Two things: First, it is impossible for a mentally and emotionally normal adult to support Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency without calling into question his judgment or his honor. Second, it is easier to forgive defective judgment than deficient honor.
Trump is out whining like the spoiled little princess he is and always has been that his fellow Republican presidential contenders, having been vanquished, are not making good on their promise to support the GOP nominee, presumably himself. Trump is of course absolutely correct that Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, et al. did make that promise, and that to withhold their support now would constitute violating a solemn promise made in public to their supporters.
Breaking that promise is absolutely the right thing to do.
We allow for a certain amount of cynical calculation in politicians — politics ain’t beanbag, as Dooley says. It may be that Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich made that primary-debate promise to support the eventual nominee in the hope — in the idiotic, forlorn hope — that the Republican primary electorate would not be so backward and malevolent as to choose an imbecilic game-show host to the left of Hillary Rodham Clinton on most of the relevant issues of our time over a slew of solid and impressive if imperfect conservatives. I can see Ted Cruz reenacting the final scene of Planet of the Apes: “You maniacs! You did it!” Of course he didn’t think that Sean Hannity’s tangerine dream would become America’s Creamsicle nightmare, but here we are.
It would be perfectly defensible — and honorable — for Ted Cruz to say: “I made that promise thinking that the chances were remote that Donald Trump would become the nominee, and without fully appreciating what manner of man he was, which really began to dawn on me around the time he suggested my father was somehow mixed up in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and putting out explicitly racist theories about how Mexican-American judges can’t fairly preside over cases involving fraud allegations against Trump. I shouldn’t have made that promise, and I regret having done so, but there is no way in hell that I am supporting Trump. I care too much about the future of my country and my immortal soul to climb into that particular snake-pit just to avoid the appearance of having made a mistake in judgment, which I clearly did.”
Of course, Senator Cruz et al. should have known well before the grassy-knoll and eek-a-Mexican-judge stuff that Donald Trump is unfit for the office of the presidency. And that is what he is: morally, intellectually, and politically unfit for office. Is Hillary Rodham Clinton actually Satan in the flesh? Of course Hillary Rodham Clinton is actually Satan in the flesh; Donald Trump is still unfit for office. It isn’t Ted Cruz’s fault, or John Kasich’s, or Marco Rubio’s, or Jeb Bush’s, that the American public in free and fair elections chose two major-party candidates whose preening self-regard, dishonesty, moral cowardice, and incompetence is in each candidate’s case the best and only argument for the other candidate.
Well done, America.
#share#Cruz and the rest should not be bullied into accepting the nonsense that refusing to go in for Trump is a vote for Mrs. Clinton. It isn’t. Declining to support Trump is an act of integrity and good taste. It isn’t anything Cruz or Bush has done that makes Trump unsupportable — that is Trump’s doing, and no one else’s.
If there is a revolt in Cleveland — as there should be — it will be entirely understandable, and justifiable. If the delegates end up playing fast and loose with the nomination rules, it may be that the Republican party needs some new ones — the Democratic party and its undemocratic “superdelegate” system sure is looking smart right about now: They didn’t need McGovern to tell them twice.
#related#Trump will demand public displays of fealty, and so will his partisans on talk radio and cable news and elsewhere. There will be a whole coyote pack’s worth of barking at the moon if the holdouts hold out, but they should. A great many people have taken a step back from the Republican party this year, and in recent years, and I can tell you that at least one of them isn’t going to come back if the GOP decides that Trumpism is what it stands for. I don’t think I’m the only one. I spent yesterday evening with a group of young Republicans in Texas — Texas, friends — who are committed activists, donors, door-knockers, future office-seekers, etc., who are suddenly not sure that they belong in the party where they have spent their entire political lives. I don’t think there’s much keeping them on Team Pachyderm except the lack of a viable option. If the Libertarian party had put up a Weld-Johnson ticket instead of the other way around, some of them surely would have bolted. Some of them will, anyway.
The Republicans who promised to support the nominee no matter who made an error in judgment. That’s forgivable. But now it is time to admit the error, step up, and do the right thing. In this case, that means taking a page from the Reagan playbook, meaning the Nancy Reagan playbook: Just say, “No.”
– Kevin D. Williamson is National Review’s roving correspondent.