Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for the highest office in the land.
To utter these words is, for the GOP establishment, the rhetorical equivalent of biting into an onion. But it’s time for the self-appointed stewards of “conservatism” to retire the #NeverTrump, stop their petulance, and accept the fact that the people whom they claim to represent—the Republican voters—have sized up their chosen Party candidates against a bombastic Manhattan tycoon outsider and clearly went with Option B.
But this hasn’t stopped the tantrums.
Consider a recent screed by former Bush staffer David Meyers, who offers that if Republicans back Trump they “will never be trusted again.” Trusted by whom exactly? The American people who have already voted for eight years of Obama over their last two presidential nominees? The GOP base, which shot down every establishment-backed candidate in the primary process in favor of The Donald? Or perhaps he really means trusted by, well, guys like him.
The party insiders who move easily through the government-corporate-media power complex within the Beltway Bubble, attending press dinners and swanky cocktail parties, rubbing shoulders with Karl Rove’s zillionaire PAC donors. All the while they have become so insular that they actually convinced themselves what the American people wanted in 2016 was yet another Bush. So whose trust are we talking about exactly? Maybe Meyers means the editors of National Review who lament Trump’s mercurial behavior and long for the days of their much more homogeneous Americana so embodied by their brilliant but certainly snobbish founder William F. Buckley, Jr.—a man whose own temperament sometimes could rival Trump’s such as when on national television he threatened to sock the little “queer” Gore Vidal “in the goddamned face and you’ll stay plastered.”
Meyers’ piece is an able summation of all the rants and hand-wringing protestations against Mr. Trump spewing from the right-wing punditry, from George Will, to Charles Krauthammer, to the entire National Review and even some columnists in the my beloved Wall Street Journal, to which I occasionally contribute. They offer that Trump is “unfit” to be president. They see Trump’s temperament as emblematic of the coarsening of American reality-TV culture and it repels their refined sensibilities. This man doesn’t fight by the Queen’s rules and it astonishes them…that his tactics have, so far, resonated with the GOP base (and I suspect far more independents and blue collar Democrats than are willing to openly confess to poll-takers) dismays them.
This cabal of commentators and editors see themselves as besieged torch-carriers for a sublime movement based on the three-pillared foundation of fiscal prudence, intelligent projection of power abroad, and preserving social cohesion through conservative values of personal responsibility, family, faith, and individual rights.
They look back at a half-century old movement, beginning with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and culminating in the two-term presidency of their patron saint Ronald Reagan the Great and fear that it’s all over because of man they see as nothing more than an opportunist and saboteur of their idealistic vision. And they lash about searching for anyone else to blame except for the most obvious culprits behind their movement’s demise: themselves.
It didn’t have to be this way. The facts lean conservative. In 1994, the left-leaning President Bill Clinton after his party’s mid-term shellacking, pivoted to the center and even proudly declared, as any good conservative would, that “the era of big government is over.” But it’s been downhill for the right ever since. Again, the GOP apparatchiks only have themselves to blame.
In 2000 and again in 2004 they offered up to the American people a man who, though no doubt a decent fellow, was himself a poor businessman who, but for his family name, would most assuredly have spent his days in obscurity. Meyers offers that George W. Bush’s “sole motivation was to do what he thought was best for the country.” Wonderful. And I’m sure Woodrow Wilson thought he was doing right when he entangled us in Europe’s mass suicide; certainly LBJ with his Great Society/War On Poverty/Vietnam trifecta thought he was doing the best thing; even Obama believes he’s doing God’s work. But meaning well is no justification for a poor presidency.
And so how have the Buckley faithful’s politicians done when actually handed the reigns of power? Pundit Mark Steyn sums it up best:
When the Big Government Party is in power, the government gets bigger, and, when the Small Government Party is in power, the government gets bigger…When the Socially Liberal Party is in power, the country gets more liberal, and, when the Socially Conservative Party is in power, the country gets more liberal…When the doves are in power, America loses wars, and, when the hawks are in power, America loses wars. “Mainstream” Republican candidates are essentially reduced to the argument: This time it’ll be different, I promise.
Behold “true conservatives,” therein lies the essence of Donald Trump’s ascendancy. You blew it.
Since 2000 you have given us a president who blew up the budget with Medicare Part D even Ted Kennedy loved, directed billions to fight AIDS in Africa (“Africa First”?) while believing he could spend hundreds of billions in treasure and thousands of lives making the psychotic Islamic world safe for democracy.
