Friday, December 18, 2015

The Trump/Limbaugh Axis

Every now and then I read a column in which the writer says so many things that I agree with, and says them so well, that I just have to sit back and admire the piece as one would a work of art. Guy Benson has composed such a work recently in a TownHall essay.

What he says about Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh seems to me precisely right and expresses almost exactly the feelings I've had for some time about Limbaugh's advocacy of Trump. Limbaugh has been assiduously promoting Trump since last spring, shedding both logical consistency and his vaunted conservative principles like a newlywed shedding clothing in a dash to the wedding bed, and in the process depriving other more worthy candidates of much-needed political oxygen. Had Rush focused from the beginning on the accomplishments of the candidates instead of jumping headlong onto the Trump bandwagon perhaps Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, two eminently qualified governors, might still be in the race.

Making his shameless shilling worse, all the while he has denied that that's what he's doing. It's discouraging to hear Limbaugh, who fancies himself the voice of genuine conservatism, joining the multitude of erstwhile conservatives who've been seduced into forfeiting their ideological chastity by a man who has himself been a life-long liberal.

Benson provides chapter and verse, supporting each of his claims about Trump with links to sources. His column might be an education for those who think Trump is the conservative Moses anointed to lead us out of Obama's Egypt. Here's his close:
My opposition to Trump, therefore, is rooted in a commitment to principles, an abiding belief that character matters, and a burning desire to win. People are welcome to disagree with my analysis. Rush Limbaugh, who's been at this longer than I've been alive, may recognize some utility in Trump that I'm missing. But I wish he and others would quit suggesting that passionate conservative resistance to Trump must be a capitulation to political correctness, or a "tell" that one has been seduced by the siren song of impressing the so-called 'smart set.'

Indeed, motive-impugning can cut both ways. For instance, some have suggested that Rush et al are indulging Trump against their better judgment because they're fearful of alienating their own audience, having stoked the embers of anti-establishment resentment for so long. But rather than ascribing unseemly and ulterior motives to one another, perhaps those of us who still care about issues and who prioritize the defeat of Hillary Clinton should focus our energies on a serious, substantive debate about who best fulfills William F. Buckley's sage electoral standard: Who is the most conservative candidate with the best chance of winning?

The answer to that question is necessarily subjective on both fronts, and opinions will inevitably vary. I'd submit that Donald Trump satisfies neither criterion; just the opposite, in fact. Despite his attention-grabbing bravado and unapologetic demeanor that appeals to many right-leaning voters at the moment, a robust empirical case can be made that he's both the least conservative and least electable figure in the GOP race. If you disagree, terrific. Feel free state your case and employ arguments to persuade Trump skeptics, preferably while eschewing his penchant for personal invective. I'll leave you with this -- which is, with respect, not persuasive [here Benson posts a tweet from Limbaugh essentially claiming that since Hamas condemns Trump's proposed ban on Muslims and many Republicans also condemned the ban, therefore the Republicans are in bed with Hamas]

Comparing Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Charles Krauthammer, and Dick Cheney -- among many others -- to Hamas for opposing Trump's half-baked, already-revised Muslim moratorium "plan" relies on logic so fatuous that I'd very much enjoy listening to a Rush Limbaugh segment eviscerating it. If only it had been deployed by somebody else, against somebody else.
Me too.