Latest NeverTrump Ruse: Where Are the Evangelicals?

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 January 22, 2018|
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Bill Kristol is obsessed with Stormy Daniels.

The NeverTrumper and editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard has posted several snarky tweets over the past few days, alluding to the reported affair between Daniels, a porn video star, and the president more than a decade ago. (Ratio of Stormy tweets to FISA memo tweets is 7-to-1.) Kristol, a once-respected “conservative” influencer, has found his “inner socialist” and “inner liberal” since Trump won the presidency over his emotional objections and dead-flat-wrong prediction that Trump would lose in a landslide.

It seems that Kristol has also found his inner high-school sophomore:

(Kristol also recently started a #NeverPence hashtag because the monogamous, won’t-have-dinner-alone-with-another-woman, preacher-ish vice president didn’t condemn Trump’s purported “shithole” comment, and said he “doesn’t know” if he would vote for Pence if he were the nominee against Joe Biden. Who, at this point, could possibly meet Kristol’s lofty expectations?)

Now that Trump is executing a policy agenda these so-called “conservatives” have wanted for decades, Trump foes on the Right are struggling for purpose and attention. The NeverTrumpers glom on to the tiniest morsel of a scandal, and—aided by their compatriots in the Trump-hating media—blow up the controversy until it’s a cudgel used to batter both the president and his supporters. They have seamlessly moved on from days of inflating and legitimizing Trump’s alleged “shithole” remarks to exploiting a trash-tabloid account of Trump’s reported extramarital tryst with Daniels.

He’s been dubbed “The Porn President,” and the Weekly Standard’s Rachael Larimore oddly suggested we should dump Trump just like Stormy did: “Pay attention, America . . . right now Donald Trump is brushing the hair off your shoulder. He is kissing your neck and asking you to stay. Get annoyed. And get up and go.” (Go where, exactly?)

In a cover piece posted over the weekend, Standard editors pooh-poohed how Trump’s first-year accomplishments “could have been expected from a generic Republican” president blessed with a Republican Congress, and again mentioned the rumored affair, caterwauling that it “barely registered” any media attention or public interest. (Hey, Standard folks, maybe if you didn’t act as if every tweet and utterance was an impeachable offense, you might see some genuine concern about this story. See how that works?)

To spark outrage among Trump’s impassive base, NeverTrumpers quickly assembled the “what if Obama did this!” strawman (whataboutism is only legit when employed by the anti-Trump mob) because we all know it’s A-OK for a president to corrupt federal agencies to punish your political enemies and sell-out our national security if you don’t cheat on your wife, right? Don’t worry about FISA abuse! Look, I bought Michelle flowers!

Another Meaningless Exercise in Moral Preening
But it isn’t enough for the NeverTrumpers to call on Trump to repent, or demand that Trump hoi polloi exhibit some modicum of shame; they are openly questioning why evangelical leaders aren’t pounding on the pulpit, atoning for their great sin of backing a president whom the sanctimonious NeverTrumpers have deemed indecent and immoral.

Jonah Goldberg has written about this twice in the past week: “I am at a loss as to how various social- and religious-conservative leaders can, with clear conscience, or even a straight face, shrug off this kind of thing, never mind defend it. If you’ve dedicated your professional or pastoral life to upholding and enforcing public standards of decency, there is no principled argument for giving Trump a pass. At the very least, Jerry Falwell & Co. should be condemning Trump’s behavior.”

In a follow-up, Goldberg admits there is really nothing other than moralistic preening to be gained by an evangelical thrashing of Trump: “So why not just say that you condemn the behavior, you’re disappointed in it, etc.? You could then add that the president is doing important things, we only have one president at a time, blah blah blah.” So it’s a meaningless exercise but Falwell & Co. should do it anyway because Goldberg & Co. want their political pound of flesh, so to speak?

