Trump, Conservatism, and Me

 

Greetings, Gentlemen and Gentle Ladies of Ricochet. I’ve been away for a while, I know.

Some of you wrote to the editors to ask what happened to me and whether they should be worried. I was touched by that. You’ve heard, then, that I’ve been working on my book, which is coming along well. But in truth, that’s not the only reason I’ve been away.

About a week ago, the Blue Yeti, who also noticed my absence, sent me a message to ask if I was okay. I was on the verge of writing, “Oh, yes, I’m fine, I’m just working on my book,” but then I stopped myself and thought, “Why not tell him the truth? It is, after all, the truth.” And so I did.

I wrote back and said that I was horrified by Trump. That I’m heartbroken for my country and for what I thought were our ideals, our decency. That it seemed to me the United States was experiencing the political equivalent of a psychotic break, one that has at best turned America into the punchline of a joke, and at worst will end the American experiment altogether. That I was exhausted from arguing about Trump. That I’ve already lived through this presidency once, in Turkey — although it took years for Erdoğan to sound the way Trump already does — and didn’t want to chronicle this story twice in my life.

“I’m outraged by Trump and what’s become of conservatism,” I wrote,

I’m depressed by all of it and sad that I’ve devoted so much of my life to a political ideology that in the end looks as corrupt to me as socialism. This hasn’t seemed like an appropriate thing to share with our entire membership, so I’ve been keeping quiet before saying anything rash — either to our members or to you. But I’ve been feeling this way now for long enough that I probably just need to say it.

So the answer, really, is that I’m not so okay. I’m quite depressed. A large part of it is an overdue reflection about my role in all of this, and a realization that whatever I believe about politics, it has no place in the conservative movement as it now exists.

The Yeti asked if he could call me. We spoke for a while. He started by trying to reassure me that I wasn’t responsible for Donald Trump’s election. This on the one hand is obviously true; but on the other, I’m not sure I can escape the responsibility for this disaster that every American shares, whether or not we supported him or voted for him. We’ve all, together, created — or failed to do enough to prevent — the conditions such that a phenomenon like this might emerge. We all share some part of the blame for allowing our country to descend into nihilism and despair; we all contributed, in some way, to the hollowing out of civic virtue, to the eradication of gravitas and dignity from the public sphere, to the conflation of reality television with reality, to the dumbing-down and the commercialization of everything, to mindless and unprincipled partisanship, to the cultivation of the imperial presidency. We are all all in some part responsible, even if our only contribution was doing too little to prevent it.

And in my case, the contribution was greater. I didn’t mean to, but I did. Ricochet, after all, was part of a gullible media that offered Trump five billion dollars’ worth of free advertising because we assumed his candidacy was just a terrific joke and great for site traffic. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” Les Moonves said. I can’t say our editorial approach was more foresighted.

I’m not so full of my own sense of importance as to believe what I write has much influence over anything, but it’s a fact that for the past few decades I’ve supported myself by writing by writing about, and for, politicians and audiences who called themselves conservatives. I believed I shared a set of assumptions and values with conservative readers, or at least, I believed their assumptions and values closer to mine than those of the American left. But it turns out that a substantial cohort of those people did not share my assumptions and values. And a significant number of them are now given over to isolationism, protectionism, nativism, authoritarianism, and sheer craziness. Or outright nihilism. Not to mention opportunism. I want no part of that.

Newt Gingrich, arguing that Margaret Thatcher was the model for the Trump presidency, recently buttressed this claim by allusion to my book about Thatcher, which made me cringe. As I replied in the American Interest, the idea is utterly unserious; that he could assert this is profoundly disturbing for what it says about how little the truth matters to anyone in this perfervid political climate:

I was glad to see my largely forgotten book mentioned, but at the same time I was baffled—because the comparison is ludicrous. Readers who doubt this may consult the online Thatcher archives, which contain every known statement made by Margaret Thatcher between 1945 and 1990; or take my word for it for $12.10 on Amazon. They will find nothing to suggest that Thatcher and Trump are similar in any relevant aspect, be it their political ideals, beliefs, moral values, temperament, style, experience, intellect, competence, decorum, or probity.

