Photo Credit: John Podhoretz
John Podhoretz

As editor of Commentary and as a newspaper columnist, I have commissioned, edited, and written hundreds of thousands of words on the dreadful mistakes and parlous consequences of the Obama presidency.

Under Obama, America has become less free, more regulated, and less bound to constitutional norms. And I believe his foreign policy has made America less safe and the world more chaotic.

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Still, what Donald Trump did in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last week in trying to establish the contrast between himself and Obama’s successor Hillary Clinton was shocking, even for the shock-jock of presidential candidates.

It was a blast of anti-American sentiment and Spenglerian despair that might fit his own political marketing plan but is nothing less than a repellent slander against these United States.

I could be fancy and find myself a quote from Tocqueville, but it’s really the philosopher Merle Haggard who said it best: “When you’re running down my country, Hoss, you’re walking on the fighting side of me.”

Trump spent nearly 77 minutes running down my beloved country, and I don’t take kindly to it.

Whether it was a political success or a political failure is something that will be suggested by the polling response and where things stand in relation to Hillary Clinton after the conclusion of the Democratic convention this week.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year, it’s humility when it comes to predictions, so I make none. But I know a little bit about speechwriting, so indulge me in a peroration about why the speech was, quite simply, spectacularly lousy as a piece of rhetoric and argument.

Major political speeches are usually balancing acts between light and dark, between expressions of the positive and the threat posed to it by the negative. They establish the existence of something good and what qualities of goodness it possesses, explain how it is being warped by something bad, and offer a way to repair the damage and restore the equilibrium.

This isn’t just a boilerplate structure. You do it this way because it is a reflection of reality.

Speeches are both diagnoses of problems and prescriptions for solutions, and unless the diagnosis describes a recognizable reality, the solutions will ring either hollow or exploitativeYou talk about the good and the bad because that is how life is. Nothing save actual evil is without virtue; there is nothing that is not unmixed. That was not true of Trump’s United States. He did not offer a portrait, a description, a sense of what America is or has been or can be at its best and take off from there to describe what has gone wrong and how to fix it.

There was almost no light and almost complete darkness.

The America Donald Trump portrayed is a horrible place, awash in barbarity, crime, disorder, decay, deceit, rigging, cheating, exploitation. It is very nearly beyond salvation, in such dire straits that a man who was having a wonderful time in business felt called upon to serve as “your voice” because “only I can fix it” the problem.

I don’t know how to say this except sentimentally, but here it is: America in 2016 is still America. It is still the greatest, and noblest, and freest, and most just society the world has ever seen and a shining beacon of hope to the world.

And when it is caricatured, when it is degraded, when its people are told by one of the two people who might sit in the White House for the next four years that they live in a barbaric and hopeless dystopia from which they need to be saved by a strong hand rather than in a great country where some things have gone off the tracks and need to be placed back on them – the person who does such a thing has indulged himself in a deeply unpatriotic act of rhetorical infamy.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. who writes this garbage? Anti American sentiment when the entire room was filled with patriotism, American flags and families of murdered policemen? When 90% of his speech was devoted to making America respected again? of bringing jobs back? of keeping our borders secure? of stopping terrorists from trickling in undocumented? Did anybody see an American flag standing proudly behind TWO US presidents at the DNC? the few that were hastily placed on the sides were shamefully discarded like trash, knocked over with nobody giving a damn….

  2. Guess you don't want to hear the truth. Obama and Hillary have caused Donald to tell the United States the FACTS. So if you truly want to help our people than start by giving FACTS. Otherwise you are part of the problem you claim Obama has caused. Hillary will be worse.

  3. Podhoretz is lying, intentionally .. as will any media member of the globalist think-tank (Council on Foreign Relation) regarding Donald Trump.

    Ask Dear John if he supports collective authority of global assets, mass immigration, public disarmament, trade policies contrary to American interests, non-restrictions of big money transnational corporations, etc.

    Trump's acceptance speech was exceptionally American !

  4. Maybe someone will release the email from the DNC that told John to spew this BS. Trump named the problems and his solutions. Just because you don't like the solutions doesn't mean there were none. Hillary solutions are to continue doing more of the same, only on steriods. Although, she will say anything to get power so it really doesn't matter what she says. She like Obama, will try and do whatever they want regardless of it's affect on America. Trump didn't need this crap for himself. He was already powerful and rich enough. The Clintons are still scheming because they don't feel powerful enough. Well not with my money.

  5. In the past 10 years Sweden allowed 110,000 Moslems to take up residence in Sweden. As a result Sweden now has the highest rape-rate in Europe. Sweden now has the highest rape-rate of any industrialized nation in the world.
    Trump's plan to screen people coming to the USA from Moslem countries is long overdue. Hillary's plan to let in tens of thousands is insain.

