by Don Fredrick, ©2016, author of The Complete Obama Timeline

(Jan. 26, 2016) — Putting personalities and performance aside and judging the candidates solely on their advertised ideologies and policies, I probably match Rand Paul most closely, followed by Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. But elections are not won “on paper.” They are won by capturing the hearts and minds of the electorate, and by addressing its greatest concerns. Young people no doubt “feel the Bern” because, well, free college seems far too amazing to pass up—even if something in their mushy, leftist-professor-indoctrinated brains might possibly be whispering, “There is no such thing as free.” But my college years are long past, so the “Bern” is lost on me. Maybe the Vermont socialist could offer free SUVs to win the nomination. (Note to Bernie: I prefer a Cadillac Escalade in “dark granite metallic.”)

But the nomination won’t be Bernie’s, even if Rodham and her Muslima Brotherhood gal-pal Huma are awarded three hots and a cot for their law-breaking. (The other day a Twitter user asked this rather good question: “If Clinton goes to jail, does she retain 24×7 Secret Service protection?”) Rodham will probably not be indicted and convicted, but even if that were to happen she would be pardoned by Obama because he knows that she knows where his skeletons are buried. (That’s another “establishment” trait: everyone has dirt on everyone else.) Of course, if the electorate has more brains than Loretta Lynch has feelings of devotion to duty and the U.S. Constitution, Clinton may still fall by the wayside during the primaries. If so, enter Crazy Uncle Joe Biden and his running mate, Elizabeth “Wampum” Warren. It’s going to be an interesting year…

On the other side of the establishment aisle, Jeb Bush is, well, Jeb Bush. While George has a folksy quality that might make you want to ride the bike trails with him and our wounded warrior heroes, Jeb is about as inviting as a Flint, Michigan hot tub that’s been sitting for a week in a power outage. I don’t agree with Jeb on much. In fact, one can see eye-to-eye with the tall ex-governor only because of his perpetual slouch. If you want an unexciting president with poor posture, your children destroyed by Common Core curricula, and your job going to someone who doesn’t speak a lick of Inglés, Jeb’s your guy. Yes, I know his record in Florida was supposedly terrific. But Rick Perry’s record in Texas was more terrific. (That prompts the question, why did National Reviewdo nothing to help Perry in 2012 or 2016? Did he only score 97 out of 100 on their “perfect conservative” test? How could Perry not have bested Romney on the Rich Lowry-meter?)

Ben Carson is likeable, and his “He said everybody!” comment at last week’s debate tells me the brain surgeon has a darn respectable brain of his own, but the charisma and (dare I use the word?) gravitas are not there. Make him Secretary of Health and Human Services, tasked with dismantling ObamaCare.

Carly Fiorina has had her moments, but they seem to have all been the same moment repeated over and over again. Have her star with Bill Murray in a sequel to Groundhog Day. Heck, put her in the cabinet with Carson. I’d bet they would each do a great job.

Yes, I am ignoring Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, and whoever else I may have forgotten. Any of them would satisfy the Chamber of Commerce, drone and ammunition manufacturers, and the Republican establishment, and any of them would certainly be better than Clinton, Sanders, or Biden. Still, thanks, but no thanks. We don’t need more of the same. (Rubio, by the way, is recycling some of Romney’s campaign staffers—apparently with the idea that winning is best accomplished by surrounding oneself with losers. But the establishment advisors and ad-men don’t care if he wins or loses—they get paid either way.)

Again, on paper I lean Libertarian and like Rand Paul. On domestic policies and Constitutional issues, he and I are very much in sync. If the United States were the only nation in the world, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. But we are not alone. (In a foxhole, I’d want Audie Murphy, Chris Kyle, and R. Lee Ermey beside me. On a desert island, I’d want a master seafood chef and Jessica Alba. It’s a matter of priorities, and right now we’re in a foxhole keeping an eye out for crazed jihadis and drug smugglers.)

Now we get to Ted Cruz. Try as I might, whenever I see him I cannot get television evangelist Benny Hinn out of my mind. No, Cruz does not necessarily look like Hinn, but he’s cut from the same cloth. Add Cruz’s wife and it only reinforces the image in my mind. If you’ve never heard of Hinn, think Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. That is what millions of voters will probably think. The Democrats will see to that, with scripture-quoting Cruz soundbites plastered all over the airwaves. (He would find out that winning the evangelical vote in Iowa is not the same as winning 270 electoral votes nationwide.)

