Opinion Extra

Donald Trump: praise and criticism from friends, foes, pundits

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump points toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during their final debate on Wednesday.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump points toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during their final debate on Wednesday. AP

With less than three weeks before Election Day, we’ve compiled this quick read with highlights of commentary from across the country on the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Click here to read our companion package on Hillary Clinton, and other commentary on the election

He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.

Donald Trump, on U.S. Sen. John McCain

This election is not just about placing the nuclear codes in Trump’s hands. It’s also about handing him the instruments of civilian coercion, such as the IRS, the FBI, the FCC, the SEC. Think of what he could do to enforce the “fairness” he demands. Imagine giving over the vast power of the modern state to a man who says in advance that he will punish his critics and jail his opponent.

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post columnist

The daily news — riot, terrorism, scandals, enemies on the move abroad, sluggish growth, and record debt — demands a candidate of change. The vote is not for purity of conservative thought, but for the candidate who is preferable to the alternative — and is also a somewhat rough form of adherence to the pragmatic Buckley dictate to prefer the most conservative candidate who can win.

The issue, then, at this late date is not necessarily Trump per se, but the fact that he will bring into power far more conservatives than would Hillary Clinton. No one has made a successful argument to challenge that reality. Nor is the election a choice even between four more years of liberalism and a return of conservatism; it’s an effort to halt the fundamental transformation of the country. A likely two-term Clinton presidency would complete a 16-year institutionalization of serial progressive abuse of the Constitution, outdoing even the twelve years of the imperial Roosevelt administration. The WikiLeaks revelations suggest an emboldened Hillary Clinton, who feels that a 2016 victory will reify her utopian dreams of a new intercontinental America of open borders and open markets, from Chile to Alaska, in the manner of the European Union expanse from the Aegean to the Baltic.

Stanford historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing “The Case for Trump” in National Review

When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p----. You can do anything.

Donald Trump

Had he not had so many misogynistic skeletons in his own closet, Trump could have made the case that the former president’s affairs and alleged assaults left behind a trail of broken women that his wife stepped on or over. He might also argue they reinforce the notion that the Clintons are above the law.

But Trump is again crippled by his own voluminous shortcomings.

Nolan Finley, Detroit News columnist

Twice now Donald Trump has made insulting remarks about the appearance of female candidates. First it was Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

The second was about Hillary Clinton: “Well I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look.”

Would someone kindly give Donald Trump a mirror?

Mary Boyd, letter to the editor in The State

Choosing a president is always a roll of the dice (to use a Trump casino metaphor). We know what we will get with Hillary Clinton, including corruption at the highest level. Those foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation will undoubtedly expect something in return. With Trump we don’t know for sure what we’ll get, beyond promises he has made and some contradictory positions he has taken. We can only hope that good people will serve and surround him, including running mate Mike Pence and the policy wonk Newt Gingrich.

Cal Thomas, Tribune Content Agency columnist

Mr. Trump, by contrast, has shown himself to be bigoted, ignorant, deceitful, narcissistic, vengeful, petty, misogynistic, fiscally reckless, intellectually lazy, contemptuous of democracy and enamored of America’s enemies. As president, he would pose a grave danger to the nation and the world.

Washington Post endorsement of Clinton

In the 34-year history of USA TODAY, the Editorial Board has never taken sides in the presidential race.… This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.

From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.

Whether through indifference or ignorance, Trump has betrayed fundamental commitments made by all presidents since the end of World War II. These commitments include unwavering support for NATO allies, steadfast opposition to Russian aggression, and the absolute certainty that the United States will make good on its debts. He has expressed troubling admiration for authoritarian leaders and scant regard for constitutional protections.

USA Today editorial

Like shipwrecked mariners clinging to a floating mast, many Republicans rationalize supporting Donald Trump because of “the court.” This two-word incantation means: Because we care so much for the Constitution, it is supremely important to entrust to Trump the making of Supreme Court nominations. Well.…

(T)he mast-clingers say: Don’t worry, he already has compiled a list of admirable potential nominees, and, stickler that he is for consistency and predictability, he will stick to this script written by strangers. This, too, does not quite seem like Trump, but the mast-clingers say: Don’t worry, he has said enough to reveal what his “instincts” are. Indeed he has.