Why Only Evangelicals?
David French also wonders why Christian conservatives are silent on “porngate” (please see advice to the Weekly Standard, above) and wrote that he “wholeheartedly” agrees with Goldberg: “Social conservatives (especially Christian conservatives) should unequivocally condemn Donald Trump’s now almost-certain affair with a porn star. They should speak with the exact same level of conviction and apply the same standards that they’d apply to a Democrat caught in the same sleazy circumstances. After all, Republican adultery is every bit as repugnant as Democratic adultery.”

Now, I am not an evangelical—I don’t even go to church—but what, precisely, are these Christian leaders supposed to say? Are they supposed to put some sort of religious hex on the White House?

Furthermore, why is it only evangelicals whom the NeverTrumpers are confronting? My husband and daughters are Catholic and the last time I checked, this type of behavior is unacceptable in the Catholic Church as well: White Catholics voted for Trump over Clinton, 60 percent to 37 percent, and nearly early every Catholic I know voted for Trump.

Why aren’t the NeverTrumpers asking priests and bishops to speak up? I would assume adultery is also frowned upon in Kristol’s and Goldberg’s Jewish faith as well, but I haven’t seen any denunciations from outspoken rabbis. Are all of these religious leaders, as Goldberg suggests, cowards who are fearful to criticize an “incredibly thin-skinned” president?

I doubt it. Catholic leaders haven’t minced any words when it comes to opposing Trump’s immigration policies; Pope Francis has repeatedly torched the president’s view on climate change. The idea that anyone is being “silenced” or is afraid to disparage the president in this non-stop loop of Trump invective is hilarious.

What good would it do for social conservatives to speak out about something that may have happened over a decade ago? As Goldberg mocked the collective crickets—“If you condemn an adulterous affair in 2018 will that somehow trigger a time machine that lets Hillary win?”—he answers his own question. There is no time machine that lets us go back and change our vote (even if we wanted to) because Trump might have had an extramarital affair. What is the point?

We Knew Who We Were Voting For
Well, the point behind the evangelical-shaming is to force a religious group that voted for Trump by a wide margin to partially admit Goldberg and his anti-Trump compatriots are right: He is unfit to be president. If evangelicals, let alone all Trump voters, could trust that Goldberg & Co. were really interested in somehow holding the Right’s moralistic high ground, perhaps there would be interest in doing so. But it sounds much more like a ruse, a way for NeverTrumpers to (again) join the media in caricaturing devout Christians as hypocrites for voting for Donald Trump, and the mea culpa would be weaponized to score political points.

Those of us who voted for Trump knew what we were getting into. As Julie Ponzi wrote, “This man was hired to do a particular job the voters want done. He is not auditioning to be our boyfriend, our husband, our father, or especially our priest. We needn’t endorse every aspect of a man’s character (and one hopes that with many past presidents people did not imagine they were doing that!) in order to think he is qualified to do the job we want done and will do it well.”

I get that Goldberg, French, and pretty much everyone who’s troubled by the squalid condition of national politics wants to restore some decency to it. Looking for “I told ya so” vindication from religious leaders isn’t exactly an effective way to do it.

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About the Author:

Julie Kelly
Julie Kelly is a senior contributor to American Greatness.
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35 Comments

  1. Botched_Lobotomy January 22, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Good take down of the NeverTrump buffoons but its not really worth it anymore. No one cares what Schmoopie Goldberg says when he’s not busy scarfing down boxes of doughnuts. If sites like NRO and Weekly Standard didn’t receive money from their globalist donors they’d fade away due to lack of interest. Don’t bother giving them any attention. As we saw with their Evan McMuffin disaster, these people are irrelevant.

  2. rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Daddy maga likes a good spanking.

  3. Old_Blue_64 January 22, 2018 at 8:37 am

    I am an evangelical Christian, so let me explain why I voted for Mr. Trump, and support him now more than ever. We are all fallen men and women; impure behavior is no surprise to any of us. St. Peter disowned Christ, St. Paul persecuted Christians, all the apostles abandoned him when He was arrested.

