American conservatism was riven by the Trump candidacy, and it remains so in the first year of his administration.  Things indeed were made worse by the “collusion with the Russians” inquisition, which imperils the new presidency nearly before it has gotten started.  Some contributors to conservative journals see this issue much as the Democrats do.  They are possessed of a greater integrity and independence of thought than those loyal to Trump, they say, for Trump’s supporters allow themselves to become acolytes of a dissolute and unqualified man.

Conservatives opposed to the president tend to emphasize his personal characteristics and behavior, as well as the manner in which he announces his policies.  They find him uncouth, loathsome, and megalomaniacal.  Redstate.com’s Jay Caruso invokes the unflattering comments of William F. Buckley, Jr., occasioned by Trump’s contemplation of a presidential run in 2000.  Narcissism was among the traits Mr. Buckley detected in Trump.  “‘When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If [he] were shaped a little differently, he would run for Miss America.'”

Of course, looking at oneself in a reflective surface is not universally condemned, even in the ranks of the president’s detractors.  For was not National Review commentator Jonah Goldberg compelled to vote for Evan McMullin in 2016 so that he could “look [at him]self in the mirror and maybe, just maybe [after Trump’s certain defeat] leave us something to build on”?  Mr. Goldberg then did get to go on looking at himself (we all have a favorite avocation – some people enjoy golf), but not to rebuild the Republican Party from the ruins of defeat last November, as he had hoped.

In reading Mr. Goldberg’s philippics against the president and his supporters, we discover the author’s deep moral sense, his unwillingness to bend principle for any political cause, his eager use of earthy language to show righteous indignation.  Hence, in reacting to the meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others, Jonah muses, “It doesn’t frick’n matter if – note the ‘if’ – nothing came of the meeting.”

Young Donald and his brother-in-law went there and brazenly did nothing with a culpable intent.  And if it is suggested that gaining information from the Russians, in any event, would not be the same thing as giving it to them, to use against us, or affording them so valuable a commodity as uranium, in exchange for money, or instructing them on how to bring down an American president, all the actions of prominent Democrats, then Jonah quips – she is indeed a divine muse who sings in his ear – “Who gives a dirty rat’s ass?”  The point is the perfidy of the Trump administration, against which Jonah must inveigh to establish his admirable consistency, having elsewhere gone after the Clintons.  “Why on God’s good Earth would you defend any of this?” he exclaims.

Well, the reason why we might wish to defend the president from the attacks of his Democrat enemies is that, as was the case with prior Republican administrations, scandal is simply the vehicle (an effective one) for thwarting conservative policy and, occasionally, the progress of American arms on the battlefield.  Election or no election, the left wants the Trump administration stopped.  There is also the singular stupidity of the allegations constituting this “scandal.”  Getting information from Russian sources is not a crime.  It is from Russian sources, albeit records rather than conversations, that we confirmed the treachery of Alger Hiss; Julius Rosenberg; and, in a lesser sense, Teddy Kennedy.

The happy arrangement whereby outrages such as Hillary Clinton’s violations of the Espionage Act; her uranium deal; the impromptu encounter in an airplane between her husband, the former president, and the serving attorney general of the United States, as Hillary’s case was being considered by the Justice Department; and a great deal more are swept under the rug, while Trump, his family, and subordinates are tortured over having spoken to Russians, ought not to be one acceptable to people who call themselves conservatives.  There was no special prosecutor throughout the IRS, Fast and Furious, and Benghazi scandals of the Obama years, nor is there one examining his abuse of intelligence agencies to surveil and expose American citizens.  But there is a highly politicized one after Trump.

Following the election, there was an effusion of sickening piffle about the necessity of showing “magnanimity” to Hillary Clinton, who, after all, had won the popular vote and felt really sad about losing.  We dare not “put her in jail,” it was said, as if the new emperor would have had her abducted and thrown into the dungeon instead of the Justice Department conducting a grand jury investigation.  Very well – Hillary was afforded magnanimity.  And where are we?

We defend the President because “on God’s good Earth” the fate of the Republic hangs in the balance.  Whatever his personal characteristics and history, or fondness for Twitter, it is Donald Trump through his presidency who seeks to gain control of immigration and to protect our people from an influx of criminals and terrorists.  It is he who upholds the armed forces and is willing to endure every nature of attack in order to protect them from enervating social experimentation.  It is he who proposes to unchain the American economy, as once Reagan did, by lowering taxes and eliminating regulations, including onerous environmental regulations, on business.

