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What do conservative Never-Trumpers really want?

What do conservative Never-Trumpers really want?

Dennis Prager column in National Review sparks debate.

By now readers are familiar with my position from my “You go to war against Obamacare with the President you have” posts.

Trump is the president we have, and while he’s not an ideological conservative, and certainly has unique personality traits, he is someone willing to do conservative things:

I would have liked to see a truly conservative alternative. But in order to do that we should have elected a truly conservative president.

That’s not a knock on Trump — he is what he is, and as pointed out during the primaries he never has been an ideological conservative. There are many things he believes and already has done that are conservative, but it’s not his nature. He’s always believed in big government, but big government that seeks to make America great again, not big government that seeks to make America weak again.

Ideological conservatives had their chance in the primaries. They lost. We lost. I supported Ted Cruz, but he couldn’t pull it off.

Also, in the absence of actual evidence of extremely serious wrongdoing or illegality, as opposed to innuendo and speculation, there is no basis upon which to try to undo the election by removing Trump from office via impeachment and trial.

I understand the motivations of Democrats, mainstream media, leftists, Antifa, and the others in the streets. For them, it’s a powerplay. They lost what they thought they should have won, and they are angry. Their world collapsed sometime in the very late evening of election night into the early morning hours of the next day.

Trump’s victory was challenged through an attempt to intimidate Electors into changing their Electoral College votes. For me, that effort was a clarifying moment that the Never Trump movement was a danger to our system of government and the stability of the nation.

Since election night, there has been a non-stop Democrat and media frenzy to undermine the Trump administration and to make it difficult to govern. Their endgame seems to be removal of Trump before his term expires.

Yet some of the most vocal attempts to sabotage the Trump administration come from conservative and Republican Never-Trumpers. But what is their endgame? Removal of Trump from office based on personal dislike of him? A paralyzed administration that accomplishes nothing, not even conservative agenda items? The ability to say ‘I told you so’ if and when Trump fails?

I’m so old that I remember when Never Trump conservatives and Republicans (and of course, Democrats and the media) considered it nearly treasonous for Trump not to immediately declare during a debate that he would not challenge the election result if he lost. Yet that is what they are doing.

The atmosphere is so toxic, and so much of that toxicity is generated by conservative and Republican Never-Trumpers, that people have to wonder what is the real motivation.

Dennis Prager wonders, and wrote a column at National Review, Why Conservatives Still Attack Trump. Prager attempts to find the core difference between conservatives who opposed Trump in the primaries but now support him as president, and those whose opposition has intensified, if anything. The core, according to Prager, is that he saw a Hillary win as an existential threat:

I have concluded that there are a few reasons that explain conservatives who were Never-Trumpers during the election, and who remain anti-Trump today. The first and, by far, the greatest reason is this: They do not believe that America is engaged in a civil war, with the survival of America as we know it at stake. While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do.

To my amazement, no anti-Trump conservative writer sees it that way. They all thought during the election, and still think, that while it would not have been a good thing if Hillary Clinton had won, it wouldn’t have been a catastrophe either. That’s it, in a nutshell….

In other words, I believe that Donald Trump may have saved the country. And that, in my book, covers a lot of sins — foolish tweets, included.

I think Prager correctly puts his pulse on why many people support Trump even if he was not their primary choice.

Prager goes on to assess claims of conservative ideological purity, and he finds that moralizing a failure of perspective:

The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative — one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries — is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true….

So, why aren’t anti-Trump conservatives jumping for joy? I have come to believe that many conservatives possess what I once thought was a left-wing monopoly — a utopian streak. Trump is too far from their ideal leader to be able to support him.

There is also a cultural divide. Anti-Trump conservatives are a very refined group of people. Trump doesn’t talk like them. Moreover, the cultural milieu in which the vast majority of anti-Trump conservatives live and/or work means that to support Trump is to render oneself contemptible at all elite dinner parties.

In addition, anti-Trump conservatives see themselves as highly moral people (which they often are) who are duty-bound not to compromise themselves by strongly supporting Trump, whom they largely view as morally defective.

Finally, these people are only human: After investing so much energy in opposing Trump’s election, and after predicting his nomination would lead to electoral disaster, it’s hard for them to admit they were wrong. To see him fulfill many of his conservative election promises, again in defiance of predictions, is a bitter pill.

But if they hang on to their Never Trumpism and the president falls on his face, they can say they were right all along. That means that only if he fails can their reputations be redeemed. And they, of course, know that.

Prager ends with a call for conservative Never-Trumpers to get with the agenda:

They can join the fight. They can accept an imperfect reality and acknowledge that we are in a civil war, and that Trump, with all his flaws, is our general. If this general is going to win, he needs the best fighters. But too many of them, some of the best minds of the conservative movement, are AWOL. I beg them: Please report for duty.

Prager’s column generated a fast and furious reaction from conservative Never-Trumpers.

Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review, Why Dennis Prager’s Analysis of ‘Never Trump’ Conservatives Falls Short. After taking issue with the phrase “civil war” finding the analogy inaccurate:

Dennis runs through a bunch of other motivations for why conservative Trump critics don’t recognize that Trump is “our general” in a “civil war” and “report for duty.” In none of them does he account for the fact that he is using the term at best figuratively and at worst wholly inaccurately. Nor does he wrestle with the myriad problems with his analogy and the assumptions that support it. Donald Trump is literally no one’s general, because the president isn’t a general. Even figuratively, the idea that conservatives should operate like loyal troops to a political leader is fraught with intellectual, philosophical, and historical problems.

Perhaps more fundamentally, Goldberg takes issue with Prager’s assessment of motivation:

Another explanation for why some conservative critics refuse to report for duty is, according to Dennis, spite, pettiness, or self-interest.

In short, he accuses the conservatives he says he admires of operating in bad faith. Indeed, one of their chief motives is — wait for it — the ability to attend elite dinner parties. C’mon. I thought we were done with this stale chestnut a long time ago.

He also says that because our predictions were wrong, we’re too bitter to admit error and that we’re undermining Trump to save our reputations. I’m not going to try to psychoanalyze Dennis’s motivations here. But I will say that this essay reads more like an effort to affirm what a talk-radio audience wants to hear than a good-faith effort to understand and persuade conservatives that he claims to admire. If Dennis is truly interested in persuading the very diverse group of conservative Trump critics on the right, my advice would be to call them on the phone and ask them why they — we — say what they say and do what they do. Insinuating that conservative thinkers and writers are vain elitists who are betraying their cause by not becoming spinners (never mind soldiers) is not, to my mind, the best way to persuade them — or me — of anything.

David French, also at National Review, objected to Prager’s arguments as answering the wrong questions:

But Trump’s stalwart defenders, it seems, want something else. They want members of the conservative movement to act, in effect, as Trump’s defense lawyers. That means praise him when he’s right, and find the most plausible possible defense when he’s wrong. That’s completely legitimate behavior when standing at counsel table or when hired as a public-relations representative, but when your goal is not only to speak the truth but also to advance a concrete set of values that can and should endure well past any given election cycle, then the world looks very different indeed….

Moreover, I’ll never defend conduct from Trump’s team that I would condemn in a Democrat. It’s sad to see the reflexive defenses of Trump’s conduct in, for example, the Comey firing when we know, we know, that similar conduct from Hillary Clinton would lead to nonstop calls for impeachment from the very same voices that so zealously defend Trump today. Either approach is wrong before the facts are in. Healthy skepticism and diligent investigation are mandatory. Culture matters more than politics, and a culture that abandons truth and the rule of law for the sake of short-term partisan advantage is a culture that sentences itself to death.

Jay Cost from The Weekly Standard took exception to Prager in a Twitter thread. He considers his opposition to Trump to be “prudential” not “moralistic.” Here’s part of it:

Erick Erickson wrote:

Who exactly is Dennis talking about?

See, if I say anything in defense of this administration, the President, or any of his staff I am presumed by some of just trying to suck up and ingratiate myself with Trump. Meanwhile, those who see themselves as apologists for Trump are ungrateful, badgering, and hope the supposed sucking up fails.

If I say anything critical about the President and his administration I am presumed to still be nursing a grudge over getting the election wrong. To Trump’s apologists, once Never Trump, always Never Trump, which is now short for treason to his tribe as much as the left presumes treason for supporting Trump.

Joe Scarborough — and many others — picked up and ran with the claim that Prager was pandering to his talk radio audience:

There were many other reactions, but I think the excerpts above are a good cross-section of the reasoned reaction.

What’s missing from all these analyses is an explanation of the endgame. So I emailed Goldberg, whom I respect, with two questions which I believe frame the issue:

1) Did you want Hillary to win, and
2) since she lost, what is it that you want to happen now? Trump removal from office, something else?

