Category Archives: Commentary

Review: Katy Tur’s ‘Unbelievable’ an Exercise in Self-Aggrandizement || Lifezette

Review: Katy Tur’s ‘Unbelievable’ an Exercise in Self-Aggrandizement

NBC reporter’s new book documenting the Trump campaign heavy on Gen X tangents, light on substance

by Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer 

There is no question — ever since the Watergate scandal — that the media and journalists have come to think of themselves as the royalty of the Fourth Estate. To its opponents, the media are less the Fourth Estate and more the Fifth Column, though the two share similarities that make them almost indistinguishable at times. In more recent years, this cultural phenomenon has extended to cable television, as many of the newsreaders are held up as paragons of knowledge despite their frequent fatuity. I once saw a pretty young blonde reading a Teleprompter make reference to “World War Eleven.”

Katy Tur’s book on the 2016 presidential campaign does not dispel any of these truths. And Teddy White’s and others’ legacies as chroniclers of American political campaigns are in no danger from the slim Tur book.

“Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History” reads less like a political book and more like a puerile autobiography. Coming from a journalist, what would otherwise have been seen as forgivable becomes unbearable. Her first sentence refers to throwing up. This phrase is usually associated with high school co-eds. As if. Like, you know?

NBC’s Tur is only 33 years old, so she falls into the Gen X age group. Yet it’s curious how she has gained so much wisdom about everything. And that’s precisely what the problem is here. Those who should have been the main characters of the book — Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, campaign aides — are but mere secondary characters. The primary character, of course, has to be, as she describes herself, “Katy Tur, Fearless Foreign Correspondence and Lady Who Drinks Wine at Lunch.” Cheeky. The 2016 election revolves around her, not the other way around.

Do we, the readers, really need to know how she met her French boyfriend (through romantic Tinder, by the way), or the smell and sounds of Paris, or the commute on the Eurostar from London? It’s about her here. She talks of her (paid) vacation in Sicily (again with her boyfriend) as if this were her diary. “Our first real vacation — two full weeks together. We’ll swim in the Mediterranean, climb Mt. Etna, and see opera in the ruins of an ancient Greek theater. And eat pasta. A lot of pasta.” And so on and so forth. At some points we just have to put the book down and ask, “Why is this important?”

The answer, in Tur’s mind, can only be that it’s important because she is important. Her favorite word is always a First Person Pronoun. (That’s I, me and my, for Ms. Tur’s edification.)

We have no doubt where she falls politically, either. Surprise: She’s a liberal, and she makes it clear as day when she reports, in the first pages of the prologue, “I’m about to throw up” after Trump wins on election night. And it’s not from excitement. Tur makes little snide remarks about Trump, referring to Melania as “his third wife.” That is factual, of course, but the need to point that out when they’ve been married for 12 years seems less “reporting the facts” and more “taking a swing.” She devotes half a page to describing Trump as “orange.” She makes it clear she did not want to even start reporting on Trump’s campaign — again, because she’s supposed to go on vacation!

Let’s be clear. She’s allowed to have her biases; she’s allowed to have her beliefs. But let’s not pretend that her constant belittling is professional journalism. The reporting of every obscenity, she says, is not professional journalism but more for the grocery-store tabloids. That’s what “Unbelievable” boils down to: unprofessional. “As a journalist, my job is to listen and probe, listen and probe,” she says while conducting her first interview. That’s not what this book is.

If she wanted to write an autobiography (at 33 years old, sure, the sky’s the limit), then she should’ve written an autobiography. We’re curious as to the relevance of it all. At only a mere 286 pages (tiny pages, giant print), perhaps all the egotistical fluff and filler was necessary to fit the minimum required number of pages. But everything about Katy is relevant to herself, since she has to put focus on herself through the entire two years.