It is the president, through his superb secretary of education, who seeks to offer the poor an escape from the wretched public schools of America’s cities.  It is he, struggling to surmount a feckless Republican congressional conference, who endeavors to overturn the catastrophe of Obamacare.  It is he who opposes that other disaster, lawlessly imposed: the Iran nuclear deal.  It is he, thus far by one great Supreme Court appointment, and such lower court nominations as have been confirmed, who tries to end the assault on constitutionalism that the judicial branch itself has waged.

It is small wonder that the Democrats want the administration curtailed by extraneous scandal.  And when we see what it is unfolding, we resolve to fight the Democrats and to defend the president.  We put aside all thought of appearance and of what will be said about us.  We are not cultists; rather, we merely see the looming threat – the voiding of the election by leftist operators and the return of this country to constitutional republicanism forestalled.  And in the panjandrums of television and print commentary, who say they are conservative but nonetheless above supporting the administration, we discern a certain lack of prudence, spawned by an immoderate vanity.

For those of us who have lived our lives in the New York metropolitan area, it is startling to see “The Donald,” the flamboyant real estate tycoon, perennial womanizer, and purveyor of gaudy television entertainment, in the White House.  There were many more pejorative remarks directed at him than Buckley’s – New York Mayor Ed Koch called him a “lightweight.”  But now he is president, and the foreseeable fate of the nation rides with his success and the defeat of his enemies.  That should be enough reason to support him, however outlandish anyone finds his style.

As to the man, Donald Trump, I shall gladly incur derision in recalling these words spoken by Richard Burton in the title role of the movie Becket.  Before becoming the archbishop of Canterbury, Becket had been the companion of King Henry II in drinking and debauchery, as well as his crafty political confidant.  When at last defying the king and excommunicating a murderous baron, Becket tells those sent to dissuade him:

Gentlemen, it is a supreme irony that the worldly Becket, the profligate and libertine, should find himself standing here at this moment.  But here he is, in spite of himself.  But the king, for good or ill, chose to pass the burden of the Church on to me.  And now I must carry it.  I’ve rolled up my sleeves and taken the Church on my back.  Nothing will ever make me set it down again.

I quote these lines not because I see anything of the cleric or saint in Donald Trump.  I quote them only because the American people, for good or ill, chose to pass the burden of the Republic on to him.  And now he must carry it.  In all of the ways recounted above, he has rolled up his sleeves and, with scant help from the Republicans in Congress, taken the Republic (including its afflictions) on his back.  It is to be hoped, I think, that nothing makes him set it down again until his term in office is done.

American conservatism was riven by the Trump candidacy, and it remains so in the first year of his administration.  Things indeed were made worse by the “collusion with the Russians” inquisition, which imperils the new presidency nearly before it has gotten started.  Some contributors to conservative journals see this issue much as the Democrats do.  They are possessed of a greater integrity and independence of thought than those loyal to Trump, they say, for Trump’s supporters allow themselves to become acolytes of a dissolute and unqualified man.

Conservatives opposed to the president tend to emphasize his personal characteristics and behavior, as well as the manner in which he announces his policies.  They find him uncouth, loathsome, and megalomaniacal.  Redstate.com’s Jay Caruso invokes the unflattering comments of William F. Buckley, Jr., occasioned by Trump’s contemplation of a presidential run in 2000.  Narcissism was among the traits Mr. Buckley detected in Trump.  “‘When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If [he] were shaped a little differently, he would run for Miss America.'”

Of course, looking at oneself in a reflective surface is not universally condemned, even in the ranks of the president’s detractors.  For was not National Review commentator Jonah Goldberg compelled to vote for Evan McMullin in 2016 so that he could “look [at him]self in the mirror and maybe, just maybe [after Trump’s certain defeat] leave us something to build on”?  Mr. Goldberg then did get to go on looking at himself (we all have a favorite avocation – some people enjoy golf), but not to rebuild the Republican Party from the ruins of defeat last November, as he had hoped.

In reading Mr. Goldberg’s philippics against the president and his supporters, we discover the author’s deep moral sense, his unwillingness to bend principle for any political cause, his eager use of earthy language to show righteous indignation.  Hence, in reacting to the meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others, Jonah muses, “It doesn’t frick’n matter if – note the ‘if’ – nothing came of the meeting.”

Young Donald and his brother-in-law went there and brazenly did nothing with a culpable intent.  And if it is suggested that gaining information from the Russians, in any event, would not be the same thing as giving it to them, to use against us, or affording them so valuable a commodity as uranium, in exchange for money, or instructing them on how to bring down an American president, all the actions of prominent Democrats, then Jonah quips – she is indeed a divine muse who sings in his ear – “Who gives a dirty rat’s ass?”  The point is the perfidy of the Trump administration, against which Jonah must inveigh to establish his admirable consistency, having elsewhere gone after the Clintons.  “Why on God’s good Earth would you defend any of this?” he exclaims.