What does it mean, then, when a respected senior American politician makes this argument in a respected American newspaper? We’re not, after all, talking about an archaic figure known to us only through a disputed Delphic verse. Margaret Thatcher is very nearly a contemporary. She died in 2013. What she believed is as well known as the formula for the area of a triangle. It would be one thing if the newly Trumpesque Gingrich had in his article renounced Margaret Thatcher and her ideals. That would have been surprising, to be sure, but it would have at least made sense. But this is not what he did: He instead made his actual memories of Thatcher vanish in an act of mental thaumaturgy, and returned from his underground dungeon lair with a shape-changed new version of history.

I told the Blue Yeti all about this, and told him that basically, I’d prefer never to write about politics again. I’m exhausted with it, growingly cynical, and deeply pessimistic. When I finished, I expected him to say that he was sorry to hear it, and to accept my resignation.

But instead, he asked me to write about what I’d just told him, all of it. He said I wasn’t alone in feeling this way, and told me that more people than I realized shared my sentiments. I don’t quite remember what he said next, except that he seemed sincere in thinking I should write about this, and adamant that my point of view was one that should still be represented here. He said that if the Trump presidency implodes, or explodes, someone will have to make the case for classical liberalism and the vigorous virtues, since the conservatives who’ve eagerly hopped in bed with the Id in the White House won’t seem particularly credible after that. He suggested — kindly — that I pull myself together.

I figured he was probably right. “Pull yourself together and get back to work” is, usually, good general advice.

So, are there any more of you out there who are feeling like me? Or will I have to do this single-handedly? I will, I guess, if I have to, but it would be nice to know I’m not alone.

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  1. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    As President Trump said during his speech to Congress last week, he was elected to be President of the United States, not of the world. For far too long, our nation has been burdened with leaders who privileged the latter over the former. No longer.

    • #1
  2. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Claire, I can only say that I feel toward you kind of like the friend of an anorexic who sees herself as morbidly obese and freaks out when she’s healthy weight. You’re looking at the president and despairing, but to me he looks pretty good. Certainly compared to the alternative, this president makes me giddy with joy.

    I’m glad you’ll continue posting and hope all your fears will be confounded.

    • #2
  3. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Claire, I read this post carefully, but at the end I’m not quite sure exactly what it is you are going to do, single-handedly if necessary.

    The options are limited in a political context.  One could go with the current flow and trust in the American people to orient our leadership properly.  One could argue vehemently against the current flow, but there’s so much healing necessary for our economy and culture that such a course might be counter productive.  One could look backward and analyze what caused the current flow, but what does that produce?

    Is it possible that a view of politics that assumes autocracy is always possible and that must be guarded against at all costs is not relevant in America?  The examples of autocrats run amok have never been in America.  Obama was the closest we ever came to allowing such unbridled power, and the consequent vicious reaction of our society is where we are now.  Trump is an expression of the very singularity of the American Idea.

    I for one welcome you back.  It is important for those in our society who feel unhinged by the abrupt transition in our government to regain their footing and again feel a part of our good country.  We are going to need all the help we can muster to re-balance our culture and undo all of the Progressive/fascist damage that has been done over decades of unconstitutional governance.  Clear thinking about how we proceed is what we need, not more analysis of who is to blame for our predicament.  Of late, the writers at American Greatness and American Thinker have helped me understand the definition of what conservatism has been and what it is morphing into, and that such a redefinition is a positive and necessary transition.

    I appreciate Trump for breaking up the fancy party that the dubiously labeled elite have been having at the citizens’ expense.  That the party extended into the globalist realm only made the situation more dire for the US.  Trump is exploding the status quo and will roll back some of the legal damage, the cultural damage and the personal damage to individual citizens.  We, the huge block of our society that has been ignored, demeaned and robbed in broad daylight, have said it’s time for positive change.  We have been called various names such as the Silent Majority, the Tea Party, and the deplorables.  However we are labeled, we demand sanity for a change.  For example, returning to the simple idea that there is no free lunch could drive a stake through the black heart of governmental transfer payments, sucked from the life blood of middle Americans, clothed as “help” for the poor.