    We are not perfect people by any means, but we can see priorities. Mr. Trump is meeting and exceeding our expectations in the way he is governing, and that is what is really important. In some ways, Mr. Trump is like General Patton, very aggressive, a proven winner in all his campaigns, often profane, Christian in a most nontraditional way, and a man constantly attacked by the media. Yet Patton got results, saving the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, and defeating Hitler’s armies in Africa, and at the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Trump is also getting results, with Neil Gorsuch on the SCOTUS, the tax bill, deregulation, and many other accomplishments.

    America is free in part because of General Patton, and America is becoming freer because of President Trump. We Christians believe in freedom and personal responsibility, not oligarchy and government oppression. That is why we support President Trump, and will continue to.

  4. rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 9:18 am

    We just filed a complaint with the @FEC & @TheJusticeDept alleging @realDonaldTrump’s $130,000 hush money to Stormy Daniels is a violation of federal campaign finance law

    • Eric Johnson January 22, 2018 at 9:30 am

      And who is “we”?

      • rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 9:32 am

        Sorry common cause is the “we”

    • WalkingHorse January 22, 2018 at 11:08 am

      I might take you people seriously if you exerted yourselves to pursue the blatant illegality of the Deep State, but that would mean you’d risk being caught on the same side as your favorite enemy.

      • rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 11:43 am

        You typed deep state and didnt laugh.

        • WalkingHorse January 22, 2018 at 1:09 pm

          Denial of facts is unhelpful. Carry on.

          • rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 1:24 pm

            So you typed and were not joking?

          • WalkingHorse January 22, 2018 at 1:40 pm

            Experience is a dear teacher. I leave you to it.

          • rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 1:49 pm

            I love mid western anti govt bunker builders.

    • Botched_Lobotomy January 22, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      I just filed your mom.

      • wildbillcuster January 22, 2018 at 1:03 pm

        In triplicate.

      • rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 1:20 pm

        You mean filled? That would work better than you know filing your tps reports.

  5. WalkingHorse January 22, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Ms. Kelly writes, “I get that Goldberg, French, and pretty
    much everyone who’s troubled by the squalid condition of national
    politics wants to restore some decency to it.”

    I would not grant the NeverTrumpers such a concession. At best, they seek to secure the appearance of decency. I think the more sincere issue is the NeverTrumpers are chagrined at their impotence and the fact that someone whom they deplore is accomplishing substantive things they’ve long since surrendered upon and given up trying to accomplish.

    • Foghorn January 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are
      like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the
      inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” – Matthew 23:27
      ———————–
      Jesus summed up the NeverTrumpers far better than I ever could.

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  6. hamburgertoday2017 January 22, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    NeverTrump Inc. is hoping, somehow, to convince people that rumor is more important than policy. I didn’t vote for Donald Trump because I liked his personality. I voted because of his positions and my sense that he really meant to do as he said.

  7. Mike D'Virgilio January 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Just think, I used to respect Jonah Goldberg. I even used to be a subscriber to NR for maybe 30 years, and I visited NRO maybe on a daily basis. No mas.

    • BurkeanMama January 23, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      The Conservative movement failed miserably. President Trump is succeeding at the accomplishing more of the Conservative agenda than anyone since President Reagan left office. And that is really what makes the NeverTrump so hysterically angry. They simply can not bear the fact that President Trump succeeds where they have failed.

  8. JHX January 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Good article.. Hits right on down the line.

    But the biggest reason the evangelical right hasn’t condemned Trump en masse is also the simplest to understand if you are an evangelical Christian – It is because you are under attack.

    The left have weaponized politics against Christians and they enjoy hurting them “dog in the manger” style. No affront to Christianity or Christians is too small or too low to waste their time with, and the tempo of these attacks has been increasing for my entire life. And all too often when they are attacked they find themselves completely alone.

    Goldberg isn’t there to defend them and neither is the establishment right. In fact, these people can often be found selling them out directly, but even when they do deign to toss them some support, it is in the form of meaningless words on a page. It changes nothing for the afflicted, but it permits the “conservative” commentariat to blot their consciences clean.. Whoopty crap.

