All posts by CPS

Before There Was Trump, FDR Bullied Media || Lifezette

Before There Was Trump, FDR Bullied Media

Liberal icon knocked heads with publishers, used licensing powers to cow radio stations

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 13 Oct 2017 at 7:47 AM

After President Donald Trump mused on Twitter on Wednesday that it might be appropriate to challenge NBC’s broadcast license as punishment for “fake news,” the cascade of outrage was predictable.

“Frightening” and “disgusting,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough pronounced Thursday. “An unraveling, at the very least, of this man’s personality,” declared co-host Mika Brzezinski.

CNN treated it as a two-day story, even as legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged on Wednesday that there is virtually no chance that NBC is actually going to lose its license.

“Clearly it can’t happen today,”Scarborough said. “But when you have the president of the United States for the first time in American history making a suggestion like this, you know, I think it has an impact.”

First time in history? As it applies specifically to television licenses, perhaps. But American history is replete with presidents’ exercising power — and not just speech — against enemies in the press.

“Joe Scarborough needs to pick up a history book,” said presidential historian Craig Shirley.

He noted that the nation’s second president, John Adams, used the Alien and Sedition Acts to jail publishers who printed unfavorable stories. Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt all used national security justifications during wartime to take actions against newspapers, he said.

“Political speech has been restricted many times in American history,” Shirley said.

FDR and the Press
Perhaps none of Trump’s modern predecessors took more aggressive action against the media than FDR, one of the most lionized figures on the Left in the past century. A Politico story earlier this year detailed a number of provocative exchanges between Roosevelt and the press that today might be described as Trumpian.

According to Politico, Roosevelt once embarrassed a reporter by giving him a dunce hat and ordering him to stand in the corner. At the end of a 1942 news conference, he handed a Nazi Iron Cross to a reporter and asked him to give it to a New York Daily News columnist who had been critical of the administration.

Betty Houchin Winfield detailed Roosevelt’s relationship with journalists in her 1980 book, “FDR and the News Media.” She describes Roosevelt’s White House press secretary, Steve Early, as something of an enforcer who was willing to bully radio stations into compliance if necessary.

Roosevelt generally enjoyed a cozier relationship with radio station owners than his often-hostile newspaper publishers. According to “FDR and the News Media,” radio stations usually agreed to donate airtime for the president’s speeches.

“When they did not, Early retaliated,” Winfield wrote, describing the press secretary’s efforts to punish a pair of Los Angeles radio stations that had refused to carry Roosevelt’s September 1936 “fireside chat” on a drought.

“We can afford to eliminate [campaign advertising from] KFI and KECA,” he wrote to Democratic Party publicity director Charles Michelson. “I hope we will and that we also will announce when the next program goes out over the chain of which these stations are members, that the Committee had requested their elimination.”

Roosevelt did more than threaten to yank campaign ads. According to Reason magazine, the Federal Communications Commission — which formed in 1934 to replace the Federal Radio Commission — cut the renewal period for radio broadcast licenses from three years to just six months. The magazine reported that the first secretary of the FCC, Herbert Pettey, had overseen radio for the 1932 campaign and worked with the Democratic National Committee to handle “radio matters.”

According to Winfield’s book, the White House closely monitored radio licenses and took steps to prevent his rivals who headed newspapers from acquiring radio stations.

“He especially did not approve of the manner in which the FCC commissioners seemed to grant licenses almost automatically,” she wrote.

Efforts to Block Critics
The book recounts that the president urged Early to “get in touch with [FCC Commissioner Frank] McNinch and ask him if there is something we can do to keep the Wichita Falls papers, who are opposed to Congressman [William] McFarlane, from getting control of the radio.”

In 1940, at a time that publishers owned a third of the airwaves, Roosevelt implored the FCC to make a statement “divorcing press and radio.”

