The sordid Stormy Daniels story and the overstrung response by Trump’s Republican critics gives occasion to revisit, once again, the basic premise of the Never Trumpers, to wit, that Trump, due to his moral depravity, is unfit for office. Jonah Goldberg, of National Review seems particularly overstrung over the latest incident, calling the lack of conservative outrage over Trump’s debauchery hypocritical. For many anti-Trump conservatives, the Daniels affair affords them one more opportunity to showcase their moral superiority over Trump voters and to say once again: “I told you so…”
Criticism over the Stormy Daniels incident, highlights The problem with the latest Never Trump crowd’s moral preening is that it highlights the difficulty that has plagued the Trump-is-unfit-for-office foreboding from the beginning: a lack of necessary perspective.
First, the affair with Stormy Daniels occurred long before Trump was in the Oval Office. Second, as Julie Kelly writing in American Greatness notes the “if you don’t condemn it, you condone it” argument is tenuous, at best,
This is a classic example of false equivalence, as if the behavior of Bill Clinton or Anthony Weiner or Ted Kennedy or any number of randy Democratic politicians is similar to what Trump purportedly did as a private citizen in a hotel room during George W. Bush’s second term.. And the “big deal” is that these politicians leveraged their power and position while serving in elected office to seduce, harass, exploit, and assault women.
The reason the Never Trump coterie have no credibility for their argument that Trump is unfit for office and should never have been elected is that they fail to offer a compelling explanation why a corrupt, money grubbing pathological liar, who destroyed 30,000 emails birthed on a home-brew server for the purpose of concealing her disgraceful influence peddling through the Clinton Foundation while secretary of state, would have been a more favorable candidate.
Virulent Trump critic, Tom Nichols, views the election of Trump as an international embarrassment, from which the nation will never recover. Writing in USA Today, Nichols chastises American voters and descends from the sublime to the ridiculous in his overwrought analysis of the dire ramifications of electing Trump:
All of this reveals a great shift in American politics. By electing Trump and tolerating Bolton, we have shown that we are not a nation that can be consistently trusted with the stewardship of the free world. It’s not that Trump, in the end, will collapse NATO, plunge us into a great depression, or start World War III — although with Bolton by his side he is capable of doing all of those things — but rather that the American voters have shown the world that we are capable of astonishing selfishness and petulance. We have abandoned our civic virtue not just at home but also overseas, and once lost, that position cannot be recovered.
Nichol’s fulminations are too convulsive to be taken seriously. Would Nichols equate Trump’s asking our Western Allies to pay their fair share for defense spending after decades of freeloading off the American taxpayer worse than Obama’s shameless apology tour during which he disparaged the very country that elected him president?
Given the choices presented in the last election, few who voted for Trump viewed him as a moral paragon or a man of virtue and circumspection. Given all that was known about Trump, voters still chose him over Hillary because he promised to tear down the corrupt and entrenched power elite that has done so much damage to the nation and body-politic.
As far as Nichols dubious contention that because of his disinterest and ignorance of foreign policy, Trump will be the ruination of the liberal international order, it should be noted that many elites said the same thing about Regan. Clark Clifford, former special adviser to JFK and Lyndon Johnson characterized him as an “amiable dunce”. As far as Goldberg and other anti-trump republicans concerns about Trump vitiating the lofty ideals of conservatism, Establishment Republicans did a fine job by themselves destroying the conservative brand long before Trump arrived on the scene. In fact, the reason rank and file GOP voters supported him was because he promised to upend what for a long time had been a broken and dysfunctional party.
The Never Trump faction’s caterwauling about Trump has fallen upon deaf ears and as the latest polling indicates, inconsequential on Trump’s standing.