The Corner

Honest Conservatives Should Treat Trump Like They Treated Obama

In response to Re: Links

Thank you, Charlie, for taking on the notion that Never Trump conservatives have somehow been co-opted or corrupted by Trump when we praise him when he does good things and critique him where he goes wrong. In fact, isn’t that the obligation of every honest conservative with any president? Wasn’t that our obligation with president Obama?

It’s absurd to argue that simply because I opposed both Trump and Clinton in the presidential election that I should somehow immediately run to the barricades and declare implacable opposition to all things Trump. That’s a child’s game. The international and domestic stakes are too high to simply throw a four-year temper tantrum.

Instead, the responsible thing to do is to use whatever platforms we have to hold the administration accountable. To that end, I’ve praised many of his cabinet picks, praised his decision to place accomplished generals in key positions, strongly defended Jeff Sessions, and stated clearly that I pray for him, wish him well and fervently hope that he succeeds in office.

At the same time, I’ve criticized Trump’s connection to Steve Bannon, expressed strong reservations about his choice for Secretary of State, condemned his seeming affection for Putin’s Russia, attacked his habit of going after ordinary Americans when they dare criticize him, and openly expressed concern that his myriad personal scandals risk “Clintonizing” the GOP. That’s selling out?

Yet leftists who call out Never Trump conservatives are the same people who unabashedly and unashamedly still believe Hillary Clinton was the allegedly responsible alternative to Trump. They were partisans for a corrupt, unfit candidate yet have the audacity to call out Never Trump for not joining them on the barricades? Please.

The Left is trying to delegitimize Trump, but it’s also trying to delegitimize the GOP and conservatism itself. That means it will be just as angry (if not more) over an originalist judicial nominee as it will be over an angry tweet or a corrupt business deal. I’ll be happy for the nominee and concerned about the tweet. Charlie said it well. My job is to to “give my view and to stay true to my values regardless of who runs the country.”

Partisanship is a helluva drug. It gives you a tribe, provides you with a path to influence, and identifies your enemy. Like many drugs, however, it clouds the mind. Lefties who call out conservatives for remaining conservative are delusional. I opposed Trump because of my principles, and I seek to hold him accountable now (including by praising his good choices) because of my principles.

The election mooted Never Trump. How can there “never” be a presidency that now exists? It didn’t moot the conservative movement. And for that movement, Trump holds both promise and peril. Honest conservatives will recognize both.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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