After hearing a rumor in 1943 that a grouped headed by Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick and New York Daily News founder Joseph Medill Patterson had offered $10 million for NBC Blue Network, Roosevelt lashed out, according to the book. “I think that this ought to be stopped without any question. It is bad enough to have them on Mutual [Broadcasting System].”

Lest anyone interpret FDR’s posture as good-government opposition to media consolidation, Winfield wrote that FCC Chairman James Fly sent a questionnaire to radio stations in 1941 and discovered that RCA President David Sarnoff and CBS CEO William S. Paley controlled what more than half of people heard.

NBC and Columbia controlled 86 percent of total night-time radio power, and Fly warned about the danger of so much media power in so few hands.

But Roosevelt was not concerned about Sarnoff and Paley, according to Winfield, and Early intervened to try to get the FCC to back off the investigation.

The Roosevelt administration rarely found heavy-handed tactics to be necessary when dealing with radio executives, according to the Reason story. Often, they enjoyed the kind of editorial influence over programming that Trump could only dream of from even his most sympathetic media outlets.

NBC announced that it was limiting broadcasts “contrary to the policies of the United States government,” while CBS Vice President Henry A. Bellows declared that “no broadcast would be permitted over the Columbia Broadcasting System that in any way was critical of any policy of the administration.”

His company, Bellows maintained, “was at the disposal of President Roosevelt and his administration, and they would permit no broadcast that did not have his approval.”


Mr. Trump, Reagan used tax cuts to check the power of the state. You can, too || Fox News

Mr. Trump, Reagan used tax cuts to check the power of the state. You can, too

By Craig Shirley, Scott Mauer, Fox News

Tax-cutting fever is in the air again and many of Washington’s talking heads are citing the tax policy of Ronald Reagan but with many of them getting the Gipper wrong. Typical. For Reagan, it just wasn’t about the economy or jobs but about the more deeply important expression of the assignment of power. At one point in 1981, Reagan told a group of conservatives his belief that cutting taxes was really about reordering man’s relationship to the state. Reagan, the libertarian, Reagan, who embraced Federalism, saw Washington as an illicit power grabber and wanted to re-address the imbalance. He wanted to take power away from the corrupt government and give it back to the citizenry.

“The Era of Reagan” or “The Age of Reagan” sounds sweeping, epic, and generational. And it was. And it is. It sounds like a time similar to the Pax Augusta of Ancient Rome, spanning centuries of peace and prosperity. The Era of Reagan did not last three hundred years, but still it was impressive, world altering and many believe we are still living in the shadow of the 40th president. After all, who is more cited? Obama is gone and forgotten, as are the Bushes. Reagan never compared himself to other presidents but all succeeding presidents have compared themselves to him.

Less than a decade in power, but these years have its own name akin the greatest leaders of history. From international to domestic affairs, the Reagan presidency not only redefined the conservative movement, but also realigned the United States to a long-term era of prosperity.  Post-World War II, the American economy went through eight boom and bust cycles. In the 37 years since Reagan’s election only a minor recession occurred during the Bush 41 and Clinton presidencies, in part because they both raised taxes. The 2008 recession resulted from the bursting of various valuation bubbles, and resulted from massive government spending, including bloated transportation and farm bills and Bush’s sop to seniors, as well as the Prescription Drug Benefit, a new addition to the New Deal and the Great Society social programs, costing billions.

One of this plethora of ways America prospered under the Gipper was through massive tax cuts and the economy. Reagan was not a late comer to tax cuts, having returned to California’s taxpayers the largest rebate in years, $500 million, in 1970. But the GOP was pretty much the green eyeshade party in those days. Even more ironic, during Nixon’s first term, Senators Walter Mondale and Ted Kennedy proposed huge cuts in personal taxes as a means of jumpstarting the economy, but the Nixon Administration objected, advocating instead massive federal spending as a means restarting the languishing economy.

But supply-side economics was something else, and it was Dr. Arthur Laffer, Jude Wanniski of the Wall Street Journal, and conservative activist Jeff Bell who first introduced the radical (and hugely successful) economic theory to Governor Reagan (though they later flirted with the possible 1980 candidacy of Jack Kemp), who first talked it up in September of 1976 in a radio address.