Here are his complete responses:

1)​ I didn’t want Hillary to win and I don’t think I’ve ever written a “pro-Hillary” sentence, never mind column. I did think she was going to win (so did a lot of people, including the Trump campaign). I thought he had a chance intermittently over the course of the campaign and wrote as much. But my position from the moment they secured their nominations was that the choice was between two crap sandwiches on different kinds of bread. When he won, I was pretty elated. (See my G-File right after the election.)​ I thought, somewhat rightly, that he could get some important things accomplished before the wheels came off his administration. But with the exception of Gorsuch and some excellent appointments, that was optimistic.

I should say that the constant invocation of Hillary as a standard by which to judge Trump’s behavior in office is insane. When have conservatives ever used that yardstick before? Did people say in 2007, “Well, at least he’s better than John Kerry?” Did the priests of conservative talk radio and cable say that Bush’s conservative critics were wrong and illegitimate because Bush was better than Kerry? If Trump’s actions can be defended by conservatives solely because they’re better than what we could expect from Hillary Clinton, then conservatism as a serious ideal — never mind as a political or intellectual movement — is dead.

I revere Dennis, but his use of that standard is so contrary to the kind of morally grounded principle I normally associate with him.

2) I don’t want Trump removed from office — at least not based on anything we know now. If we learn new facts we should respond accordingly. Removing a president from office is no small thing and it shouldn’t be based on smoke and emotion. What I do want is for Trump to grow up and do (most) of the things he promised. I want him to behave in an unselfish, un-narcisstic, professional way. I want him to listen to the professionals who want to get a conservative agenda accomplished.

I don’t have high hopes because I believe that character is destiny and the challenge Trump poses is Aesopian. The scorpion must sting the frog and Trump must be Trump.

That said, if he were removed (for legitimate reasons) or if he resigned, the specter of Hillary isn’t waiting in the wings. I do think Mike Pence would be a better president and would get more accomplished.

And since we’re on the topic of what I want, I want conservatism to survive this mess with its integrity and viability intact. Defending whatever Trump does threatens that (polling shows that whatever issue he embraces becomes unpopular, which is a disaster).

I don’t think America was one election away from oblivion in 2016. If it’s one election away from oblivion, America is already lost because the whole idea of America is bound up in the notion that elections do not and should not matter that much. But I do think America will be lost if the conservative movement is reduced to blind loyalty to a politician who feels little need or ability to reciprocate that loyalty.

Those are thoughtful answers, but not practical enough for me.

What do Never-Trump conservatives and Republicans want to happen?

As in the general election, a more perfect choice is not available. You either work to direct the administration into the most positive and least damaging actions possible given that Trump is what he is, or you seek to remove Trump.

Which is it for conservative and Republican Never-Trumpers?


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SaltyDonnie | May 30, 2017 at 7:24 pm

Looking over the rebuttals issued by those who you cited, they are a list of people who’s opinions I no longer take seriously and frankly wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

    Jackie in reply to SaltyDonnie. | June 1, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Let’s not forget the great Conservative Bret Stephens who whole heartedly supported Hillary Clinton. He was happy to give the Supreme Court to the far left. Seeing how the left weoponized intelligence there’s a good chance we would have become a one party dictatorship if good old Bret got his way.

If anything Trump is a New Yorker. He sold apartments to sneering elitist New Yorkers and they were glad to buy them from him.

Trump worked with blue collar construction workers, union bosses and the Democratic leaning politicians who controlled New York. He was very effective as a businessman. Yes he had many detractors, but to my memory he was never condescending.

There is something to be said for a man with clarity of purpose who is not governed by what others may think of him. Those intenet on pleasing others often ending pleasing no one.

    sequester in reply to dystopia. | May 30, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    As I recall the elitists at NBC “News” never minded promoting “The Apprentice”. NBC executives never complained about the boat loads of money he brought NBC.

    Trump is not an intellectual, but he is a man of keen intellect. I wish I had a fraction of his talent from promotion and achievment.

    Shane in reply to dystopia. | May 30, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Trump never has nor never will be a businessman, unless of course you accept the Left’s version of what a businessman is. He is a rent seeker, plain and simple. But for his rent seeking cronyism I think he is actually in a good place to help business’ to get out from under the ignorance of the current regulatory environment. And that is a good thing.

    JohnC in reply to dystopia. | May 31, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    That Never-Trumpers even now refuse to help Trump get the right things accomplished convinces me they’re ultimately useless.

    Never-Trumpers are emergency room doctors arguing over a patient.

I wasn’t a Never Trumper, but I definitely didn’t vote for him (or Shrillery). I too believed that he had no conservative cred. I didn’t buy the whole, vote for him or the world dies in fire. But I saw something that was interesting when he came to office. His pool of advisers cabinet picks etc … came from, surprise, conservatives. I should have known this during the election, but I am not much of a political junky. Having watched the left lose it’s fucking mind over Trump, while low level positions started to swing conservative, I am glad others voted for him to make up for what I will call my mistake. He isn’t Mr. Right, he is Mr. Rightnow and though he is struggling with some of his campaign promises, he is making in my mind real effort to follow through. Is he conservative … resoundingly NO, but because his pool of people that he needs to work with are conservative it makes him pretty damn conservative despite himself. I will vote for him for a second term, and I will do so with open eyes. Because the alternative is far worse.

“You either work to direct the administration into the most positive and least damaging actions possible given that Trump is what he is, or you seek to remove Trump.

Which is it for conservative and Republican Never-Trumpers?”

First, stop using that term. It’s stupid and pejorative, since there are no such things (as Goldberg has explicated repeatedly).

We all know T-rump is POTUS. The election is over.

Second, you hand-waved Goldberg’s positions away by declaring them “impractical”, while ALSO recognizing that one option is to “…work to direct the administration into the most positive and least damaging actions possible given that Trump is what he is…”

Why? Why is what Goldberg said “impractical” and what you said better? You KNOW T-rump is NOT conservative…indeed, is ANTI-conservative.

Third, there is a third option, and that is to recognize that just maybe T-rump will be T-rump, and we are not going to succeed in moving him (which is not to suggest we should not try), and that the best we can do is hold to our principles and clearly delineate how T-rump is not conservative, and what that should mean to voters.

The VERY LAST thing we should do is succumb to the social pressure so evident in the comments to just join the tribe and stop thinking critically, cocoon in a stilted few web-sites, and start thinking of anyone who utters a heretical word against the Great God Cheeto as the “enemy” in pure 1984 realization.

IFFFFFF Der Donald can be moved to be more…rather than less…conservative, it will NEVER be by people who forgot…or never knew…what that means.

    counsel in reply to Ragspierre. | May 30, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    This comment is not an attack on you. As a general rule, attacking someone (in this case Trump) is not a good way to win that person over to your side.

    If movement conservatives would like to see a more conservative Trump, reasoned argument is the best bet. Trump is a pragmatist. Those who attack him are more likely to be ignored. Trump will respond to reasoned arguments as to why something is good for the Country. Personal attacks and rude behavior will result in Twitter storms and his shutting you out of his circle of interest.

      rabidfox in reply to counsel. | June 1, 2017 at 3:01 am

      It’s the old ‘honey or vinegar’ gambit. Pity more people don’t remember what their grannies told them years ago.

      Ragspierre in reply to counsel. | June 1, 2017 at 10:14 am

      First, no, T-rump is NOT a “pragmatist” WRT any kind of personal critique. He IS a deeply pathological narcissist.

      Second, Der Donald is the very model of a modern major “elitist”. Who do you know who owns a fleet of aircraft?

      Third, NOBODY here even exists in T-rump-0-verse. He doesn’t give a rip about anything you or I say UNLESS it is critical, and then you are the enemy.

      Ergo, nobody here writes for or to T-rump or to influence his behavior.

      Forth, nothing I wrote was “unreasoned”. You just don’t like my bluntness. Or you’d offer a “reasoned” rebuttal.

    Helen in reply to Ragspierre. | May 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Speaking of stupid and perjorative, “T-rump” certainly falls into that category.

      sidebar in reply to Helen. | May 31, 2017 at 6:55 am

      My understanding is that the architect of that rather pejorative term is a trial attorney. I doubt very much (unless the presiding judge was a hard core leftist willing to dispense with judicial decorum) that a Court would tolerate such disappointing rhetoric from trial counsel. I don’t find the term clever, amusing, interesting or engaging. Use of the term diminishes the user of the term in my eyes.

        Ragspierre in reply to sidebar. | May 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

        It’s obvious you don’t do trial work. Juries love a character, and many of the very best trial advocates are also real characters.

          tphillip in reply to Ragspierre. | May 31, 2017 at 1:21 pm

          It’s obvious you don’t do trial work. Judges do not like showboaters in their courtrooms and stomp on shenanigans pretty quickly.

          So how much have you been fined for you “character”?

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | June 1, 2017 at 2:49 am

          Actually, you’re full of shit.

          Look up trials by Joe Jamail, you flucking moron.

          I’ve never been fined anything, because I never leave the boundaries. And I respect juries, who respect me right back.