  6. Ch Hoffman You must be right. The Iran deal is wonderful, unbridled immigration is super-duper, the integrity of law and order is "old school" and Trump doesn't have the Obama charm and turn-of-phrase. Yep, got ya. Go ahead and vote with your gonads and not with your common sense and rational capability.

  7. Who is this pathetic moron?

    Trumps speech was absolutely BRILLIANT and the most American amd patriotic I have ever heard.

    This guy must be a Wall Street lackey making millions from off shore business. Trump plans to make them penny up. I get it.

  8. Bruce Saltzman whatever you are, wherever you come from, and whomever you drink your pablum with, you know absolutely nothing about me; all you do is infer incorrectly that I am an arab because I don't buy into your lunacy of "Trumpism" and lunatic ideology

    Grow up, or go back to your mother's basement.

  9. Mr. Podhoretz,

    You disliked Trump well before he gave his post-nomination speech. You have said so through your writings (and editing) in Commentary.

    The choice in November for the American people is between bad (Trump) and Clinton (horrible). Not voting or voting for someone else is an irresponsible act.

    The USA is in trouble economically and internationally. Yes, it will survive, but Hillary will only continue the failed Obama policies here and abroad.

  10. 1 Relating to Hillary’s lobbyist donations the following is interesting documentation: "Meet the lobbyists, donors and bundlers behind Hillary Clinton’s $157 million juggernaut” by Michael Isikoff 2-4-16 {https://www.yahoo.com/politics/hillarys-financial-armada-233033648.html }

    2 Relating to Hillary Clinton’s foundation Canadian venture the following is interesting documentation: The Clinton Foundation is "organized crime"
    at its finest. Here is a good, concise summary of how the Clinton Foundation works as a tax free international money laundering scheme. It may eventually prove to be the largest political criminal
    enterprise in U.S. history. This is a textbook case on how you hide foreign money sent to you and repackage it to be used for your own purposes. All tax free.

    Here's how it works:
    .
    a. You create a separate foreign "charity.” In this case, the Clinton's set it up in Canada.
    .
    b. Foreign oligarchs and governments, then donate to this Canadian charity. In this case, over 1,000 did –contributing mega millions. I'm sure they did this out of the goodness of
    their hearts, and expected nothing in return. (Imagine Putin's buddies waking up one morning and just deciding to send untold millions to a Canadian charity). .

    c. The Canadian charity then bundles these separate donations and makes a massive donation to the Clinton Foundation.
    .
    d. The Clinton Foundation and the cooperating Canadian charity claim Canadian law prohibits the identification of individual donors.

    e. The Clinton Foundation then "spends” some of this money for legitimate good works programs. Unfortunately, experts believe this is on the order of 10%. Much of the balance goes to enrich the
    Clinton's, pay salaries to untold numbers of hangers on, and fund lavish travel, etc. Again, virtually all tax free, which means you and I are subsidizing it. .

    f. The Clinton Foundation, with access to the world's best accountants, somehow fails to report much of this on their tax filings. They discover these "clerical errors" and begin the process of
    re-filing 5 years of tax returns. .

    g. Net result — foreign money goes into the Clinton's pockets tax free and untraceable back to the original donor. This is the textbook definition of money laundering.
    .

    The Canadian “charity" includes as a principal one Frank Giustra. Google him. He is the guy who was central to the formation of Uranium One, the Canadian company that somehow
    acquired massive U.S. uranium interests and then sold them to an organization controlled by Russia. This transaction required U.S. State Department approval, and guess who was Secretary of State when the approval was granted. .

    If you're still not persuaded this was a cleverly structured way to get unidentified foreign money to the Clinton's, ask yourself this: .

    Why did these foreign interests funnel money through a Canadian charity? Why not donate directly to the Clinton Foundation? Better yet, why not donate money directly to the people,
    organizations and countries in need? .

    This is the essence of money laundering and influence peddling… Now you know why Hillary's destruction of 30,000 e-mails was a risk she was willing to take.

    3 There is much more on many subjects relating to Hillary Clinton’s that should help clarify the choice for anyone who is still in doubt. ( For example, the CIA and the FBI both believe that the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians had 100% visibility into all of Hillary Clinton’s communications. }

    4 Yes, Donald Trump is narcissistic . So is Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Hillary has the same very unfavorable personal traits that Trump has. It is just that Trump does it in public and Clinton does it behind closed doors for the most part. And Hillary’s economic piracy [example Russian acquisition of US uranium interests in Canada] are of a magnitude that is beyond imagination and makes Donald Trump look like a jaywalker (in terms of his violations) compared Hillary Clinton who is the equivalent of an economic mass ax murderer.

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