Cruz is generally a conservative—obviously enough so to please some people at National Review. But he’s also a flip-flopper of some magnitude (along with every other candidate in the race, of course). Further, Cruz has burned many bridges in his short time in the Senate and is close to universally hated in that chamber. You can’t easily make it to the Oval Office if your fellow Senators won’t even want to appear on the same stage with you—especially when they worry that their political careers may end along with his. Cruz will have the opposite of coattails. (Bye-bye, Republican control of the Senate.)

Lastly, Cruz is not a natural born citizen. (Nor is he a Ronald Reagan, despite the annoying number of times Cruz refers to him. We understand what you’re trying to do, Cruz. Just stop.) Regarding Cruz’s lack of eligibility to serve as president or vice president, does no one remember 2008? The Democrats and media leftists went nuts insisting that Obama was not born in Kenya. Why? Because everyone knew that if Obama was born in Kenya he would not be eligible to serve as president. Everyone. Now, seven years later, has it suddenly become acceptable for a presidential candidate to have been born in another country to a foreign father? It is true that Cruz’s mother was born in the United States. If she was still a U.S. citizen when her son was born, he would be considered a U.S. citizen. But that would not make him a natural born citizen. The terms are not identical. (There are also suspicions that Cruz’s mother became a Canadian citizen before he was born. If that is the case, he would not even be eligible to serve in the U.S. Senate.)

Historically, the term natural born citizen has meant birth on U.S. soil to two U.S. citizen parents. (That the Republican and Democrat establishments made a deal with the devil in 2008 to pretend the term means something else does not change history.) The Democrats are now chomping at the bit to have Cruz on the GOP ticket. Lawsuits have already been filed challenging Cruz’s eligibility to serve as president. More will certainly follow. If any case reaches the Supreme Court, Cruz will lose. (That assumes the Justices have the courage to hear the case. They chickened out on Kerchner v. Obama.) What does the GOP do if the Court rules Cruz ineligible? A last-minute effort to choose a candidate, assemble a campaign team, and plan a strategy will be doomed to failure. Toss in the not-too-unlikely possibility that the Democrats may recapture the Senate, and Clinton or Biden or whoever will be laughing all the way to the Oval Office. Once again, the GOP will have tossed away what could have been a resounding victory. (National Review will be 0-for-3 since 2008.)

Marco Rubio, of course, is also not a natural born citizen. He was born on U.S. soil to two Cuban-citizen parents. That makes him an “anchor baby.” (Trump is a natural born citizen. During a debate, Cruz thought he could score points by pointing out that Trump’s mother was born in Scotland. But she became a naturalized U.S. citizen before her son was born. Cruz’s “superior” debating skills apparently include straw-man arguments. If we wanted four more years of those, we could repeal the 22nd Amendment and reelect Obama.)

Further, someone needs to explain why, if the mother’s citizenship trumps the place of birth for Cruz, it does not do so for Rubio. If the foreign-born Cruz is a U.S. citizen solely because one parent was an American, why is Rubio not a Cuban citizen if both of his parents were Cubans? Is Cruz’s mother’s citizenship more important than that of Rubio’s two parents? But if place of birth is the determining factor and it makes Rubio a U.S. citizen, why is place of birth not the determining factor for Cruz? (It is worth noting that, as reported by, Cruz himself has allegedly stated in the past that a natural born citizen is one born on U.S. soil to two U.S.-citizen parents. One can guarantee that videotape of that exchange is being sought.)

That leaves us with Donald Trump. Granted Trump is no Winston Churchill. He is more of a George S. Patton. That’s fine, because a General Patton may be just what the nation needs at this point: rough around the edges and a blunt talker, but focused on a goal and determined to reach that goal in as short a time and by as direct a route as possible. While we’re mentioning generals, and with Cruz having ridiculed “New York values,” consider General Anthony McAuliffe who, when surrounded by the Germans at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, responded to a call for surrender with the response, “Nuts!” Although McAuliffe was not born in New York City, he certainly had its values. Millions of voters want those values in the Oval Office. A president McAuliffe or Trump would have told Iran, “If you want us sitting down at a table to negotiate anything, you had better first release every American you have in your prisons. You have 24 hours to decide.” (Instead we have Obama and Kerry values: “Yes, Supreme Leader, whatever you say, Supreme Leader.”)