    Rags, a few points of agreement and a few of disagreement. 🙂

    You write:

    Second, you hand-waved Goldberg’s positions away by declaring them “impractical”, while ALSO recognizing that one option is to “…work to direct the administration into the most positive and least damaging actions possible given that Trump is what he is…”

    Why? Why is what Goldberg said “impractical” and what you said better? You KNOW T-rump is NOT conservative…indeed, is ANTI-conservative.

    This isn’t entirely fair. Frankly, Prager’s piece is a disappointment given the typically high quality of his thinking and work. He’s doing what the regressive left does to us all the time: projecting his worst impression on a group with which he stands in opposition. How many random leftists have wandered across LI comments’ section and proclaimed that we are every “ist” under the sun, are too stupid to understand (insert your favorite SJW flavor: entitlements, the AGW hoax, racism, radical Islamic terrorism, and on and on.)? A lot. And they all slither away once they figure out that we aren’t at all what they thought? Prager makes these same simplistic pronouncements based on the same simplistic and ill-informed stereotypes.

    Look, I don’t get GOP NeverTrumpers, I really don’t, but I wouldn’t presume to tell them, as Prager implies, that they are elitist, hypocritical snobs who are not only unwilling but unable to back down because they are so puffed-up with pride that they can’t manage it. Not only do I not believe that, but it’s insulting and condescending to paint with broad brush the myriad reasons right-leaning people are “Never Trump.”

    His uncharacteristically sophomoric piece reads like a college freshman’s first draft (back when college freshmen could still think. And write in complete sentences). He elides the fact that NeverTrumpers are not reflective of a monolithic ideology; indeed, he tries to pretend that NeverTrump is itself an ideology. That’s insane.

    We know, for a fact, that the NeverTrump right-leaners are not in ideological lockstep on much else. For example, you’re a true conservative; John Kasich is not. Both of you, however, are NeverTrumpers. Does Prager even come close to noting this immense difference in worldviews? No. He lumps you in with Kasich and Jeb!. That’s ludicrous on its face . . . no matter how many deposits you make into Prager’s “moral bank account,” you will never ever think as Kasich and Jeb do (well, except when it comes to Trump, but you get my meaning).

    Third, there is a third option, and that is to recognize that just maybe T-rump will be T-rump, and we are not going to succeed in moving him (which is not to suggest we should not try), and that the best we can do is hold to our principles and clearly delineate how T-rump is not conservative, and what that should mean to voters.

    The VERY LAST thing we should do is succumb to the social pressure so evident in the comments to just join the tribe and stop thinking critically, cocoon in a stilted few web-sites, and start thinking of anyone who utters a heretical word against the Great God Cheeto as the “enemy” in pure 1984 realization.

    IFFFFFF Der Donald can be moved to be more…rather than less…conservative, it will NEVER be by people who forgot…or never knew…what that means.

    No one, including Trump himself, thinks Trump is a conservative. No. One. That said, I agree with you about the distressing tendency on the right to ignore, minimize, or excuse Trump’s mistakes and horrendous policy decisions (RINOcare, Ivanka’s socialist child-care programs, and etc.). That is very real. Frankly, however, NeverTrumpers pretending that NeverTrump has any meaning at all after Election Day do not help.

    How can we write objectively if the minute we note something problematic the NeverTrumpers come out in force with “I told you so” and the Trump supporters come out in force … defending something they know very well is wrong? Everyone needs to chill the heck out. Trump is president. His every move is not a Constitutional crisis; he makes good decisions and appointments, and he makes not-so-good ones. All the NeverTrump cacophony does is make discussing his missteps more difficult because they excitedly pounce, armed with the idea that any disagreement with a single policy decision is an indictment of the entire Trump presidency. That’s insane. And destructive.

    Frankly, I’d like to see both NeverTrumpers and Trump Train fanatics chill out. But that’s probably just me.

      “Look, I don’t get GOP NeverTrumpers, I really don’t, but I wouldn’t presume to tell them, as Prager implies, that they are elitist, hypocritical snobs who are not only unwilling but unable to back down because they are so puffed-up with pride that they can’t manage it. ”

      You don’t have to presume to tell them anything. All you have to do is read what Rags, and Kevin “Let the Poor White Trash Die” Williamson, and the rest of them actually wrote on a daily basis since Trump announced, and are still writing today.

      Doesn’t matter what they call themselves, they’re the same elitist hypocritical snobs they were when they started.

    rdmdawg in reply to Ragspierre. | May 31, 2017 at 11:51 am

    “First, stop using that term. It’s stupid and pejorative”

    “We all know T-rump is POTUS.”

    Cognitive dissonance.

Wow, Jay Cost is just a straight up idiot.

He claims that he opposed Trump because he’s afraid that ‘blowback’ is going to hand power back to the D’s.

And his solution that… was to hand power to the D’s earlier.

I can’t even wrap my brain around that.

I was a Cruz voter, but when he lost, it was clear that Trump was a no-brainer decision. The problem with Never Trumpers is that they simply cannot stop trying to undermine Trump to justify their decision and appease their elite lib friends. They go on and on, tweet after repetitive tweet, article after article, trying to prove their intellectual superiority and hatred of Trump. Enough already – just shut up

Speaking as a conservative and former NeverTrumper, I am frankly perplexed by GOP NeverTrumpers. NeverTrump started as a means of influencing the GOP, it was a none-too-subtle attempt at blackmail. If you run this guy, you won’t get our vote. Trump won’t get our vote. We will “never” vote for “Trump” That was the deal. As such it ended on Election Day: some of us voted for him, some did not, but that was the end of it as far as I can see. You can’t be “NeverTrump” when he’s already the president without locking arms with the regressive, violent left in #NotMyPresident stompy foot mode. He IS your president if you are an American. It’s over. We lost.

Therefore, to me, GOP NeverTrumpers who continue to “resist” are tilting–flailing, really–at windmills and playing a horrifically damaging game with our beloved nation. Undermining a sitting president who is to-his-core antithetical to all that our country stands for (i.e. Obama) is one thing, but even then, he was still our president.

I truly, deeply get why people opposed Trump’s candidacy because I did, but once it came down to the wire, to (in my case) literally Hillary or Trump, there was no contest. Nothing Trump can do would ever come close to the incredible damage that a Hillary presidency would have done.

I also agree with the prof in that some of this has to be sour grapes (my words, not his). As a Constitutional conservative, I understand that I am among the minority, even amongst those on the right. I didn’t, however, understand that fully until 2016. We could have elected a true conservative, but as primary voters, we did not.

Instead we eventually elected President Trump, and I am more than okay with that. What I could never have lived with was Hillary being elected because I stomped my feet, held my breath, and refused to vote for the marginally better choice because I had declared myself “NeverTrump.”

Screw that. NeverTrump died on Election Day 2016, and the ones still clinging to it are a bit of an embarrassment.

    I also want to add, though, that I am concerned that this fixation on “NeverTrumpism” will negatively influence coverage of the president. If he breaks campaign promises, caves to the demands of regressives on both sides of the aisle, and otherwise makes choices with which we disagree, we need to be able to say that without being summarily dismissed as NeverTrumpers.

    The danger to the right is that we may get sucked into the Democrat trap of silencing reasonable disagreement with Trump for fear of seeming like radical NeverTrumpers who oppose the president at every turn. The result: everyone walks in lockstep for fear of being labeled NeverTrump. We relentlessly ridiculed Democrats who accidentally let slip that they didn’t agree with Obama on every single thing, and we did so for good reason: it was absurd and cultish.

    To me, it’s okay to hate hate hate RINOCare 2.0. It doesn’t mean I don’t recognize our president as our president or that I am attacking him because he’s Trump. It means the bill is utter crap and doesn’t even come close to repealing ObamaCare, or even, frankly, changing it all that much. Instead of being able to say this, though, people are silenced because they may “seem” like “NeverTrumpers.” Better to just shut up and nod along . . . as the Dems did for eight years, losing nearly (or over?) a thousand state and federal seats.

    That way leads to utter disaster for the right, just as it has for the left during the Obama era. If we can’t analyze or criticize this president’s policies as we would any other, then where does that fear of being branded “NeverTrump” take us?

      tom swift in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 30, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      It’s not like Trump’s critics are going to be physically assaulted … not from the Right, at least.

      The danger is the constant whine of “Wolf! Wolf!” about every piece of trivia, both real and imaginary.

      Ketchup on steak, p___-grabbing, The Russians!, ObamaCare Lite … nothing but smoke, which accomplishes little aside from obscuring any real fires which might appear.

        Good point, Tom, but I was thinking more about right-leaning media. We don’t care about Trump ordering two scoops, but we love to mock the outrage. 🙂

        The problem, I think, is that everyone is so defensive that even reasoned discussion of Trump walkbacks is cheered by the NeverTrumpers as “evidence” that Trump is a disaster and dismissed by Trump supporters as unworthy of note.

