By Cathy Young
Those were just a few of the things said about the Republican Party’s presumptive candidate last Thursday at an event hosted by a women’s group in Washington, D.C.
No surprise there — except for the fact that the group, the Independent Women’s Forum, is no liberal stronghold of Hillary Clinton worship. While the IWF is officially non-partisan, it champions conservative values such as free markets, small government and personal liberty, and its political sympathies definitely lie more in a Republican direction.
(The group’s “Women of Valor” gala in November will honor GOP presidential contender and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.)
IWF’s “Women Lead” conference brought together some 200 conservative-leaning female professionals, entrepreneurs, and policy mavens for discussion and networking; it’s safe to say that there were few, if any, Hillary fans in their ranks.
Yet only twice during the daylong event did any of the speakers have even tepid positive words for Donald Trump. While discussing the Supreme Court, attorney Megan Brown briefly acknowledged that Trump had “some very commendable judges” on his list of potential court picks.
— IWF (@IWF) June 7, 2016
And on the morning panel showcasing the IWF’s new “Working for Women” report on small-government solutions for women in the workplace, one of its authors, economist Diana Furchgott-Roth, noted that Trump, not Clinton, was most likely to make these policy reforms a reality, since he had “already supported” tax cuts and family flexibility.
During the lunch break, I asked Furchgott-Roth how anyone could count on Trump to follow through on anything he claimed to support. With somewhat baffling optimism, she replied that as president his job will be to simply sign the legislation passed by a Republican Congress.
But when things moved on to the afternoon panel titled “The Character of Our Political Leadership: Political Civility, Discourse, and the Impact on Women Voters in the 2016 Election,” there was little optimism in evidence. Instead, it was one scathing condemnation of Trump after another from the four panelists.
Mona Charen, a syndicated columnist and formerly a staffer in the Reagan White house, called the reality show host-turned-presidential candidate a “jerk” who hides behind the shield of “political incorrectness” and is so insecure that he needs to put down others, especially women, to feel better about himself.
She said: “This is not a conservative way to behave. This is a boorish, ugly kind of fun house mirror version of masculinity.” The issue, Charen warned, is not just manners and morals but governance.
“We are being told if institutions are failing, not that we should reform the institutions and not that we should have better men in power, but worse men — we should have dangerous men, we should have cruel and unscrupulous men and that is the solution… There could hardly be a more un-American or dangerous approach to seeking power in this country.”
Author and policy analyst Peter Wehner, a White House staffer under the last three Republican administrations, was equally blunt: “There is no idea, no cause behind the man other than himself. Everything revolves around him.
“He doesn’t have a political agenda; he doesn’t have a political philosophy.”
James Rosebush, former Reagan White House official and Reagan biographer, dismissed the idea that right advisors could steer Trump on the right track, since he seems determined to ignore all such advice.
Rosebush did express admiration for the Trump children, widely praised for their maturity and poise: “Maybe he is the child and they are the adults.”
It’s not that any of the panelists were particularly fond of Hillary; Charen zinged her as a supposed “poster girl for feminist success” who actually rose to power on her husband’s coattails and enabled his sexual misconduct.
IWF’s Women LEAD Summit Lays Out Conservative Policies To Empower Women https://t.co/UlPlu3glor
— IWF (@IWF) June 6, 2016
But the far greater menace in this room seemed to be The Donald — especially given the pressure on Republicans to, as Charen put it, “bend the knee and get in line.”
As for the audience, its mood seemed one of uncertainty. The Donald-bashing drew only scattered applause — but no protest, either.
During the question-and-answer, one attendee, a black woman in her thirties who described herself as a Nashville-based businesswoman, expressed great concern with Trump’s volatility, particularly as it could affect foreign policy: “If he was to be in a meeting with heads of state and there happens to be a female in the room — for example, if she has to go to the bathroom, what comments would he make about her?”
But there was one outspoken Trump defender in the audience, an older woman who said she was a longtime Republican activist in Virginia. She urged the speakers to “educate themselves” about the flow of money to the campaigns.
Trump, she said, was the only candidate without a trail of foreign money behind him (not that we really know anything about his finances, as Charen pointed out, given that he won’t disclose his tax returns).
The woman also claimed that federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump had accused of bias due to his Mexican ancestry, had “paid $620,000 to Hillary Clinton” (actually, that was the law firm representing the Trump University plaintiffs) and that Hillary was unfit for the presidency due to poor health, including a brain tumor (a rumor that’s been around since 2012).
I had a brief chat with the Trump supporter at the post-conference reception. My attempt to correct her on the issue of Judge Curiel’s alleged payouts to Hillary Clinton was a total bust, but I did learn some fascinating things: that Chelsea Clinton is a love child from an extramarital affair; that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s injury from a home exercise accident last year was actually from a beating related to the Senator’s mafia ties; and that Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and both Bushes are part of a globalist cabal promoting One World Government.
Regrettably, we did not get around to whether jet fuel can melt steel beams.
Obviously, two people do not a sample make. But my conversations at the IWF conference did little to change my overall impression that most pro-Trump Republicans either embrace an imaginary Trump who will magically do everything they hope for, or hold some peculiar beliefs.
And if the overall atmosphere at the conference is any indication, the backing for Trump among mainstream Republicans remains far from solid.