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NeverTrump’s Achilles Heel

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Trump says peace talks with Taliban are now dead

A common refrain among NeverTrump Republicans is that Donald Trump is unfit for office by both temperament and ideology, the former being foremost in their vociferous opposition to his presidency.  On the latter point I don’t entirely disagree:  Trump was—and is—not particularly conservative, although his instincts lean in that direction, as does his governance.  Put another way, for a guy who spent most of his life as a New York Democrat, he’s been far more effective at advancing a conservative agenda than George W. Bush ever was—and with the historic number of judges confirmed by Mitch McConnell, Trump’s legacy will live on long after he leaves office.

As to NeverTrump’s supposedly principled opposition to the President’s character—well, that’s another matter.  I don’t doubt that there are a few among their number who have been consistent in that regard, but when it comes to the leadership of that movement it becomes obvious that their arguments have less to do with actual conservatism and more to do with lamenting their diminished status within a Trumpified GOP.  How else to explain the likes of Tom Nichols voicing his support for whomever the Democrats nominate in 2020, no matter how radical or socialist?  Or Bill Kristol embracing his own “inner socialist,” and declaring that he would rather be ruled by an unelected deep state than a duly-elected Donald Trump?  These are not conservative positions, any way you look at them—and they make you realize just how content Conservatism, Inc. was with the relentless leftward drift of the country and the culture, so long as they got to keep their cozy little gigs arguing over the details.

More than that, however, NeverTrump seems to have a real problem with the truth—quite ironic, considering that one of their main criticisms of Donald Trump is what they see as his serial dishonesty.  Take this tweet from Mona Charen, for example:

In case Ms. Charen needs a reminder, Bill Barr is investigating the origins of the Russia collusion hoax—an episode in which the former Secretary of State illegally ran a private email server in order to thwart federal records laws so that she could escape scrutiny for her activities with the Clinton Foundation.  It’s also beyond question that Clinton compromised national security with her actions, exposing state secrets to bad actors—including the Russians and the Chinese.  Now it has become apparent that the FBI, under the leadership of James Comey, may have coordinated with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to give Clinton a pass.  This represents an astonishing amount of corruption at the highest levels of the federal government, which is a direct threat to the rule of law.

Yet Ms. Charen seems uninterested in finding out the truth—probably because it would vindicate President Trump’s assertion that a deep state has been working to undermine his administration from the start.  This is indefensible from anything resembling a conservative point of view.  The only explanation is that Charen doesn’t care, because the truth conflicts with her political preferences.

I ran into the same issue personally with National Review’s Jay Nordlinger.  I’ve read him for years, and have always respected his writing and his dedication to conservative principle.  And even though I largely disagreed with his views on Trump, I always believed him to be arguing in good faith.  Last week, he posted this on Twitter:

To which I replied that George H.W. Bush did much the same to the Kurds in northern Iraq during the first Gulf War, after publicly admonishing them to rise up and overthrow Saddam.  The Kurds did just that, assuming they would have the military support of the United States.  Bush didn’t give that support—and American troops stood by while Saddam engaged in a wholesale slaughter.

Nordlinger, disappointingly, reacted by blocking me.

Understand that I wasn’t defending Trump’s decision to withdraw troops in Syria—I merely pointed out that one of his own personal heroes had made a similar decision, believing it to be in the best interests of the United States at the time.  That, in retrospect, it turned out to be a huge mistake that didn’t stabilize the Middle East and directly led to the rise of al Qaeda doesn’t seem to matter.  History has been subverted to politics.  Truth is now secondary.

This, more than anything, is the greatest weakness of NeverTrump.

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