Well, the reason why we might wish to defend the president from the attacks of his Democrat enemies is that, as was the case with prior Republican administrations, scandal is simply the vehicle (an effective one) for thwarting conservative policy and, occasionally, the progress of American arms on the battlefield.  Election or no election, the left wants the Trump administration stopped.  There is also the singular stupidity of the allegations constituting this “scandal.”  Getting information from Russian sources is not a crime.  It is from Russian sources, albeit records rather than conversations, that we confirmed the treachery of Alger Hiss; Julius Rosenberg; and, in a lesser sense, Teddy Kennedy.

The happy arrangement whereby outrages such as Hillary Clinton’s violations of the Espionage Act; her uranium deal; the impromptu encounter in an airplane between her husband, the former president, and the serving attorney general of the United States, as Hillary’s case was being considered by the Justice Department; and a great deal more are swept under the rug, while Trump, his family, and subordinates are tortured over having spoken to Russians, ought not to be one acceptable to people who call themselves conservatives.  There was no special prosecutor throughout the IRS, Fast and Furious, and Benghazi scandals of the Obama years, nor is there one examining his abuse of intelligence agencies to surveil and expose American citizens.  But there is a highly politicized one after Trump.

Following the election, there was an effusion of sickening piffle about the necessity of showing “magnanimity” to Hillary Clinton, who, after all, had won the popular vote and felt really sad about losing.  We dare not “put her in jail,” it was said, as if the new emperor would have had her abducted and thrown into the dungeon instead of the Justice Department conducting a grand jury investigation.  Very well – Hillary was afforded magnanimity.  And where are we?

We defend the President because “on God’s good Earth” the fate of the Republic hangs in the balance.  Whatever his personal characteristics and history, or fondness for Twitter, it is Donald Trump through his presidency who seeks to gain control of immigration and to protect our people from an influx of criminals and terrorists.  It is he who upholds the armed forces and is willing to endure every nature of attack in order to protect them from enervating social experimentation.  It is he who proposes to unchain the American economy, as once Reagan did, by lowering taxes and eliminating regulations, including onerous environmental regulations, on business.

It is the president, through his superb secretary of education, who seeks to offer the poor an escape from the wretched public schools of America’s cities.  It is he, struggling to surmount a feckless Republican congressional conference, who endeavors to overturn the catastrophe of Obamacare.  It is he who opposes that other disaster, lawlessly imposed: the Iran nuclear deal.  It is he, thus far by one great Supreme Court appointment, and such lower court nominations as have been confirmed, who tries to end the assault on constitutionalism that the judicial branch itself has waged.

It is small wonder that the Democrats want the administration curtailed by extraneous scandal.  And when we see what it is unfolding, we resolve to fight the Democrats and to defend the president.  We put aside all thought of appearance and of what will be said about us.  We are not cultists; rather, we merely see the looming threat – the voiding of the election by leftist operators and the return of this country to constitutional republicanism forestalled.  And in the panjandrums of television and print commentary, who say they are conservative but nonetheless above supporting the administration, we discern a certain lack of prudence, spawned by an immoderate vanity.

For those of us who have lived our lives in the New York metropolitan area, it is startling to see “The Donald,” the flamboyant real estate tycoon, perennial womanizer, and purveyor of gaudy television entertainment, in the White House.  There were many more pejorative remarks directed at him than Buckley’s – New York Mayor Ed Koch called him a “lightweight.”  But now he is president, and the foreseeable fate of the nation rides with his success and the defeat of his enemies.  That should be enough reason to support him, however outlandish anyone finds his style.

As to the man, Donald Trump, I shall gladly incur derision in recalling these words spoken by Richard Burton in the title role of the movie Becket.  Before becoming the archbishop of Canterbury, Becket had been the companion of King Henry II in drinking and debauchery, as well as his crafty political confidant.  When at last defying the king and excommunicating a murderous baron, Becket tells those sent to dissuade him:

Gentlemen, it is a supreme irony that the worldly Becket, the profligate and libertine, should find himself standing here at this moment.  But here he is, in spite of himself.  But the king, for good or ill, chose to pass the burden of the Church on to me.  And now I must carry it.  I’ve rolled up my sleeves and taken the Church on my back.  Nothing will ever make me set it down again.

I quote these lines not because I see anything of the cleric or saint in Donald Trump.  I quote them only because the American people, for good or ill, chose to pass the burden of the Republic on to him.  And now he must carry it.  In all of the ways recounted above, he has rolled up his sleeves and, with scant help from the Republicans in Congress, taken the Republic (including its afflictions) on his back.  It is to be hoped, I think, that nothing makes him set it down again until his term in office is done.



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