    One could go on all day about such topics, but the point is that we are headed in a new direction, and, albeit a tad trite, together we are stronger and more capable of building a truly fair and loving society.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I’ve missed you here. You make me think, which is important. You make me smile, which is maybe more important. I don’t always agree, but if I am going to disagree, it will have to be after I’ve thought about it good and hard.

    We’ve just concluded eight years of “leadership” provided by a preening, jug-earred numbskull who apparently stopped thinking about much of anything sometime during a freshman year bull session. We can do four or more under the blowhard reality TV maestro standing on our heads.

    • #4
  5. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Your feelings are similar to what many of us felt when Obama was elected, especially after Romney lost. We survived. You will too.

    The advice to carry on is good. Your work is valuable. More than that, reconciling yourself with the world and finding some tranquility is worth the effort. You deserve it.

    • #5
  6. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):
    Your feelings are similar to what many of us felt when Obama was elected, especially after Romney lost.

    Yeah, I remember: I felt that way, too.

    Thank you for the kind words and sentiments.

    • #6
  7. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    You’re absence has been obvious, but I’m glad you’re ok.  Please don’t let your despair silence you or drag you down. We need the strength of your intellect.

    I’ve had, and still do have, my fair share of anxiety, and you’re right, President Trump is not Thatcher.

    Here we are, in this moment in time. We must stand in the place we are and move forward from it.

    Peace to you, and I hope your father is well also.

    • #7
  8. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Before you do any serious writing about the US political psychosis, return here and spend some time with the Democrats, on campuses, and then with people who Trump has appointed.   The psychotic episode is taking place on the left.  I don’t know why that is not obvious.  The Trump phenomena is a reaction to the strong drift then gallop toward the administrative state, toward the Argentianization of America.  The sluggish then almost absence of adjustment to challenges from technology and trade is freezing people in an economic place they do not like.

    Most of us felt the deep and very real grief.  Most  got over it with the appointments and by looking at what he does not what the press and Democrats say about him.  I’m abroad myself now and am amazed at how folks here get their information about the States through the osmosis of the American media feeds.  It’s pervasive.  Come back.  In the mean time tell us about Europe.

    • #8
  9. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    You are sounding a little Andrew Sullivanish, Claire.

    Gingrich’s article didn’t seem unusually opportunistic.  No more so than Reagan-the-libertarian or JFK-the-conservative memes.  It’s politics and politicians’ legacies are politicized.

    Are you offended more by Gingrich’s piece than “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher”, and the London audience’s near unanimous preference to hear the song hoping for her death on the day of her death?

    That’s the political and cultural environment we live in, sadly.  Sure, there’s a high horsey, artsy fartsy rationale for that audience vote, but that’s an evasion of what’s really at play.

    I don’t mean to be snarky (and maybe I’m a little envious) but you might spend a month in Columbus or Chattanooga.  Might challenge some of your all-too-summary and somewhat snide categories about those of us who voted for Trump and against the Clinton crime family.

    Maybe we all think our cartoons are Courbet, but Claire your portrait of American politics right now is Crayola 8 pack.

    Honestly, you read like a very talented writer who really doesn’t know her country.  The Erdogan parallels are off the rails frankly.  Most conservatives support Trump somewhat warily, are encouraged by his cabinet and SCOTUS selection and far, far more worried by the unhinged, racialized and McCarthyite activities of the Democrats and the rump of NeverTrumpers.

    Bill Kristol’s behavior over the past month has been far more discreditable than anything Trump has done.  Barack Obama’s post-election behavior is Fletcher Knebel worthy.

    But Trump is so crass.  He tweets.  Those ties.

    And, of course, I am shocked, shocked to learn that there is behind-the-curtain opinion at Ricochet that conservatives who support Trump are amoral bedhoppers who heads will be shaved like Vichy mistresses.

