The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Good-Bye, #NeverTrump!

Posted on | July 1, 2018 | Comments Off on Good-Bye, #NeverTrump!


Honestly, I’ve found it easy to ignore the #NeverTrump Republican crybabies most days, but reading their epitaph was enjoyable:

The Never Trump intellectual crowd has no momentum and no popular following these days. Consider the trajectory of their would-be leader [Bill] Kristol, who appears to be indulging in a personal fantasy by putting himself forward as a candidate, as his rapport with GOP voters includes trying to run Evan McMullin in Utah to throw the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton. When that stunt failed, Kristol personally insulted the pro-Trump writer Michael Anton for his influential essay “The Flight 93 election.” Then Kristol’s commentator gig with Fox was not renewed, and he was soon accusing Tucker Carlson of “ethno-nationalism” and “racism.” Overshadowing all of these breaks was Kristol’s personal history of being the conservative’s answer to Bob Shrum, a political “pro” who was always very wrong about politics.
Of course, Kristol was not alone in his contempt for Trump — he was only the most vocal and unhinged. Alongside him were other conservatives like Jennifer Rubin and George Will and Michael Gerson at the Washington PostBret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal; David Brooks and Ross Douthat at the New York Times; Jonah Goldberg and David French at National Review; Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg; and Erick Erickson at RedState. A number of others, people like David Frum and Ana Navarro, committed political seppuku early and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, the careers of most of these people have been curtailed dramatically. . . .

You can read the whole thing. There is no substitute for victory. The inability of self-declared True Conservative™ types to organize a winning GOP primary campaign, or to persuade voters to support the candidate of their choice, was their own damned fault. Rather than accept responsibility for their failures and incompetence, the #NeverTrump crowd demonized the guy who beat them and also smeared the character of anyone who refused to join their sour-grapes coalition.

It’s not that I don’t share some of the concerns expressed by, e.g., Erick Erickson, about Trump’s rhetorical crudeness or his offensive behavior toward women, and I have always been an advocate of free trade. When Trump gave his first CPAC speech in 2011, I walked out after he started in on a China-bashing protectionist tirade. When he announced his candidacy in June 2015, I dismissed this as an ego-driven publicity stunt until, in September 2015, I got a call from Pete Da Tech Guy, who was covering a Trump rally in New Hampshire. “Stacy, this Trump thing is for real,” Pete told me. “You wouldn’t believe the size of this crowd.”

Hmmm. Not long thereafter, the anti-Trump Republicans began to emerge as a distinct and coherent bloc among conservative pundits.

Who was their candidate? That was the real problem. You can’t beat somebody with nobody, and there was no consensus among the future #NeverTrump crowd as to which of the other GOP candidates to support. Whoever got the Republican nomination would eventually have to share the debate stage with Hillary Clinton. How would those candidates fare against her? As much as I admire Ted Cruz, the visual image of him against Hillary just didn’t look like a winning match-up. Marco Rubio? A much better visual image — the handsome young Cuban-American against the septuagenarian liberal — but Rubio had ruined his hopes of winning the GOP primary by supporting the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty plan. And then there was . . . Jeb Bush.

This was my personal nightmare, that somehow, in the effort to stop Trump from getting the nomination, Team #NeverTrump might clear the way for the Bushies to ram Jeb down our throats. Hell, no, I wouldn’t stand for that, and there was yet another nightmare scenario: What if the #NeverTrump crowd succeeded in keeping Trump from the nomination, and he decided to go the third-party route — 1992 all over again?

Pundits who think of themselves as The Deciders, with the ability to dictate political outcomes according to their own preferences, were unprepared to cope with the effect of Trump’s populist charisma. There had always been conservatives (among them the late Sam Francis) who argued that an “America First” nationalism could appeal to alienated working-class white voters who might not otherwise bother to vote at all. And when Trump won — a shocking upset, decided by blue-collar votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — I could imagine Sam’s ghost chortling in glee, not only at the discomfiture of liberals, but also the embarrassment of neoconservative elites who tried to stop Trump.

We do not yet know how this will turn out in the long run. It is too early for conservative self-congratulation over Trump’s remarkable success although, as I kept asking my colleague John Hoge on Saturday night’s podcast: “Are you tired of all this winning yet?” Trump has forced Democrats to remove the mask and reveal their true character.

A political suicide march’: Trump aims
to inflict political pain on Democrats over calls
to abolish immigration enforcement agency

That’s a headline we never would have seen, had the #NeverTrump crowd prevailed. While all the GOP Smart Guys keep telling us Trump is an ignorant dimwit, he nevertheless was cunning enough to maneuver Democrats into declaring their anti-enforcement open-borders position, an issue where two-thirds of American voters are on Trump’s side.

Mobs of deranged Democrats are demonstrating their craziness coast-to-coast — insulting Pam Bondi in Florida and attacking reporters in Oregon — while the streets of San Francisco are crowded with smelly drug-addled bums, showing what America would look like if Democrats regain power.

Will voters hand Nancy Pelosi a congressional majority in November? That will be the real test of whether Trumpism succeeds. If the GOP can turn back the liberal “blue wave” this fall, depriving Democrats of what by all historical precedent should have been an easy win, the paroxysms of despair and rage on the Left may be enough to lead Democrats into the kind of long exile in powerlessness they deserve. It would be foolish, of course, to let our hopes run ahead of us, to imagine the fruits of a victory that we have not yet won.

All that can be said at this point is, so far, so good. Keep praying.

(Hat-tip: Instapundit.)



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