That Donald Trump and the GOP establishment have not been getting along may be the understatement of the year. George Will — a respected writer and intellectual leader of that establishment — is one of the many suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome who often misconstrue or seem to almost deliberately misrepresent what Trump is saying. In return, Trump has not always been very nice to them.
Regarding the current Supreme Court vacancy, Will said on this weekend’s Fox News Sunday: “If Trump is president, we’ll have to guess who will be the nominee.”
He said substantially the same thing in a recent column (“Do Republicans really think Donald Trump will make a good Supreme Court choice?“). Will asked the question partly in support of his contention Republicans should abjure the “Biden rule” and hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland and partly from his undisguised contempt for Donald Trump.
But in so doing Will has indeed “misrepresented” Trump, who not only has spoken of his ideal nominee on several occasions as the “reincarnation” of Antonin Scalia, but has even specified the names of real potential nominees, something candidates rarely do this far before nomination.
The two possible SCOTUS nominees mentioned by Trump (as someone as well-informed as Will must have known) are William H Pryor, Jr. and Diane S. Sykes, both U.S. Court of Appeals judges (different circuits), both George W. Bush appointments, and both conservatives. Pryor is known for his opposition to Roe v. Wade. Sykes — who was already short-listed for the Supreme Court by Bush — is a defender of the Second Amendment known for granting a preliminary injunction against Chicago’s ban on firing ranges.
If Will has an objection to either of these people, I am not aware of it. To his credit, Trump mentioned their names as suggestions, cognizant, as he should have been, that actual nominations were premature at this point. He wanted to give the public an idea of his thinking, which in many cases apparently fell on deaf ears.
Will and others are suffering from such acute Trump Derangement Syndrome that they don’t allow themselves to acknowledge the obvious — most of Trump’s views, his current ones anyway, fall well within the conservative mainstream. To admit this would be fatal to the #NeverTrump cause. It also would mean, let’s be honest, a loss of power for them. A whole network from pundits to lobbyists, a whole Beltway lifestyle, is at risk even more with Trump than it is with Ted Cruz.
This is a very real problem, which in truth deserves some sympathy. These people have devoted their entire lives to the governing of this country in good conscience, some of them anyway. Many feel under assault — and to a great degree they are. But we don’t need a “revolution,” peaceful or otherwise, as Bernie Sanders is suggesting. We just need a thorough housecleaning and retrofitting. (Spring cleaning, not “Democracy Spring.”) A lot of cobwebs and rust have set in. Far too much of our government runs by habit and, as everyone knows, it has grown way too big. Our military is in decline. But not everybody has to be thrown out. Trump is not and should not be Robespierre.Trump and George Will should be talking, not fighting. They both have much to learn from each other.
That is why I was heartened to read on Fox News today: “Donald Trump will reportedly meet Monday in Washington with nearly two dozen influential Republicans, with the apparent hope of improving relations with the GOP establishment.”
His supporters should not panic. I predict this is not the great sell-out. The meeting was arranged by Senator Jeff Sessions, the man said to have the greatest influence on Trump and not one known for selling out. This could be the beginning… even if a tentative one… of the end of Trump Derangement Syndrome and some kind of reconciliation.
For starters, Trump could agree to cool his sometimes wince-inducing rhetoric and stop dissing his fellow Republicans, to observe the Reagan Rule, as it were. The GOP establishment for their part could agree to quit distancing themselves from Donald and back him up, when they can (as when demonstrators try to restrict his free speech), and to embrace him and his legion of potential new Republicans, rather than alienating them.
Whether this detente occurs or not is anybody’s guess — though I’m rooting for it. Whatever happens, it’s too bad the meeting won’t be televised. I suspect it would get a lot of viewers.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.