When it comes to election night and Trump’s win, she puts the focus on how she “called it.” Sure, the pundits and many experts said that Hillary was going to blow him out of the water, but she is hardly the first or only person to say that he wasn’t guaranteed to lose. Laura Ingraham was one who did not give up. Ann Coulter was another. But perhaps because of their conservative beliefs, they do not count to Tur.

After all, it’s only about herself. The cover has a picture of her and the subhead has it as “My Front-Row Seat.” Not “the,” but “my.” The prologue, a mere five pages in an already small book, contained over 65 instances of “I,” “me,” or “my.” The book proper gets worse.

It says something that what is seen as unusual to many is acceptable to The Washington Post. In its review by Carlos Lozada, The Post slobbers over the book (because of course they would). “What elevates ‘Unbelievable’ beyond one more pedestrian campaign memoir,” the review states, “is Tur’s skill at capturing the constant indignities of campaign reporting while female, including the worst indignity of all: enduring the fixation of Trump himself.” Pulling the identity politics card isn’t beneath either The Post or the author. (Interestingly, the review also brings up a number of shortfalls of “Unbelievable,” so credit goes where it should.)

Those who wanted an in-depth, insider’s look at the “craziest campaign” shouldn’t look here. It’s a shame, because a journalist who has been with the Trump campaign since literally Day One should know who the main focus should be: not her, but the future president of the United States and the history of the campaign. Journalists should know when something is irrelevant and irreverent to their profession.

“Unbelievable” is unbelievably confusing and unbelievably disappointing. Perhaps that makes it the perfect book for self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing millennials.

Craig Shirley is a presidential historian and author of four bestsellers on Ronald Reagan, most recently “Reagan Rising.” His latest political biography on Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt,” is now available on Amazon. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s researcher.

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Hillary Forever: Book Tour Reaffirms ‘Not Going Anywhere’ Pledge || Lifezette

Hillary Forever: Book Tour Reaffirms ‘Not Going Anywhere’ Pledge

To Democrats, Clinton’s vow to stay in politics sounds like a threat — for Republicans, a love letter

by Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Hillary Clinton said recently. Some saw it as a threat. But high-fives and toasts could be heard from the Republican Party across the country, while Democratic politicians could almost be felt quaking.

Hillary Clinton, failed presidential nominee, road kill, recruiting poster for the GOP, is not going to leave public life. “I have the experience, I have the insight, I have the scars that I think give me not only the right, but the responsibility to speak out,” she self-confessed to NPR during her promotion of her new book, “What Happened.”

To Democrats, it sounds like a threat. For Republicans, a love letter.

It’s almost an unprecedented move, at least in modern history. But we can’t expect anything less from Hillary Clinton, with the number of glass ceilings she wanted to shatter. It fits perfectly into her personality.

Her recent book tour — which has agitated Democrats and amused Republicans — has been failure after failure. On the very first day of it she revealed she is entitled and cocky. What should have been a very serious Launch Day turned into much frustration as Clinton appeared an hour late to the book signing, forcing thousands of the little people to wait at the crowded Barnes & Noble in Union Square, in New York City. When Lady Hillary finally did arrive, she did not apologize or even speak to the fawning crowd, but just sat down and started to sign her books. Her Royal Highness doth honor the mere peasants with Her presence. But they had to avert their eyes.

Much digital ink has been spilt about the actual book, its contents, and its tone. Many sites have pointed out the glaring factual errors, the condescending and sanctimonious tone, the bitter victimhood, and the — surprise, surprise — utter lack of accepting blame for her loss.

Perhaps, in a rare instance, she is right here. What other losing presidential candidate has placed himself in the public eye so much, with so much blame and vigor that even other politicians in her own party roll their eyes? Truth is, not many, if any.

If we list losing presidential candidates, we get a smattering of names we recognize — John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton — but we also get a list of names that are nearly fading from immediate memory: Michael Dukakis, Adlai Stevenson, Wendell Willkie, or Al Smith. Some names may be more recognizable and have a more solid legacy than others, but all have been overshadowed by the winner on Election Day. Stevenson lost to Dwight Eisenhower (twice), Willkie lost to Franklin Roosevelt, McCain and Romney lost to Barack Obama, and Smith lost to Herbert Hoover.