Later, during one primary debate with Republican presidential candidate George H. W. Bush in 1980, Reagan poignantly noted that “government doesn’t tax to get the money it needs, government always needs the money it gets.” Government, unchecked, was always going to absorb more power from the citizenry. Of course the economy was a huge issue in the primaries, and, later, the general election. In the late 1970s, under President Jimmy Carter, the country went through a enormous crisis. The country’s GDP by the last year of Carter’s presidency was negative 0.3. Inflation was at a whopping 13.5 percent, and unemployment was 7.5 percent by January 1981, making the late ’70s the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Reagan defeated Carter in November of 1980 in one of the biggest landslides in presidential history. His philosophy of individualism, smaller federal government, and American optimism reverberated with a Carter “malaise” pessimistic public. Famed journalist Hedrick Smith of the New York Times said only four months after Reagan took office that he “has managed to tap and nurture a budding mood of national self-confidence even before his major policies have had enough time to achieve real practical impact or to be properly tested.”

He wanted to re-shift the relationship between state and federal government, and man’s relationship to the government. “All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government,” he said during his first inauguration. Through this belief, he was critic of the government both penalizing those successful and overreaching to get as much money—power— as possible from the common man. Again, during his inauguration, he said, “Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.” Years later, he quipped, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” He wanted that changed.

Both his ’81 and ’86 Tax Acts made it fairer for the American worker, closing loopholes and simplifying the tax bracket. The Economic Recovery and Tax Act of 1981, called Kemp-Roth, reduced income tax rates by 25 percent, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986 significantly lowered tax rates. On the economy, the effects in only eight years were significant from the recession during Carter’s run. By 1988, the GDP went from a negative growth to an astonishing 4.1 percent. Annually, the average GDP during the Reagan years was 3.5 percent. Inflation dropped by nearly 10 percent. “It was the equivalent of adding the West German economy to the U.S. one,” wrote Kyle Smith in Forbes in 2014. Burton Yale Pines at the Heritage Foundation, in the spring of 1988, had a much more poignant and contemporary opinion, writing that “we have had the longest period of economic growth in peacetime in American history-probably world history. A record number of new American businesses have been created; a record number of new jobs have been created (and, in fact, experts now worry about a labor shortage in America); we are producing more new products and new ideas and are doing so more efficiently than at any time in our history.”

Unemployment, yet another mark of the health of an economy, shrunk by half from the recession in 1982 from 10.8 to 5.4 percent. Black unemployment was similarly cut in half, from 21.2 percent in early 1983 to only 11.8 percent by the end of the Reagan presidency. Overall, there was more general and black employment at the end of the Reagan Era than the beginning, and that was with the tail end of the Carter Recession. Youth unemployment also plummeted.

The economy spiked so much, that there was a net increase of about 21 million more jobs in eight years. Labor participation went from 63.9 percent in January 1981 to a whopping 66.5 percent in January 1989. The median income of a family grew by $4,000, from $37,868 in 1981 to $42,049 in 1989. By comparison, it did not grow at all during Carter’s administration, and income actually shrunk during Bush 41’s years.

The context of these decisions can only be made through the lens of the 1980s and the late 1970s but the lessons are eternal. Would President Trump do well to look at Reagan’s decisions? Or JFK’s previous tax cuts? As is often the case, past is prologue. The success of the Reagan Era cannot be dismissed purely because the liberal elites at the Washington Post and NBC didn’t like him.

The empirical data is clear. Reagan was right. The corrupt liberal elites were wrong. In the end, the Reagan Era worked in favor for the American people, launching an era of optimism with the defeat of the Kremlin and the rise of the American economy. “A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become,” Reagan once said.

The economic optimism of America flourished, restoring American morale and can-do spirit, and resulted in part in the destruction of the Soviet Union, but without a Reagan economy, the United States might have slipped into the ether of history, never seeing or celebrating a Third American Century.