    Again, shocked, shocked.

     

     

     

    • #9
  10. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Oh yeah, welcome back.  I turned off auto-renew just a few months after joining Ricochet last year, because of your vituperative attack on me during the primary season, when I pointed out, in response to a “how can he be winning” post of yours, that Trump supporters were doctors , lawyers, accountants, not the undereducated Neanderthals you obviously believed us to be.

    I just rejoined.  (See my post , “Still Here, like one of those Lefty Celebs” )

    Guess I jumped the gun on that……

    • #10
  11. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Quake Voter (View Comment):
    Most conservatives support Trump somewhat warily, are encouraged by his cabinet and SCOTUS selection and far, far more worried by the unhinged, racialized and McCarthyite activities of the Democrats and the rump of NeverTrumpers.

    I could not have imagined a better cabinet if I had tried. The SCOTUS selection is outstanding (can Gorsuch finally gut the Chevron rule?).

    As much as I loved W, when his administration deferred too much to the Saudis it took my classmate, Martha McSally, to sue Rumsfeld and get it reversed – I cannot imagine President Trump’s administration behaving that way. (For evidence, look at the Sabrina De Sousa case).

    FP Obama convinced me (as though I needed it) to not listen to a mellifluous voice and to concentrate on what they do. W had speaking problems and was mocked for it by the ‘elite’. Trump speaks simply and is mocked for it. Focus on what they do.

    Trump’s administration is way way more conservative than I would have expected out of  1/2 – 3/4 of those running for the nomination (I’m looking at YOU – John Kasich – and you too, Jeb!)

     

    • #11
  12. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    About Turkey, think you’re a bit confused…surely, Erdogan is taking Turkey toward a radical Islamist dictatorship.    See, it was B. Hasbeen Omega who was taking the US in THAT direction.

     

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Clarie,

    I don’t feel like you. I am ready to see some things happen differently. I have been told for over a decade: “Wait. Wait until we have the House. Wait until we have the Senate. Wait until we have the White House.” Now we have all three. The GOP that you like, which I am told is the most conservative Congress in the history of the nation, should have massive amounts of pending conservative legislation ready to push to Trump for him to sign. I cannot believe he won’t sign almost anything his own party sends to him. So, I am going to take Conservatism, Inc. at its word, and Paul Ryan at his word, and so forth. We have it all now!

    So cheer up, all the non-Trumpian forces in the GOP have to do is make good on all their conservative promises over the past decade of what they would do when they had the reigns of power. I am sure that any day now, they will start getting that legislation to Trump’s desk to sign.

    If, however, in your bones, you do not believe the most conservative Congress since the dawn of time will do any such thing without the likes of Ronald Reagan as President and you think they will only be as conservative as the man in the White House, then you are right to worry.

     

    • #13
  14. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    @claire please let it go. We get it. You hate Trump. You think he was a disaster.

    But enough is enough.  There are other topics you can write about that we would love your insight on.

    Frances upcoming election.  The travails of Greece again.  Turkey and where it’s headed.  India.

    Please, for the sake of your sanity and ours, let it go.

    • #14
  15. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I don’t feel like you. I am ready to see some things happen differently. I have been told for over a decade: “Wait. Wait until we have the House. Wait until we have the Senate. Wait until we have the White House.” Now we have all three. The GOP that you like, which I am told is the most conservative Congress in the history of the nation, should have massive amounts of pending conservative legislation ready to push to Trump for him to sign. I cannot believe he won’t sign almost anything his own party sends to him. So, I am going to take Conservatism, Inc. at its word, and Paul Ryan at his word, and so forth. We have it all now!

    Here’s the excuse that’s coming;
    “We don’t have a filibuster proof majority, and since Trump didn’t win the (counted) popular vote no mandate,

    just get us to 61 senators and then, baby we will roll…”

    • #15
  16. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    Another GOPe bravely vowing to “go it alone”, along with the majority of staff at Ricochet, NR, Wall ST Journal, every single TV news outlet except Fox News, the vast majority of newsrooms across the nation, in fact the vast majority of news organizations around the freaking world.  How brave.