Those who did stay relevant were themselves former presidents. Jimmy Carter, who lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980, went on to fund charities and do humanitarian work, sometimes personally building houses for Homes for Humanity. For all his faults, the long post-presidency of Carter has been nothing but dignified.

But what of failed candidates who weren’t presidents? Mitt Romney all but disappeared, though recent rumors suggest he may run for Senate. John McCain is only making the news because he is currently a senator and a bitter critic of Donald Trump. Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, who once ran for the Democratic Party against then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, became a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as visiting professor at both Loyola Marymount University and University of California, Los Angeles. He has stayed out of the public eye, relatively. He once spoke of Bill Clinton’s run for president to Charlie Rose in 1992, offering advice and predictions for the upcoming election, but that was pretty much it.

The closest historical figure that matches Clinton’s level of arrogance is former president Herbert Hoover. Losing against Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Hoover continued to criticize the newly-elected president. He may have lost the election but he’d be damned if he lost the national debate. He criticized FDR severely, dismissing the New Deal in his 1934 work, “The Challenge of Liberty.” He was a strict isolationist (saying that if the United States entered the war in Europe, “then we have won for Stalin the grip of communism on Russia … War alongside Stalin to impose freedom is more than a travesty”) and opposed Lend-Lease.

To boot, Hoover ran for the presidential primary of the Republican Party twice more, in 1936 and 1940, failing to secure the necessary delegates. One Gallup Poll, in 1940, had his support at a pathetic 2 percent. It was clear he would stay a one-term president, yet he continued on. Sounds like someone else we know.

All that said, it can almost be forgiven that Hoover stayed in public discourse, as, one-term or not, he was indeed once president. That doesn’t necessarily give him a pass, but it gives him an excuse to criticize what may become of his legacy or his country he once served.

Yes, Hoover criticized the president after his loss. Yes, he wrote a book soon after the election about the current president. And his support dwindled away. Hillary Clinton, however, has never been president, may never be president — and though she may be following in the footsteps of Hoover, it’s fair to say she will never have, again, the amount of support from either within or out of her party.

Perhaps it’s time Clinton listens to her Democratic betters, and, as much as it’d pain her, just go away.

Craig Shirley is a presidential historian and author of four bestsellers on Ronald Reagan, most recently “Reagan Rising.” His latest political biography on Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt,” is now available on Amazon. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s researcher.

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Trump’s Move to the Left Ensures a Primary Opponent || RealClearPolitics

Trump’s Move to the Left Ensures a Primary Opponent

Ronald Reagan wasn’t Ronald Reagan before Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan.

In other words, while he is now revered by many as the first-among-equals Republican president, perhaps even more than Abraham Lincoln is, it wasn’t always so. From the time he burst onto the political scene in 1964 until his passing, Reagan was often derided by the political establishment and no more so than in 1976, when he audaciously took on Gerald Ford for the GOP nomination.

It was a bold move to go head-to-head against an incumbent president from his own party. Not since 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt challenged William Howard Taft, had it been attempted. But it nearly worked. On August 18, 1976, the penultimate day of the Republican convention, Ronald Reagan lost the primary to Ford by a mere 117 delegates, out of more than 2,000 votes cast.  It was the narrowest of margins, though some thought Ford’s win was tainted.

Reagan may have lost the nomination, but he certainly did not lose the hearts of Americans. While Ford went on to lose against Jimmy Carter, Reagan wasted no time in engineering his next run for president, just weeks after the 1976 election, eventually winning by landslides twice in 1980 and 1984. Unlike other primary losers, Reagan was not forgotten after 1976. Quite the contrary.

Ronald Reagan’s and Gerald Ford’s primary fight was rife with accusations, backhanded remarks, and down-right nastiness. The two despised each other by the end, and Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford couldn’t be in the same room with each other.