Craig Shirley is a presidential historian and the author of four bestsellers on Ronald Reagan, and most recently the author of the authorized biography of Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt.”

Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s researcher and has co-authored many articles with him.


Shirley Corrects the Record With ‘Citizen Newt’ || Newsmax

Shirley Corrects the Record With ‘Citizen Newt’

By David A. Patten   |   Friday, 29 Sep 2017 07:45 PM

Historian, author, and Newsmax contributor Craig Shirley is best known for his groundbreaking works on President Ronald Reagan, including “Rendezvous With Destiny” and “Reagan’s Revolution.”

But Shirley’s latest tome, “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative,” may complicate his own legacy. The reason: Citizen Newt, which has been praised by Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Ed Rollins and Joe Scarborough to name only a few, may well be remembered as his most meticulously documented, finely-crafted volume to date.

It should be. It took him seven years of research, including unfettered access to Gingrich. The former Speaker apparently realized the several volumes already written about him, mostly by authors firmly rooted in the elite progressive tradition, had distorted rather than clarified his impact on American political history.

 “Most books about Gingrich have been deeply flawed, biased, and downright hostile,” Shirley writes.

As viewed from the perspective of the daily news cycle, fixated as it is on yesterday’s news and President Trump’s latest tweet, it’s not immediately clear why Gingrich — who lost his 2012 bid to wrest his party’s presidential nomination out of the “severely conservative” hands of Mitt Romney — would be such an inviting subject for a historian of Shirley’s stature.

But a much different picture emerges from the grand sweep of history. As a young member of Congress, the insurgent Gingrich played a key role in thwarting establishment forces to enact the Reagan agenda. And during the Clinton years, he engineered the GOP takeover of the House that made him Speaker, marking the first time since 1954 that Republicans controlled the House.

“He made a liberal president go before the American people and say, ‘The era of big government is over,'” Shirley tells Newsmax. “Now, if that’s not winning the war, I don’t know what is.”

If Gingrich’s career ended there, it would have been enough. But through his writing, DVDs, media career, and campaigning, Gingrich has kept his fingers on the pulse of GOP politics for decades. His 2012 tactic of making the media his preferred foil was arguably the proving ground for the even more strategic attacks that helped Trump seize the presidency.

Putting it simply, Gingrich was a populist when populism wasn’t cool. And his extraordinary longevity on the American political scene, makes Gingrich “very, very unusual and worthy of study,” Shirley says.

Shirley sees Reagan and Gingrich as sort of first cousins of conservatism. Both were happy warriors who refused to concede the moral high ground to politicians who spoke the rhetoric of identity politics and social justice. And both relied on persuasive intellectual arguments to defend their conservatism in the political arena.

“What Reagan and Gingrich did,” Shirley says, “was to shift the arguments to the right side of the spectrum: Yes, we need these taxes, but how much? Yes, we need this government, but how much government? Yes, we need to destroy the Soviet Union, but how soon?”

Fashioned with encyclopedic, fly-on-the-wall details, Shirley’s book opens with Gingrich as a nearly anonymous professor at a small college in Georgia. It follows his rise to becoming a newcomer in Congress, and closes shortly after Gingrich overthrows the old political order in Washington and rises to the speakership.

One disclaimer: A reader seeking a lurid tell-all on the less wholesome episodes in Gingrich’s life might want to look elsewhere.

“This is a political biography,” Shirley says unapologetically. “I acknowledge Gingrich’s divorces, I acknowledge his faults and foibles, but that does not define the man.

“This is what drives liberals crazy, because they’re all wrapped up in personality politics, the personality of Barack Obama, the personality of Donald Trump. Because policy is secondary to them.

“They’re about the personality of political correctness,” he adds. “So, Gingrich is beyond their understanding, Reagan is beyond their understanding. Because they just can’t comprehend the intellectual underpinnings of American conservatives.”

