No, this is not about baseball. It’s about the notion that former or current NeverTrumpers are simply making a dispassionate evaluation of Mr Trump and his presidency. Or to quote precisely,
…to praise Trump when does good things and criticize Trump when he does bad or stupid things.
This certainly sounds fair and hard to dispute in the abstract. Let’s see how it plays out in reality.
The context is an opposition media (WaPo, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYT) that does nothing but find fault, even over trivialities. If the rule were a detached, objective reporting of facts with a minimum of opinion injected, then I could agree with the prescription. That is not the world we inhabit. Instead, we find NeverTrumpers complaining about the president’s dietary preferences, extrapolating them to character flaws. For example, we have the spectacle of David Frum and Jennifer Rubin psychoanalyzing the president over ice cream scoops.
I suppose you could say the original reporting by Time of the president’s unequal allocation of ice cream (scoop-gate) is merely “calling balls and strikes” since he did indeed consume two scoops of ice cream. But isn’t it a bit selective? It could have been reported neutrally: the president enjoys two scoops of ice cream with his pie. Not that it merits reporting at all.
I question the sincerity of NeverTrump pundits such as George Will who advocate supporting the opposition party in November. Arguably, these individuals are the ones abandoning conservative principles, at least inasmuch as politics is practical and losing elections is no way to advance one’s principles.
This is at the crux of the matter: the punditry on the Right have been content to proclaim Their Principles with little interest in taking up the practical means of transforming their ideas into reality. This is hardly an original thought but it’s worth repeating since many have still not caught on. The Left has shown little hesitation in using flawed vessels to advance their agenda. The result? A steady, almost irreversible, advance toward socialism and the increasing limitation of individual liberty.
The Left has no interest in following the rules of civil political discourse. Do the George Wills of the world expect to teach them by example? If so, it hasn’t been working out. Soon enough, the deplatforming of dissident voices will silence all but the most bland opposition. It isn’t necessary to ban more moderate voices than the likes of Alex Jones. It’s enough to show what can happen if you step out of line, especially if the criteria are vague and open-ended. In the Soviet Union, the NKVD and KGB didn’t have to arrest all dissidents nor did they have to spell out exactly what was forbidden. All they had to do was instill in everyone the fear of a nocturnal knock on the door. That’s why Galileo only had to be shown the instruments of torture. The human imagination does the rest.
This is not an argument for stooping to the level of the Left. Instead, it is a call to arms. Passively sitting on the sidelines, playing umpire and quoting Hayek and Toqueville, is a loser strategy. Politics has always been a blood sport.* The Nevers are the last ones who haven’t caught on.
*Attributed to Labour politician Aneurin Bevan, who also said upon adoption of the NHS,
…no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.
This is what they think of you. Don’t complain you weren’t warned.
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