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Beginning of the End for Carson and Trump?

Don Rose 24 November 2015 No Comment

Pundits and pols have been writing the political obituaries of “outsiders” Donald Trump and Ben Carson ever since they began leading national polls this summer. I have not been one of them, but I currently believe Carson is slipping, though it’s possible he can carry Iowa and some Evangelical-dominated southern states.

People love his religiosity, but now that national security has come to the fore, his clumsy, incoherent ignorance of foreign affairs must be apparent to his most pious admirers. It was made glaringly worse last week when a couple of close advisors went public with the difficulties they were having in imparting knowledge of international politics into that medically brilliant cranium. (Would surgery work?)

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He strangely denied that one of the experts quoted was not an advisor–only someone who came around periodically to meet with him to discuss foreign affairs. Sounds like the definition of an advisor to me.

International affairs have taken center stage following the Paris bombings, the Mali attack, terrorist arrests and heightened security–plus a major flap over if, when and how to admit a few thousand refugees to the US. Which should lead to the decline of Carson. My guess is he stays in the top five, but toward the lower end of that cluster by year’s end.

I am more ambivalent about Trump’s future.  National security issues can send much of the electorate, primarily large numbers of Republicans, to the toughest-talking strongman. Though he now has plenty of competition in the tough-talk arena, being the loudest tough-talker could work to his advantage.

On the other hand there is the brouhaha regarding exactly what he said about establishing a national registry of Muslims in America and giving them identity cards, plus the possibility of surveilling and even closing down mosques. The recorded evidence suggests he agreed with the registry idea if he did not actually spell it out, but it is also clear he advocated closing mosques among other nostrums to keep us “safe.”  He now definitely states he wants a registry of all Syrian refugees. Perhaps they might wear little yellow crescents, the way Jews had to wear stars in Nazi Germany?

Trump is very cagey, zigzagging about agreeing with and then denying the national registry idea–which has brought near universal condemnation from Republicans, Democrats and religious leaders across the board. All but his most nativist supporters must have second thoughts about his fitness for the presidency when it comes to such a fascistic proposal. Or so one might hope.

Although most Americans oppose admitting Syrian refugees, the landslide victory of conservative  Democrat John Bel Edwards over Sen. David Vitter in Saturday’s Louisiana gubernatorial race suggests the issue may not play a huge role in the presidential election. Edwards was leading by 10-15 points until Vitter unleashed a torrent of ads saying Edwards would bring in thousands of refugees. Polls narrowed briefly, but Edwards carried by 12 points.

Perhaps this is another premature obituary, but Trump’s ethno-religious registry could be the start of a downslide. It’s the most loathsome of his un-American mouthings.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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