Shirley lists Gingrich as one of the four most important conservative leaders in the 20th and 21st centuries, the other three being Barry Goldwater, Bill Buckley and Ronald Reagan.

“There’s no doubt about it,” he says, adding that without the constant gravitational pull of Gingrich over the years, “Reaganism in the face of Bushism might have been dismissed as a detour in history.”

Whether you love Gingrich or hate him — and Bush acolytes are generally assumed to be in the former camp — it’s probably not a stretch to say that Citizen Newt is a book without which one simply cannot grasp the entirety of modern political conservatism. That alone makes Shirley’s take on Gingrich an enduring accomplishment.

“Gingrich and Reagan never had any doubts about their own ideology, their own philosophy,” says Shirley. “They knew that the noun was the enemy of the adjective: You didn’t have to modify ‘conservative’ with ‘compassionate’ conservatism, because conservatism was already compassionate. They never fell into the trap of arguing issues on the left side of the spectrum.”

And as Citizen Newt makes manifest, neither does Craig Shirley.


A Reader’s History || TownHall

A Reader’s History

This column was co-authored by Scott Mauer.

Carl Cannon’s new book, On This Date, should be on the desk of every school child in America. It is that good and that original and that interesting. History comes alive under Cannon’s tender ministries.  Though a great resource for children, it is just as edifying and engaging for adults.

A distinguished journalist and author, Cannon always has had the knack for clear, concise, and intelligent reporting. His daily Morning Note on RealClearPolitics always can help catch the reader up on breaking news. It takes no more than a few minutes to read, and is a nice substitute for other outlets whose once fact based morning reports have been subsumed by intrigue and opinion bias.

Take Cannon’s Morning Note, and expand it to a book for historians, and you have the spectacularly well-done On This Date. Those who want a quick and fun lesson in history should look no further than this. On This Date is exactly what any history lover may want. Each date has one or two pages of an anniversary that happened in US history, from the Mayflower landing all the way to the 2016 election.

It totals 414 pages, which is remarkably succinct for summarizing 365-days worth of American history.

Cannon chose each of these dates importantly. The September 11, 2001 attacks were not glossed over; quite the opposite, as the entry for that day is titled “This Changes Everything.”  The Pearl Harbor attacks by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941 are also covered. Those are almost obligatory to cover.  You can’t talk about the sweeping history of America without mentioning those events. But yet, even within disasters like Pearl Harbor, Cannon tells us of more obscure figures or events, such as the tale of Lieutenant Kazuo Sakamaki, the first prisoner of war in the U.S. who was captured after failing to kill himself in his minisubmarine in Hawaii.  It is a fascinating minute detail in the grand picture of the day.

Besides the obligatory events of American history – 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Gettysburg and Pickett’s Charge –On This Date tells us of the relatively unknown. Turn to a random page, and you’ll see that on July 24, 1984, a nine-year old girl in Rosedale, Maryland was found murdered, which eventually lead to the false arrest of Kirk Bloodsworth, who, despite being innocent of charges, was convicted and sentenced to death (he was released in 1993 after DNA proved he was not the killer).

Whether it’s the big or the little, each event on each page narrates America’s identity. It does not shy away from shameful history (Bloodsworth’s conviction is but one example), nor does it portray the United States as the Big Bad Guy that many want. It’s neither a glorifying hagiography of our country nor is it a damning hit-job, but factual retelling with both the good and the bad.

Cannon’s book is as consumable as the the little tear-off calendars that you may find on someone’s work desk, yet never lacking in depth of substance. Except instead of spiritual or inspirational quotes, you’ll find true historical facts. It’s a great conversation starter or even a small break from the soundbites in the news. For example, the day of writing this review, we can quickly turn to the corresponding page and learn that in 1963, a bomb went off in Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four black schoolgirls. The entry – only a page long – paints the graphic picture and includes details that bring you to that time and place. “They are killing our children!” yelled a mother. Cannon doesn’t sacrifice details for the sake of brevity, a rare gift when writing history.