In the primaries, Reagan went straight after Ford’s inability to lead and inability to govern as chief executive. “I have become increasingly concerned about the course of events in the United States and the world,” he had said in announcing his candidacy in November of 1975. “The free world is crying out for strong American leadership.” He also went after Ford on ideological grounds, most notably U.S.-Soviet relations.

Ford’s short and ultimately forgettable presidency was marked by odd choices that made most conservatives angry and confused. From amnesty for draft dodgers and support for the Equal Rights Amendment to signing the Helsinki Accords, which ceded Eastern Europe to the Soviets, as well as his continued support for the failed policy of détente, Ford’s loyalty to the GOP wasn’t always clear. He was far more moderate than many thought he would or should be as president. As if all this weren’t  bad enough, it came at a time when the Republican Party needed a principled reformer after Richard Nixon’s humiliating and sad exit.

Ford’s association with Nixon’s policies and D.C.-insider resume didn’t sit well in the primaries or the general election. It’s no wonder that Americans later looked to an outsider to clean things up. Enter Reagan, who went on to make history.

The candidate many viewed as the outsider in 2016 was Donald Trump, who proclaimed his intention to drain the political swamp. Things have turned out differently. Unfortunately for conservatives, Trump doesn’t seem to want to follow through, and is more interested in the approval of the liberal media and the art of the deal, good or bad. Trump’s conservatism has always been suspect and now is even more so. It’s been openly thought that he’s always wanted the approval of Manhattan society. Moreover, as Ford’s hold on the American people was ephemeral because he’d never received their votes, Trump’s hold is also weak, as he did not receive a majority of the popular vote in November.

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.

He reversed his position on Afghanistan, in the tradition of “invade the world” neocons. During the campaign, his promise  was to pull all American troops out, the sooner the better. As president, it’s been to send more troops in. Trump has met several times with the Nixon-Ford foreign policy guru, Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was the burr under Reagan’s and conservatives’ saddle. Trump also just announced that taxes on the rich – aka the successful – may go even higher. And more recently, he met again with Schumer and Pelosi to work with them to legalize Dreamers, promising to put off building the border wall until later. That’s two campaign promises reversed in one meeting.

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.

Conservatives will want an outsider who is unable to be wooed by the insiders, from the left or right.

Is it realistic for someone to challenge the president  in 2020? Trump’s loyal apprentices who will vote for him no matter what – he said as much during the 2016 primaries – but that means little. Ford was an incumbent and nearly lost the nomination in ’76, even though Reagan received more votes in the primaries. Being president does not make you immune. Just ask Harry Truman in 1952. Or LBJ in 1968. A recent poll from early August revealed that over half of Republicans in New Hampshire would, if faced with a John Kasich vs. Trump primary, vote for the Ohio governor. Not even a year into the Trump administration, this is sorely disappointing, especially given that Kasich can come across as an old sourpuss.

Let’s see how 2020 shapes up. One thing seems certain, however: It will shape up quickly.

Craig Shirley is the author of four books about Ronald Reagan, including “Reagan Rising” and “Last Act.” He is also the author of the authorized biography of Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative,” and is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. He has lectured at the Reagan Library, is the Visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Reagan Ranch.

Scott Mauer is a research assistant to Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.

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Calling Reagan a pro-amnesty liberal hero is simply Orwellian || Conservative Review

Calling Reagan a pro-amnesty liberal hero is simply Orwellian

RONALD REAGAN WAS PRO-INDIVIDUALITY. HE WAS ALSO PRO-AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, AND TOOK ISSUE ON ANY THREAT AGAINST IT.

By Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which has, in five years’ time, allowed around 800,000 illegal youths to live and work in the United States without ever going through an application process to actually become American citizens. It was a program that President Trump once promised — only to cancel—which had infuriated Democrats as much as anything.

