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A Book Review… Laura Ingraham Looks At Contrarian Trump And Who Led Up To Him

November 7, 2017 Frontpage No Comments


Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump, by Laura Ingraham, St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y., ISBN 978-1-250-15064-6, 320 pages, hardback, $27.99, 2017.

PHOENIX — During her national talk-radio program the morning of October 17, Laura Ingraham said she’d be flying to her book-signing event combined with a political rally in Scottsdale, Ariz., that evening and then, without pausing to spend the night, continuing on to Las Vegas to gamble on some numbers. The next morning she was on the air with her program from a Las Vegas studio at 6 o’clock.
I’d guessed wrongly that Ingraham would have flown into the Phoenix area on October 16 and broadcast from a studio here the following morning, while adjusting to the three-hour time difference with the east, before the signing and rally for U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward.
But, youthful in her mid-50s, Ingraham seems to share the stamina of her activist political hero Donald Trump, a president who actually doesn’t get much attention in this book until more than halfway through it.
When I left the book signing it was nearly 8 p.m. and Ingraham still was obliging fans with autographs and selfies. Not knowing her timetable, I wondered if she went on to the Scottsdale Airpark and flew off by 10 p.m., so she could have arrived in Las Vegas, less than 300 miles northwest of the Phoenix area, before 11.
Whether she gambled before hitting the sack in 24-hour Vegas or hit the lucky tables before her program the next morning, Ingraham lives a busy life, which is only getting more so with the debut of her own Fox News evening TV program, The Ingraham Angle. Elementary hard work ran in her family and she keeps up the tradition. It’s what she expects.
Her mother, the daughter of Polish immigrants, waited restaurant tables until age 73, and her father worked at a car wash. More than once in Billionaire at the Barricades, Ingraham reflects on attaining her level of national success after being raised in a family that “scrimped and saved,” and her mother made her clothes for her.
There’s no guarantee that people from humble beginnings will stay connected with the right values — look no further than sleazy Bill Clinton for a bad example — but being born to wealth can seem to present an extra challenge about the need to realize and observe life’s limits. A child served off a silver platter probably doesn’t have to worry about getting the next bite.
As a convert to Catholicism, Ingraham knows there’s nothing morally wrong with gambling some of one’s own money in moderation — think bingo — whether in Las Vegas or elsewhere, at the tables or a bowling alley. It’s not so benign, though, when political kingpins gamble away millions of people’s lives or livelihoods in blundering wars or tricky trade deals that have little to commend them except perhaps fancy theory.
Ingraham is hard on politicians of both major parties who’ve damaged the U.S. working and middle classes badly with shell games of globalist economics that may have sounded great in the boardroom but left the assembly line rusting.
Indeed, she came to Scottsdale to scorn open-borders, free-trader theoretician and incumbent senator Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), whose unpopularity with his constituents shortly led to his dropping out of a re-election race before he’d served even one full Senate term.
Clueless to the last, Flake praised his own conscience for adhering to these damaging policies while he lashed out at the supposed indecency of the other side, mainly meaning Trump.
After Ingraham provides sad statistics of what politicians like Flake have wrought, she writes: “History is not kind to fools, and the United States is paying an enormous price for throwing away the strategic advantages we enjoyed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As President Reagan taught us, we have to be willing to say things the Establishment doesn’t want to hear.”
However, Reagan should get some of the credit for the blame. It’s fascinating today to read a November 23, 1993, article from the conservative Heritage Foundation headlined, “The North American Free Trade Agreement: Ronald Reagan’s Vision Realized” (look it up online by that title). The article salutes then-President Clinton for pushing forward this economic disaster adumbrated by Reagan.
Not every policy is conceived in malice, but it’s malicious when policymakers refuse to learn from their errors. At least Ingraham hero Trump is trying to undo some of the damage. But even here, she notes, Trump doesn’t walk a completely straight line.
Although the Trump administration clearly is pro-life as contrasted with the barbarism of the Culture of Death’s Barack Obama, Ingraham notes that earlier this year, Trump, in the interests of foreign policy and trade, “hosted and toasted China — a nation that puts people in reeducation camps and cuts babies out of the wombs of women who have more than one child.”
I don’t mean to browbeat business because that’s the engine for the livelihoods of most who don’t exist through a subsistence economy of hunting and gathering on the hills and plains.
However, big business may be the inspiration for much political malignity. Leftists celebrated President Nixon’s “opening to China” in the early 1970s because they saw this enemy Republican doing honor to murderous Communist thugs they venerated.
But one must also consider Wall Streeters lusting for a huge, primitive Asian market whose subsequent development hasn’t been accompanied apace by some fondly anticipated results.
Ingraham asks where the theoretical “human rights ‘renaissance’ of religious freedom and democracy” has gone. “Tell that to the Christians who have seen their churches pushed underground, the crosses stripped from the rooftops, and their pastors summarily imprisoned.”
One might want to give credit to Beijing leaders who at least opened their pitifully punished country to some economic improvement for people suffering the ills of Marxist poison. But the Communist mandarins’ main view was to self-interest. What kind of respect and power on the world stage accrue to a nation whose starving people must eat the bark off trees?
Ingraham’s alliterative book title and cover illustration of Trump’s blond mane facing the various blockades thrown up by the establishment play off the president’s newsworthiness. But Trump doesn’t make a major appearance until more than halfway through the text, on p. 155. The book’s subtitle is more accurate about the contents, “The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump.”
Some of the earlier chapters may seem unnecessary to those who lived through these presidencies. Still, there are gems like Reagan’s reminder, “Don’t trust me, trust yourselves.” Your own rolled-up sleeves can help more than a distant political savior’s promises with perhaps a short shelf life.
And a lot of Ingraham’s fans who weren’t even born during the Reagan presidency can find such chapters useful.
Also, behold the GOP populists who never made president but represented yearnings that were to bloom with the Manhattan multibillionaire — Pat Buchanan, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum. As well as lower-level challengers who threw the establishment back on its heels, like Virginia economist Dave Brat, the giant-killer who chased self-satisfied GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor from office.
The dangers of cushy incumbency prove the constant need for voter vigilance. Ingraham recalls that “I had high hopes for Cantor a decade ago, and I never thought it would come to this.” But she successfully endorsed Brat to replace Cantor after the majority leader showed that to him, for instance, illegal immigrants were more important than his own voters.