        Frankly, neither course is reasonable. If we can’t say Trump made a mistake with a policy decision without that simple observation being weaponized or without the Trump Train declaring all Trump does as sacred . . . well, what do you have? (Hint: it starts with a “D” and ends in “rats.”)

          Close The Fed in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 30, 2017 at 11:25 pm

          Why is there even a question as to whether he’ll remove us from the Paris climate accord?
          Why are the executive order amnesties still in place?

          Disheartening, to put it lightly. My area schools have 25% foreigners/anchor babies in K-5. I was serious about the illegal alien issue.

          But I support Trump even though this to me nears catastrophe.

      Roy in Nipomo in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 30, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      I’d hate to see “NeverTrump” replace “Racist” as the epithet thrown at someone who disagreed with the President’s policy on something.

      Sanddog in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 31, 2017 at 12:33 am

      I’d like to see a little more fixation on the republicans in the house and senate. They’ve been saying for 8 freaking years they’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare yet they didn’t have firm legislation ready to go, agreed to by the House and Senate once Trump was inaugurated? They didn’t have tax reform ready to go? Maybe a closer examination of the slackers in Congress is warranted from the Never-Trumpers.

      rdmdawg in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 31, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Plenty of people have been critical of some of the stuff Trump has done, without incurring the ‘NeverTrumper’ moniker. Even rabid Trump supporters like me! Prof Jacobson has, though I can’t find any examples atm. Rush Limbaugh has, and nobody would accuse him of being a ‘NeverTrumper’.

      I’m a ‘NeverDemocrater’, Trump is simply an imperfect means to an end.

    That is a much more accurate explanation than Prager’s. Right from the beginning, Trump ran against the uniparty establishment. Everyone knew going in that both primaries were rigged to produce Hillary vs Jeb. The Hillary had the insurmountable super delegates. The Republican primaries expected Cruz to be strong early in the straw polls and primaries where delegates were allocated by percentage. All Jeb had to do was win the first medium-to-big state winner-take-all primary and it would have been all over. Trump was the bull in the china shop who messed that up. Once Trump got on message, Cruz fell apart and proved to be utterly unlikable.

    By handing out soccer balls and teddy bears at the Texas border with free soccer balls with Glenn Beck, he proved his phoniness on the biggest issue of all. Then Mark Levin called people like me “a-holes and morons” as a primary line of attack. Then Cruz went on a little-reported meet and greet at LA’s elite California Club being introduce by Hugh Hewitt to “the money”. Compromised. The touring with his nutty dominionist father and Beck to hail Ted the 2nd coming of Christ. What a spectacle. I was appalled.

    Like him or not, Trump was the only candidate delivering the message that American voters wanted to hear. People were fed up with the uniparty and as soon as Trump showed any sign of being a threat to it, the entire establishment world (and “conservatives”!) united to stop Trump by any means necessary. It sure seemed to me like Trump WAS the 3rd party candidate so many of us were looking for. He blazed a new path that was only available to him or someone like him. A patriot fighting a corrupt globalist machine.

    Trump breached the uniparty wall and it is up to us to now follow him to chase out the corrupt occupiers and replace them with patriots. Apparently, the “conservative” Never Trumpers will never get that. They are permanently stuck in the vapid Dem vs Rep uniparty game. So instead of being constructive in securing critical gains to ensure the defeat of the enemy, they are working to have a replay of Hillary vs Jeb in 2020.

    That is why Hillary won’t go away nor change her message. And sensing an opportunity, Jeb reappeared last week to reclaim his spot. And Lyin’ Cruz hangs around like a fool waiting to declare “I told you so”.

    Cruz could set himself up for a real shot in 2020 or 2024 by campaigning for Trump last year and then becoming his “go to” guy in the Senate. Instead, he has become nothing more than a younger McCain, bitter and obstructionist. Cruz is history.

    Last year made me rethink everything. Trump single-handedly forced the masks to come off. It was a marvel to behold. Everyone else playing the usual cautious game. Trump changed the game permanently. Trump read the Venn diagram that showed that disgruntled former Democrats were angry for the same reasons that disgruntled former Republicans were. So there is your winning majority, the America First majority.

    The challenge was to communicate the same message to both in a new way. Everyone else was Democrat or Republican. Trump united the new majority by speaking AMERICAN! Just listen to everyone talking! Mark Levin has never convinced me that he was anywhere near close to having his thumb on the pulse but today he sounds clueless and bitter. Same with Beck. Same with Cruz. Same with all of the neocons.

    The official Republican platform WORKS. That is how Brat defeated Cantor. Every GOP congressman and senator who ran last year won with it. But as we continue to see in Congress, they didn’t mean it. Trump did. So how hard is it to now pick the right side? Instead of conspiring to obstruct Trump, we should be united in helping him succeed against the uniparty!

    Let’s put the Clinton-Bush-Obama era behind us. Trump was the illusive first victory in doing that. We need to secure that victory if we hope to ever turn the direction around. A successful Trump is ESSENTIAL for that to happen. He didn’t run as a conservative. He ran on the OFFICIAL Republican platform. He has been delivering on that that so far. He MUST win! We need to all be of that winning story!

      Why is it that words and letters get clipped? I proofed this thing thoroughly yet…. Frustrating.

      Wow. Still railing against Cruz?

      On what grounds is he “unlikable” (I find him immensely likable, but hey, I didn’t go to Trump Train U.)?

      Yeah, I was just as disgusted and horrified by Cruz and Beck handing out soccer balls and teddy bears as I was by Trump and Pence handing out boxes of Play-doh to flood victims in Louisiana. As I’m sure you were, too. After all, this sort of blatantly base and pandering photo-op must be despicable because it’s despicable, not because of the person involved. Er, right?

      Soccer ball pandering is damnable, but you then claim that if only Cruz had pandered to Trump, he’d be in good shape for 2020. Oh, but wait, his dad was too busy killing JFK from the grassy knoll to raise his son not to be a liar. So there goes Cruz, he’s history, you claim.

      Personally, I’ve always reveled in the more fanatic Trump fans’ attacks on Cruz. Do you know why? I’m sure you do, it’s the same reason you people continue to attack him. 😛

        I am not a Trump fan boy. I am just being realistic. As for Cruz, there was a better way for him to go once Trump caught fire. But he seemed to feel entitled to be “the guy” to upset the Jeb coronation and misread the landscape. He greatly overestimated himself and completely missed the “rigged” part. The primaries were rigged specifically against HIM, not Trump. He should have recognized that and then do what most young politicians do to survive, get out of the way and join the team. Be an important cog of a successful revolution. Instead, he chose to make it all about him on his divine quest.

        Today, until Cruz convinces me that he will be an important part of the team that won the election on a major mandate, I am not interested in anything he has to say. His “go it alone” stunts, while entertaining for a while, accomplished nothing and led us nowhere. There is a bigger game being played but by making it about himself personally, he is part of why Republicans can;t score despite being the only team on the field. It’s long past time for him to fix that because should Trump fail and the breach in the wall repaired, it won’t matter who the next “great conservative hope” will be. It certainly won’t be Cruz.

        Tom Servo in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 30, 2017 at 11:37 pm

        Count me as one who has always liked Cruz, right from the moment he first ran his upstart campaign against Dewhurst, the Texas Gop-E candidate for the Senate, and I like Cruz still.

        Having said that, I just don’t think Cruz really plays well outside of Texas. He fits Texas voters perfectly, and should win re-election next year with about 60% – 65% of the vote. And he is going to be a Senator from Texas for as long as he wants, whether that’s 6 more years or 40, so he’s far from finished. But I don’t think the Presidency is ever gonna be in his future. And that’s ok, being a Senator from Texas isn’t exactly a bad job to have.

        If Cruz changes or appears to soften his demeanor in the Senate somewhat, I suspect it will be because he’s realizing that the Senate is gonna be his home for a long time, so he might as well make the best of it.

          That is in line with what I am saying. He hadn’t accomplished anything but ran for president anyway and hurt himself by how he handled himself. He continues to be in opposition to his party’s candidate who won and doesn’t seem to be doing anything that will get him back in the game on the national stage. He might still prove to be a great senator but unless he becomes a player in what is going on right now, he will always be remembered nationally for 2016.

          Sarah Palin had been a great governor with real accomplishments and was a young, upbeat, and enthusiastic national persona but even she was permanently damaged for having been McCain’s VP.

          If Cruz is going to salvage his national prospects, the time is NOW. He needs to actually accomplish something and being the anti-Trump with an “I told you so!” attitude is not it..

        rdmdawg in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 31, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        LOL wait a minute. I’m a Cruz supporter and you’re my second favorite blogger here (forever), but reality check. You can’t see the difference between handing out soccer balls to illegal alien children at our border and handing out play-doh to flood victims in Louisiana?

