April 24, 2018

WILLIAM MCGURN: The Elitists’ Trump Excuse: His critics may be more corrupting to democracy and decency than he is.

The election and its aftermath have been an education in how the smart set responds when the American people refuse the judgment of their self-styled betters. In its most honest form, it is the “Resist!” movement. In the more genteel version, it turns out to mean not just opposing Mr. Trump’s policies, which people can reasonably do, but throwing fairness and principle to the wind so long as it might help bring down the 45th president. Consider:

• In the thick of the 2016 election, the New York Times ran a front-page article in which it advertised that the particular dangers posed by Mr. Trump’s candidacy meant that the long-held norm of journalism—objectivity—might have to give way to a more oppositional approach.

• Good liberals once found the idea of spying on American citizens without just cause unconscionable. But when the target is a former Trump campaign associate, it becomes OK to get a warrant based on an unverified dossier paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

• James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, revised procedures to make it easier for executive branch officials to “unmask” the names of Americans in intelligence reports and share the information among themselves, making leaks all but inevitable. The illegal leak of Mike Flynn’s name in connection with a phone conversation with Russia’s ambassador was one result. But again, it doesn’t matter because he was a Trump transition official.

• When Sally Yates was acting attorney general and President Trump issued an executive order on immigration she objected to, Ms. Yates ordered the entire Justice Department not to obey, despite a finding from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel that the order was lawful. She was applauded in her insubordination by Andrew Weissmann, then a Justice attorney, who now serves on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. But it’s all for a good cause, right?

• In the middle of a #MeToo moment ostensibly all about more respect for women, the president’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has been derided as everything from a “summer whore” to “a slightly chunky soccer mom.” Though the columnist who wrote the latter has since apologized, the accomplished Mrs. Sanders must wonder what happened to “when they go low, we go high?”

• The pardon power enjoyed by the president is among the most unfettered in the Constitution. But because the president is Mr. Trump, and the pardon for controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has opted for lawlessness: appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the pardon’s legitimacy, in clear violation of the separation of powers.

Meanwhile, week after week, the same people who accuse Mr. Trump of lacking depth and nuance toss off allusions to Hilter, Stalin and a parade of murderous dictators. Channeling Mrs. Clinton, they insist that anyone who would chose Mr. Trump over her—or God forbid, agree to serve in a Trump administration—isn’t just wrong but forever morally tainted.

The people aren’t stupid. The 63 million Americans who voted for Mr. Trump—some as an unappealing but better alternative to Mrs. Clinton, but many with gusto—recognize that what is going on here is a concerted effort to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election. Is it really unreasonable to ask whether this might be as much of a threat to American democracy as anything Mr. Trump has said or done?

Nope. Trump’s election — or, more specifically, the reaction thereto — revealed that we have been ruled by moral and intellectual failures for some time. But what they lack in competence, humility, and integrity, they make up for in self-importance and entitlement.

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