    Spare me the “brave warrior” in the face of overwhelming odds routine, that  label belongs to those of us who took the barbs from folks like you during the election. Who fought hard, arguing with and losing friends, and proudly voted for the best option to stop her from gaining the White House and the utter disaster that would entail.  We proudly look at what Trump has done, what he’s doing, and what he promises to keep doing with glee as he surpasses our wildest imaginations.  When confronted and asked why he is so terrible, most of your ilk resort to personal insults, it’s unlikely that any other Republican elected would have taken the conservative steps Trump has taken, yet you still are “horrified” by him?  We don’t get it.  Yes he promises some crazy infrastructure spending, and no that’s not conservative, but he gets no credit for his SCOTUS nominee, his gutting of the EPA, his cabinet appointments?  We don’t understand the negativity or the group-think snark and dismissal of this man and his supporters.

    I agree with @kozak, we get it, you hate Trump, this is no secret, just let it go.

    • #16
  17. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    Instugator (View Comment):
    Trump’s administration is way way more conservative than I would have expected out of 1/2 – 3/4 of those running for the nomination (I’m looking at YOU – John Kasich – and you too, Jeb!)

    Amen, this is truly a dream team, but still no matter what Trump = bad.  Someone explain to me how terrible he is, just not seeing it.

    • #17
  18. Dr. Jekyll Member
    Dr. Jekyll
    @DrJekyll

    I agreed with you starting last Summer when Trump won the nomination.  I have had no horse in the race for nearly a year now.  Trump is not a conservative nor a role model for anyone.  However, the system that our constitution sets up, comes down to a binary choice in November.  I still believe that the id of Trump is less injurious to America than the slow cynical walk into statist socialism that the alternative provided for us.  History may prove my binary choice wrong.  In my small circle of good friends about whom I know their votes and the reasons behind them – Trump was no one’s first pick among Republicans, but was preferable to Clinton II.  I am in political exile until I have the opportunity to meaningfully engage in a political movement.  As an evangelical Christian growing up in New England, I am used to living in exile.  The key is to always remain true to your own beliefs and not bend to current circumstances.  King David mourned until his baby died.  I mourned until Trump was nominated.  Move on.  Keep working.  Be encouraged by fellow exiles.  In the meantime, you have to decide whether to watch sausages or politics.  For a few years I will watch sausages.

    • #18
  19. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Quake Voter (View Comment):
    Bill Kristol’s behavior over the past month has been far more discreditable than anything Trump has done.

    I don’t like the noises Kristol is making, either, but I’m not seeing it as “far more discreditable” than Trump’s demeaning McCain’s heroism (you may not like his politics, but he is a genuine war hero), joining the loony Left in hinting GWB was behind 9/11, or offering to bail out violent thugs, as long as they’re wearing a MAGA hat.

     

    • #19
  20. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    I don’t feel responsible for any of the things you mentioned: nihilism and all. If anything you might want to point that in the direction of the folks in the Senate who in 1998 would not pull the trigger on indicting for impeachment the very man who gave rise to our modern day presidency. The boundaries for the presidency were busted long before I became old enough to vote and well before Trump ever thought about being President.

    Is Trump crass? Sure, but no more so than a man who would manipulate a 19 year old into performing sexual favors for him. Is Trump a blowhard? No question, but no more so than a man who would encourage his supporters to vote out of revenge or a man claims to want to bloody the nose of a grassroots group of voters. The biggest issue I have with you Nevers is that all of the woes you believe to have befallen our republic you place solely at the feet of Trump. Wrong! This country has been on those tracks long before him and there was never the gnashing of teeth and tears of sorrow like there has been since last November. You guys didn’t seem to care a bit for all of your pointed out concerns when it was your social sphere creating the problems. Now that it is someone from outside your circle we are to be doomed and those who put Trump there should feel responsible?

