Saturday, January 23, 2016

Contra Trump

National Review has come out with an article in which they lay out the case for declining Mr. Trump's seductions. This has irritated Rush Limbaugh and a few others who claim to be conservatives but who, like a girl yielding her virtue to a charming rake, throw their principles to the wind as soon as someone comes along who can put the media in its place, who is not part of the political establishment, and who doesn't give a hiccup about political correctness. Evidently, some people have yearned for so long to hear a politician speak as Trump does that they don't much care what he says or what his past political opinions have been, he's their guy. It's been sad to watch.

Anyway, the list of conservatives who participated in the accompanying symposium at NR is impressive. It includes the following names:
Economist Thomas Sowell, Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III, TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck, former U.S. attorneys general Edwin Meese III and Michael B. Mukasey, syndicated radio hosts Dana Loesch and Michael Medved, syndicated columnists Cal Thomas and Mona Charen,The Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, First Things editor R. R. Reno,Commentary editor John Podhoretz, National Affairs editor Yuval Levin, novelist Mark Helprin, National Review contributing editor Andrew C. McCarthy, The Resurgent founder Erick Erickson, Club for Growth president David M. McIntosh, author and presidential scholar Steven F. Hayward, The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz, editor Katie Pavlich, and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Each of them makes a contribution to the symposium and their reasons for resisting the Trump temptation are very much worth reading. Here's the lede from the National Review article:
Donald Trump leads the polls nationally and in most states in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. There are understandable reasons for his eminence, and he has shown impressive gut-level skill as a campaigner. But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries.

Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones. Trump’s political opinions have wobbled all over the lot. The real-estate mogul and reality-TV star has supported abortion, gun control, single-payer health care à la Canada, and punitive taxes on the wealthy. (He and Bernie Sanders have shared more than funky outer-borough accents.)

Since declaring his candidacy he has taken a more conservative line, yet there are great gaping holes in it. His signature issue is concern over immigration — from Latin America but also, after Paris and San Bernardino, from the Middle East. He has exploited the yawning gap between elite opinion in both parties and the public on the issue, and feasted on the discontent over a government that can’t be bothered to enforce its own laws no matter how many times it says it will (President Obama has dispensed even with the pretense).

But even on immigration, Trump often makes no sense and can’t be relied upon. A few short years ago, he was criticizing Mitt Romney for having the temerity to propose “self-deportation,” or the entirely reasonable policy of reducing the illegal population through attrition while enforcing the nation’s laws. Now, Trump is a hawk’s hawk.
Do read the rest, especially if you're a Trump supporter who considers him or herself to be a conservative.

Meanwhile MSNBC host Chris Matthews whose boorishness makes talk radio host Sean Hannity seem the essence of courtesy, was in such a state of distemper at this piece that he embarrassed himself even more than usual the other night, inviting a National Review editor to respond to his questions and then refusing to let her get a word in edge-wise:
This, I suppose, is what passes for civil, enlightened discourse at MSNBC. Nothing in the National Review piece or in the symposium cites Trump's alleged opposition to the war, other than perhaps his inconsistency on the matter, as the reason for opposing him. But this doesn't matter to Matthews who sees a chance to take some wild shots at a few of his least favorite people and in the process bully a woman, a sport in which he often indulges on his show.

In any case, I wonder how much impact the National Review anti-endorsement will have on the race. The people who contribute to the symposium and who read the magazine are conservative intellectuals, but I don't think Trump's supporters are intellectually inclined or support him for intellectual reasons. Their support for Trump, like the support for Obama in 2008 and 2010, is more visceral than rational, and, given the precedent, that should concern us all.