Trump has no choice but to be Trump.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

How should a Republican in the second decade of the 21st century conduct himself? The question arises solely as a result of Donald J. Trump.

We’ve never had a candidate – let alone a president — anything like Trump. Certainly we’ve never had a president with 56 million Twitter followers and a penchant for throwing those followers red meat. No president of either party has ever been as blunt and outspoken (Harry Truman notwithstanding).

The question of comportment would never be asked of a “traditional” Republican such as John Kasich or Mitt Romney (or, I almost forgot, Jeb Bush). And the answer to the question, ‘How should a Republican conduct himself in the 21st century?’ is, “Not as Republicans have traditionally behaved if he hopes to win.”

I was pretty much like everyone else in June 2015 when Trump announced his candidacy. I gave him essentially zero chance. But I had a light bulb moment outside a polling place in Manchester, New Hampshire on the day of the New Hampshire Primary. I was interviewing voters as they exited and I asked one young man who he voted for. “Donald Trump,” he said emphatically. “Why so?,” I asked. I can still quote his answer verbatim.

He says on TV what I yell at my TV.”

None of the other 16 Republican hopefuls in 2016 stood a chance against Hillary Clinton – least of all the most traditional of the traditional, one Jeb Bush. Had any of the other 16 been nominated and run a traditional Republican campaign, Hillary would have won the election in a waltz.

Republicans can either no longer win the presidency or, if one accidentally does, effectively execute the office under the rules to which Republicans have traditionally been bound. The Left has any traditional Republican trapped in a valley down upon which look the media, academia and popular culture as manifest in movies, TV, Saturday Night Live and the late night talk shows.

Conduct your Republican self as a gentleman and the Left will, as it suits their purpose, turn you into a serial rapist. Ask Brett Kavanaugh. (FWIW: a President Romney would have likely abandoned Brett Kavanaugh. Trump, to his credit, held firm.)

It was Trump’s often cringeworthy outspokenness – saying on TV what that young man was yelling at the TV – that won him the election. It’s his combativeness that has him still relevant as opposed to utterly defeated as was George W. Bush.

A Brit asked me once if I’m not sometimes embarrassed by Donald Trump. The answer is, yes, sometimes – momentarily – I am.

But it’s sad to say that Republicans today can no longer afford the gentlemanliness we might prefer. Mitt Romney is a consummate gentleman. He lost. George W. Bush is arguably one of the most decent men to ever hold the office. He left Washington utterly defeated.

So how should a Republican president behave? It’s regrettable but true: if he wants to prevail, he’s going to have to behave at least something like Donald Trump.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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11 Responses

  1. myron florey says:

    Well said my friend !

  2. Holland Cooke says:

    Don’t put (Senator Elect) Romney in The Was File JUST yet.

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      The sentence reads, “Mitt Romney is a consummate gentleman.” A consummate gentleman who will never be president.

      • Holland Cooke says:

        So THAT’S why.
        Hey, our parents meant well.
        ‘Turns out rude rocks.

        • Paul Gleiser says:

          Turns out it does because nothing short of rude works. Not anymore. Not if you’re a Republican trying to win on issues and policy. Democrats have long ago stopped debating issues and policy. The minute the argument turns agains them, out comes the race card. GROTESQUELY unfair characterizations of racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc., etc., etc. have become coin of the realm for Democrats and have taken the place of principled argument. Most Republicans have been no match, particularly in the face of the uncritical media coverage from which Democrats benefit immeasurably.

          As I VERY CLEARLY say in the piece, I wish it weren’t so. I wish that a Donald Trump was not necessary. But given the base behavior of the opposition (e.g. taking a good and honorable man and turning him to a serial rapist), if Donald Trump hadn’t come along, (and if Republicans have any desire to win) we would have had to invent him.

          • Holland Cooke says:

            OK, so my parents were wrong.

            Let’s take this bad-manners-are-good thing out for a spin:

            The ultimate bad manners = murder.

            Y’all here are sanguine with Trump being sanguine about brutal MBS-directed Khashoggi slaying?

  3. Linda E. Montrose says:

    Trump being Trump is why I voted for him!

  4. Chuck Goldsmith says:

    Amen. I would 1,000 times rather have an ugly champion than no champion.

  5. Rick says:

    So, if you can’t beat them, join them? Are integrity and honor, not to mention simple civility to be tossed into the waste bin of history? “They did it first” was no excuse as a child and still has no room in adult society. Yes, run on policy and issues- find a better way to win than crude behavior. Conservatives don’t have to win beauty contests; they do need to be likable and trustworthy. Ronald Reagan was able to achieve this. George W. Bush too was called every name in the book and had constant negative coverage but managed to win. His negatives- a crashing economy and a couple of unpopular wars may have left him “utterly defeated” . These men are better exemplars than Trump will ever be. Trump’s Presidential conduct is horrid; there is no room to cry “foul” when he is just as rude and disingenuous as his opponents.

    • Holland Cooke says:

      Note all the kind words we’re hearing in memory of President Bush: “Gentlemanly,” “empathy,” “voracious reader.”

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