If you're a long-suffering conservative, you can't help but take at least a little perverse pleasure from the angst Donald Trump is causing the Republican Party establishment and the media, even if you're supporting another of the GOP presidential candidates.
For years the media has twisted innocuous statements made by conservatives into alleged racist, homophobic, anti-woman, anti-poor attacks that were never intended as such. But rather than standing their ground and fighting back, many a Republican candidate instead issues a feeble apology that is never accepted by the liberal speech police.
He's embraced the admonition proffered by John Wayne in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon": "Never apologize and never explain — it's a sign of weakness." And if there's one thing Republicans have exhibited in massive proportions over the years, it's weakness in the face of the sisters of the perpetually offended.
In fact, the two biggest media-fueled blowups of the Trump campaign — his comments regarding Mexican illegal aliens and whether or not John McCain is a "hero" — involved gross misreporting of what the man actually said.
Indeed, Trump never called all Mexicans murderers and rapists. He said Mexico was sending murderers and rapists across our border, similar to what Cuba's Fidel Castro did when he emptied his prisons back in 1980. A fact confirmed by the recent murder of a young woman in San(ctuary) Francisco by an illegal alien serial criminal who had been deported five times.
As for McCain, Trump actually said — conveniently omitted by the media — not once, not twice, not three times, but four times that McCain was a hero. How many places have you read that fact, other than here just now?
That said, by taking on McCain Trump has tapped into another long-simmering bone of contention among conservatives. Many have felt that McCain's prisoner of war experience some 40 years ago has given him an unwarranted pass on his subsequent political activities, including his disastrous 2008 run for president.
Indeed, McCain has been a bane of conservatives for a long, long time. Finally, someone of stature has called him out. And many Republicans, at least privately, are saying, "Yes!"
So far every time the media and the GOP establishment thought they had Trump dead to rights, he slipped by them. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood's Confederate sidekick in "The Outlaw Josey Wales": "Whupped âem again, didn't we Donald?"
The conservative attraction to Trump isn't philosophical. It's performance-based. His bravado, combined with his very Reaganesque "Make America Great Again" campaign theme, is striking nerves that go way beyond ideology. Even if the man eventually flames out, there's much the rest of the GOP pack can learn about fighting back from his campaign.
For the good of the republic, I hope they do.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.