Supporting Trump is not quite the profound moral dilemma it’s been made out to be.
by Keith Koffler
It’s time for conservatives to do something none of us want to do. It’s time for us to accept that President Donald Trump is who he is, and that’s okay.
For conservatives, Trump is both the wrecking ball that destroyed the movement and the answer to its prayers. Most conservatives either admire Trump but make excuses for him, or have joined the #NeverTrump movement after finding themselves unable to stomach his leadership and values.
But both these cohorts need to realize the reality of the situation and learn how to work with Trump to further the conservative agenda — which by the way he’s already doing on his own.
First, those who support but want to sanitize Trump to avoid hypocrisy must understand that every time you clean him off, Trump jumps right back in the mud.
This viewpoint is exemplified by recent comments from Franklin Graham. “I believe at 70 years of age,” said Graham, son of the late Billy Graham and a strong Trump supporter, “the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago.”
Seriously? Are you very different than you were five or 10 years ago? Is anybody? This excuse strains credulity, particularly for a septuagenarian creature of habit like Trump.
Then there are those who argue Trump’s just “imperfect,” or who assert: “He wasn’t running for Pope.” At the annual CPAC gathering of conservatives in February, the audience reportedly cheered chairman Matt Schlapp’s argument that Americans didn’t elect Trump because he was a perfect person, they elected him because they knew he would be a fighter.
This is a whitewash. Trump is less than a “not perfect person.” He’s a deeply flawed man who, most likely given the preponderance of evidence, has acted abusively toward women. And who, given a cursory review of his statements on any given day, lies constantly. There are positive aspects to Trump that go unrecognized, including a sense of compassion and an ability to discern the correct policy. But he cannot be viewed as a “good person.”
Conservatives view themselves as battling for traditional values. Trump’s mores are admittedly not the ones we were raised to follow.
For the #NeverTrumpers, who still disdain the president despite sometimes grudgingly admitting he’s running the most conservative administration since President Ronald Reagan, this identity crisis is too traumatic. Embracing Trump would also mean ceding the moral high ground from which they joyfully threw dirt on the Clintons for their moral failings — and on President Barack Obama for his false promises and anti-democratic statism. (This is to say nothing of the criticism stalwart conservatives heaped on John F. Kennedy and Teddy Kennedy, who were called libertine and worse.)
On the final day of CPAC, conservative columnist Mona Charen denounced Republicans who are “hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women” — i.e. Trump supporters. “There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth,” Charen later wrote. “And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism.”
Well I’m glad she feels the lightness of liberation. But I’ve watched the likes of Charen pontificate for decades as the country deteriorated, with Washington either failing to stop the decline or abetting it.