Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
What difference does it make?
Bad ideas work their way back to worse premises. The ‘worse premise’ of the bad idea of NeverTrump was that it didn’t really matter if Hillary won. It was an echo of Hillary’s infamous Benghazi testimony.
What difference does it make anyway if the woman behind the Arab Spring were running our foreign policy and if the Clinton Foundation’s gallery of rogue donors were running everything else?
It sure as hell didn’t make a difference to NeverTrumpers who were too busy grading Trump on table manners and finding implausible reasons to believe that President Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be so bad. NeverNeverTrumpland became its own echo chamber with no one to call out its crazy delusions.
Trump won, Hillary lost and NeverTrumpers clings to its “What difference does it make” premise.
At the New York Post, John Podhoretz insists that, “Hillary’s White House would be no different from Trump’s.”
Bad idea meet worse premise.
“The astonishing answer, if you really think it through, is: not all that different when it comes to policy,” he claims.
Only in NeverNeverTrumpland could anyone come up with an “astonishing answer” like that.
It’s an astonishingly astonishing answer since Hillary’s platform called for ending deportations of illegal aliens and allowing them access to ObamaCare. That’s slightly different from building a wall, a 33% increase in illegal alien arrests and a 67% decline in illegal immigration under President Trump.
But a lot of NeverTrumpers seem closer to Hillary’s position there anyway.
Hillary’s platform also called for expanding ObamaCare, killing coal and fracking, automatic voter registration at 18, undermining the Second Amendment, a job-killing minimum wage hike and free college. That’s a long way from repealing ObamaCare, a coal and fracking boom, the restoration of law and order, fixing college abuses and conducting voter fraud investigations.
But what difference does it make in NeverNeverTrumpland where policy doesn’t matter anyway?
On foreign policy, the President of the United States has an even freer hand. And the free hand would have belonged to the woman who handed entire countries over to the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Podhoretz claims that a Republican congress would have blocked Hillary from getting anything done. The Obama years suggest that putting our faith in the obstructive powers of a GOP Congress ought to come with a free limited edition of the Brooklyn Bridge. And Hillary had made a point of asserting that many of her policy proposals would bypass Congress.
“Trump has gotten very little done. The same would have been true if Hillary had won,” he writes.
Hillary Clinton had promised to bypass Congress on gun control, energy restrictions and immigration. Both Trump and Clinton pledged to roll out a big batch of executive orders. Hers would have been very different than his.
If Congress won’t act, became a theme of hers during the campaign. Would she have done it?
Hillary campaign chairman John Podesta was credited as being the man behind Obama and Bill Clinton’s executive order pushes. It’s a safe bet that President Hillary Clinton would have ruled by executive order. And that she would have pushed those executive orders, as she promised to do, even further.
But insisting on Hillary’s harmlessness was the cornerstone of NeverTrump’s justifications. It was either that or defend her as a good leader. And helpless harmlessness was slightly less implausible.
Trump won, but the retroactive justifications of NeverTrump insist that it makes no difference.
It just doesn’t hold up.
Podhoretz isn’t really making policy differentiations, but procedural comparisons. And NeverTrump has tried to overshadow policy questions in favor of personality questions. It’s obvious why. Selling a personal dislike of Trump is much easier than a policy critique. He isn’t writing from the standpoint of a conservative, but a government watcher to whom building a wall or opening the border are equivalent.
That requires a willful blindness and an insistence on disregarding consequences.
And so Podhoretz insists on dismissing Gorsuch’s first few votes. But Supreme Court justices don’t hold their positions for a few months, but a few decades. And presidents hold power from four to eight years.
But who’s counting anyway.
NeverTrumpers, many of whom were involved in the pitched battles of the Clinton era, are forced to sanitize Hillary in ways that they know to be absurdly wrong.
“Hillary is many things, and many not good things, but she is not a sower of chaos or the subject of infighting so constant that no one can even catch a breath before one weird story is displaced by another,” Podhoretz writes. “She’s far too boring for that.”
The politician who was linked to infidelity scandals, who was involved in financial scandals ranging from cattle futures to Qatar, who was caught lying about everything from arriving at an airport under fire to Sir Edmund Hillary, is not a sower of chaos who generates one weird story after another?
During the campaign alone, we were treated to the spectacle of Hillary having her Filipino maid print out classified emails, an FBI investigation of her emails triggered by a teen sexting investigation of her Islamist assistant’s husband, passing out at a 9⁄11 memorial service and lying about that, and responding to recordings of her laughing at the abuse of a 12-year-old rape victim.
No chaos or weird stories to see there. Just boring old Carlos Danger and Bill Clinton.
One could only imagine how free of infighting a White House featuring Bill, John Podesta, David Brock, Sidney Blumenthal, Huma Abedin, Neera Tanden, Terry McAullife, Jennifer Granholm and Philippe Reines would have been. An overturned beehive would have less drama than Hillary’s White House.
But NeverTrumpers often seem perversely nostalgic for a Hillary disaster that never happened. Why else keep turning out these bizarre exercises in political revisionism? Having embraced the idea that Hillary might somehow have been the lesser of two evils, they feel an obsessive need to carry it through.
Many NeverTrumpers know better. Yet they create an imaginary Hillary who bears no resemblance to the real thing. A harmless creature who would just sigh and accept Republican obstructionism, who would refrain from her usual pattern of being enmeshed in a constant tidal flood of bizarre scandals and whom Republicans could just wait another four years to defeat with a better candidate.
The only reason for the existence of this imaginary Hillary, who would refrain from using executive orders or lying from sunrise to sunset, is to justify the position of NeverTrump. The imaginary Hillary can’t exist and doesn’t exist. And it’s time that NeverTrumpers abandoned their Hillary nostalgia.
Or that they abandon the GOP.
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