Trump Defended Life

An author can cover only so much territory, but if Ingraham’s goal was to educate some younger readers, she might have used a few words to explain why, for instance, Justice Sandra O’Connor turned out to be, as Ingraham acknowledges, one of Reagan’s disappointing though all-important Supreme Court selections.
We Arizona pro-lifers immediately recognized that putatively pro-life Reagan, in his very first year in the White House in 1981, had selected a firm pro-abortionist when picking the Grand Canyon State’s O’Connor.
It was a betrayal made all the worse by the White House’s adamantly not wanting to hear anything about O’Connor’s actual record as it prepared to usher her through Senate confirmation. This wasn’t a clumsy mistake in selection; it appeared intentional.
(A note in passing: My thick folder of writings back then about O’Connor’s pro-abortion record is yet another refutation of baseless accusations against me by Missouri historian James Hitchcock in his shallow book last year alleging that I “scarcely acknowledged” such “embarrassing facts.”)
And while Ingraham no doubt is correct that her parents’ generation viewed 1964 GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater as “socially conservative,” she might have noted now that passing decades proved otherwise. Goldwater conformed to speaking certain social expectations and hopes until, in his painful concluding years, he decided he didn’t have to.
That’s one caveat some Trump supporters still may feel. Although they’re not full of Flake’s fiery contempt for Trump, they’d like to feel more comfortable that the president isn’t deep down another one of the Manhattan leftist elite that he rose among.
Just as Reagan successfully rocked the world by refusing to accept the settled establishment view that world Communism would be permanent, Trump so far has set dominant media and their hornet’s nest of ferocious ideologues blazing with resentment that he rejects their ways. But is this Trump’s true outlook, or an expedient pending further developments?
Thank goodness, many conservatives say, in 2016 we managed to nominate someone who wasn’t part of the low-energy insider crowd that usually gets thrust on us, like Bob Dole or Mitt Romney or John McCain. And Trump, criticizing “rip(ping) the baby out of the womb,” even dared to fight back when Hillary Clinton, three weeks before the election, tried to justify very late abortions.
Writes Ingraham: “Hillary’s fanatical embrace of infanticide had to be exposed. At a time when many other ‘conservatives’ fell silent on abortion, Trump stood in the gap when it mattered most and defended life.”
Indeed it’s remarkable that when pro-lifers have all the moral power with them about protecting innocent, defenseless infants, professional “Republicans” prefer to hide out and let demonic evil assert itself time and again in the jagged grin of the Democratic Party of Death.
Trump could have told himself, Oops, the election is so soon, I better not stir up those media hornets by attacking abortion forthrightly.
That he chose to do so courageously may be the best assurance of the path he’ll continue to take for Americans’ welfare.

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