America’s homeland security. No way. They simply funded massive boondoggles for the  military industrial complex that even the spenders on Capital Hill had long resisted.  

Stated differently, the Donald was about as lazy and ill-informed Commander-in-Chief  as Washington has ever seen. He simply got bamboozled by the same old “readiness”  and obsolete equipment canards that the Warfare State has been plying chief executives  with since Ronald Reagan.  

They weren’t true then, and they certainly are not valid now with the Soviet Union  having long ago been swept into the dust bin of history. What the Donald did was simple  pile another $200 billion per year of defense waste and excess on a national debt that is  now utterly out of control—yet the so-called conservatives at CPAC applauded  deliriously:  

And it means a strong military and taking care of our vets, but a strong  military, which we have totally rebuilt, we have rebuilt it. And our military has  never been stronger than it is today. It was tired, it was depleted, it was  obsolete. And now we have the best brand new equipment ever made and it was  all produced right here in the USA. Isn’t that nice? 

At the end of the day, the Donald’s only real policy was the rank demagoguery about the  hordes of alleged criminals pouring over the Mexican border–a theme that he stumbled  upon when coming down the escalator of Trump Tower way back in June 2015.  

But it was ugly nonsense then, and remained so when he unloaded more of the same  rabid hysteria and self-congratulatory blather at CPAC on Sunday. The truth is, the only  criminals coming across the border are the brutal spawn of Washington’s demented war  on drugs.  

So end the war on drugs and let the flowers and poppies bloom stateside. What will then  line up at the Mexican border crossings are powerfully motivated people looking for  work.  

And contrary to the Donald’s toxic immigrant bashing, America’s great capitalist  prosperity was built on just that—the bent backs of foreigners looking for honest work  and a better life. 

In any event, the dubious cause of nativism has rarely been expressed more incoherently  than via the word salad the Donald dumped on his worshipful audience in Florida:  

The Biden policy of releasing criminals into the U.S. interior is making America  into a sanctuary nation where criminals, illegal immigrants, including gang  members and sex offenders are set free into American communities. 

They have no idea and remember with the caravans, these countries,  not only the three of them, but many, many countries all over the  world, they’re not giving us the best and their finest because they’re  intelligent. They’re not giving us their best and their finest,  remember I said that? 

As we said, if that’s not clear—just recall it all goes back to the ride down the escalator in  Trump Tower:  

I said that a long time ago when I made the first remarks, when I came down  the escalator with our great future first lady, who says hello. Who loves you as  much as I love you. I said that a long time ago, and we turned out to be 100%  correct. Biden’s radical immigration policies aren’t just illegal, they’re immoral,  they’re heartless and they are a betrayal of our nation’s core values. It’s a  terrible thing that’s happening 

Needless to say, the above incoherent blather does not amount to a policy—let alone one  that can constructively correct the errors of a restrictionist immigration policy that has  been building ill-effects for decades.  

Indeed, the best that the Donald could offer was just more “amnesty” howling. That’s  the unfortunate refuge of the nativists and crypto-fascists who have been infiltrating the  GOP for the decades since Ronald Reagan paved the way for citizenship for millions who  had come to America to work and who had since become law-abiding members of their  communities.  

So if “amnesty” bashing is what CPAC now wants to stand for, it should be gracious  enough to remove the “conservative” label from its name.  

To top it all off, the Biden people are pushing a bill that would grant mass  amnesty for millions of illegal aliens while massively expanding chain migration.  That’s where you come in and everybody comes in, your grandmother, your  father, your mother, your brother, your cousins, they come in so easily. So crazy,  so crazy. It even requires that the U.S. government provide a illegal border  crossings with taxable funded lawyers, lawyers. Anybody need a good lawyer?  You can’t have one. They get the lawyers, they lawyers. They’re probably very  good to.  

Conservative hero?

No, just a self-promoting loud-mouth who had all the right enemies, but pursued all the  wrong solutions and emitted a toxic patter that has set back the real conservative agenda  irreparably.

David Stockman was Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street.

The above originally appeared at David Stockman's Contra Corner.


  1. What is it with the misuse of loose for lose? David Stockman is about the most articulate writer and even he gets it wrong. Is this an auto-correct issue, or I did miss the change in spell of lose.

  2. "And contrary to the Donald’s toxic immigrant bashing, America’s great capitalist prosperity was built on just that—the bent backs of foreigners looking for honest work and a better life. "

    Once gain, David is an idiot on immigration. I guess he is okay with more of them pouring in that have no concept of the principles he espouses and would only destroy the country. I'm for zero immigration both legal and illegal. I sure would like to know from the libertardians where all those yellow, brown, and black libertarians are that they claim to exist. These groups of human debris come here and vote for more socialism and communism.

    How about having minimum wage abolished followed by the deportation of millions that haven no right to be here anyway?