I respect National Review‘s David French as a person. He seems like a genuinely committed Christian and an honorable man. But in the Trump era, he has become the pearl-clutching Margaret Dumont of conservative pundits.
French takes the occasion of the release of the Muller report to say, yet again, that heavens to Betsy, that awful Trump is an oafish ruffian who sullies the office of the presidency, and he would never, NEVER vote for such a cad.
Glenn Reynolds speaks straight from my gut in his response to French:
I mean, let’s just look at the presidents of my lifetime: JFK: Adulterer, drug user, made his brother (!) Attorney General, shady mafia connections, stole election. LBJ: Adulterer, much cruder than Trump, started Vietnam War. Nixon: Honestly, better than LBJ but the source of the term “Nixonian.” Ford: Nice guy, failed president. Carter: Nice guy, failed president. Reagan: The GOP gold standard, but a multiply-divorced Hollywood actor whose administration was marked by nearly as much scandal-drama as Trump’s. (Just look up Justice Gorsuch’s mother). George HW: Nice guy, but longtime adulterer and failed president. Bill Clinton: I mean, come on. George W. Bush: Personal rectitude in office, though he’s been a bit of a dick since Trump beat his brother. Iraq War thing didn’t turn out too well. Mediocre judicial appointments and little attention to domestic reforms. Gave us TSA. Obama: Far more scandals, and far more abuse of power, than Trump. And does French forget that Trump was running against Hillary?
And in terms of his actions, well, Trump’s actual performance in office is looking pretty good. The economy is booming, foreign policy is going better than under his creased-pants predecessor, regulations are being slashed, and the courts are being better-stocked than any Republican president in my lifetime, including Reagan, ever managed.
Against that record, schoolmarmish disapproval pales in importance. But you want an America where a better man than Donald Trump can be a successful president? Then you have to make a better America, not least by crushing the power of the existing, awful, ruling class. And guess what: That’s what Trump’s doing. The NeverTrumpers, meanwhile, have chosen to ally themselves with the problem.
Exactly right. We can list the ideal characteristics of a leader — and how Trump falls short of them — all the live long day. But in the end, we have to vote for one of the actual people who’s running for the office. And call me crazy, but I’m going to lean toward whichever candidate isn’t running on a platform of contempt for me and everything I believe in, personal character issues notwithstanding.
Reynolds encapsulates the issue for the future perfectly when he says, “you want an America where a better man than Donald Trump can be a successful president? Then you have to make a better America, not least by crushing the power of the existing, awful, ruling class.” In getting to a better America, I’m afraid we’re going to have to put up with some ugliness. But, thanks to decades of corruption and incompetence in our leadership, that’s the way we have to go.