Pick it up when you have a moment. Read it at your leisure. You’ll inevitably learn something new about what makes the United States the most distinguished country on earth.  We may have a short history compared to France or England, but it’s more rich, exciting, and dramatic that any other.


Outsiders vs. Insiders: Are conservatives destined for Reagan vs. Ford part two in 2020? || ConservativeHQ

Ever since Donald Trump all-but secured the Republican nomination for president (after the Indiana primary in May of last year) there’s been a great deal of speculation as to when the inevitable challenge to his leadership of the GOP would materialize.

Most of the anti-Trump conjecture originated from establishment figures such as John Kasich, John McCain and Jeb Bush, people who never fully accepted Trump as a legitimate politician and have sniped and criticized him from the sidelines as the New York outsider dove in and battled the reptile-infested political swamp in Washington DC.

To predict someone from the elite circles of the party will make a high-profile primary challenge to Trump in 2020 is not only within the logical realm of possibility — it’s almost likely to happen. Certainly such an effort would be well supported and financed by Trump’s multitude of enemies inside and outside the party.

But could Trump possibly face opposition from a conservative competitor as well? Some people talk as though it’s destined to take place.

Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer wrote at Real Clear Politics, “President Trump seems to be heading in the direction of Gerald Ford. He is going leftward by negotiating with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi instead of his own party’s leadership. It was met with great fanfare by the liberal media when he agreed to increase the debt limit. Several days later, he reassured DACA recipients that everything will work out to their favor – at the behest of Nancy Pelosi…

“If Donald Trump is destined to becoming the next Gerald Ford, who will be the conservative primary opponent running to his right? What will this mean for 2020? Will someone emerge to go after an unclear, messy, moderate incumbent in the primaries? It would seem so. Conservatives will surely want a hard-hitting and principled candidate who understands classic conservative economics, politics, and the tenets of Federalism.”

Radio host Mark Levin has been similarly critical of Trump’s political inconsistencies, so it isn’t just Shirley and Mauer making the challenge-from-the-right argument.

Since Shirley is perhaps the preeminent authority on the extraordinary life of Ronald Reagan it’s understandable how he might see parallels between what’s happening with Trump today and the internal party civil war (between American conservativism’s greatest icon and the ultimate establishmentarian of his time, Gerald Ford) that took place over forty years ago.

And while it’s true Trump has been making a number of debatable political moves of late it’s probably a little early to foresee a certain conservative primary challenge to his leadership of the GOP in 2020. Trump may have earned the ire of diehard conservatives who felt the sting of his apparent backtracking on immigration a couple weeks ago but by no means is it obvious that he has morphed into a knee-jerk reactionary Democrat.

Many (myself included) surmised Trump’s overtures to the opposition party were really a feint to throw the media dogs off his scent rather than signaling a permanent exodus to join the enemy’s black hooded thugs. Trump is far too tactical and clever to be so open about his true intentions; he’s also reiterated time and again “I will not let you down” to his base. All the media and liberal adoration in the world isn’t going to lure Trump away from his desire to please the crowds.

That’s what a populist does; when you stop satisfying people you become un-popular. If you don’t believe it, ask George W. Bush.

It just doesn’t make sense to believe otherwise in Trump’s case. The president may be no Ronald Reagan but he certainly doesn’t appear to be a Gerald Ford either. After the fiasco with Richard Nixon in the mid-70’s the GOP establishment took full control of the party and of Ford’s governing direction. There’s little to no chance of something similar occurring with Donald Trump.

Trump remains ever distrustful of the entrenched ruling class in Washington. He’s been perhaps too tolerant of keeping Obama holdovers employed in the highest reaches of the federal bureaucracy but when Trump has had the opportunity to appoint someone, he’s usually turned to worthy conservatives.

It’s also hard to envision how one of the high-profile conservative leaders in Congress (or governors) would become so upset with Trump that they’d make what would likely amount to a suicidal run to unseat him on the 2020 ballot. Such a campaign would need to begin sometime soon, too, otherwise there wouldn’t be sufficient time to organize, fundraise, hire a staff, etc.