Critics charge that Trump speaks in generalities and rarely provides details. But that is true of all the candidates. The tax, immigration, and Second Amendment policies outlined at Trump’s web site are somewhat detailed and have been well-received. Frankly, some of the questions asked by the media (of all candidates) are ridiculous. “What is your plan to defeat ISIS?” is an absurd question. Do the journalists expect the candidates to chart out the details of attacks plans? No candidate has such plans anyway; they will be developed with the generals and the intelligence community after the candidate takes office. For Trump, it is sufficient to respond, “We’ll kick ISIS’ ass.” For millions of voters, that is probably enough. Why? Because they believe Trump will listen to the generals when they suggest dropping a bunker-buster on ISIS headquarters in Raqqa—unlike Obama, who tells the generals no because Valerie Jarrett does not want any of her friends incinerated.

Trump does not get “wonky” when asked questions, but most voters do not care. They do not want to get stuck in the weeds. Their eyes gloss over when a Cruz and a Rubio argue about the ideal corporate tax rate. Why? Because it is assumed neither one of them will get it changed anyway. But they do believe Trump can get it done. Do they know how? No, but they do not care how he creates jobs, they only care that they get created. They certainly know that Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Boehner, and McConnell were unable to get the job done, but they believe that Trump and the expert team he assembles will come up with a plan that does get it done.

I sometimes wince at the things Trump says. But who hasn’t winced at some of the things Obama has said? Such as: “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.” “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” “Throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.” “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.” “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The pants-wetters in the media complain that Trump has insulted a few people. So what? Obama has been insulting the American people for seven years, starting with his Cairo speech in June 2009 and his worldwide apology tours. Or they say Trump is not a “true conservative” because he supports ethanol subsidies for Iowa. But Cruz flipped from wanting them eliminated to phasing them out over five years—long enough to get him past the 2020 election. That is principled? A “true” conservative would call for an end to all subsidies: ethanol, cotton, sugar, and hundreds of others—including corporate welfare and individual welfare. Are Cruz and the purists at National Review calling for an end to all of them? Of course not. (Speaking of sugar subsidies, Trump has noted on more than one occasion that Nabisco is shifting its Oreo cookie manufacturing to Mexico. One of the reasons: federal subsidies to U.S. sugar producers make the cost of sugar in this country much higher than in Mexico. American consumers are being forced to overpay for sugar and sugar products because of federal policies. Why are U.S. sugar producers more important than consumers? Who decided that the jobs of sugar producers are more deserving of protection than the jobs of cookie makers? The answer: The lobbyists.)

Now the Trump critics are warning that he will be too quick to negotiate deals with Congress. Those same critics had previously been warning that Trump would not be able to get anything done because he would make ludicrous demands and not compromise and make deals. Of course, the voters do want Congress and the President to compromise and make deals. But they do not want deals that work against them—like practically every one negotiated by Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Paul Ryan. Of course Trump won’t get 20 million illegal immigrants deported. That’s not the point. That is merely his opening offer, along with a monumental border wall. Trump has enough business sense to demand as much as possible, and then get most of what he wanted by the time negotiations are over. What the voters do not want is McConnell/Boehner-style deals, where you show your cards to the other side before anyone has placed their bets. “We won’t shut down the government” means, “Feel free to walk all over us, Obama.”

“But Trump has flip-flopped on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage!” So what? So have tens of millions of Americans. We need to be realistic. The Republican Party is not going to win back the White House running on those social issues. Yes, it might be able to stop funding Planned Parenthood, but it will never shut it down completely or end all abortions. It will also never be able to stop same-sex marriages. Those horses have already left the barn. Cruz and Rubio can rant and rave all they want about the immorality of abortion, but even though they will be correct they will sound like Bible-beaters at a riverside baptism. (Anyone who thinks the Democrats will not link Cruz to the extreme Glenn Beck in campaign ads may as well place their bets on the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series three years in a row.)

The social issues, significant as they may be, nevertheless pale in comparison to the risk of terrorists entering the United States via a refugee program and weak visa procedures, monumental federal deficits and debt, a stagnant economy, and a lack of jobs. Trump is focusing on those critical issues, and that is precisely what the voters want.

One of the greatest threats facing the nation is rampant illegal immigration. A nation can perhaps afford open borders. A nation can perhaps afford a generous welfare system. But no nation can long survive both. Once the parasites outnumber the producers, the United States will be doomed. Our nation will collapse just as surely as the European socialist nations are collapsing under the tremendous burden of cradle-to-grave social programs. All other issues then become largely irrelevant. If the only thing a President Trump can accomplish is a sealed border and effective visa policies and procedures, he may have rescued the nation. If he can also create jobs by overhauling the tax system and eliminating burdensome regulations, he will have saved millions of American families from financial destitution. If he can make people truly believe their children’s futures will be brighter, rather than bleaker, he will have indeed made America great again. If that’s not good enough for Rich Lowry and George Will, too bad.

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