Then you gave us the crotchety John McCain and vacuous Sarah Palin “don’tcha know” and then Mitt Romney—the latter I admit was a decent man who’d have been a great president. But he was a terrible candidate who continually brought knives to political gunfights. Yet, instead of just admitting they blew it as heirs to Reagan’s legacy, the conservative literati act like entitled monkeys throwing feces at their keepers who have fed them for years in return for their performing tricks they never perform finally saying no more food for you.
So what is a disgruntled “conservative” to do? Gather up your marbles, go home, and endorse Hillary Clinton for president. That’ll show those rubes! Says Meyers:
[Hillary] is clearly qualified to be president. She possesses judgment and self-restraint. She does not have a track record of irrational, risky, and unsound business decisions and public comments. She has a long record of public service. She can be trusted with controlling our military and nuclear weapons. Mr. Trump cannot.
It is quite odd to hear a so-called conservative Republican use the word “trust” and Hillary in the same sentence.
This is a woman who has repeated lied to the American people in such important matters as compromising national security and the deaths of and ambassador and three others to save her skin…she even went so far as to arrest an American filmmaker just to add window dressing to her lie. Juan Peron would be proud.
But in the political world of Meyers, just holding an office is qualification enough. So what if she was a partner in a sleazy law firm with dubious cattle futures trades that this 25-year commodities veteran still marvels at. So what if her Hillarycare went nowhere. So what if she was an ineffectual senator who saw the people of her adopted state merely as her personal beanstalk to climb to the White House above them all. So what if her tenure as Secretary of State–a position given to her to get her out of the Obama’s hair–was disastrous, embarrassing, mendacious and even got people killed.
And so what if despite being a woman, which is her only appeal, she placed her blind ambition ahead of a parade of women victimized at the hands of her lecherous husband to forward her political aspirations. Indeed perhaps her only accomplishment of note beyond being appointed to posts, getting paid enormous sums for speeches the public is verboten to hear, and influence peddling masquerading as a charitable trust, was to cover for her philandering husband twice, first to save his campaign and then his presidency. Yet Trump is the man with no scruples?
Meyers’ selective memory when it comes to how America has waged successful wars in the past is unforgivable. He calls the Trump’s ruminating about maybe targeting the families as advocating “war crimes.” Well then, if intentionally killing wives and children of terrorists is a “war crime” then I look forward to Meyers’ argument in favor of President Obama apologizing not just for the atomic bombings Hiroshima, but also Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Yokahama, Dresden, Berlin, Cologne, and the other sixty-plus cities firebombed by the USAAF just to wash the war crimes slate clean. Either Meyers is historically ignorant or so blinded by his own petulance that he has lost his moral compass somewhere.
I think my favorite observation is this one: “Republican leaders who embrace Trump aren’t hearing the public’s message or embracing change.” That a man speaking for a group that literally wasted the last two years lining up huge money and support behind a third Bush, is lecturing anyone on being tone deaf to the public’s call for “change” is quite ludicrous.
Myers’ piece and other similar one are endemic of all that has gone wrong with the GOP establishment. Like the pigs in Animal Farm they have become the very elitist pampered government-insider class they claim to abhor. For all their bluster about Buckley and Reagan and Jack Kemp and the like, they simply cannot square this fact that when Republicans were in charge the borders remained porous and the size and reach and scope and reckless spending and mismanagement of the leviathan central state continued to metastasize.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose Republican bona fides are well-earned, offers that Republicans and Democrats both love spending money. Republicans just feel guilty about it.
And that is what the conservative movement has now become. Just another side of the same coin. They talk a great game…indeed Ayn Rand and Hayek practically drip from their columns and commentary. But whenever they get actual power to affect change and not just write about it, Ayn Rand becomes Pete Townshend: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
If the GOP electorate are so frustrated by a feckless conservative class that they would choose to vote for a Donald Trump, “warts and all” as Bobby Jindal offered this week while endorsing him for president, then maybe the GOP establishment might want to ask what true “New Bosses” if any they have to offer and cultivate him/her now before it’s too late. I will help them get started. Step one: cross off anyone named “Bush.” And go from there.
You guys made Donald Trump, one failed promise at a time. Enjoy the show and quit your bitching already. It’s getting old.