If President Trump is going to exceed his presidential standing over his predecessors, he has to overcome his Bush league challenge, writes Karl Peterjohn.
Trump’s Bush League Challenge
By Karl Peterjohn
President Trump’s government closing battle is déjà vu all over again but not in the way the liberal media is covering it. If President Trump is going to exceed his presidential standing over his predecessors, he has to overcome his Bush league challenge. This Bush 41 challenge and comparison goes back almost 30 years ago.
In 1988 George H.W. Bush repeatedly promised, “…read my lips, no new taxes.” This became his signature campaign issue as then Vice President Bush used this promise to defeat his northeastern liberal Democrat opponent, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, in a landslide. Bush won 40 states with 426 electoral college votes including wins in states like, California, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut. Bush won with over 7 million more votes than Dukakis.
A key reason for this success was Bush’s read my lips promise. Bush repeated this promise from the convention until the end of that campaign. Bush’s convention acceptance speech repeatedly promised to reject the Democrat-controlled House and Senate demands for higher taxes. A couple of years later the liberal media demands for compromise, combined with fraudulent congressional promises to end fiscal gridlock, consigned Bush’s “read my lips” promise to the congressional rubbish bin. Outside the D.C. beltway, “read my lips” became a political boat anchor around the Bush 41 presidency when he flipped. The swamp was delighted when spending soared. Despite federal taxes being raised, the federal debt, both on the books and off, continued to grow.
In 1992, “read my lips, no new taxes” became a ready source of political ridicule, first from the liberal media that had previously demanded “compromis,” to end “gridlock,” and then from the GOP primary challenger Bush faced, conservative Reaganite Pat Buchanan, and even more so in the fall campaign from Democrats. The “read my lips” fiscal flip-flop became another reason for unhappy independents to leave Bush, and many flocked to Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy. Bush received over 10 million fewer votes in 1992 than he had in 1988. Contrast that vote shift with Bill Clinton receiving over 1.8 million more votes than the hapless Dukakis.
The only Republican congressional leader opposing this GOP cave on raising federal taxes during the Bush 41 presidency was a young Georgia congressman, then GOP house whip, Newt Gingrich, who denounced this tax hike “compromise” and was roundly blasted by the liberal media, GOP moderates under Bush, and in the congress, for his trouble. Gingrich’s position did resonate with his congressional back-bench colleagues, and soon Gingrich moved up becoming the GOP minority leader in the house. The speakership arrived for Gingrich a couple of years later. Bush’s switch was fiscal surrender that the Democrat congressional majorities happily approved, and the soon to be ex-president Bush signed into law.
“Build the wall,” is Donald Trump’s equivalent of “read my lips.” If he is truly going to go down as an outstanding president, President Trump cannot cave on this campaign promise. For many Trump voters, immigration and border control is their premier issue. Now that the federal courts immigration meddling, combined with the caravan invasion from the south this issue is bigger than it was in 2016. These Trump voters will walk away if he fails the Bush challenge and reneges on his campaign promise.
That is why the leftist dominated House of Representatives, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s control, is adamant that Trump cave. The wall issue is the political key to breaking the Trump coalition of working and middle-class voters who believe that borders matter, and that illegal immigration must cease. This is the top issue going into the 2020 presidential contest.
The argument against real border security, whether it is walls, fences, immovable barriers, or whatever other euphemism being sought by the budget negotiators is the key. Democrats voted for it just a couple of years ago, but Trump campaigned and won on it. Walls work around the world, and the best-known case is the way Israel stopped the Palestinian Islamic terrorists Intifada that was infiltrating terrorists out of the west bank, or Gaza.
The White House has fences. Walls/fences/barriers surround the Obama and Pelosi residences. I suspect they keep their doors locked too. Time will tell if President Trump is able to succeed in locking in his top campaign commitment, or he will follow in the footsteps where his 41st predecessor gave away his critical campaign key to his opponents.