Debating a Trumpster

Debating a Trumpster

Facebook can be a great tool for many different interests, but one thing it allows is vigorous (though, sadly, also vulgar) political debate between average, everyday people.  I recently engaged in one such debate with a man named John H. McConnel, Jr., whose facebook profile indicates he is a good Christian man from Illinois.  One of John’s responses was quite lengthy, and I thought it worthy of a point by point response.  The post that spawned this debate can be found here:  And to show I harbor no ill will towards John, I even fixed any inadvertent spelling errors.

 John H McConnel Jr:

“Cruz is so unpopular in his own state (Texas) that his “win” was the worst performance of any Presidential candidate (and there have been many) in their own home state in over a 100 years. But, he has you convinced it was a “strong” victory!”


We don’t have to go back too far to prove John wrong here.  Cruz won Texas with 43.8% of the vote over Donald Trump at 26.7% and Marco Rubio at 17.7%.[1]  That means Cruz’s margin of victory over Trump was 17.1%.  If by “any Presidential candidate” John means “eventual nominee” and not just anyone running, we don’t have to look further than John McCain’s victory in Arizona in 2008 to see that Cruz performed better.  While McCain did receive a slightly higher percentage of the Arizona vote (47.17%), he only bested second place finisher Mitt Romney by 12.65%.[2]  Another important factor in that race, however, is that the third place finisher in Arizona that year was Mike Huckabee who only garnered 9.03%.  Compare that with Rubio’s 17.7%, and you begin to see that without Rubio in the race (not to mention Carson and Kasich), Cruz would have easily hit 50% and taken all the delegates.  Furthermore, Texas is an open primary state, allowing Democrats to cross over and vote for Trump, whereas Arizona is a closed primary state where only registered Republicans could vote.[3]

John H McConnel Jr:

“I have followed Trump for about forty years, since I was in college and someone gave me a copy of The Art of the Deal.  Trump has always been a patriot.  In spite of the lies that Cruz and Rubio and now Mitt are saying about him he is an extremely successful businessman…not many as good as him…and I know businessmen.”


I don’t know of anyone questioning Trump’s patriotism – he clearly loves this country without a doubt.  What people are questioning is whether his newly found “conservatism” is authentic or simply “truthful hyperbole.”  In that book John read all those years ago, he might remember this quote:

“I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.” (paperback, pg. 58)[4]

That’s why we’re troubled to hear that he may have told the New York Times editorial board that he doesn’t really mean what he tells the voters on immigration.[5]  The fact that Donald won’t tell the Times to release the tape (which he has the power to do) informs me and any other reasonable person that he has told the Times things he doesn’t want you and me to know.  This is biggest problem most of Trump’s detractors have – his lack of core principles means he will do and say anything to get the deal done – and that deal is always what’s best for Donald.

As for Trump being an “extremely successful businessman,” there is no doubt Trump has built his name into a world-wide brand synonymous with success and wealth, but perception and truth are often two different things.  Here is a partial list of Trump’s business failures compiled by Time Magazine:[6]

Trump Airlines

In 1988, Trump bought Eastern Air Shuttle, an airline service that ran hourly flights between Boston, NYC and DC for 27 years prior, for $365 million. He turned the airline, once a no frills operation, into a luxury experience, adding maple-wood veneer to the floor and gold-colored bathroom fixtures. The company never turned a profit and the high debt forced him to default on his loans. Ownership of the company was turned over to creditors. It ceased to exist in 1992.

Trump Vodka

Trump unveiled his own vodka line in 2006 paired with the characteristic slogan “Success Distilled.” Advertising for the product claimed that the vodka would “demand the same respect and inspire the same awe as the international legacy and brand of Donald Trump himself.” Trump had high hopes for his liquor brand, predicting that the T&T (Trump and Tonic) would become the most ordered drink in the country and stating on Larry King Live that he got into the vodka business to outdo “his friends” at Grey Goose. The company stopped production in 2011, reportedly due to a lack of interest.

Trump Casinos

Trump Entertainment Resorts, which is composed of three Trump-owned casinos, all in Atlantic City, filed for bankruptcy for the fourth time in 2014. Trump has distanced himself from the company, saying that besides the company having his name, he has “nothing to do with it,” despite the fact that he owned 28% of its stock. (More on this below).

Trump: The Game

Trump launched a Monopoly-like board game in 1989, which was discontinued a year later due to lack of interest. He tried his hand at game making once again in 2005, when he launched an updated version tied to The Apprentice. It was also discontinued.

Trump Magazine

Trump launched an eponymous magazine in 2007 that, in a press release announcing the publication’s arrival, was described as “[reflecting] the passions of its affluent readership by tapping into a rich cultural tapestry.” A year and a half after the launch, the magazine ceased publication.

