Although he is the person most responsible for crucial Republican losses in the last several national elections, Donald Trump has the temerity to think he is the GOP’s savior.
During his recent stemwinder at a fringe event once known as CPAC, Trump informed a crowd that Republicans will not be “going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.”
Trump claims that Bush, Ryan, and even Ronald Reagan are symbols of what’s been historically awry with the GOP, even though none of those men ever lost an election.
In recent months, the former one-term president has added attacks on Ron DeSantis, complaining about the Florida governor being pushed by “Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Paul Ryan” and that DeSantis is an inferior option because “he used to be a Reagan Republican.”
Like populists left and right, Trump relies on opprobrium and emotion over facts and policies. But aside from his petty grievances, selecting these names show Trump’s ignorance.
Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan — both of whom are long out of politics — are deemed “squishy Republicans,” even though both politicians sit to the political right of Trump.
When he did so two decades ago, Republican Jeb Bush was the only governor of Florida to ever achieve a second term. If results matter, Bush was arguably the best governor in the state’s history.
The reforms made during Bush’s tenure are why the Sunshine State has become so appealing to conservatives trapped in blue states, including Trump acolytes and Trump himself. The irony is rich.
During Bush’s eight years in Tallahassee, Florida cut the state’s workforce by more than 10%; slashed taxes and spending; ended affirmative action in higher education and state contracts; passed school choice; privatized Medicaid; adopted the country’s first stand-your-ground gun bill; and more. Like former Gov. Rick Scott, DeSantis is mainly following Bush’s successful agenda, and Trump, as a Floridian by choice, is a beneficiary.
Elected at age 28, Ryan’s 20-year record in Washington epitomizes a successful conservative crusader — if policies matter.
Ryan was a pro–Second Amendment, pro-life, pro-Israel, fiscal hawk who spent most of his career pushing important legislation and bravely warning that our entitlement programs are going bankrupt.
As speaker of the House, he tolerated Trump’s idiosyncrasies and lurches left while carrying the administration’s policy agenda.
Ryan repealed Obamacare in the House, helped write and pass Trump’s signature tax reform law in late 2017, and blocked dangerous immigration reform proposals from the left. He sacrificed his career to lead the House when the same Freedom Caucus that refused to endorse Kevin McCarthy for the role endorsed Ryan for speaker.
It takes extreme dishonesty and revisionism to slur Ryan as “RINO.”
It also shows how desperate Trump is to now portray DeSantis — who handled COVID-19 flawlessly, is a culture warrior, was a huge ally of Trump and shares his populist tendencies — as some sort of MAGA enemy, whatever MAGA is today.
]I don’t understand the hatred, but alas, I do, since Trump doesn’t care for policy and prefers to throw a tantrum if someone criticizes his aberrant behavior. He didn’t mind causing the GOP to lose the U.S. Senate twice. Everything is personal and transactional to a narcissist.
Can’t wait until we spend the 2024 general election relitigating the Jan 6th riot (an obviously losing issue for anyone outside a small base) instead of talking about issues persuadable voters actually care about. pic.twitter.com/qipTr5652E
— AG (@AGHamilton29) March 7, 2023
Inexplicably running an anti-Reagan, big government campaign that turns off independent and Republican voters will fail, except among conspiracy theorists and cult members — like Steve Bannon, Kari Lake, Mike Lindell, and other CPAC carnival barkers — who value grievance and internecine battles over persuading key voters, winning elections and promoting solid policies.
It’s almost like Trump’s most ardent followers don’t care if Democrats keep winning; they prefer to whine and perhaps feign loyalty.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) March 8, 2023
Ari Kaufman is a correspondent for several U.S. newspapers and magazines from Minnesota and Ohio to Tennessee and Virginia. He taught school and served as a military historian before beginning his journalism career. The author of three books, he is also a frequent guest on radio programs and contributes to Israel National News and here at The Lid.