On the digital pages of National Review, Jonah Goldberg responded at length to the many criticism/rebuttals he received in response to a G-File published last week where he sank his teeth into Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and his supporters.
Like everything Jonah writes, you should read the whole thing. This is a good debate; healthy for the Party and the movement. Unlike many who share his point of view, Goldberg is engaging in a spirited, not mean-spirited, discussion.
One party Goldberg responds to is yours truly. Goldberg takes “particular exception” to what I wrote here…
To his credit, Goldberg doesn’t hurl names at Trump’s supporters but his sneering (and surprisingly clueless) incredulity does boil them down to unthinking, knee-jerk cretins.
…and responds in part with what an accusation of hypocrisy:
He gives me credit for not hurling insults and then says I’m insulting people anyway in effect because I’m saying things they don’t want to hear. Look, I don’t think all of Trump’s fans are unthinking, knee-jerk cretins. Far from it. But I do think they’re wrong.
I thought that’s what conservatives are supposed to do (“There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism,” Emerson wrote, “joined with a certain superiority in its fact”). It’s the Left that judges facts and opinions entirely by how they make other people feel. It’s funny how John is so eager to defend Trump’s insult-hurling and celebrate his ability to “fight like a leftist,” but condemns me for simply telling the truth as I see it.
Let me respond to the hypocrisy angle.
There is one very big difference between Trump and many of his GOP detractors. When Trump “fights” his insults and attacks are aimed at people his own size. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, but those he does go after, including Jonah, Macy’s, Univision, Fox News, Carly Fiorina, Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly, etc. are The Powerful — individuals and institutions with large platforms and megaphones who can fight back.
At the very least, Trump punches within his own weight class.
Contrast that with those among the anti-Trump GOP elite who rip into The Powerless. Chris Christie yells at teachers. Rick Perry accused the GOP base of being heartless on the issue of the border. I’m now losing count of those among the Republican elite who have — in writing and on television — attacked the everyday people in our own base — Trump supporters — as racist or nativist or unthinking rubes, or some variation of that.
Trump has plenty of nasty supporters who insult Those Who Dare Not Support Trump. But these are everyday people on social media, not high-profile Thought Leaders among the Commentariat. I know of no high-profile Trump supporter insulting and hurling insults at the everyday voters voting for someone other than Trump.
The other side is lousy with them.
Before the self-destructive nature of this approach can sink in with the elite anti-Trumpians, maybe a Roger Stone needs to go on CNN and scream something like, “We want nothing to do with all those racist Republican idiots who refuse to support Trump!”
Can you imagine such a thing?
But too many of Trump’s critics do exactly that every single day.
This approach is hurting the Party. Moreover, it’s terrible salesmanship. “You’re stupid for not buying my product” is no way to sell a widget or a candidate.
If someone can explain to me how we defeat Hillary Clinton by insulting rather than convincing 30% of our own base, I am all ears.
As far as Trump fighting like a leftist, you’re damn right I say it’s about time. Losing like gentleman while your country burns is no virtue. In fact, it is abject cowardice. And this abject cowardice and constant surrender (border, etc.) from the feckless GOP in the face of Obama winning one partisan, lawless victory after another is a large part Trump’s appeal.
Sure I have lines I won’t cross, lines Obama and Democrats have crossed again and again. If Trump ever threatens or condones violence, I’m done with him. If he ever knowingly falsely accuses someone of something like felony murder, I’m done with him. And I’m getting a little tired of Trump’s attacks on women, not because I’m politically correct but because I’m a gentleman and growing more and more concerned that this propensity could implode his campaign if he wins the nomination.
But if you think that I’m going to get the vapors over Trump hurling flurries of sucker punches to keep his opponents off balance after I’ve sat here for three decades watching us lose like losers; after three decades of watching our useless and corrupt mainstream media openly express their admiration for the degenerate behavior practiced daily by Obama and Reid and the Clintons — think again.
Trump doesn’t just fight. He fights like a leftist. He fights like Obama. He fights like the mainstream media. And so far he is winning. (I explore the appeal of this in much more detail here.)
This from Goldberg, I think, explains not just his blindspot but the blindspot of many who agree with him. And I’m not talking about an ideological blindspot. Goldberg is a rock-ribbed conservative. The blindspot is his inability to give Trump supporters credit for being just as pure:
To wit: I don’t think Trump is a conservative. I don’t think he’s a very serious person. I don’t think he’s a man of particularly good character. I don’t think he can be trusted to do the things he promises.
That is exactly how Trump supporters view The Establishment. In fact, it is a PERFECT description of a Republican Establishment that for two decades has grown the size of the federal government, refused to secure the border, attacked the Tea Party, surrendered to Democrats, and appeased our evil media at almost every opportunity (see a full list of GOP sins at Conservative Treehouse).
With that in mind, there is nothing NOT conservative about supporting Trump.
Trump supporters believe, and for good reason (Trump has been consistent on these issues), that Trump will…
- Defeat an existential threat to the Republican Party and by extension America by finally securing the border. For good reason (history, evidence), they don’t trust the others, or at least not as much.
- Kill terrorists.
- Lower middle class taxes.
- Simplify the tax code.
- Fix the Veterans Administration.
- Finally annihilate the feckless, dishonest, cowardly, insulting, snobbish, appeasing, corrupted Republican Establishment — and with it all their toxic cronies and parasites in the grifter Consultant Class and mercenary Chamber of Commerce.
Getting the big conservative things right and burning the diseased village to save the village sounds conservative enough for me.
Again, for the millionth time, I am not a Trump supporter. He is currently fifth on my list and the lack of discipline he continues to display when it comes to insulting women worries me more and more. But because I don’t have the same purity test that is suddenly in vogue with the same people who told us Mitt Romney was pure, in the end I’m going to vote for whomever I believe has the best chance of defeating Hillary and her media.
But I am a proud Trump supporter-supporter, and not just because I’m a Big Tent Reagan conservative who believes we need these folks to win.
They may be wrong about some things, but they are nowhere near as wrong as their critics.
P.S. In the spirit of detente I have removed all Soviet/Marxist references — unless you consider “detente” a violation, in which case I apologize.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC