Saturday, March 12, 2016

Jonah Goldberg on Conservatism's Trump Crisis

Jonah Goldberg writes a beautiful, extended column on the jaw-dropping division that is fracturing the conservative movement. I tried to lay out some grounds of the division in my post Constitutional Conservatives vs. Common Sense Conservatives.

Here's part of Jonah's take:
Among the commentariat, the first signs of creeping Trumpodism take the form of anti-anti-Trumpism. The argument usually starts off by grudgingly and bloodlessly conceding that Trump is imperfect — who isn’t? Wink wink. Then comes the extended and passionate diatribe about how the real nuts are the ones who are making a big fuss about how awful he is. Sometimes, they talk of “Trumpophobia” without the slightest acknowledgement they are buying into the left-wing crutch of attaching the suffix “phobia” to delegitimize arguments they can’t or won’t deal with. 
Politically, anti-anti-Trumpism, as Orwell could have told you, amounts to being objectively pro-Trump, even if it doesn’t sound like it. 
Often, the next stage is to lock into a face-palmingly stupid logical fallacy: People said Reagan was awful, therefore people who say Trump is awful must be wrong, too.
. . .
The really infuriating part is the hidden bait-and-switch buried in this fallacy. The people who said that Reagan was a dunce, a fool, or fraud were liberals. The alleged “Trumpophobes” the Trumpods are aiming their fire at are actually conservatives. It’s a weird kind of stupid to say that Trump is like Reagan because liberals said Reagan was a fool — in response to conservatives who say Trump is a fool.
. . .
And here’s just a few things that I would have thought the author [Bill Bennett] of these books would find disqualifying for a president of the United States and de facto standard-bearer of conservatism. 
-Trump said it doesn’t matter what the media writes about you “as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
-Trump boasted that his ordeal of avoiding the clap while sleeping around so much amounted to his own “personal Vietnam.”
-He said that John McCain’s ordeal avoiding dying at the hands of his torturers wasn’t heroic.
-As for everyone else’s Vietnam, Trump got out of that by claiming to have a medical condition that instantly healed when hostilities ended.
-He bragged — in print! — about bedding married women and has admitted to cheating on at least two of his wives.
-He boasted that he “whines until I win.”
-He’s condemned Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and many other friends of Bill’s (including yours truly) with far, far more vitriol than he condemns Vladimir Putin, the butchers of Tiananmen, and David Duke.
-The man is so lacking in moral clarity that he dismissed Vladimir Putin’s murdering of journalists by saying, “I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
-This is a man who expresses a passionate desire to change the First Amendment so he can punish journalists who don’t kowtow to him.
-This is a man who praised the mass murder at Tiananmen and criticized Gorbachev for not being as tough-minded.
-This is a man who says he “reads the Bible more than anybody” but can’t — after months of opportunities — speak intelligently about it for 30 seconds.
-This is a man who, by any objective measure, lies nearly as much as Bill Clinton but with a tenth of the skill.
-He lacks the patriotic seriousness to do minimal homework, even when his ignorance has been pointed out time and again. (Bill’s colleague Hugh Hewitt asked Trump about the nuclear triad in August. Several months later, when the question came up again Trump was, if anything, more ignorant.)
-This is a man whose business dealings have been shot through with shady practices, mob ties, and fraudulent claims (also known as “lies”).
-This is a man with a totally thumbless grasp of what the Constitution is about or what conservatism is (“Conservatism means,” according to Trump, “to conserve our money”).
-This is a man who boasted for months that he will torture our enemies and indiscriminately murder their children as a matter of policy.
-This is a man who says that the last Republican president deliberately lied us into war and plays coy about whether 9/11 was an inside job.
. . .
And, bear in mind, I haven’t even talked about Trump’s “policies.”
. . .
I hate this. I hate it. I hate attacking people I respect. I hate hearing from former fans who say they’re ashamed to have ever admired me or my writing. I hate being unable to meet fellow conservatives half-way. One of the things I love about conservatism is that we argue about our principles; as I’ve written 8 billion times — more or less — we debate our dogma. I love our principled disagreements. But I honestly and sincerely don’t see this as a mere principled disagreement. I see this as an argument about whether or not we should set fire to some principles in a foolish desire to get on the right side of some “movement.” I have never been more depressed about the state of American politics or the health of the conservative movement. I hate the idea that political disagreements will poison friendships — in no small part because as a conservative I think friendship should be immune to politics. I certainly hate having to tell my wife that my political views may negatively affect our income. But I truly fear that this is an existential crisis for the conservative movement I’ve known my whole life. And all I can do is say what I believe. If Donald Trump is elected president, I sincerely and passionately hope I will be proven wrong about all of this. But I just as sincerely and passionately believe I won’t be.
(emphasis added)
Thank you, Jonah, for expressing some of the ache in my own heart about the support for a man like Trump from people I've admired and supported (e.g., Sarah Palin).