And who would it be? Ted Cruz? Mike Lee? Ben Sasse (there isn’t anyone on the House side who would be prominent enough to make it work)? The former two would be highly unlikely to challenge Trump for a number of reasons. Cruz is currently preoccupied with winning reelection next year and Lee has never seemed interested in a run for the top White House job.

Of the group Sasse would be most likely to try it, but again, where would his base of support come from? The conservative/populist grassroots chose Trump precisely because he was seen as having the best shot at breaking up the system, an impression that is not likely to fade no matter what takes place in the next couple years.

Practically speaking, there aren’t enough voters to fuel the fires of change in the GOP away from Trump at this point.

One name who could conceivably attempt it just to make a statement is Senator Rand Paul. Paul’s family’s political history would lend itself to running an outsider-from-the-inside-type campaign that would highlight Trump’s policy apostasies and could draw a reasonable amount of support from libertarian conservatives and those who have never thought Trump was conservative enough.

Further, the Kentucky senator has been plenty vocal lately in questioning his party’s turn away from conservatism. In a piece titled “Remember When Republicans Were Conservative?” Paul wrote last week in The Daily Caller, “Our budget needs balancing.  Our programs need reform.  Our spending ourselves into debt needs to end.

“With this next three months, conservatives, and really all Republicans, need to get together and act.  We need to insist that there will be no debt ceiling increase the next time if we aren’t heard, and if reforms aren’t enacted.

“I plan to start right now — not wait until December.  Last week, I met with conservative fighters in both the House and Senate to put together a coalition that says, ‘Stop.’  No more spending without real reforms.”

It’s clear Paul intends to follow through on his principles and could become one of Trump’s loudest Republican critics if the president carries out his threat to approach the Democrats for additional help in passing legislation under the guise of doing anything to get the process moving.

It’s also well-known Paul was a leading conservative opponent of compromise on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare which has many folks questioning his motivations. Most principled conservatives agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s words and positions but at some point politics does become the art of the possible. There’s a difference between using one’s position outside the majority to take a stand (as Ted Cruz did against Obamacare in 2013), but once you’re in the governing faction it’s necessary to bend a bit at times.

In the end I don’t believe Paul would pursue such a run against Trump. He’s not his dad and circumstances are quite different than when Reagan challenged Ford in 1976 and even when “pitchfork” Pat Buchanan campaigned against George H.W. Bush from the right in 1992. Bush was Reagan’s VP, the establishment had retaken control of the GOP and Buchanan didn’t have enough of a base to knock off the elder Bush.

Perhaps most importantly, the conservative Republican voters weren’t ready to toss out Bush. They won’t be prepared to remove Trump at the ballot box either.

The biggest reason is Trump is by and large keeping his promises. Even the establishment is now hesitant to criticize his methodology.

Joel Gehrke reported in the Washington Examiner, “President Trump’s sharp criticism of NATO succeeded in rattling ‘the complacency’ of European allies and producing foreign policy dividends, according to former rival Jeb Bush…

“’In relates to NATO, look, here’s a place where the rhetoric actually has been helpful,’ Bush said during a foreign policy discussion hosted by United Against Nuclear Iran.

“’Granted, the fact that he didn’t embrace NATO to begin with, but you’re starting to see European countries increase their defense budgets. … From time to time, it’s okay to shake up the complacency.’”

One wonders whether Jeb now believes it was okay to shake up the GOP’s “complacency” last year when conservatives and populists roundly rejected the status quo in favor of the politically unrefined Donald Trump. Trump doesn’t talk like a typical politician and isn’t the least bit afraid to step on foreign toes – like those of NATO leaders – to advance his America First policies.

Trump’s tough rhetoric is not only popular with Americans in general it’s extremely well received by conservatives. We still have a long way to go until 2020, but for right now it’s hard to fathom how the outsider president would face a conservative primary challenger after one term.