The Corner

Politics & Policy

Rudeness is Not a Conservative Principle

So now The Donald is in hot water for making a crude menstrual insult. This is as good a time as any to make a simple point, one I make to young conservative activists all the time. Just because being rude or crude is un-PC that is not, in itself, a defense of being rude or crude. You would think social conservatives in particular wouldn’t lose sight of this. But many have, at least going by my email and twitter feed. In the debate, Trump defended his long record of piggish comments about women on the grounds that we don’t have time for political correctness. I agree with that. But surely we have time for a modicum of good manners? We are now in the crazy stage where people are shouting at me that I (or Charles Krauthammer, or George Will or Erick Ericson or Kevin Williamson) must be a liberal if I don’t support Trump. Never mind that the objective evidence leans overwhelmingly that support for Trump puts your conservative convictions in doubt. Are we really going to go down the insane path of saying that real conservatives must abandon good manners and respect for women to demonstrate their purity? Count me out of that nonsense.

And, even if you yourself think Trump’s comments are funny or entertaining or not that big a deal or just a gaffe, at least ponder for a second about whether you think they will help Republicans win the presidential election. Everyone loves Reagan. Everyone says we need a great communicator. Well, the point of being a great communicator is to communicate. That is to say, it is to persuade people. If you think that Trump is the right guy for that project, you’re the one who just doesn’t get it.  

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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