Reprinted from PowerLine.
Throughout the six months of Trump’s embattled presidency one can only be struck by the failure of anti-Trumpers, both left and right, to acknowledge that a judgment of theirs may have been too hasty, not to say embarrassingly wrong. Yet to those not gripped by anti-Trump passions it seems obvious that there have been many such instances where second thoughts were in order.
For example, anti-Trumpers across the spectrum claimed during the campaign and even after his inauguration that he was an “isolationist,” that he would abandon NATO and turn his back on half a century of American commitments to Europe’s defense. But six months into his presidency, Trump has done the opposite. He has affirmed Article 5 of the NATO charter, and has actually strengthened the alliance by shaming its members into meeting the monetary obligations they had shirked for decades. Further, he has inspired an extension of the alliance mandate to oppose terrorism rather than just attacks by sovereign states. These indisputable achievements refute the canard that Trump is incompetent, over his head, and therefore a danger to national security. They should warrant both an apology for the error, and praise for his achievement. But no such reappraisal has been forthcoming.
An equally damning slander has been the accusation that he is “anti-Muslim,” a bigotry that makes him unfit for the office and also threatens American security. According to his detractors, Trump’s anti-Muslim attitudes reveal him to be a dangerous ignoramus and “incompetent fool,” oblivious of the fact that to win the war against ISIS America needs to build a coalition of Muslim countries in the Middle East, not alienate them. Again, this is seen as confirmation of the view that Trump is unfit for the office he holds, and a candidate for early impeachment.
But now Trump has traveled to the heart of the Arabian peninsula to hold an unprecedented meeting with the leaders of 55 Muslim states. He has undone Obama’s disastrous entente with Iran – the chief sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East – and forged a Muslim coalition to further American goals in the region. He has created a military alliance of Muslim states pledged to provide 34,000 troops for the anti-terrorist campaign, and he has urged them to break with extremist versions of Islam. This initiative has led directly to a break in relations between Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on the one hand, and Qatar – the chief funder of Hamas and similar terrorist entities – on the other. Does this achievement not merit serious second thoughts from Democrat and Republican resisters to his presidency? Apparently not. Hatred for Trump is so irrational that it still over-rides concerns for party, principles and country.
Consider also the most frequent lie about Trump – the claim that he himself is an extraordinary and inveterate liar, somehow even worse than his predecessor or his defeated electoral rival. But the “lies” Trump is accused of telling fall mainly into the category of opinions over which the left differs with him, or the exaggerations of a salesman who makes off-the-cuff claims without bothering to check the facts (not the same thing as a lie proper). The most memorable case of such over-reach seems to be his claim that he lost the popular vote to Hillary because of voter fraud committed by illegal aliens. Since no one can seriously claim that voter fraud is non-existent, the “lie” consists in the number of fraudulent votes – three million or so – that Trump seems to have plucked out of the air. Obviously, Trump doesn’t know that there were three million fraudulent votes cast in the 2016 election. But neither do his critics know there weren’t, since there has never been a national survey of voter fraud, while Democrats have done everything in their power to prevent a system of voter identification from being put in place. In other words, both sides are sustained by unsubstantiated claims, although it is Trump alone who has proposed to settle the argument through a new commission that will look into voter fraud across the fifty states.
Trump has never been accused of telling a lie with the life-altering consequences of Obama’s claim that “ISIS is on the run and al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” or that the Benghazi attack was over a video, or that you can keep your doctor if you like him. These led to electoral victories, complacency in the face of terrorist attacks and massive legislative programs. Nor has Trump lied to the FBI, the Congress and the American people about the existence of classified documents which he exposed to America’s enemies, as Clinton has.
I don’t expect that there will be apologies forthcoming for these injustices to Trump – and therefore to the American people whose security depends on him. At least not anytime soon. The campaign to sabotage and overthrow the Trump presidency through slanders will continue. And its modus operandi will remain unchanged: Whenever Trump is attacked by anti-Trump Democrats and Republicans, he himself will be held responsible for the attacks, “his own worst enemy.” Whenever a blow is delivered to his presidency – and through his presidency to the American people – “he brought it on himself.”