The GOP call center is calling again, asking for money.
Thank God for caller I.D., because I would not cross the street to put a nickel in their jar if the lemonade they’re selling was spiked with Red Eye whiskey.
While middle and working class citizens buckle down and prepare for a prosperous and productive first summer under President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Congress is headed for the Great American Ballpark of political indolence.
This isn’t the first time I’ve ignored my party’s call for financial support. The last time was when they were floating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which I believed would sound the party’s death knell. It feels wrong to keep blaming Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. After all, aren’t they much better than the God-awful alternative? But it also feels wrong to donate my hard-earned dollars to such a vacuous caliber of leadership.
I like to send my supportive dollars where I think they will do the most good, and there are only so many of them to go around. The GOP has not earned so much as a plug nickel of my admittedly modest budget for giving. For the record, I gave to the Trump campaign, and, in addition to a hard-working commander in chief, received a nice commemorative inauguration invite, suitable for framing.
After they return for a brief period to dot some i’s and cross some t’s, the Republicans are going fishing—at precisely the moment when the American electorate has rendered to them full power over the legislative process. They seem devoid of meaningful consensus, bereft of the agenda the people put them in power to implement, and lacking in plans and proposals that should at this point have been in the pipeline for years.
They infight, jockey, equivocate, and haggle over internecine scraps, when over two midterms and one presidential election they’ve taken down the Cape buffalo. Holding the keys to the positive change working Americans elected them to accomplish, they’re taking a powder. It seems perfectly reasonable to ask, when the subject of the necessity for President Trump to seek congressional authorization for a strike on ISIS, Assad, or potentially North Korea’s mad dictator comes up, “You’ve got to be kidding, right?” By the time any authorization came, the Mother of all Bombs would be pounding sand.
As things heat up for the third Summer of Trump, Washington inertia under GOP control has become a metaphorical wholly mammoth locked in ice. The hides and bones of the beast turn moribund, as the defeated Democrats plot and plan in what traditionalist Americans can only pray is ultimate futility.
Meanwhile, the president is burning the midnight oil. The man who spared Ryan and McConnell four to eight years under the heel of a far-left proxy government under Hillary Clinton is keeping the fires of his promises burning.
National Review’s Jonah Goldberg was on Media Buzz last Sunday telling Howard Kurtz about how he gets raked over the coals by the Trump base every time he dares to criticize their fearless leader. Mr. Goldberg is upfront about not supporting candidate Trump, and not voting for him, but acknowledged on the show that Trump legitimately won the presidency, and in that regard has earned the pundit’s support. Goldberg says he will praise what he finds praiseworthy about Trump, and affirms that it is his job to criticize the president when he feels criticism is warranted.
That’s the way it is supposed to work. Constructive criticism from the right should always be welcome. But there’s a nuance to this that Goldberg and others who seek to hold Trump’s feet to the fire need to consider when the subject of conservative principles (or issues like the White House visitor logs remaining public) rise to the fore. There are a great many supporters of the president who honestly and justifiably feel like there is nowhere else to turn for leadership. Every criticism of Mr. Trump feels threatening because what is out there beyond Trump is a void.
Yes, there are those who will defend President Trump no matter what, right up to the gates of Hell. But there’s another constituency, equally large if not larger, who value our Founders’ vision and know how a republic ideally works. They support a critical press and understand the dangers of sycophancy, the allure of a personality cult, the seductions of mass appeal, and the worship of an all powerful leader.
The reason they dig in against criticism of our new president from the right, and savage a dithering Congress that doesn’t seem to have his back, is exactly because they’ve seen it all before and are fed up with the intransigence, the gridlock, the uni-party nothingness that have characterized national politics for decades.
Unlike some of the Trump fanatics—and Thank God for them too, for again, the alternative is unthinkable—these seasoned political observers have been to a few rodeos. They will dig in with the most extreme Trump loyalists, because, at this late juncture, Mr. Trump’s brand of can-do governance represents the only game in town worthy of their support.
The Trump critiques of commentators like Jonah Goldberg, William Kristol, and Glenn Beck deserve just as fair a hearing as their praise when it comes. But they must bear in mind that the alternative to their subject, the backdrop to their punditry, is a yawning abyss.