It was never intended to be a permanent solution and President Barack Obama said so, even as he himself was operating outside the Constitution in making his own law, rather than following it.

Still, President Trump had been bombarded on many sides for his decision, until now apparently reversing it. And, as critics continue to assault that original decision, they have picked up a new-old tactic: attack the present by hijacking the past. It’s the classic Orwellian cliché, of rewriting the past to control the future. It’s irresponsible.

This time — and not for the first time — the Left once again is invoking conservative icon and hero Ronald Reagan.

Recently, Michael Reagan tweeted that his father “would not kick the dreamers out of the US. He would find a way to work with Congress and lead.” Maybe. There are those who worked closely with the Gipper who say otherwise. On the other side now is immigration reform activist, liberal businesswoman, and widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs.

Her company, Emerson Collective, has a new television spot that selectively uses Ronald Reagan’s farewell address, “If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors,” Reagan says in his final address as the president of the United States. “And the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

It’s an effective ad that plays at the hearts of conservatives. Unfortunately for Laurene, it’s not quite as cut and dry as she thinks. DACA did not even exist when Reagan was president and it is a canard to suggest otherwise. Put illegals ahead of legal Americans? Reagan would have gagged at something less than fair play. Do we need another shallow rich liberal deliberately rewriting American history?

Everything that Ronald Reagan did was set against the backdrop of the Cold War. By the 1980s, the Soviet Union, specifically, and communism, generally, had been mortal enemies of the United States for nearly 40 years. People born during the Cold War were well into adulthood by the Reagan administration, and for their entire lives, communism was the threat.

It was an entirely different time when an Evil Empire was willing to kill millions in order to achieve world control. That was Reagan’s context. Where the threat of communism was rampant, from Central and South America’s Nicaragua or Panama, to all of Eastern Europe, Reagan opened his rhetoric.

It was 1986 when immigration became an issue at the forefront for the United States, when President Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Cold War was at its peak. He noted that the legislation was not for the sake of votes, or the sake of appeasement. It was for American security.

“Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people, American citizenship,” he said. Note also that this action was not blanket amnesty. While it offered citizenship to many illegal immigrants, it banned employers from hiring illegal immigrants – a major issue in today’s immigration debate – and set to enforce tighter immigration laws.

In fact, the amnesty portion of the bill, according to Reagan’s attorney general, Ed Meese, was a large thorn in the president’s side.

“There was extensive document fraud and the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there was a failure of political will to enforce new laws against employers. After a brief slowdown, illegal immigration returned to high levels and continued unabated, forming the nucleus of today’s large population of illegal aliens,” Meese wrote in Human Events.

Also, the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act contained heavy penalties and parameters for these illegals to become American citizens, but they were never enforced by the succeeding Bush administration. Again, it must be emphasized that this Act was in the context of the Cold War. The mid-’80s were highly sensitive and tense years for USSR-USA relations; to throw out the illegal immigrants would have immediately been called out by Moscow. “Why are you telling us to free Eastern Europe,” Mikhail Gorbachev and his ilk would’ve accused, “when you throw out people in your own country?” It’s a fair point.

All this being said, Reagan was not what liberals may want — a blanket supporter of illegal immigration. He said in a 1980 GOP debate with George Bush that he opposed illegals just walking into the United States. Reagan said they must “come here legally…pay taxes” (neither of which the illegals have done). He was hardline on the position, even as Ambassador Bush was not, supporting illegal children attending Houston’s public schools, even as Reagan never addressed the issue, choosing instead to focus on fixing Mexico’s rampant corruption.

Granted, Reagan did say during the October 1984 presidential debate with Walter Mondale that he believed “in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.” On Reagan’s mind were the tens of thousands of people fleeing communism oppression in Cuba and Nicaragua. Political refugees, not economic refugees.

That was consistent with his philosophy of individual freedom and liberty. However, and it’s a big wrench in the argument, Reagan was for maximum control of the borders. Employers, in his words during the debate, “encouraged the illegal entry into this country … [and] hire them at starvation wages.”

