The headline in the Washington Post said what many critics of Donald Trump are warning us about: “Take Trump at his word when he threatens to punish his enemies.”
What followed was a laundry list of all the scary, authoritarian things Trump said he would do if he is elected next year. Things like promising to sic the FBI and the rest of the Justice Department on his political rivals — retaliation for their supposed persecution of him.
So let’s see if we have this right. Ever since he rode down that escalator to announce his candidacy for president, Democrats, including many of their allies in the so-called mainstream media, have been telling us that we can’t believe anything he says; that he’s a liar; that we know he’s lying because his lips are moving.
But now that the polls are indicating that he just might win next year, we’re told that we should “take Trump at his word,” that all of a sudden Pinocchio has turned into the second coming of Honest Abe.
Which is it? Is he a compulsive liar or a man who should be taken at his word?
Donald Trump is a liar when calling him a liar helps Democrats and he’s a truth-teller when calling him that helps the Democrats. It’s not about honesty or dishonesty. It’s about politics.
As Lindsey Graham, the GOP senator from South Carolina put it, “The bottom line is this narrative that ‘You vote for Trump, you vote for a dictator’ is the only thing left because their policies are not working. They can’t say ‘Vote for Biden.’ It’s impossible to sell the Biden agenda so they’re trying to sell fear-mongering against Trump.”
For the record, I’m no fan of Donald Trump. I don’t think he has the kind of character we want in a president. I think he might like to do all the nasty things liberals say he wants to do. But while calling him a would-be dictator may be good, albeit smarmy, politics — the kind of thing that scares voters — it’s not going to happen, not with all the checks and balances the American system has in place.
If a President Trump tries to trash the Constitution, even the three justices he nominated to the Supreme Court wouldn’t go along. They’d almost certainly tell him that there are limits to his power, that he can’t do anything he wants just because he thinks he can. They’d remind him that he’s president of the United States, not some unelected oligarch who runs a corrupt republic.
Besides, as the former CIA analyst Martin Gurri writes at Unherd.com: “Relax. Trump is too old, too isolated, and too ADD to have a shot at dictatorship — and if he tried, the result would be comedy rather than tyranny.”
But you know who’s not laughing — the folks who want Joe Biden reelected next year. So Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign manager, tried to warn us, after a Fox town hall, that “Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight said he will be a dictator on Day 1?” Then, the mandatory punchline: “Americans should believe him.”
Yes, the Biden campaign is telling us that “Americans should believe him” even though the Washington Post “Fact Checker” reports that “By the end of his term, Trump had accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency — averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day.” That’s something Democrats told us about over and over again — when it was convenient for them.
But no matter how many times Trump egged on his supporters to “lock her up,” as president he never put Hillary Clinton behind bars. No matter how many times he yelled fake news and wanted to throw journalists into jail, he didn’t do it. No matter how tight they say he was with a dictator like Vladimir Putin, those collusion stories Democrats, along with their media friends, peddled really were fake news.
So now we have a theory that Democrats are calling Trump a dictator because — wait for it — they’re the real dictators. That’s the compelling case Allysia Finley makes in the Wall Street Journal: “President Biden and his supporters project their own authoritarian impulses onto Mr. Trump because they don’t want to come to terms with their own illiberalism. The examples in the Biden presidency are rife.”
She goes on to remind us that President Biden tried, with the stroke of a pen and not a single vote in Congress, to cancel half-a-trillion dollars in student debt. That his administration failed to enforce our immigration laws. That Biden’s people threatened social media companies with punishment, including antitrust lawsuits, if they didn’t censor speech that progressive Democrats didn’t like.
There’s more. A lot more. “Abuse executive power. Ignore the law,” Finley writes. “Run roughshod over individual liberties. Retaliate against political opponents. Mr. Biden and his allies have done exactly what they warn Mr. Trump will do if he returns to the White House. Unlike Mr. Biden, however, Mr. Trump would have to contend with a hostile media and federal bureaucracy that would be throwing pots, pans and candlesticks at him at every step.”
So she concludes, “What Mr. Trump and his opponents have most in common is their determination to blame others for their own failings.”
A final word: Donald Trump may talk about how he would “root out the communists, Marxists, fascist and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country” — but he won’t. Not in this country.
I wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump even if he ran unopposed. But the United States has survived a Great Depression, two World Wars, 9/11 — and we’ll survive four more years of Donald Trump if he’s reelected.
But if he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting in a prison cell, all bets are off.
Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him @BernardGoldberg.
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This story originally Appeared on The Hill