News & Politics

"Character," Politics, and the Coastal Clerisy

Jonah Goldberg asked this on on Twitter the other day.

The question is mainly a rhetorical trope. I’m not sure anyone but Don Junior and Sean Hannity think Trump is a person of “good character”. Trump is a blowhard; he’s not great at keeping track of facts – most of what he says is ad copy at the level of a timeshare condo advertisement. He has trouble keeping his pants on, he has a long history of at best sharp dealings and a long record of stiffing small contractors.

I didn’t like him as a candidate for all those reasons and more, including thinking Hillary and the Democrats machine were going to roll over him. The fact they didn’t is in part because, in her hubris, Clinton thought so too.

So you want me to say he is a person of good character? No.

On the other hand, I just checked my watch and it’s now 2018. The election was almost 2 years ago and everyone who is still trying to litigate the 2016 election is a damn fool. It’s over. Get on with your life.

But I think Jonah — and Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin — need to answer some questions themselves:

One, do you think Hillary Clinton — with her history of lies, double-dealing, blatant corruption, outrageous disrespect for the law, and her ties to the people who were trying to use the government’s powers to influence the election — is a person of better character?

The Republican clerisy has spent damn near 40 years questioning the character of the Clintons collectively and as individuals. Did all of that change because Trump is a cad and a boor?


I don’t think so – and I’d love to see someone try to defend that proposition.

Two, given the possibilities, you could choose either Clinton or Trump. Do you have any reason to believe Clinton would have been a better president than Trump other than you find Trump socially unacceptable?

If so, what is it?

“Russian collusion”? Let’s look at the Clinton campaign’s Russian contacts, and the vast bale of cash they received thereby. In any case, Trump has been a lot harder on the Russians than Secretary Reset Button or President More Flexibility. He’s also said conciliatory things about the Russians — but Ukraine is getting guns, not MREs and sympathy. It seems to me that Trump is giving them the choice of the carrot or the stick, while Clinton and Obama were giving them a choice of one carrot or two carrots.

I didn’t like Trump as a candidate for all the reasons I listed above, and also because his history suggested that his actual policies would be more FDR than Barry Goldwater.

He turned out not so easy to beat after all. Certainly not so easy to beat that Mad Grandma could do it, with all the help the covert Democrat operatives in the media could give her,  Trump’s actual policies are not FDR except for trade – and the jury is still out on that. (Does Trump really like tariffs or is that another negotiating position?)

Three, 2018 is here and 2020 is coming. Does the prospect of two years of impeachment alarums and excursions sound like a good thing? Would you really prefer a polished Elizabeth Warren to a crude Donald Trump?

That’s the real question. If so, it’s hard to see the “conservative” principle behind it. It looks to me like you’d prefer a bad president who is “one of us” to someone who is “just not our kind” but doing a pretty good job.