Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Republicans Can't Be Serious All Gop Candidates, Not Just Trump, Are Now Extremists

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Republicans Can't Be Serious All Gop Candidates, Not Just Trump, Are Now Extremists

Article excerpt

This was, according to many commentators, going to be the election cycle Republicans got to show off their "deep bench." The race for the nomination would include experienced governors like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, fresh thinkers like Rand Paul and attractive new players like Marco Rubio. Instead, Donald Trump leads the field. What happened?

The answer is gullibility: People can't tell the difference between someone who sounds as if he knows what he's talking about and someone who is actually serious about the issues. And the pundits are at least as gullible as the public.

It's true that Mr. Trump is an absurd figure, but so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them actually says, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. Talking nonsense is necessary to get anywhere in today's Republican Party.

For example, Mr. Trump's economic views, a mishmash of conservative talking points and protectionism, are confused. But is that any worse than Jeb Bush's deep voodoo, his claim that he could double the underlying U.S. economic growth rate? Mr. Bush's credibility isn't helped by his evidence for that claim: the rapid growth Florida experienced during the immense housing bubble that coincided with his time as governor and then burst.

Mr. Trump is a "birther" - someone who questions whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. But is that worse than Scott Walker's declaration that he isn't sure whether the president is Christian?

Mr. Trump's declared intention to deport all illegal immigrants would require massive violations of civil liberties. But are there any defenders of civil liberties in the modern GOP? Even Rand Paul, self-described libertarian, has joined in the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood.

And while Mr. Trump is appealing to know-nothingism, Marco Rubio, climate-change denier, has made "I'm not a scientist" his signature line. (Memo to Mr. Rubio: Presidents don't have to be experts on everything; they need to listen to experts and decide which ones to believe.)

The point is that, while media puff pieces have portrayed Mr. …

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