BY HOWARD BARBANEL
An epithet made popular in the past few years and hurled by ultra-right wing and Tea Party Republicans at establishment GOP types has been that of being a “RHINO,” or a “Republican in Name Only.” The pejorative is meant to discredit the recipient of this accusation as essentially being a Democrat (or worse, an accommodator with Democrats) masquerading as a member of the GOP. In the eyes of the accusers, such a rhinoceros has no real Republican bona fides and should withdraw from the GOP.
Typically, mainstream Republicans have resisted calling folks “Rhinos,” as most centrist Republicans can tolerate a broad spectrum of thought and discourse within the party even if they don’t agree with everyone or everything, which is why GOP presidential candidates run the spectrum from Rand Paul (isolationist Libertarian) to Ted Cruz (inflexible neo-Goldwater type) to Chris Christie (bellicose Northeasterner).
In the wild, the rhinoceros is known for its large size, thick protective skin, small brains and at least one large horn. This is an apt description for the leading GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
Trump has a thick skin, capable of acting like rubber or Teflon, repelling any and all criticism. He is in possession of not a whole lot of book smarts as he mangles and distorts facts, events and history on a daily basis and he has a very large horn which he blows to deafening levels nonstop.
Stomping around the jungle that passes for American politics in 2015, he displaces a lot of water and his plodding steps shake the foundations of the GOP.
While Trump presents himself as the GOP’s savior, he’s really the diametric opposite. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, my whole adult life I’ve known a lot of Republicans and they’ve been friends of mine, and Trump is no real Republican. In fact, he’s the consummate “RHINO” even though he presents himself as right-wing. Trump is a clear-cut case where mainstream Republicans can and should call out a far-right fringe candidate as a “RHINO.”
Until very recently, Trump was a registered Democrat. He is very liberal on social issues as are most New Yorkers. He’s donated heavily to Democratic candidates. Paradoxically, he is habitually misogynistic, he’s anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim. He’s anti-free trade and in favor of raising taxes on high earners. His talk of pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians is wholly out of sync with GOP policies as are his views about Syria and Iraq. He’s never held any kind of elective office whatsoever and has zero experience working with legislators, the military or diplomats. His domestic policy proposals and spirit bear no resemblance to that of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.
That there are as many Republicans out on safari looking to get into harm’s way by riding the wild Trump rhinoceros is utterly astounding to the mainstream GOP. Republicans of nearly every stripe agree that taking back The White House in 2016 is priority one and that defeating Hillary Clinton is priority one-A. Yet despite this, as much as a third of the GOP electorate in some polls have a subconscious death wish. They’ve become so enraptured by Trump and his erratic “go ahead, make my day” rhetoric that they fail to smell the dung he leaves in his wake – because the odious toxins spewing forth from that sharp horn of his make him unelectable in November of 2016 and will ensure Mrs. Clinton’s ascendancy to the Oval Office.
As the GOP nominee, Trump brings nothing positive to the table. As a Manhattanite from the bluest of blue states he will not bring New York’s many electoral votes with him. A bear minimum for a presidential nominee is to contribute a win in his home state, it won’t be the case here because Hillary is also a New Yorker and New York votes reliably Democratic.
Trump will actually drive more female voters into Hillary’s arms. He has such as trail of verbal aggression towards accomplished women that Hillary will trump Donald with the “first female President” card and his hostility towards women.
Hispanics will run towards the Democratic nominee in droves as will Muslim-Americans and even a lot of Asian-Americans who’ve had a bellyful of his talk about the Chinese. African-Americans? Forget about it. The result could be as bad for the Republicans as the Johnson-Goldwater rout of 1964. Such a disaster could also lose the House and Senate for the GOP as well. Hillary will have no problem portraying herself as the sober steward of the nuclear button against Trump’s ill-informed, erratic, xenophobic fulminations.
If Trump doesn’t get the Republican nomination and decides to run as an independent candidate, he will kill the chances for the GOP nominee just as Ross Perot did to George Bush the Elder, thereby ensuring a Hillary victory. In either scenario, Republicans will get another four or more years of Democrats in The White House. Any which way you slice it, Trump is stale bread for Republicans.
That so many erstwhile GOP primary voters fail to envision Trump’s ultimate un-electability in the general election is vexing and astounding. What Republicans need is someone competent to lead the party in 2016 – people like Ohio Governor John Kasich, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who’ve balanced budgets, created jobs, shown they can work across party lines to pass meaningful legislation in a mature way. Republican voters need to grow up, wake-up and smell the coffee. Running this country and protecting the free world is not a reality television show and should not be put into the hands of amateurs, neophytes or provocateurs.