The Corner

Politics & Policy

What Counts as #NeverTrump These Days?

In response to The Week

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

What Counts as #NeverTrump These Days?

Conrad Black: “The Never Trumpers seem to have retreated, more or less in unison, to the last trench before they throw down their arms and run backwards for their lives: They are now invoking the 25th Amendment. This indicates that they realize the impeachment movement has failed.”

Actually, impeachment efforts are not all that related to the thinking and actions of those who describe themselves as “Never-Trump.” Impeachment is extremely unlikely as long as Republicans control the House, but extremely likely if Democrats win the House in 2018. Whether the Senate would vote to remove Trump from office will also likely depend upon the partisan makeup of the chamber; it is worth remembering that removal from office requires a two-thirds majority. Barring some sort of smoking-gun evidence, like videotape of Trump and Putin evilly cackling as they coordinate plans to destroy the country, it is unlikely that many Republican senators will ever vote to remove a Republican president.

Jonah asks where all these Never-Trumpers calling for invocation of the 25th Amendment are. The only source mentioned by Black is “the New Yorker magazine, still feverish with Obama deprivation” which is… not really “Never Trump,” at least as the term was traditionally defined.

You can find discussions of the 25th Amendment in Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, Vogue, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, and so on. So if these traditional lefty media sources and voices count as “Never Trump,” it’s fair to ask… what is “Never Trump” anymore?

Evan McMullin? I didn’t realize that when I voted for him, I was helping pass the “Evan McMullin Eternal Presence in Media as a Trump Critic Who Never Sounds All That Conservative Act.” Unsurprisingly, McMullin’s entire Twitter feed since the election is relentless criticism of Trump, a general credulity of claims of election collusion with Russia, and denunciation of GOP leaders for being insufficiently opposed to Trump. When McMullin appears on television, do you ever hear him arguing for a larger defense budget, tax cuts, originalist judges, or any other conservative priority? Maybe he’s done so and I just haven’t seen it, but it seems like McMullin’s message is, 24-7, Trump is always wrong and he has to go. I mean, if I wanted that, I could have voted for Hillary Clinton.

It’s a free country, and McMullin can argue for any priorities he likes, but if that’s going to be his message all the time, I don’t think he’s really representative of conservatives as a whole anymore. Insisting Trump is always wrong is as silly as insisting that Trump is always right. Broken clocks are right twice a day, blind squirrels find acorns, and even Sean Hannity can express dismay over a Trump tweet once in a great while.

There’s a lot for conservatives to like in the new administration: the sudden reduction in illegal immigration, the accelerating defeats of ISIS on the battlefield, the rollback of various regulations, a punitive strike on Syria for chemical weapons use, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinding Obama rules that undermined due process, Nikki Haley kicking tail and taking names at the United Nations, big changes are underway at the Department of Veterans Affairs and of course, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and many fine judges in the lower circuits. If you have a 401(k), you’ve probably felt good for most of 2017. We might get tax cuts.

But these accomplishments come at the cost of a president who generates his own daily distraction, who constantly responds to what’s said on cable television, who lashes out at his own cabinet, who is impatient and ill-informed about how his own government works, who is so unfocused he sometimes contradicts himself within a matter of hours, who is apparently unwilling to study the details of policy, and sometime throws a bone to the worst of America, as when he insisted “fine people” were among the Charlottesville protesters.