That was the main focus: not only the protection of the exploited, but the protection of American consumers and the economy. This is why he wanted “to join in again when Congress is back at it to get an immigration bill that will give us, once again, control of our borders.” To control the borders was his priority.

In short, just because Reagan was pro-legal immigrant and pro-liberty does not mean he would be pro-DACA. To be pro-legal immigrant does not immediately make one pro-DACA, and it is nothing more than a lie to suggest otherwise. Besides, the immigrants of nearly 40 years ago were different than they are today. Then, they wanted to join American culture, not topple it, as many now are militantly anti-American, lawless, and closer to Antifa than to Apple Pie. Indeed, one-third of DACA takers have committed crimes here in America.

Would Ronald Reagan have supported DACA? Reagan respected the rule of law and the Constitution. The complications of an executive leader effectively inventing legislatively law aside, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to say what a man — whose policies were defined by a very specific time and a very specific context of relations — would say.

In the end, it’s an exercise in the reckless hypothetical, in which the only person who can definitely answer is the man himself. But the evidence is clear Reagan would have put legal Americans ahead of illegal aliens.

Ronald Reagan was pro-individuality. He was also pro-American exceptionalism, and took issue on any threat against that. He was for American security and for the US Constitution, as it is proudly displayed on the wall at the Reagan Library. Would this have included 800,000 illegal immigrants? Doubtful. What we do know is that those who paint Ronald Reagan as a pro-amnesty hero are engaging in Orwellian rewriting of history.

It is irresponsible.

Craig Shirley has been hailed from many quarters as one of the leading Reagan biographers, having written four books and hundreds of articles and given hundreds of lectures about the Gipper. He is the Visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, a member of the board of governors of the Reagan Ranch, and a frequent lecturer at the Reagan Library. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s Research Assistant.

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How could a meeting like Trump Jr.’s happen? Easy: Campaigns are circuses. || Washington Post

How could a meeting like Trump Jr.’s happen? Easy: Campaigns are circuses.

What seems inexplicable on the outside looks like just the usual chaos to insiders.

Many years ago, a friend of mine — let’s call him Ed — was managing a congressional race. He was interviewing a young woman for a job with the campaign. While perusing her resume, Ed asked her if she had any special skills. Unhesitatingly, she replied, “Yes. I’m clairvoyant.”

Taken aback, Ed asked if she could give him a demonstration, and again she replied yes, and, as a demonstration of her talents, she said, “I see the two of us in that motel down the street making love this afternoon.”

Ed later told me, “And you know what? She was right!”

When I heard of the meeting Trump campaign staffers had with a Russian lawyer last year, like many of my brethren who have worked in campaigns, I was not surprised.

Weirdos and politics go together like peas and carrots: Strange, bizarre meetings. Strange, bizarre people. Clandestine operations. Inexplicable decisions. Things that in the light of day look strange, but in the heat of the moment seem perfectly rational. People often do things in politics that later can’t be explained. At least not always reasonably.

Years ago, an old campaign operative told me, “In politics, you can be an adulter or a drunk. I chose to be a drunk.” Normal?

My wife Zorine was the finance director for a campaign many years ago that held a fundraiser where Jack Kemp was the special guest. The event, in Arizona, was designed to be a good, old-fashioned western hoedown with dancing and booze. Problem was the fundamentalist holy rollers supporting the campaign objected to the dancing and drinking. So they had the event, but with no booze, no dancing, and no fun. Campaign staffers are often more important than campaign plans.

There are constant gaffes like that in politics: In 1972, George McGovern was campaigning in New York City, where he went into a kosher Jewish deli and ordered a “glass of milk” to go with his corned-beef sandwich. That same year, his running mate, Sargent Shriver, was campaigning in a blue-collar bar and ordered drinks on the house, earning praise from the working-class patrons. That is, until he ordered a snifter of Courvoisier for himself.