          Liz in reply to rdmdawg. | May 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm

          Every storm prep list always includes entertainment items on the list for both children and adults. So, I had no problem with the Trump picture.

          But I also have to wonder how many pictures were taken (& rejected) of Trump handing out food or water. The photographer probably saw the toys and waited for the photo op.

          Aw, thanks, rdmdawg! 🙂 As to the illegals thing, yeah, I do get the difference. I also got why they did it. I guess it’s the pandering part that I was focused on, though.

Goldberg isn’t running on all cylinders. Intellectually, he’s gone all passive-aggressive, and he’s not very good at it.

Too bad. When he’s not playing mind-games on himself, he can occasionally be very insightful. He used to be pretty good at seeing the forest through the trees swamp.

Perhaps it’s just age-induced sclerosis of the imagination, and has nothing to do with Trump. No way to tell … but the exact diagnosis hardly matters.

And Max Boot – YEESH! – he cant hit a keyboard without childish slams at Trump – so much so that I have to cancel my subscription to Commentary

Donald Trump is the closest thing to a true conservative in my lifetime. His cabinet and supreme court picks confirm it. As Conservatives our choices have been Democrat or light Democrat. As long as the big money never Trumpers interests keep their power they could care less about who is in the White House. Unless the never Trumper’s get behind Trump and the conservative voters who elected him, Trump should consider forming a third party.

Sometimes I get the feeling that the Never-Trump wing of the Republican party wants to go back to the good old days when the voters put them in office and they immediately ignored those voters until the next election. Some of them really do believe that we need to be led by the hand like small children and really shouldn’t offer our opinions to the “adults” in charge. If Trump puts their panties in a twist, GOOD.

Why not just ask neo-neocon?

Goldberg, Cost, French, all the same. As feckless as the GOPe that talks a conservative game, but always, always look to enrich their selves. The “conservative” party in congress? Get busy passing conservative legislation and then let’s see if Trump is the devil those double talkers claim he is by vetoing the legislation.

Nope, they will not pass anything conservative because they know Trump will sign it. Get back to me when those three are “Never GOPe”.

Sour grapes. That is all they are. We, the deplorables, would not listen to our betters.
They liked Obama, would have loved Hillary. Simple as that.

    rdmdawg in reply to Barry. | May 31, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Oh man, this is an excellent point. Let’s see all this conservative legislation pouring forward from congress, and let’s see Trump vetoing it all. Until that happens, Never-Trumpers are just all talk.

The problem is we the people figured out the “true conservatives” were liars and phonies. The tweet to Germany was awesome. Merkel is an Obama kisser, enough said.
Hopefully the never Trumpers can attack McCain and Ryan for stopping the conservative plans Trump would like to Pass. Eight years of Obama and Republicans appear to not have given a thought about how to improve health care.
McCain running around wanting more wars, talking in Foreign countries against the President, he is pure slime.
Bush letting our border be over run so our country can be destroyed. On and on it goes.
Trump is the first president since Eisenhower to try to get a handle on the border. This probably is the most important thing he can can do, so why aren’t the “conservatives” out cheering and helping?
I am very conservative, the country no longer is. Trump is pushing the ball back more than anyone else would have.
I know you never Trumpers are morally superior but give me a break.

It seems that the best possible outcome for conservatives would be the departure of that incompetent unprincipled and embarrassing imbecile and have Mike Pence become president. I don’t understand the loyalty to the orange buffoon. Nobody wants a drawn-out impeachment battle, but it would be best for conservatives if Trump just resigned after declaring victory in his mission of “making America great again.”

    Sanddog in reply to jasperjava. | May 30, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    It would be best if the Never-Trump morons would just shut the hell up and reflect upon why they lost control. This whining and backstabbing doesn’t make them look like a group of people you’d trust to be on your local school board much less to control the direction of the country.

    What do you expect would happen with Pence? The establishment isn’t scared to death of him like they are of Trump. There is probably a good reason for that. Nevertheless, they would go after him hammer and tong just like they do with all Republican presidents.

    Trump has proven to be a fierce fighter who can deliver. Pence? I don’t want to find out. He hasn’t exactly been fighting side-by-side in the trenches with Trump so far. If he is even around, he is standing silently nearby trying to look like a George Washington portrait.

    jasperjava, your one and only comment on LI is text-book concern troll. Don’t worry, though, I won’t tell a soul.

      Fuzzy – can you tell if there has been an increase in new commenters? I’ve been reading LI for a while and there sure seems to be a whole bunch of new names commenting and then disappearing.

        Mich in reply to Liz. | May 31, 2017 at 8:48 am

        I’ve been looking at this site and commenting since the prof started it. I scan it, but read it less and less. I’m just going about my life and not trying to get too caught up in things I cannot control. I don’t have faith in any politician, certainly not Donald Trump. I hope he is better than I think he will be. Not defending, not attacking. Waiting to see. Like some of his picks, hate others, like his daughter and son in law (picks, not the people).

        Yes, Liz, we can tell, and we do monitor for trolls and the like.

    VaGentleman in reply to jasperjava. | May 31, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Pence after Trump = Ford after Nixon. A place holder while the GOPe tries to apologize enough and the dems plan the new Carter.

The Never Trumpers seem to me to be “intellectuals”. Here’s a book about “intellectuals” by Paul Johnson:

    tom swift in reply to gibbie. | May 30, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Although Johnson defines “intellectual” in perhaps an unusual way, he doesn’t do so explicitly. And it can take a bit of reading to puzzle that out. Then it becomes an interesting and entertaining book.

Subotai Bahadur | May 30, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Look, we ARE in a civil war. There are arguments as to where we are on the hot cold spectrum, but we are dealing with TWANLOC. The Democrat Never-Trumpers are the enemy. The Republican Never-Trumpers have chosen sides, and it is not ours. They very much would prefer that Hillary took power by whatever means, no matter how much they deny it. Because that would mean that those nasty people would not have any role in governance, which to them is how it should be.

If they get their wish, and somehow overthrow Trump, things will not become the Elitist paradise both parties dream of. They hated and hate the TEA Party. They hated and hate Trump. They will fear who or whatever comes next, because having proved that elections don’t count, there will be other, more traditional, forms of politics.

IMO the NeverTrumpers want Trump to fail.
If he either is impeached or neutered to the point of accomplishing nothing due to constant investigations & negative media or the loss of the House/Senate they will be able to say “We told you so, we warned about electing this fake Conservative, we told you he couldn’t do what he promised, blah, blah, blah”

The “true” Conservatives will then feel vindicated and become common scolds attacking anyone who voted for Trump or ever opined a semi-positive word about him. And unfortunately they will be guilty of the same blindness as the Left – you can’t denigrate the voters you want to support you next time. But they won’t think that rule apples to them because all the Trumpers were so mean to them and didn’t recognize their superior conservative credentials.

Henry Hawkins | May 30, 2017 at 9:16 pm

We fret over the guppy when the shark is Congress. Good or bad, Trump is made irrelevant by, at least, a Congress made up of traitorous Democrats and weak, spineless Republicans. Trump could turn into Abe f**king Lincoln and it wouldn’t matter one bit.

CaptScientist | May 30, 2017 at 9:19 pm

What do conservative Never-Trumpers really want?


Thanks for this Professor. The masks sure have dropped, haven’t they? We can thank Trump for that too. These “conservatives” really aren’t that in to this whole ” America” thing. Nice bubble if you can keep it.

    Um, the prof is a conservative, and he says so all the time. Including in this post. What are you talking about?

      “What are you talking about?”

      Pretty clear Fuzzy. Many “conservatives” ain’t. Notice the sneer quotes.

      Sorta like “the better man” isn’t.

      Exposed by Trump.

      Close The Fed in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 30, 2017 at 11:39 pm

      To Fuzzy Slippers:
      I think you misread the post.

      He’s saying the mask has come off of, really, everyone.

      We can now see who the true “Never-Trumpers” were, and who were the the “Never-But-Maybe Trumpers.”

      He’s not accusing the Professor, just noting that Trump caused the curtain to fall and know we see all the players without their costumes.

      Fuzzy, just an observation. I am not that familiar with you but I have observed that you have a habit of misreading or mischaracterizing what people actually wrote. You’ve done it to me a couple of times over the past two weeks and again in this thread, to me and at least one other person.

      I would suggest that you are very sensitive about being a “former NeverTrumper”, particularly in defining your right to criticize Trump without pushback so maybe you have not completely separated yourself from it. You are looking for a happy middle ground between those of us who for various reasons saw the light about Trump without embracing his persona. It is really simple, he was the only one not named Hillary or Jeb who could win. That alone is enough and doesn’t need to be reconciled to the issues you keep carrying into the discussion in defending, for instance, Ted Cruz.

