Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.
And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?
.. “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” said the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
.. And want to preserve your own republican institutions? Then pay attention to the character of your leaders, the culture of governance and the political health of the public. It matters a lot more than lowering the top marginal income tax rate by a couple of percentage points.
.. Or maybe you regret the failure to repeal Obamacare. But that had something to do with the grotesque insults Trump lobbed at John McCain, the man whose “nay” vote sank repeal... Look at every other administration embarrassment (Scaramucci) or failure (the wall, and Mexico paying for it) or disgrace (the Charlottesville equivocation). Responsibility invariably lies with the president’s intemperance and dishonesty. That puts Republican control of Congress in play. It also risks permanently alienating a millennial generation for which the G.O.P. will forever be the party of the child-molesting sore loser and the president who endorsed him... Now look at the culture of governance. Trump demands testimonials from his cabinet, servility from Republican politicians and worship from conservative media. To serve in this White House isn’t to be elevated to public service. It’s to be debased into toadyism, which probably explains the record-setting staff turnover of 34 percent.. In place of presidential addresses, stump speeches or town halls, we have Trump’s demagogic mass rallies. In place of the usual jousting between the administration and the press, we have a president who fantasizes on Twitter about physically assaulting CNN. In place of a president who defends the honor and integrity of his own officers and agencies, we have one who humiliates his attorney general, denigrates the F.B.I. and compares our intelligence agencies to the Gestapo.
Trump is normalizing all this; he is, to borrow another Moynihan phrase, “defining deviancy down.” A president who supposedly wants to put a wall between the U.S. and Latin America has imported a style of politics reminiscent of the cults of Juan Perón and Hugo Chávez.
.. Trump is empowering a conservative political culture that celebrates everything that patriotic Americans should fear: the cult of strength, open disdain for truthfulness, violent contempt for the Fourth Estate, hostility toward high culture and other types of “elitism,” a penchant for conspiracy theories and, most dangerously, white-identity politics.
As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up
Despite the fervor of President Trump’s Republican opponents, the president’s brand of hard-edge nationalism — with its gut-level cultural appeals and hard lines on trade and immigration — is taking root within his adopted party, and those uneasy with grievance politics are either giving in or giving up the fight.
.. The Grand Old Party risks a longer-term transformation into the Party of Trump.
“There is zero appetite for the ‘Never Trump’ movement in the Republican Party of today,” said Andy Surabian, an adviser to Great America Alliance, the “super PAC” that is aiding primary races against Republican incumbents. “This party is now defined by President Trump and his movement.”
.. Many of those who remain will have to accommodate the president to survive primaries from the pro-Trump right.
.. governor races in Virginia and New Jersey and a special Senate race in Alabama — Republican candidates are mirroring Mr. Trump’s racially tinged campaign tactics.
.. Many of their voters prefer the Trump way.
“We’re not an element,” said Laura Ingraham, a pro-Trump talk show host. “We’re the party.”
.. Ms. Ingraham .. the conservatism of market-oriented internationalism simply has little mass appeal.
“There’s no constituency for open borders, endless war and these international trade deals that are skewed against the United States,” she said.
.. As for the limited government pitch that defined Mr. Flake’s career, Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, scoffed.
.. “It’s very nice. But it’s a theoretical exercise. It can’t win national elections.”
.. “We have a leader who has a personality disorder,” said former Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, “but he’s done what he actually told the people he was going to do, and they’re not going to abandon him.”
.. “I don’t think the rank-and-file Republican believes that corporations are people,” said Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to the Trump campaign who has also worked with Mr. Bannon.
.. For now, though, the vision for a more populist-nationalist party sketched out by Mr. Bannon is being won as much through intimidation as through actual purges in Republican primaries... “The message they’re sending is: The way to survive is by accommodating him, changing their tone and professing loyalty to Trump,” said William Kristol.. former Representative Tom Tancredo, who was shunned by the Bush-era Republican Party for his harsh anti-immigration views, is considering a comeback bid for governor in 2018.
.. Mr. Graham believes that the president is not as wedded to some of his nationalist policies as his supporters want to believe.
“The best thing that could happen to Trump and the future of the Republican Party is for Trump to fix a broken immigration system,” Mr. Graham said.
.. Establishment Republicans are attempting to convince Mr. Trump that “if you join with Bannon, you cut your own throat,” Mr. Graham said, because it could lead to an impeachment effort by a Democratic-controlled Congress.
But these arguments cause the early Trump enthusiasts only to roll their eyes. The party establishment, these Trump backers say, wants to govern as if the election never happened.
“They still think the election was about Trump’s personality,” Ms. Ingraham said. “It wasn’t. It was his ideas.”
If every #NeverTrump conservative had been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the Trump administration starting January 20, do you really think the administration would be in measurably better shape? Trump still would have claimed Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, he still would have been content to let the House set the details of the Obamacare repeal, he still would have signed the giant omnibus spending bill, he still would have fired Comey, he still would have had the Bannon-Kushner-Priebus-Kohn-
Ivanka “Game of Thrones” infighting, he still would have a glacial pace of naming appointments, tax reform and the infrastructure bill would still be passing slower than a kidney stone… This is a White House where the biggest problems are all self-inflicted.
[#NeverTrump conservatives] 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.
If you really believe America is fighting a second Civil War… what do you do with people who disagree with you? Shoot them? Blow them up? Imprison them? Keep them in prisoner of war camps? Call our current conflict with the Left what you like – but it’s not war.
.. But where Kurt has really matured as a storyteller is in all the human touches of what could have otherwise been fine as an entertaining social satire and techno-thriller. The ordinary people of Jasper, Ind., in the late 2020s really don’t want to be involved in a political war and have no appetite for launching an insurgency against their own government. But sometimes bad laws and bad leaders set an unstoppable sequence of escalation in motion. Halfway through the book, I realized I’m reading a prequel, and I’m somehow still wondering what’s going to happen. The sense of dread and impending bloodshed is palpable.
.. Kurt, a retired Army infantry colonel, served in the Balkans, and this book is undoubtedly shaped by his experiences there. I’ve heard him speak about how Kosovo once was and could have remained a beautiful place, and how the locals made choices that amounted to throwing it all away, casting away the rule of law and the humanity of their neighbors in the process.
.. If the only concern among Democrats was accountability for suspected “high crimes and misdemeanors,” you wouldn’t hear any talk of “but Pence would be worse!”
George Will exits the Republican Party over Trump
Speaking with The Post, Will said that he changed his voter registration from “Republican” to “unaffiliated” several weeks ago, the day after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) endorsed Trump.
.. Now that Donald Trump looks to be the Republican nominee for president, some of the men who attacked him most fiercely at the start of his campaign are throwing their support behind him — or at least vowing to stop insulting him.
[Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Rick Perry]
.. Will is one of several influential Republicans who have left the party since Trump clinched the nomination. Republican strategist Mary Matalin changed her affiliation to Libertarian the day after the Indiana primary, though she said the decision was not connected to Trump’s primary-season victory.