Trump Steaks

Donald Trump was featured on the June 2007 cover of the Sharper Image catalogue hunched over a platter of meat to kick off his line of premium steaks that he dubbed the “world’s greatest.” The company has since been discontinued—maybe it had something to do with the Trump Steakhouse in Las Vegas being closed down in 2012 for 51 health code violations, including serving five-month old duck.

Trump launched this luxury travel search engine in 2006, only to shut it down a year later, despite being powered by booking giant Travelocity.

Trump University

In 2005, Trump opened the non-accredited, for-profit Trump University. In 2010, four students sued the university for “offering classes that amounted to extended ‘infomercials.’” Following the suit, the “university” changed its name to “The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative,” before ending operations one year later. In 2013, the New York Attorney General sued Trump and the “university” for $40 million for allegedly defrauding students.

Trump Mortgage

In 2006, Trump forayed further into the real estate industry, launching a mortgage company. The Donald had high hopes for the company, asking CNBC, “Who knows more about financing than me?” Trump Mortgage shut down within a year and a half, in part because Trump selected E.J. Ridings, a man who claimed to be a top executive at a prestigious investment bank but had actually only worked on Wall Street as a registered broker for six days, to run the company.

Here’s a few from Yahoo! Finance’ as well:[7]

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. — 4 bankruptcies (1991, 2004, 2009, 2014)

What happened: Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for corporate bankruptcy four times. The first time was after the Trump Taj Mahal’s construction in 1991. The next time was in 2004, when it “filed for voluntary bankruptcy after accumulating $1.8 billion in debt.” Next came 2008-2009, when the company missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment. (The stock dropped to 23 cents per share from $4.)

And finally, in September 2014, the company filed for bankruptcy once again.

(The company still exists despite its bankruptcy.)

What Trump said about the bankruptcies in court: “I don’t like the ‘B’ word.”

Additionally, during an MSNBC interview, Michael Isikoff asked Trump what exactly he was paid for if he “had nothing to do with running the company.”

And Trump replied to that: “Excuse me … Because of my genius. OK?”

Trump Tower Tampa (2006 – 2007)

What happened: There’s a history of buildings that paid to be called “Donald Trump developments” but ultimately never became anything. One of these is Trump Tower Tampa.

Trump said he never had any plans to develop the building himself and that he only licensed his name to other developers.

Nothing ever came of Trump Tower Tampa, and the buyers lost a lot of money on the deal. The site was finally sold in 2011 for $5 million.

What Trump said in retrospect: “[The buyers] were better off losing their deposit.”

The New Jersey Generals (1983 – 1985)

What happened: Trump originally owned the The New Jersey Generals — a United States Football League team — but quickly sold them to focus on construction projects like the Trump Tower. Later he changed his mind, reacquiring the team in 1984.

The team folded one year later, in 1985, along with the entire USFL. People blamed Trump for the demise of not only the team, but the entire league. Allegedly, he was trying to pull the Generals into the NFL — and made poor investment decisions in the process.

In May 2014, Trump expressed interest in buying the Buffalo Bills.

What Trump said: “Without me, the USFL would have been dead immediately. It was a league that was failing badly … I did something I rarely do with the USFL. I went into something that was not good, not established. And it was failing. I knew that but I also went in for cheap. I bought something for peanuts.”

He also called the USFL a “second-rate operation.”

To be fair, Trump has had many successes as well, but he seems to be batting around .400-.500 or so.  Outstanding if you’re playing center field for the Yankees, but in business – where you leave others holding the bag[8] – not so much.  For conservatives, it would have been much more impressive if he had built his empire without greasing the palms of liberal Democrats left and right.

John H McConnel Jr:

“If you honestly followed the debate tonight (March 3rd) and are reasonably able to discern what is going on you would have noticed an orchestrated effort by Fox News in conjunction with Rubio and Cruz to defeat Trump.”


Clearly, Rubio and Cruz had decided it was in their mutual best interests to take on Trump directly instead of fighting each other.  That happens to the front-runner in every single campaign, so this is nothing new.  Fox News asked tough questions of all the candidates but, frankly, Trump has more to answer for because of his shifting positions.  If a candidate remains consistent, there are only so many times you can ask the same question and get the same answer.  With Trump, though, he keeps changing his positions, and Fox rightly called him on it.  This is what the media is supposed to do.  Are Fox News and Rubio teaming up to elect Rubio as an establishment shill?  Yes.  Is Ted Cruz part of that cabal?  No, he’s been fighting that cartel (as he calls it) since getting to Washington and learning that the establishment had no intention of honoring campaign promises.  In short, the Trumpsters need to understand that there are two separate and distinct prongs of opposition to Trump out there: (1) the Rubio/Bush/Romney/RNC establishment opposition to him because they can’t control him (and, truthfully, I don’t know if he can control himself) and (2) the Cruz/conservative coalition who is looking for someone they can TRUST to do in office those things the candidate has campaigned on, and for this group the obvious choice is the only candidate who has stood by his promises and stood up to DC: Cruz.  The reason Trumpsters get so much push back from true conservatives is that Trump supporters continually (whether by accident or intentionally) to lump the two groups together, and nothing could be further from the truth.