      I have concerns about Trump myself but I have no wish to contribute to pointless criticisms that serve no purpose. Trump ran on the OFFICIAL Republican platform, the same platform that “conservatives” embrace and get frustrated when the “conservatives” who they elect run away from it even before they are sworn in. Trump came right out of the election going to work BEFORE he was sworn in. You don’t have a leg to stand on in trying to pick Trump apart on selective issues. We won’t know whether the endless reports of his imminent flip-flopping are true until he actually flip-flops. So far he hasn’t. Give it a rest.

      And being the intermediary in a between NTs and everyone else claiming to understand both sides makes you very annoying. Move on. Set yourself free. The NTs are losers. There is no reconciling them to anyone.

How is assuring the survival of the conservative movement effected by continued opposition to Trump by erstwhile conservatives? Goldberg never states how he thinks this is supposed to work, like the Underwear Gnomes who don’t know what “Phase Two” is. And what specific policies do the continued “Never Trumpers” find objectionable? Repealing Obama Care? Building the wall? Getting out of climate and trade agreements that are bad deals for the country? They are fighting him (or at least dragging their heels) over each of these policies. If they can’t support Trump in his attempts to enact conservative policies, what makes them (the Never Trumpers) conservative? It seems they are defending themselves and their ilk, to assure the continued existence of their own power. They are the worst of the swamp dwellers.

One thing that bugs me about conservatives NTs is that some of these same people told conservative voters to support Romney as the lesser of two evils, and to suck it up and vote McCain (apparently, “just because”) as the Republican/conservative candidates, when arguably neither of those two were/are in favor of as many conservative policies as is Trump. (Although they were both “conservative” when compared to their opponents, mostly because the opposition has moved so far to the left. Most of today’s “conservatives” are JFK-style Democrats. The Overton Window has moved, but we continue to call the people we see out of the window’s right side “conservative” even though an earlier glance out the window would have put them squarely left-of-center.)

    Ragspierre in reply to DaveGinOly. | May 30, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    You’re either ill-read or full of shit.

    Goldberg writes about how T-rump is hurting the conservative movement pretty much every week.

    Otherwise, you post is anti-historic, false, and just stooooooopid.

      Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | May 30, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      Yea, Goldbug and his buddies like you have really led a conservative renaissance.

      Conservative causes are losing badly. Have been for 50 years or more. You’ll twiddle while it continues to burn down. Blame Trump, or look in the mirror and see the real problem.

      Go back to accusing Lewandoski of assault. It’s more fitting for you.

A lot of what the liberals want, less redistributive change. Perhaps they can reach a consensus on a debt sharing agreement.

I’ve heard for many years that the Rs have to be more welcoming and have a bigger tent and be more accepting and that’s how we’ll win. So, we have open primaries with 17 candidates, many going after the same small group of people. And, they let Ds and others vote which creates chaos. So, until all the state GOP organizations clean up their act and get closed primaries, then they need to stop complaining.

BTW, one of the Jay Cost tweets says that Trump doesn’t know anything about trade with Germany, criticizing Trump’s comment about the large trade deficit with them. Here is a government report showing trade with Germany since 1985 –

All you see are trade deficits for each year. For 1st qtr 2017, exports are $13,000,000 and imports are $27,500,000 which leaves a deficit of $14,500,000.

I laugh when these super intellectuals like Goldberg raise the spectre of Trump being a narciccist BUT never provide evidence or even a reasoning for using such a term. It’s now up there with things like (insert what ever screetchy SJW bollocks is currently the flavour of the moment).

What’s truly funny about these claims is how these same so called super intellectuals kept quiet these last 8 years while an ACTUAL narciccist was in office waging war against anyone who dared criticise anything he said.

I mean any man of refers to himself (I, me, my) several hundred times in a speech as Barry was find of doing is truly worthy of the label they throw at a man who refers to “us”, “our” and “we” in his speeches.

“I do think Mike Pence would be a better president and would get more accomplished.”

Like Bush got accomplished? Like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell would get accomplished?

Perhaps we do make a mistake when we compare Trump’s performance to that of a hypothetical Hillary presidency. Perhaps the germane comparison is that with a GOP Establishment president. We have all the evidence in the world going back many years that the modern GOP is far to the left of Trump, which is astonishing given Trump’s complete lack of ideology.

I’m tired of being held accountable for irrelevant character flaws also. I don’t give a rat’s ass if Trump eats babies and burps on twitter. The Democrats are nigh close to destroying our country and my way of life. It really *is* war, and we need soldiers to save us.

Perfection should never be the enemy of the good.

“NeverTrumpers” seem like the conservative version of liberal academics: hot house utopionists.

One reason Trump won the nomination was that the entire GOP field was Democrat-lite. (Yes, we had Cruz, but even he failed in some of the debates and really messed up blaming Trump for the Chicago riot.) No one, save perhaps Cruz, was able to articulate a conservative viewpoint and defend it. So where was this conservative nominee the never-trumpers really wanted? Would they have been never-Bushes too?

Once Trump became the nominee, that should have been it. I held my nose for McCain and Romney, who were both big government guys as well.

Is it just his manner of speaking? If you talk all nice and proper will the Real Conservatives support you, regardless of your leftist policies?

I don’t expect the never Trumpers to fall blindly in line, but stop the constant attacks on him. Criticize him where appropriate, but give credit as well when he deserves that too.

No one but Trump was talking to the middle class. With no actual conservative choice, we picked the guy who could hopefully really shake things up.

    Close The Fed in reply to jabster. | May 31, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Re: Jabster:


      Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to Close The Fed. | May 31, 2017 at 11:08 am

      One reason Trump won the nomination was that the entire GOP field was Democrat-lite.

      A better reason was that none of the GOP field except Trump would stand up on their hind legs and forthrightly challenge and denounce so many of the PC shibboleths that have rotted political debate in the last couple of decades. ANY of them could have done it – PC after all simply lines up a rank of facts that May Not Be Discussed, which a First-Amendment defender could take pride in mowing down – but only Trump was enough of an outlier from the acquiescent groupthink to address that rank and bluntly open fire.

      That was good enough for me.

        If they can’t speak it, why should anyone expect they would DO it? Trump boldly ran on the OFFICIAL Republican platform and it worked. “True conservatives” are now worried that a “non-conservative” will get the credit. Petty politics.

        If people would resist having to prove that they fit into one label or the other, everything makes perfect sense. It’s easier to stay true to your heart-felt core principles than to a phony label. It makes you harder to manipulate.

          There are times where I really want to ask some of the commentators what their definition of “conservative”. Now, that would be an interesting post – ask everyone for their definitions. I don’t think there is a consistent definition of “alt-right”.

          Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to Pasadena Phil. | May 31, 2017 at 10:16 pm

          I don’t think there is a consistent definition of “alt-right”.

          Because it’s a pejorative from the beginning. No one should take it seriously.

nerkbuckeye | May 31, 2017 at 8:12 am

I love to read comments at LI because you can almost predict the comments for each individual on each side.
It really doesn’t matter why Never Trumpers are Never Trumpers, in any case, history will prove them wrong.
Why? Because we ARE in a civil war and refusing to back POTUS Trump because you think he’s a buffoon is like not wanting Grant to lead the Union army because he drinks too much.

To answer the headline question – consistency.

    rdmdawg in reply to Mich. | May 31, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Like a Paul Ryan-type consistency? Like him caving to every demand of Democrats and a far-left socialist president during budget negotiations? Does that kind of consistency make you happy? Or the ‘never-fight-for-your-principles’ style consistency of a Jeb! or Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney?

The current group of people who make up what is commonly referred to as #NeverTrump or never trumpers are actually card carrying members of the uni-party as defined by Andrew Codevilla, “The Ruling Class”. They are declaring themselves to be the enemy of the “Country Class”.

I will add that the Latest from Codevilla over at Power Line is good reading regarding this topic, “Does Trump Trump”

NR folks’ responses to Dennis sure prove him out. I can’t go to national review anymore. They don’t treat those of us who either voted for Trump or are willing to support him now as any better than the democrats do. Doesn’t that tell them anything? I wanted President Obama to fail and now I’d like President Trump to succeed. If he fails it won’t go well for us…i live in CA I know what rotten governing is

Just take a minute and witness the absolutely Stalinist shutupery here by T-rump sucking types.

Class distinctions of several types, and all of them BAD if you don’t slavishly support Der Donald.

“Elitists” (which is a dirty joke as applied to real conservatives like myself, who earned a living most of his life with his hands BUT not to Prager). Note how that is used instead of bourgeois, but with the same meaning and intent.

“Intellectuals” in place of “wreckers” and “proles”. (Prager ISN”T an “intellectual” but Goldberg, Williamson, and French ARE…??? Please, Stalinist goons!)

I really just have to laugh at how unaware so many of you are.

    rdmdawg in reply to Ragspierre. | May 31, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Oh please, tell us again how ‘unaware’ and ‘ignorant’ we all are, and then deny your elitism again.

    Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | May 31, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I really just have to laugh at how you double down on your stupid unending nevertrump shtick.

