The Corner

Politics & Policy

But Gorsuch … and Other Excellent Judicial Picks … and a Tax Cut … and Major Deregulatory Actions … and Immigration Enforcement … and the End of the Individual Mandate … and a Roll Back of the HHS Mandate …

 . . . and the reversal of the insane Title IX policy on campus . . . and an exit from the Paris Accords . . . and the avoidance of whatever Hillary would have wrought.

There is a meme used by anti-Trump conservatives on Twitter. Whenever Trump steps in it, they tweet the words “But Gorsuch.” It is meant to mock Trump loyalists who hold out Gorsuch’s nomination as a Trump accomplishment that overshadows any of his failings. The meme can be quite amusing — one version has a road sign emblazoned with the words “But Gorsuch” close to disappearing in a flood.

But I’ve never quite understood why anti-Trump conservatives would be so slighting about Gorsuch. He will presumably be a bulwark of the Constitution long after Trump has departed the White House three or seven years from now and is tweeting as a private citizen again. Bushies used to count George W. Bush’s two Supreme Court nominees as a central part of his domestic legacy, understandably (and Bush completely blew one of his nominations before getting it right). Trump is half-way there, with lots of time on the clock.

Also, it’s simply not true that all we have to show from the Trump administration is Gorsuch. The legislative agenda has been limited by the fact that Republicans have only 52 votes in the Senate. This is what pushed the GOP toward doing two big health and tax bills through reconciliation. When the health-care bill failed (Trump contributed to this failure, but there were lots of other factors, too), it seemed they could get nothing this year. Now, it appears very likely that they will get the tax bill, which includes a rifle-shot elimination of the individual mandate. And the administration has been steadily reversing the executive aggrandizements of the Obama administration.

Trump has governed so far as more of a Republican and conservative than I expected. Outside a brief flirtation with Chuck and Nancy and some unserious talks with Democrats over the tax bill, he’s had no interest in working with Democrats (in fact, has spent time insulting them). Remember: One of Bush’s big first-year accomplishments was partnering with Teddy Kennedy on wholly ill-considered federal education legislation, No Child Left Behind. There has been nothing like that during Trump’s first year.

None of this is to deny Trump’s pitfalls. There is going to a political price for the first two years of his administration, 1) because there is always a cost for unified control of the federal government; 2) Trump is doing everything he can to increase that cost, for no good reason. I doubt next year is going to look as conservative as this one. We may see a push for welfare reform, but there will probably also be an infrastructure bill and some sort of trade action against China that could become a very big deal. Still, it’s probably time to retire the “But Gorsuch” meme.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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