The court’s two most important decisions in this century are Kelo and Citizens United. Conservatives loathe Kelo ; Trump loves it. Conservatives celebrate Citizens United; Trump repeats the strident rhetoric of its liberal detractors.

George F. Will, Washington Post columnist

He may be the only man equipped to win the ferocious battle ahead.

S.C. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, nominating Donald Trump

at the Republican National Convention

I get a tremendous feeling that if Trump doesn’t win, it’s over for the United States.

Paul Anderko, head of GPS Conservatives for Action PAC in York County

Can Donald Trump actually execute the basic duties of the presidency? Is there any way that his administration won’t be a flaming train wreck from the start? Is there any possibility that he’ll be levelheaded in a crisis — be it another 9/11 or financial meltdown, or any of the lesser-but-still-severe challenges that presidents reliably face?…

Trump’s zest for self-sabotage, his wild swings, his inability to delegate or take advice, are not mere flaws; they are defining characteristics. The burdens of the presidency will leave him permanently maddened, perpetually undone.

Even if that undoing doesn’t lead to economic or geopolitical calamity (yes, Virginia, there are worse things than the Iraq War), which cause or idea associated with Trumpism is likely to emerge stronger after a four-year train wreck? Not populism or immigration restrictionism. Not evangelical Christianity. Not economic conservatism. They’ll all be lashed to the mast of a burning ship whose captain is angrily tweeting from the poop deck.

Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist

Donald Trump became relevant due to the glaring failings of an entrenched governing bureaucracy defined by Obama and Clinton. A vote for Trump is a vote to change this dynamic and to cast our lot with a movement that is bigger than Trump alone.

St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press endorsement

For centuries, women were seen as unfit to hold public office. Ambition, power and business were the province of men. Unlike gossipy feminine chatter in the parlor, manly discourse was considered impersonal, unemotional, forthright and reasonable.

Every minute of every day, Trump debunks that old “science” when he shows that the gossipy, backbiting, scolding, mercurial, overly emotional, shrewish, menopausal one in this race is not the woman.

Trump is surrounded by a bitchy sewing circle of overweight men who are overwrought at the prospect of a distaff Clinton presidency.

Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist

Our foreign partners are also bewildered at how eager Trump is to belittle them. After a French priest was murdered by the Islamic State — a tragedy that normally inspires condolences — Trump shot off: “France is no longer France.” French President Francois Hollande angrily retorted: “France will always be France. It never gives up because it still bears ideals, values … it’s when you lower your standards that you are no longer what you are. That’s something that may happen to others on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Why insult an ally at such a painful moment? That question gets to the heart of why Trump presents such a danger to America’s future. Trump appears to believe that America — and he, himself — can go it alone.

Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist

Trump has been giving serious speeches detailing his vision on the economy, foreign policy, crime, immigration and other central issues facing the country. He has been explaining policies that would strengthen the United States, revive the economy, and restore our social capital, especially in inner cities. Clinton, meanwhile, has been doing her best to distract us from the issues. Admittedly, Trump offers her many such opportunities. But our country’s direction is too important to decide on the basis of who is more vulgar than whom. Clinton’s policies portend nothing but a weaker economy, a weaker society and a weaker America.

I want a president who’s on our side. I plan to vote for someone who can change course and return us once again to the task of making America great.

Daniel Bonevac, philosophy professor, University of Texas at Austin

We can know with near certainty that a defeated Donald Trump will unleash the armies of Mordor, comprised of a fan base that will embrace his dark conspiracy theory that the election was rigged. To their minds, his loss couldn’t possibly be linked to a very long list of objectionable, as well as dishonest, statements he’s made, only one of which is the sex-talk video we needn’t view again.

Kathleen Parker, Washington Post columnist and Camden resident

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