    You may have worked with your hands most of your life, but you apparently developed blindness along the way.

    And you can still see assaults that never happened. Blindness, the result of Trump derangement syndrome.

    He’s “worked with his hands most of his life” but he’s an “experienced attorney”. One of those is false.

      Ragspierre in reply to SDN. | May 31, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      No, you lying piece of pig pizzle, both are perfectly true.

      I started law school in my mid forties, and had to leave periodically to work full time/start a business, though I was working many more hours when I was a full-time student than the ABA allows.

      It took me 10 years to complete my program. I passed the bar on my attempt and was admitted to the State Bar Of Texas in 2005, at which point I immediately began litigating to trial various civil matters.

Oh, boy. Trying to add something onto this thread is intimidating, but I’ll give it a shot.

Asking what the Never-Trump’ers want is counterproductive. Never-Trump is a short-term goal. They have no unifying long-term goal. They dislike Trump, they want him to fail, they want to see him chased out of Washington D.C. in disgrace, but after that point, every Never-Trump’er has different or nonexistent goals.

-The Dems want to see the return of Queen Hillary, and her reign of (cough) excuse me (cough, cough) pardon me.

-The classical conservatives believe at that point that the spirit of Ronald Reagan will return to inspire the country, reincarnated in the body of (fill in your candidate here)

-The moderate Republicans see a return to their happy, comfortable spot as a minority party.

-And the just plain Trump haters… have no clue.

Insufficiently Sensitive | May 31, 2017 at 10:51 am

None of the learned conservative respondents to Prager bothered to address his greatest concern: that of Hillary being the final move to lock the US into European-style socialism, into ‘progressive’ uber-government, into even more unaccountable government, and greatly increasing damage to the US Constitution.

And none of them laid out their own program of a governance which would retrieve and repair this badly distorted diversion from the Constitution – at least how such a governance could be elected.

I would point to Rush Limbaugh for a lot of what could refute this. I can virtually guarantee that Rush would not even attempt to say that Trump will destroy conservativism by his Presidency. He would say it was separate issues and that NONE of these people have done anything but made excuses since Reagan for Bush I and Bush II along with Republicans in Congress and done what they refused to do with Trump. These people are Bush Establishment Republicans who want the conservative label and they don’t like the Bush direction of things like Amnesty.

I think it is a joke these people can get behind the actions of Ryan and McConnell who passed the ridiculous budgets of the past 6 years including the one after they won the Senate in 2014 and talk about people giving Republicans or so-called conservatives a bad name. Saying trumps tweets are something the average person takes so hard they reject conservatism over it is stomping of feet.

These people should take the simple truth of Prager’s article is that the rest of us are not seeing your motivations as pure and good and you need to take that seriously before we ever take you seriously and if Never-Trumpers want to be on the sour end of what the rest of us feel is an important time they will never be received as the “leaders” they think they are for conservatism.

    This doesn’t change what you’re saying but Congress hasn’t passed a budget in almost ten years. Since the uniparty has adopted the Big Comprehensive Cramdown as their core strategy, we have had nothing but continuing resolutions. That way, nothing gets discussed. Laws are written by the special interests themselves and submitted for a last minute vote for their “comprehensive” deals.

    Government has become one big secret process where even most elected representatives are denied information and time to process no less discuss and argue the merits before voting. We should be taking an axe to the whole thing, like burning down a building rather than chase down the termites one-by-one.

An additional thing is that it isnt a concidence most these people worked for Bill Kristol before Trump ran and still do.

Hardly a reason to beleive this isn’t about keeping your job.

    That’s a point that I think Professor Jacobson needs to think about.

    I have struggled since last year over the term “conservative”. I was and am still a Tea Party constitutionalist. My beliefs and convictions have not changed one whit. But political labels have proved over time to be a good way to get derailed. The inability of “conservatives” to stay true to their stated beliefs and convictions has been exasperating. All campaigns end up with “conservatives” always arguing we should hold our noses again and vote for John McCain (who begged John Kerry to select him for VP) or Mitt Romney (the architect of ObamaCare). But when we actually found a candidate who crashed through the establishment wall, these “same” conservatives can’t find the way to hold THEIR noses.

    As to the professor, I go back to the very early days on this blog when he was a one-man show. I always like this blog because it interesting watching an academic evolve his thinking in a hot bad of liberal academia into even finding the most rudimentary elements of “conservatism”. IMHO, he has come a long way. But I think Jacobson is stuck on the term of “conservatism”.

    I don’t want to get into it on this thread but I still see Jacobson as mostly a neocon. but not be lumped in with Kristol. I think Jacobson needs to focus some serious thought about this. This is a very problematic subject that that always invites charges of antisemitism (and for good reason) but neocons are NOT small government “conservatives”. They are former liberal Democrats who broke away from the party in the 1970s mostly over the issue of Israel. Rejecting neocons is NOT rejecting the defense if Israel.

    Professor, I believe that in the end you will not care much about the labels. If you and others can come around to understanding the epic breakthrough Trump represents for those of us who believe in national sovereignty and small constitutional government, we will find ourselves in a substantial majority. We can come up with a suitable label later.

    For now, Trump smashed through the wall that “conservatives” couldn’t. All be have to do is follow him through the breach instead of shooting him in the back. It’s like Ann Coulter wrote a few months ago referencing Diogenes: “I’m sorry, I was looking for a TALLER honest man.” That is what the NTs are doing. Keep it simple and the labels will take care of themselves.

VaGentleman | May 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm

It seems to me that there is a lot of faith healing in the current #NT movement. The answer to everything is that they believe and you don’t. If only we believe as much as they do, everything will work out OK. As with all faith healers, if the patient dies, it’s because someone didn’t believe enough. The belief system matters, not the results.

They can’t question themselves because the act of analyzing implies a lack of faith (we COULD be wrong). Hence the constant claim that conservativism can’t survive any tactical compromise (we can’t accept half a loaf from Trump, it’s better to get nothing [or worse] from Clinton and maintain the purity of the movement).

Read Eric Hoffer.

    We’re getting more than half a loaf with Trump. His agenda is the official GOP platform. We won’t get it all but we will finally get some very important victories. Unless the NTs prevail, Trump will have effectively retired both the Clinton and Bush family international crime syndicates in one swoop. He should be put on Mount Rushmore for that alone.

buckeyeminuteman | May 31, 2017 at 12:21 pm

The fact is that after 8 years of Obama the GOP suffer from Stockholm Syndrome or maybe even Battered Wife Syndrome. They like being the victim, it’s good for their fundraising and they don’t actually have to come up with good policies. Now that someone is in charge who affiliates more with them than with Democrats, they don’t know what to do except try hard to become the victim again.

For the past 5 months the vast majority of what Trump has done is in line with conservative policies. Other nations once again respect us, he’s cutting the size of federal government, he wants to lower taxes, get rid of mandatory health insurance, increased defense spending, get better trade deals for the US, axe Obama’s ridiculous executive orders, etc, etc, etc. It’s time to nut up or shut up.

MaxWebXperienZ | May 31, 2017 at 12:37 pm

I’ve been studying personality types in recent years. One trait of introverts is self-assessed superiority. On the job when asked for comments on fellow workers they rate extroverts very low and give props to introverts. I call them the introvert mafia and considering that their favored careers are law [and most of our elected officials are lawyers] and medicine I consider them one of the biggest problems of any culture. They are actually incompetent to a large degree but unable to assess that. Now they see an extrovert in the White House and they feel threatened. Boo hoo, maybe there’s an app for finding nearby introvert safe spaces…

Mark Hanna (GOPe if his day) famously said, when TR was elevated to the Presidency in the wake of McKinley’s assassination, “That dammed cowboy is in the White House.” The never Trumper response is the same reaction, redux.

Nevertrumpers are virtue signalers of the worst order. They need to be purged.

    Ragspierre in reply to maxmillion. | May 31, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    But Little Red Guard goon, it is YOU doing the virtue signalling.

    I’ve been an independeatn CONSERVATIVE voter for decades.

    What the phuc do you propose to “purge” me from, honey?

    Ragspierre in reply to maxmillion. | May 31, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    But Little Red Guard goon, it is YOU doing the virtue signalling.

    I’ve been an independent CONSERVATIVE voter for decades.

    What the phuc do you propose to “purge” me from, honey?

Never trumpers are like libertarians. They know they’ll never be in power and feel more comfortable in the back seat. From there you can comment on the correct way to drive without having to actually steer and react to what is on the road. Looking at it that way, I think they would be sanguine about a Hillary presidency because they know they can still ride in the backseat and continue as before.

This is also behind the term “cuckservative”. Someone nominally conservative, but unwilling to take the fight to the left.

Don Surber pretty much nails it here:

“Now, four months into President Trump’s presidency — with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court likely guaranteed for at least a decade — with the rollback of Obama regulations by the score — with a 10-year budget proposal that will rein in entitlements while rebuilding the military — with the annihilation of the Islamic State near — with America first again — what do we get from the Never Trumpers?