    • #20
  21. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Moderator Note:

    caps changed to italics as per R> house style and CoC

    Curt North (View Comment):

    Instugator (View Comment):
    Trump’s administration is way way more conservative than I would have expected out of 1/2 – 3/4 of those running for the nomination (I’m looking at YOU – John Kasich – and you too, Jeb!)

    Amen, this is truly a dream team, but still no matter what Trump = bad. Someone explain to me how terrible he is, just not seeing it.

    Ooooh!  He’s terrible because…hair!  masculinity!! vulgarity!!   He “struts”.  He’s “bombastic”.  He actually wants to put his own country first!!   He even dared to not kowtow to the so-sanctimonious Europeans, acknowledged superiors to us ugly Americans in culture and general coolness  (busy killing each other in horrible ways less than 80 years ago, rebuilt thru the Marshall Plan…) I mean, if you don’t see how awful, how embarrassing, how…just not comme  il faut this all is, well

    you are

    just

    hopeless! (I mean: deplorable!)

    ??????

    • #21
  22. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I get it.  The conversation is getting so old, I am going to go rebuild my front porch instead.

    • #22
  23. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I find many things about Trump very disturbing.  I just wrote about how I think the Credibility Gap to which he has contributed is widening.  (That’s a problem.)

    That said, my mourning period was during the primary.

    I knew immediately when a minority of Republicans pushed through the Donald that… well… I would have no horse in the general.  I would be more cynical about the party.  I would, in fact, become an Independent.

    I could never vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.  I went 3rd party, which is kind of like sitting it out, I know.

    That said, I have watched some of the reaction to a duly elected president and thought Whoa!

    I feel as if I could not say I voted for Donald Trump where I work without it impacting me badly, and even though I did not vote for him, I find THAT reality extremely oppressive.  I’ve since watched women marching for the right to murder babies… campuses on fire.  And I start to feel like drinking vodka at noon.

    The thing is that we aren’t even 100 days into this administration.  I don’t like Donald Trump anymore than I used to, but I DO like/LOVE some of his appointments.  I still like Paul Ryan and find his voice reassuring.  I still dislike Clinton.

    I also understand that I am part of a faction that is much smaller than I thought.

    Okay.  We move on.

    That’s how it works.

    • #23
  24. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    There are some things to like about Trump as president, and some things to dislike. It’s early days, so it’s not yet clear which group of things will outweigh the others.

    Trump’s appointments are mostly very good. Gorsuch, Pruitt, Mattis, Kelly, Price, and McMaster stand out. Trump’s adherence to some conservative principles is still firm, on school choice, the environment, and some other important things. His orders rescinding Obama era actions have all been on the mark.

    The point that he is not Hillary is very well taken. Her election would have been depressing beyond words.

    But it has not been all fun and games under Trump. He continues to talk like a mercantilist who shows little understanding of international trade. He lies about as much as the fake news he so loudly decries, which I personally find troubling, as it indicates to me he doesn’t care about the truth. I didn’t like it when Obama did it, and I don’t like it now. It’s pathological, and a sign of trouble ahead.

    And maybe that’s the crux of it, at least for me. Presidents are asked to do more than keep campaign promises and make good appointments. They are asked to respond to crises, change with changing conditions, deal with foreign leaders, forge relationships on Capitol Hill that lead to getting things done, and a lot more. Character counts, and so far as I’m concerned the jury is still out.

    • #24
  25. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I get it. I think you are incorrect in the extent of your fear of Trump’s presidency, but not in the fear itself. There’s a bit of ground between watching him like a hawk and standing on the street corner in a sandwich board proclaiming the end to be near. Watching your Twitter feed flow over my Facebook timeline it appears you’re leaning more towards the latter. If you’re having to quote the left’s unhinged craziness to make a point that agrees with it then it is likely time to check your priors. As I stated previously, stop making me defend the orange ass.

    Others are wrong in this. Hating Trump is not the spring from which this flows but rather from fear of him. Trump is, in my estimation, a sincere fool rather than an evil genius. Even still, it is possible to hate or fear him and yet applaud things he does correctly whether he is driven to them by good counsel or bumbles into them by his sincerity. One actually can lay back and think of Mattis.