Outsiders will never understand what insiders really know about campaigns. The best stories will never be written or see the light of day. “Campaigns are garbage moving in the right direction,” quipped longtime GOP operative Eddie Mahe. If you’ve worked in politics long enough, you’ve seen it all, from candidate’s wives deflowering young male staffers to shysters selling the magic formula for making candidates younger to Lothario candidates who kept inviting female staffers to join them in a hot tub. I was bemused by a recent story written by a longtime scribe for the Weekly Standard giving all sorts of free advice to the GOP. Humph. Reporters like to play-act at being campaign operatives, but until you’ve worked inside a campaign, you will never know what it is really like.

In 1964, the story goes that old man Igor Sikorsky, millionaire founder of Sikorsky Aircraft and a right-winger’s right-winger, was convinced the way to get Barry Goldwater elected president was to stop poor people from voting. He hired a couple of GOP operatives to seed the clouds over Philadelphia so it would rain — the theory being poor people didn’t vote when it rained. The day of the election dawned, and it was bright and clear over Philly. Meanwhile, the boxes of flaky dry ice they’d purchased to seed the clouds had coagulated into chunks. Their plane, a DC-3, took off and chased the few wisps of clouds over the City of Brotherly Love. Out of the cargo hold, they threw the chunks of dry ice at the few small clouds. “Do you think this will work?” said one of the crew. Replied Sikosky’s hire, “I don’t know, but maybe we’ll hit a few.”

The fabled pollster and political consultant Arthur Finkelstein has seen it all over the years. Finklestein always had a bias against using billboards in campaigns. He’s said this up front to many a candidate, often followed by an argument. Candidates love to see themselves on billboards, but one particular client of his agreed with the strategy. This candidate, too, eschewed billboards, but then told his pollster how he would win: “Potholders! With my name on them!”

Years ago, Newt Gingrich thought he’d broken new ground with a mobile campaign office. The young man he hired to drive it around the district quickly discovered he could have afternoon assignations without the cost of a “no tell” hotel room. The Winnebago was often spotted around the district parked in a grocery store lot, its springs bouncing to the beat of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, thus giving new meaning to the old campaign adage, “Politics is motion.”

The failed 1980 presidential campaign of California Gov. Jerry Brown was a movable laugh riot. When not eating raw cauliflower, he was doing things like telling supporters there was no such thing as a free lunch, at the very time he was plying them with… a free lunch. When not campaigning, “Governor Moonbeam” was often seen loitering around a Zen palace in the Golden State.

In 1982, a year after the attempt on his life, Ronald Reagan was on Air Force One on a campaign swing, dressing in his favorite suit, which was charitably described as “purple plaid.” Nancy Reagan hated the suit and began in on her husband, telling him how much she loathed it. She attempted to drag deputy chief of staff Mike Deaver into the crossfire, but he refused, saying, “I’m sick of the subject! I’m sick of talking about it!” Reagan pleaded how much he liked to wear it until Nancy said, “ Oh yeah? Mike, tell the president what the staff says about his suit!” Reagan looked at Deaver and said, “Mike, what does the staff say about my suit?” Deaver replied, “Mr. President, the staff says if you were going to be shot, why couldn’t you have been shot wearing that suit?”

To paraphrase an old educator and philosopher, “Those who can, do, those who can’t, become over-the-top bell ringers.” Many will never know how fun it really is. Or how a silly little meeting with a Russian lawyer could possibly be just that — a silly little meeting and nothing more. The bystanders and alarmists scream the sky is falling, it seems, to give a little excitement to their otherwise mundane and limiting lives.

Stu Spencer, a longtime political adviser to Reagan, once said, “Working in politics is like running away and joining the circus.” And indeed, it is. It’s just not for everybody.

So the Trump campaign hands should pay these critics no mind. They will never know how much fun it is to be in the crazy arena, to know victory and defeat.

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"There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right." – The Gipper