John H McConnel Jr:

“I think Trump did very well under the circumstances…I know you and I would have fallen apart…he held it together and came back with salient points, but how can one be treated fairly when a lie is told, then he tries to explain and they distort reality to make it seem like he lied.  They cut him off as he tried to explain and it was clear that it was a set up.”


This is really a question of style.  Did Trump defend himself?  Absolutely.  Was he effective?  Only time will tell.  The problem I personally have with his style is that he devolves into personal attacks when it seems he cannot debate on the substance.  Hence the “little Marco” and “lying Ted” labels he hopes will distract the “poorly educated” (Trump’s words, not mine)[9] from listening to or considering the points made by any other candidate.  He also tries to drown out the other candidates while it’s their turn to speak, talking over and interrupting them.  That is not the mark of a confident man; rather, it’s the mark of a man who feels less than intellectually up to the challenge.  As a litigator, I know this type well.  They are the type who bang the desk or podium, interrupt, threaten or ridicule their opponents, and make wild claims or accusations to distract a court from the reality that the lawyer has neither the law nor the facts on his or her side.

Despite the caricature of us spun by the media, conservatives are first and foremost logical thinkers.  We aren’t impressed with empty speeches or empty words; we want to have an intellectual connection with candidates we support, whereas non-conservatives by and large are looking for an emotional connection with theirs.  My experience in conversing with and debating Trump supporters is that, again generally speaking, they have a very strong emotional connection to Trump; therefore, pointing out the facts or Trump’s own contradictions does not seem to affect that emotional bond.  What is disheartening to conservatives about this phenomenon is that we on the right should be better than that, better than letting our emotions overrule our logical thinking.  That is the ground occupied by the left – unthinking emotion.  Let’s not go there, please: you are better than this.  If you want to argue Trump will be good because of his business background, I can respect that.  If you want to argue that you think his anti-PC talk is what we need to turn our wimpy culture around, I could even agree with you there.  But if all you have is “he’ll make America great again!” and “he’s winning,” then it’s hard to have an intellectual debate about policy issues with you.

John H McConnel Jr:

“Consider, of all the questions, the most frequently asked were about Trump this or Trump that, but always…always in the negative against Trump…If you don’t mind Fox and the Republican establishment choosing your President for you…heck you seem ready to jump in their decision…then I suppose the corruption and lack of ethics is okay.  I don’t, I will not be subjugated to tyranny period.”


I have to point the reader back a few issues to where I pointed out the two prongs of opposition and ask you to see that I, in fact, do mind if Fox and the GOP establishment pick my candidate.  In case you haven’t been paying close attention to the Senate for the last 4 years, let me sum it up for you: the establishment and the Democrats (but then, I repeat myself) absolutely, positively HATE Ted Cruz.  They despise him.  They fantasize about murdering him on the Senate floor.[10]  Why?  Because Cruz has opposed them[11] and exposed them as liars who don’t honor their campaign promises when it really matters.[12]  The stalwarts of the conservative movement have pointed out that Cruz is the true anti-establishment candidate, whereas Trump will make the deals with the establishment that make our collective blood boil.[13]

John H McConnel Jr:

“And, it is real simple I and probably millions of others will either pull the lever for Trump or write him in.  And if Hillary gets elected, well I will just enjoy the thought of those who were so blind as to vote Cruz or Rubio suffering in economic malaise and rough times.  Yes, it is bad…but, it is honest.  We are not in a sporting event rooting for a team with no consequences.  The Obama presidency should have taught you that….”


The only group seeking a brokered convention to steal this election from BOTH Trump AND Cruz is the establishment.  That’s why Rubio and Kasich are still in this race.  They are there to win their home states and deny both Trump and Cruz an outright win, and at a brokered convention, they will seek to deny both Trump and Cruz a victory.  Hopefully you see that, in this regard, we are fighting on the same side.  I prefer Cruz as the nominee, but I want him to win it outright.  If Trump wins, he should also win it outright.  The chances of either happening, however, are tremendously diminished with Rubio and Kasich in the race.  Both of them need to get out and let Cruz and Trump debate and compete.