    Donald J Trump respects the Christian religion and the effect it had shaping our culture, and it shows. He offers full throated, unapologetic, support for Christians, Christian values and the exceptional American culture which Christianity had a major, formative influence over. His help doesn’t stop with words on a page and he is not ashamed of the association in any way whatsoever.

    And THAT is the biggest and most significant reason evangelicals support Trump – because his friendship is real and he supported them first.

    • rel0627 January 22, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      What cant you do that you used to be able to do before trump? What is he preserving or saving for you to do with the evangelical religion?

  9. Nightmare January 22, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    I elected Trump to do a job, businessman like, and he is doing the job, not bragging or complaining. That Trump can Unite the Right is gravy.

    Trump 2020 vision for the future. Unite the Right. Make America Great Again, Safe Again, Wholesome Again. God Bless US Bitter Clingers.

  10. Duane January 22, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Well said!

  11. Doctor Bass Monkey January 22, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Goldberg, Kristol, et al are frauds. They are parasites who are only interested in moralizing to sell their next book or magazine which is why actually winning and getting things done terrifies them. It cuts into their potential influence and income. If they have any religion at all, their pride and condemnation is more akin to the Pharisees than anything else.

    • BurkeanMama January 23, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      Does anyone buy their books or magazines anymore. Other than their Chamber of Commerce donors who need the endless supply of cheap labor, who buys their publications anymore?

  12. rel0627 January 23, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Evangelical leader Tony Perkins says Trump gets a ‘mulligan’ on Stormy Daniels, life in general.

  13. Carl Eric Scott January 23, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I agree with Julie Kelly’s condemnation of BK’s Trump-obsession, and approve of her continued sharp reporting about it. Sadly, it matters.

    And yes, it’s lame when JG says “never mind defend it,” because that’s the moment when his reasonable-enough call for religious social conservatives to make qualified/conditional–i.e., if the allegations are true–public condemnation of Trump’s adultery, blithely accuses such conservatives who support Trump of saying something none of them have.

    But if JG’s over-interpretation of (notably unspecified beyond Falwell Jr.) social-con supporters of Trump shades into slander, Julie Kelly’s own over-interpretation of what JG and French are saying is getting pretty close to the same. There is a deep desire evinced by many of the commenters at AG to paint the entire range anti-Trump conservative opinion and behavior with the precise same judgment. I have the impression that until this peice Kelly had resisted the cheap satisfaction of that desire. But here, she uses BK’s madness on this to tar JG and French, and to make us put aside the core point they were making. Which is that during normal circumstances, there is no coherent version of social conservatism that permits support of politicians as unapologetically vice-ridden as Donald Trump. I might add that even when abnormal circumstances make that support excusable, the vices themselves, and actions of leaders that clearly exemplify them, must remain denounced. Certainly the likes of Julie Ponzi agree with that latter point, even if they might disagree with JG and French about the volume of that denunciation, its time and place, etc.

  14. Catoii January 23, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I wonder what Kristol, Goldberg and other NeverTrumpers would say if we discovered now that George W. Bush, for example, had sex with a porn actress several years before he became president. Would it change his presidency? Would he somehow become anathema to them now?

  15. Panope Vreeland January 24, 2018 at 3:49 am

    At this point it’s seems safe to speculate Goldberg, French, and Kristol are part of some now very scared pedophile ring.

  16. Madder Music January 24, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Julie, it really is very easy to understand. If Trump had this affair and paid the woman off, it’s a bad thing. Devout, serious Christians ought to agree on that, and say so. Failure to do so leaves the world with no doubt of our true motivation, and that motivation certainly is not faithfulness to God and the Gospel. If the only criterion we’re to use in measuring our leaders is “winning” or “getting away with it,” we’re giving up on the very idea of demanding that they exhibit good character. Christian political activists who surrender on this point will permanently destroy their moral credibility. It means that Christians’ professed concern for moral values is merely a debating tactic, not a serious personal commitment. For them, it’s really all about power, not trust in God.

  17. BCML January 24, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Simple, they are hypocrites. No other possible answer. They are supporting a vulgar, bigoted, sexist, philandering, semi-bankrupt, amoral slob.

Comments are closed.