"Donald Trump was up at a podium, saying that America had gone weak and was headed for disaster," but here's the twist, MIchael Daly wrote this Super Tuesday at the Daily Beast website, "This was 1987 and Trump was denouncing the course of the country as set by President Reagan, who was famously known for being the nicest of guys."
Daly dusted off a speech which Trump gave to a Rotary Club gathering in New Hampshire as the Reagan presidency was winding down and Vice President George H.W. Bush was gearing up his campaign apparatus to strive for the GOP nomination, noticing similar themes and rhetoric then that he's deploying now in the 2016 race.
You may also notice that Trump was woefully off the mark as regards President Reagan's handling of Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, who in four short years would be pushed out of power and see the USSR he so desperately hoped to save crumble into dust on Christmas Day 1991:
“I’m tired of nice people already in Washington,” Trump told a Rotary Club gathering at Yoken’s restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “Let somebody be in there who doesn’t just smile nicely, who’s not just shaking hands. I want someone in there who knows how to negotiate, because that’s what it’s all about now. And, if the right person isn’t in office, you’re going to see a catastrophe.”
America, he said, was being pushed around and fleeced as it fell ever deeper into debt.
“They’re ripping us off left and right,” he said. “They knock the hell out of the United States. Do they say, ‘Thank you?’ No. Do they like us? Not particularly...”
He went on, “We are a country that is losing $200 billion a year. We are supporting, we are literally supporting Japan, which is the greatest money machine ever created, and we created it to a large extent. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
He continued, “We’re supporting Saudi Arabia. We’re supporting Kuwait. We’re bringing in ships to Kuwait through the gulf. We’re losing our men. We’re spending billions of dollars. So what’s happening? They don’t contribute one penny of this defense.”
He offered a solution for the deficit, which was tripling under Reagan.
“Why can’t we have a share of their money?” he asked. “We should have Japan and we should have Saudi Arabia and we should have all of these countries who are literally ripping us off left and right... They should pay for our $200-billion deficit.”
That raised the unspoken question of how this might be accomplished.
“I don’t mean you demand it,” Trump said. “But I tell you what, folks. We can ask in such a way that they’re going to give it to us—if the right person’s asking.”
The implication was that he would be the right person—though he insisted he was not seeking to trade Trump Tower for the White House.
“I’m not here running for president,” he said. “I’m here because I’m tired of our country being kicked around and I want to get my ideas across.”
Trump proceeded to deride Reagan, who had stood before the Berlin Wall that June and issued a famous call to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Trump now sought to minimize that historic moment, telling the crowd at Yoken’s that America faced bigger challenges, such as Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
“You think Gorbachev is tough, think of this character Khomeini,” he said. “I mean this son of a bitch is something like nobody’s ever seen. He makes Gorbachev look like a baby. And Gorbachev is one tough cookie.”
Of course while Japan and Saudi Arabia were convenient populist bogeymen in the late 1980s, their subsequent economic track records in the past nearly 30 years have proven lackluster to say the least, particularly rapidly-aging Japan, which is mired in negative interest rates, stagnant economic growth, and a looming crisis in caring for its elderly.
There's always a willing audience for doom-and-gloom populists who insist that only they have the key to restoring American "greatness," all the while heaping praise on other, less democratic regimes for supposedly being smarter, more successful, and potentially more enduring than our constitutional regime.
Trump's answer has always been electing the right hard-nosed bully, not in trusting the genius and greatness of the American people to fuel the nation's economic progress.
Kudos to Daly for reminding us all just how wrong, and consistently wrong, Trump has been with his simplistic populist messages and denunciation of real conservatives.