    I’ve also been less active here, read less, and argued less since the election, so I understand the exhaustion. However, don’t stop fighting for conservatism, classical liberalism, or republicanism — but don’t don the sandwich board either, at least not yet.

    • #25
  26. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    The King Prawn (View Comment):
    Trump is, in my estimation, a sincere fool rather than an evil genius.

    I think this is correct.  And we have a system of checks and balances.  Trump can be a tool for wiser men.  At least, that’s my hope.

    • #26
  27. She Member
    She
    @She

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):
    [Snip]  The biggest issue I have with you Nevers is that all of the woes you believe to have befallen our republic you place solely at the feet of Trump. Wrong! This country has been on those tracks long before him and there was never the gnashing of teeth and tears of sorrow like there has been since last November. You guys didn’t seem to care a bit for all of your pointed out concerns when it was your social sphere creating the problems. Now that it is someone from outside your circle we are to be doomed and those who put Trump there should feel responsible?

    Surely, Claire’s point was exactly the opposite of this:

    We’ve all, together, created — or failed to do enough to prevent — the conditions such that a phenomenon like this might emerge. We all share some part of the blame for allowing our country to descend into nihilism and despair; we all contributed, in some way, to the hollowing out of civic virtue, to the eradication of gravitas and dignity from the public sphere, to the conflation of reality television with reality, to the dumbing-down and the commercialization of everything, to mindless and unprincipled partisanship, to the cultivation of the imperial presidency. We are all all in some part responsible, even if our only contribution was doing too little to prevent it.

    You can argue all you like with the specifics of Claire’s premise here, but I can’t see how you can conclude that she places “all the woes that have befallen our Republic . . . solely at the feet of Trump.”  After all, we’ve been told often enough that Trump is the effect, rather than the cause.  Without speaking for her, it appears to me that Claire is agreeing with this assessment.

    • #27
  28. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    The King Prawn (View Comment):
    Trump is, in my estimation, a sincere fool rather than an evil genius.

    I think this is correct. And we have a system of checks and balances. Trump can be a tool for wiser men. At least, that’s my hope.

    He’s a tool all right, but he’s also a very driven man, a natural salesman, and currently in possession of a lot of power. This makes him inherently dangerous. Our founders knew that any range of man could one day find in his hands the levers of power, so they dispersed the power as far as possible plus added in all the checks and balances they could imagine. I pray daily that it is enough. The problem as I see it is one of proportionality and balance. Many (especially on the left) fear Trump too much, even irrationally, while many (especially on the right) do not fear him enough, if at all.

    • #28
  29. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Quake Voter (View Comment):
    Bill Kristol’s behavior over the past month has been far more discreditable than anything Trump has done.

    I don’t like the noises Kristol is making, either, but I’m not seeing it as “far more discreditable” than Trump’s demeaning McCain’s heroism (you may not like his politics, but he is a genuine war hero), joining the loony Left in hinting GWB was behind 9/11, or offering to bail out violent thugs, as long as they’re wearing a MAGA hat.

    Trump was no harder on McCain’t than his fellow Republicans were during the primaries in ’08.

    As for GWB, his and Blair’s response to 9/11 was as delusional as the Left’s.  “Religion of peace”? Subsequent events have sure borne that out…not.

    And  surely, it’s a bit late to drag out the “Trump supporters are violent thugs” meme..after Disrupt J20?  After those pictures of bleeding, egg-spattered Trump supporters? After every single “hate crime” incident blamed on Trump and/or his supporters has been exposed as a hoax? After the attacks on the pro-Trump rallies this weekend?   Gosh, will ya look at the time?   So late!

    • #29
  30. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    I am glad to hear from you Claire (I, too, have been wondering) and have mixed feelings about your having achieved my oft-expressed level of cynicism and pessimism – although for different reasons. For some time now, I have believed that the American experiment in self-government is over. This is indeed a sad and bleak place to inhabit, given that conservatives tend to have a pretty good sense of what inevitably follows.

    On the other hand, I look forward to buying another of your books (I have them all).

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