Obstinate refusals to admit President Trump is a conservative who spared us Hillary.

They stand athwart history and yell, Hillary — just like the resistance.”

    Ragspierre in reply to SDN. | May 31, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    You poor moron. You’ve consigned Prof. Bill and about half teh posters on this VERY T-RUMP SUCKING THREAD into the lake of fire and brimstone reserved for those who will not confess The Great God Cheeto is the ONE TRUE CONSERVATIVE (because it’s a lie to call him ANY kind of conservative).

    Meanwhile, it’s apparent to anyone with a working brain he
    is ALSO no kind of manager.

    I mean in reality…as apart from “reality TV”.

    Similar thoughts here. I remember when W took office, and I waited for him to do the fiscal conservative things that needed to be done. And waited. And waited…

    Ignore the incoherent talk and the screaming tantrums from the #NT crowd. Trump has been doing what the conservatives claim they have wanted. I’m optimistically positive on what he’s done so far while cautiously watching his actions in the upcoming months. Where other Republicans in DC have talked big and worked small if at all, he’s talking big and actually working.

    It’s nice.

    And if he keeps it up for another 3.5 years, he’ll get to keep it up for four years beyond that. If you thought media and liberals were having frothing fits now, just wait. Popcorn.


Purrrr, purrrr T-rump sucking myrmidons.

Sad. (I mock T-rump here)

    VaGentleman in reply to Ragspierre. | June 1, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Post as many ‘toldja’s’ as you want. It doesn’t change the FACT that, on Nov 8, Trump was the best choice for the intelligent Conservative voter. A choice you didn’t have the courage to make. Faux conservatives like you still have nothing to offer except suicide – a suicide which only serves YOUR selfish interests.

      Ragspierre in reply to VaGentleman. | June 1, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      No. You lying SOS.

      Suicide is where you subsume ideas and ideas to a cult of personality.

      You are dead.

      I live on to fight.

      VaGentleman in reply to VaGentleman. | June 2, 2017 at 4:16 am


      >>No. You lying SOS.
      Projection on your part.

      >>Suicide is where you subsume ideas and ideas (ideaLs??) to a cult of personality.

      Interesting that you don’t recognize that you are the Trump personality cult. It’s a cult of negativism, but a cult none the less. Your hatred is so extreme that you willingly jeopardized conservativism because of it. And you continue to do so. But you’re right – it lead you to attempt political suicide. In the real world, Custer could only kill himself and his men once. In politics, you come back week after week and demand that we join you in your insanity. And it is the insanity of the cultist. What we understand, and what you refuse to accept, is that we can ride the train without buying the railroad. This train will take us as far as it can and then we will get off and catch the next one going our way. The fact that we ride this train doesn’t mean we have surrendered our virtue or sold out our principles. That you believe that we did is typical of cult behavior, where the belief system matters most of all. You demand we get on a train going the wrong way, or don’t ride at all, because you don’t like the engineer on our train. How stupid. How childish.
      This also explains your oft repeated line: ‘I won’t vote for any collectivist…’. Well, you should have. Let’s just face facts – you should have. That’s what adults do. We give 5 yr olds hard rules because it’s what they can understand. Their brains aren’t physically fully grown and they lack knowledge and experience to make adult decisions. Adults (should) recognize that the hard rules don’t apply to all decisions. I believe the legal system recognizes the need as exigent circumstances and the law of competing harms. Sometimes you have to choose the better of 2 imperfect cases. Nov 8 was clearly one of those times. The fact that you gave no thought to the needs of conservativism, but stopped thinking at the needs of the cult of #NT, shows again that you championed the cult, and not conservativism. Cults force you to think like a 5 yr old, and you are proud to do so. The fact that you still can’t answer whether Clinton or Trump was better for conservativism, but fall back on your ‘won’t vote’ line, shows that your true loyalties lie with the cult.
      In the same way that the hate mongers of Westboro Baptist try to hide their hatred behind christianity, you try to hide your hatred behind the veil of conservativism. In doing so, you pollute conservativism as they pollute christianity. You are a loyal #NT cultist, but a faux conservative.

      The fault lines have been exposed.
      It’s time to fish or cut bait.
      The game’s started. We’re 7 mins into the 1st quarter. Our team’s got the ball. If you are going to keep cheering every time we fumble, take off your jersey and go sit with the progressives where you belong.

      >>You are dead.
      >>I live on to fight.

      Typical 5 yr old’s bravado.

MaxWebXperienZ | June 1, 2017 at 2:09 pm

What goes with this comment section. When I open it up to post my CPU spikes and the computer slows so much that typing is horribly fiddly…

Anyhow I learned new term here today: snotflake!! I love it.

Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything acronym is SWINE, so SWINE Snotflake Crybullies are the New Left [asif the Left really is about anything new]

    Yeah, there seems to be something going on here at LI. Twice this morning my entire browser went black when I navigated to LI and it has happened several times before. I’m not a computer nerd but they looked like DOS attacks that my browser blocked.

    That is how it started with Discus too and my account was eventually hijacked. So I closed it and deleted the history. If you see Pasadena Phil on any Discus threads, it’s not me. So many websites use Discus so it is a prime target for hackers. I don’t know what service LI uses but maybe security is being compromised similarly.

I find the question “What do Never Trumpers Want” to be odd, even sarcastic. One might well have asked those Conservatives who were critical of the many shortcomings of John McCain or Bush II the same thing. However, that question was not asked of conservative critics before because, unlike Trump, they did not have too many mindlessly infatuated “bots” – they did not think their guy was our “last chance” and “only one who can save us” messianic figures.

Have Trump’s loyalists forgotten (or never learned?) the basics of opinion journalism: it is the self-assigned business of opinion makers to speak to truth, not whip the troops into foaming partisans – leave that to party propagandists and quasi-religious true believers.

National Review, for example, has always spoken for movement conservatives…not campaign committees. It fiercely opposed Bush over his attempts to give amnesty to illegals, as it did his (and McCain’s) efforts to massively increase immigration and keep porous borders. They, Limbaugh, Levin, and many others were a part of the national grassroots uprising over Bush’s attempt at stuffing it down our throats.

And National Review and the Weekly Standard were part of the massive grassroots protest against Bush’s attempt to appoint his clueless personal attorney rather than a real originalist. Good thing they were “disloyal” to “our” President, don’t you think?

In fact, I recall that the hotbeds of conservative critics went after Bush over Medicare Drug expansion, failing to balance the budget, his tepid unwillingness to play hardball with Democrats on many issues, failure to deal with Rumsfeld and/or Powell (depending on the critic), and his mishandling in appointing a special prosecutor.

So Professor Jacobson, why weren’t you (and many others) asking “What do these people want?”. How is it you feel so uncomfortable and demand answers when Donald Trump’s shortcomings are noted, but not Bush’s?

Mind you, I am not saying that there were not Bushbots in the hoi poli (the Bush can do no wrong acolytes) but this is the first time that people who should know better are asking a pointless question.

Might it be that it is Trumper core in the opinion arts that have gone of the deep end, have demanded folks sell out their integrity and mouth the party line for the sake unity…truth be damned?

While you think about it, let me suggest that never Trumpers want what they have alway wanted: conservative-free market policies that advance the vision of Goldwater, WFB, Friedman, and/or Reagan. What they don’t want is is empty attitude without purpose or substance; they don’t want another stealth supreme court nomination, or back-tracking on DACA, or waffling on Jerusalem. And they don’t want liberal Kushner and liberal Goldman Sachs Cohn setting policy.

As a former refusenik (I refused to vote for either Trump or Hillary) I suspect what Goldberg, Shapiro, French and many others want is what I want: compliments and support of Trump when he does right, criticism and opposition of Trump when he does wrong, and a consistent non-hypocritical loyalty to ones values.

Why does that seem to make you (or core Trump acolytes) so uncomfortable? How could anyone, including you, be otherwise?

To start with…..I would like a president who is sane.
Not some self centered unbalanced madman.

What do diehard intellectual neverTrumpists want? (And I don’t necessarily include Trump skeptics here, who remain somewhat critical but are willing to “go to war with the resources we have”.) Not much, really: they simply want to be RIGHT– about everything– in order to maintain their exalted position as inheritors of the mantle of the saintly William F. Buckley.

As intellectual progeny of Buckley, they can never be wrong; they MUST never be wrong. They look down upon anyone who supports the president, no matter what the reason, as members of a primitive, ignorant moblike cult. For only they, the neverTrumpers, are fit to serve as custodians of the Truth. (For only the candidate who passed the patented True Conservative Smell Test won their approval. But that guy couldn’t carry even one state.)

Meanwhile, the fires set long ago by members of the Frankfurt School are smoldering, even bursting into flames in some places.