It doesn't make me care less about them. But, it does make me a hundred times less likely to ever work with them in a context where anything I value greatly will be at risk.

Like a trampled spring and a polluted well Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. 
(Proverbs 25:26)


MAX Redline said...

I was just thinking about this a little bit ago, while watching the trees blow.

Trump is a Cino (conservative in name only). I can't support him, and Carson has been a huge disappointment.

On the Democrat side, Granny's a liar and Gramps is a loon. O'Malley might have been the more reasonable choice, but he never resonated with the Lefties. So they're all out.

Rubio? He flops around like a perch in a puddle. What a mess.

The only reasonable choice is Cruz or the Ohio governor.

T. D. said...

I agree with your analysis, Max. Underlining, because I supported him along with Cruz at first, that Carson is more than a huge disappointment. He has come around to back exactly the opposite of what he stood for. The body snatchers seems to be the only plausible explanation.

As for Rubio, he does not seem to have a settled position. And my postings on him are more of a bravo for specific positions taken than anything general. I do admire his assessment of the danger anger, unrestrained but calculated rhetoric and the rejection of civility (by calling it pc) poses for our political system which is based on individual self-control and responsibility.

Thanks, Max, for being willing to share your first rate insight here.

MAX Redline said...

Hardly "first-rate", TD; just what floats to the top of my head. But thanks. This whole thing is extremely disappointing to me. It's all about the anger. You've got Granny over there yelling and Trump over there threatening; it's nutty. Sanders is increasingly likely to come out on top in the Dem run, though O'Malley was saner than Gramps and Granny put together.

On the Republican side, Trump's finally sliding in the polls, but that'll just make him amp up even more. Heck, he was back to blaming Bush for 9/11. Even though Bush had only been in office for 7 months; anybody with a brain could see that if Clinton had spent more time with his fly zipped, less time fighting here, and more time paying attention to intelligence sources, 9/11 might never have happened.

Bill owns that, just as Granny and Barry own Benghazi.

Cruz is gaining, so he's a big fat target. Rubio is going to lose in his own state, and he's getting so desperate that he filed a lawsuit against John Kasich. Amazing. Self-control? Civility? There is none.

Carson - yes, the body snatchers seems the only explanation there. That's incredibly disappointing. He seemed to have potential, for a while there.

I'm so upset by it all that I can't even eat the popcorn.

T. D. said...

"I'm so upset by it all that I can't even eat the popcorn." Heh. Yes, I too thought this would be a wonderfully entertaining election--the first I have had no personal worries about. But, no. In comes Trump to run for despot. So, I have to care. :-/ Here's an interesting thing about Carson (who keeps heading closer and closer to utter loser of the year) from The Hill.

"In an interview with The Hill, Carson recalled the process by which he came around to supporting the controversial front-runner, who was once his rival for the GOP nomination.

"'I needed to know that he could listen to other people, that he could change his opinions, and that some of the more outlandish things that he’s said, that he didn’t really believe those things,' Carson said."

Trump says "outlandish things" but doesn't really believe them. So, he's just the person we need as President according to Carson. Face palm.