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Bonfire of the Banalities

Trump himself sets a pile of gasoline-soaked wood under his banalities, and strikes the match to light it. There's no way to defend them without climbing onto the bonfire.

Last night, President Trump retweeted Erick Erickson.

And also this:

There should be very little that’s strange about this, but it is indeed very strange. First, that Erick used to be a NeverTrumper–in fact, he may have been the first to wear that badge. Second, that Trump is using Twitter, a site he professes to despise for its alleged liberal bias, as his primary message platform.

Sometimes you find a banal truth buried in a spectacle, like scoring an exclusive interview at the Vatican, and finding you’re talking to the man who cleans the Pope’s toilet. Or wandering backstage when you’ve arrived at a top-end fashion show, and chatting with the breakfast hostess, to find the super models arriving in yoga pants and no makeup.

Or, in the case of Trump, finding that his claim of 260 new federal judges, 2 SCOTUS Justices, tax cuts, military spending, et al, are pretty run of the mill for a Republican president. George W. Bush appointed 327 federal judges, 2 SCOTUS Justices, presided over tax cuts, incentives, and an economic recovery, ran two wars, and helped America through its toughest time since the JFK assassination.

It’s totally reasonable for Erick to look at those results and conclude that, apart from his ghoulish attraction to conspiracy theories and totalitarian dictators, his miserable grip on vengeance, and his life-controlling addiction to Twitter, Trump as a Republican president is giving America what a Republican of most stripes would give us. Of course, this raises the question of why we ended up with Trump versus, say, Jeb Bush, or Ted Cruz, or Carly Fiorina. But let’s set that aside for now.

The reasons for being NeverTrump in 2016 were all the things that today give us Excedrin headaches. But the reason to not be NeverTrump is singular and equally banal: Joe Biden would be an extraordinarily liberal president, and would extend those policies far beyond where Barack Obama took them.

As Jonah Goldberg noted, the media are not on the ballot. Joe Biden is. This puts politically knowledgeable conservatives and Republicans (not the same thing) in a pickle. If properly framed, this election is a referendum on Trump, and in a nice-decent-guy popularity contest, it’s no contest. Trump loses to Biden.

But in a real political sense, four years of Trump versus four years of Biden is no contest. We should not have Biden, even with Trump’s baggage. It’s highly unlikely Trump would in a second term become a raving liberal. He would, however, be unmanageable. But that’s what he is now, so net net there’s no change.

To be clear: those are the choices. We do not have another Republican to swoop in and save us. We don’t even have Justin Amash to do that. Lamenting about how Mitt Romney lost in 2012 won’t help us. (Hint: we know why Romney lost, the GOP spent months doing an autopsy.) Reliving 2016 and blaming Hillary Clinton and Joe Scarborough for promoting Trump won’t help us today. It’s Trump or Biden, and if we compare them as two old white men, Biden wins.

Again, we’re not dealing with the hyper-partisan paranoid claims here. Just simple political fact, without adornment. But everyone is entitled to an opinion, and a vote.

I perfectly well understand why some conservatives would recoil at the thought of getting four years of conventional Republican results, but undermining the institutions that give it to us through Trump, who will exact revenge for every slight, and will continue to ooze filthy conspiracies and outright lies through social media.

I also understand how others, like Erick, can sigh, take a mighty breath, hold it, and wade through the sewage to support Trump with their vote, but not become sycophants or throne-sniffers.

Trump retweeted Erick, who was a NeverTrumper, and still does not kowtow to the Gorka knee-jerk wing of Trump defenders. When most of the pundit class wigged, Erick wagged. He maintained his creds with Trump, and seemingly has earned the president’s respect, at least for the moment.

Defending Trump on his results, like cleaning the Pope’s toilet or getting breakfast for super models before they get their beauty treatment, is an exercise in banality. Trump isn’t going to, and cannot, run on those things. He must run against Barack Obama, the Deep State, and the hopelessly biased, “enemy of the people” media.

But the only reason Trump should not be thrown from office is because of the banal things. He directs his agencies to cut red tape. He appoints decent judges. He has good budget priorities, even though he’s no spending hawk. He hasn’t gotten us into any major wars, and is even cautious in getting us out of them, though the jury is undecided on Afghanistan.

Trump himself sets a pile of gasoline-soaked wood under his banalities, and strikes the match to light it. There’s no way to defend them without climbing onto the bonfire.


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