Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
President Trump in his first year has succeeded at realizing many long-time conservative goals like tax reform and deregulation, to name a few. But for NeverTrump grumps, these achievements seem to intensify their bitter-ender anger at a political parvenu. Puffed up with self-regard about the purity of their “principles,” many have doubled-down on their criticisms of Trump’s brash, vulgar demeanor, coming off like the pompous Judge Smails sputtering over Al Czervik’s trashing of the Bushwood Country Club.
The latest outburst came from columnist Mona Charen after she lectured the CPAC attendees about their hypocrisy over the recent sexual harassment disclosures. Writing for The New York Times––the premier gate-keeper of “correct” opinion –– Charen reprised her scolding of Trump supporters that signaled to progressive monitors she is free from the Trump pox. But all she achieved beyond a pat on the head from progressives was to remind Trump voters why they rejected over a dozen establishment Republicans and then the deplorable Hillary Clinton in favor of an insurgent bulldozing his way through the stale received wisdom of those Republican politicians and pundits who’d rather be liked than win.
Most of Charen’s column comprises her self-congratulation about her “bravery,” and her claim that she and other NeverTrumpers “built and organized this party,” but now have been turned into “interlopers.” She criticizes as cowards Republicans who don’t trash Trump, and who have let “bad actors take control of the direction of our movement.” It’s interesting how Charen let slip the NeverTrumpers’ anger at the “Trumpified” common people who have crashed the elite’s private soirée, as though a political party is a swanky country club rather than a mechanism for mobilizing support for policies that serve all party members rather than a narrow political class.
This is the same thinly veiled snobbery, by the way, regularly indulged by arch-NeverTrumper Bret Stephens, who has joined David Brooks as another Times house-conservative. Stephens was delighted with Charen’s performance, and in his own column delivered perhaps the most useful explanation for why millions of Americans turned against the establishment and its mouthpieces:
Liberals tend to admire NeverTrumpers, because they see them as conservatives with a moral sense and, perhaps, a brain. By contrast, MAGA Republicans — whether of the fully or merely semi-Trumpified varieties — detest NeverTrumpers with an animus they can scarcely extend to liberals or progressives.
Talk about smug self-congratulation and a groveling delight in being praised by progressives. Let’s turn Stephens’ slur against him and his ilk: it’s the NeverTrumpers who “detest” Trump supporters with an “animus” they have never extended to Barack Obama, a disaster for the country both at home and abroad, or Hillary Clinton, who committed numerous violations of her oath to uphold the Constitution and the nation’s laws. Nothing Trump has done equals those substantive failures.
But Charen’s self-praise is just a warm-up. Next, she fumes over last year’s CPAC invitation, even though rescinded, to gay provocateur and scourge of political correctness Milo Yiannopoulos for some of his unsavory comments. Like other snooty NeverTrumpers, she fails to see how a party caricatured as stuffy mossbacks needs more such edgy young people who are comfortable with popular culture, and who, as libertarians, can reinforce the message that the totalitarian-lite, politically correct progressives are a greater danger to everybody’s liberties than Trump’s crudeness.
Of course, as a receptacle of received wisdom, Charen then has to go after Maréchal-Le Pen, a member of France’s populist National Front who spoke at CPAC. The NF was founded by her anti-Semitic grandfather Jean Marie Le Pen, and she is the niece of present NF leader Marine Le Pen, who booted her father from the party precisely because of his retrograde attitudes. But Marine Le Pen and her niece are guilty of preferring their own distinct national culture and mores to those of some imagined global community. This reduction of national affection and patriotism to its diseased extreme is the stale cliché of globalist technocrats who find national sovereignty and loyalty a threat to their own power.
Whether because she accepts this globalist dogma, or is just ignorant, Charen believes the grandfather’s manifest sins must forever taint the granddaughter, despite her pro-family, pro-religion, and pro-traditional marriage views. Charen does so because at CPAC Le Pen said her grandfather “was right about a lot of things.” Considering the toll indiscriminate emigration to Europe from mainly Muslim countries has taken on the European middle and working classes and their national identities, Le Pen “was right” at least about carelessly letting in unvetted migrants.
As for anti-Semitism, it’s interesting that Charen harps on a discredited, superannuated French politician, but doesn’t have much to say about some Democrat politicians at home, including Barack Obama, who regularly cozy up to virulent anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, and who favor the genocidal Palestinian Arab Jew-haters over democratic, tolerant Israel. Like charity, the battle against anti-Semitism starts at home.
Now we come to the finale, Charen’s “brave” lecture to the CPAC folks. Sitting on a panel about the recent disclosures of sexual harassment and assault by prominent Democrats, Charen was asked about the hypocrisy of the feminist Dems who for years have tolerated sexual predators as long as they give money and support to their ideology. Charen, though, in full schoolmarm mode, decided that the rubes needed a lesson in their own hypocrisy:
How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump? And how can we participate in any conversation about sexual ethics when the Republican president and the Republican Party backed a man credibly accused of child molestation for the United States Senate?
Talk about a false analogy. Just what Trump’s “behavior” came even close to, say, Harvey Weinsein’s sexual assaults? No doubt she’s referencing the private conversation in which Trump vulgarly voiced a truism about the perks of celebrity and power, something John Kennedy, his priapic brother Teddy, and every rock-star and actor understand all too well. It’s an obvious banality of history that some women will invest their sexual capital in powerful men in order to advance their own careers. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t, as Eve Harrington learns in All About Eve, when her attempt to seduce a director who could advance her career is dismissed by him as an “incomplete forward pass.” But when the transaction is consensual, that’s the risk they take. It becomes a crime only when the male uses force against the unwilling, something Weinstein is currently under investigation for. What we have allowed feminists to get away with is the double standard that makes the failure of their sexual investment into a crime after the fact.
As for Ray Moore, whom Charen is obviously talking about, her weasel-adverb “credibly” is a tacit admission that no one knows the truth of that encounter. And calling a pubescent teenager a “child” is equally duplicitous. There’s no need for such dishonest sophistry. The fact that sex with an underage pubescent girl is illegal makes Moore, if the charge is true, a political persona non grata. That’s why supporting Moore was a political mistake, despite the standard of innocent until proven guilty. Our politics work on the “Caesar’s wife” standard––politicians must not be even under suspicion. But that political misjudgment is light-years from Charen’s lurid and dishonest use of “child molester” to juice up her argument about “Trumpist” moral hypocrisy.
Charen ends with the usual NeverTrumpers’ trope about their extraordinary righteousness and moral courage:
There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth. And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability.
There you have it. The world has turned upside down, but brave “dissidents” like the well-heeled Mona Charen still “speak truth to power.” The brilliant NeverTrump Republicans, those pillars of probity and integrity who created modern “conservatism,” have been displaced by the stupid, hypocritical “fascist” Trump and his millions of doltish supporters. But nothing exposes the irrational and bitter animus of NeverTrumpers than the historically ignorant use of the word “fascist.” Progressivism is much closer to fascism than Trump’s populism is. Yet even as progressivism continues to undermine our Constitutional order and shrink our freedom, the NeverTrumpers still obsess over Trump as a “fascist” threat.
Meanwhile, at least so far, Trump has advanced a true conservative agenda more than any Republican politician since Ronald Reagan. He has done so while under intense assault from an investigation filled with Democrat operatives, a hysterical media obsessing over his errors of style and rude tweets, and a NeverTrump fifth column who for all their talk of “character,” are enabling the opposition because Trump is just not one of them.
Memo to the big-brained NeverTrumpers so beloved by progressives: that’s why he won.