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While the president worked during the holidays—including surprise trips with the first lady to greet U.S. troops in Iraq and Germany—anti-Trump “conservatives” worked hard on their laptops to warn Americans of impending doom for Trump’s presidency.
In an uncharitable Christmas Day screed, National Review senior editor Jonah Goldberg served up some flashbacks from his NeverTrump past to yet again warn that Trump’s presidency will “end poorly.” Goldberg again condemned Trump for his lack of character; again blasted Trump supporters for emulating his bellicose style; and again unleashed a litany of alleged offenses—such as the president’s “rants against the 1st Amendment”—as evidence of why Donald Trump is, like, the worst president ever.
Goldberg is lashing out lately: From his borderline-misogynistic diatribe against a female journalist who outed National Review for accepting donations from Google while possibly suppressing negative stories about the tech giant, to an attack on his NR colleague Andrew McCarthy (which eventually elicited an apology from Goldberg), he seems more unhinged than usual.
Which makes his lazy harangue about Trump’s name-calling and mean-spiritedness all the more ironic. Please, Jonah, tell us more about character and manners just days after you called a woman reporter an “idiot,” a “McCarthyite,” a “failed-actress-turned-faux journalist,” and a “MAGA infomercial hostess.”
Goldberg isn’t alone. His fellow NeverTrump travelers are certain it’s really over for Trump this time.
“We should be deeply troubled,” insisted Goldberg’s sidekick, David French, after the December 20 resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis. “Now is the time for Republicans in Congress to declare their independence from the Republican in the White House and refuse once and for all to rubber-stamp Donald Trump’s whims and desires.”
Tom Nichols—who seizes on every real or imagined scandal du jour to warn his fellow Americans that the end is (again near—fumed over Mattis’s resignation.
“The world’s jackals and hyenas already sense our weakness and are circling closer,” Nichols wrote, presumably with a straight face. “Our national security has never—not even during the Cold War—been in this much sustained danger.” This is the same guy, by the way, who just last year criticized the presence of so many military men in the White House because “generals and admirals do not decide national priorities.”
Against the backdrop of NeverTrump’s Christmastime ravings, the president remained in the Oval Office over the extended holiday weekend, continuing to work amid a partial government shutdown triggered by his demands to secure funding for his promised wall along the southern U.S. border. In what could be one of his cleverest tweets, the president said he would spend Christmas Eve “all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.”
That same day, he also dealt with foreign policy matters and spoke with children waiting for Santa Claus. “My family is in Palm Beach, and I just didn’t want to go down and be there when other people are hurting,” he told reporters in the Oval Office late Monday.
Late Christmas night, he and the First Lady flew to Iraq.
This brought into sharp focus again the contrast between NeverTrump and the president they not only detest, but want to destroy: While NeverTrumpers stoke more manufactured outrage from the cheap seats, the president works endless hours to confront the legitimate worries of millions of Americans.
Nearly two years after Donald Trump was sworn into office, NeverTrump still has no compelling policy alternative to what they derisively call “Trumpism.” Instead, they embody the approach they endlessly ridicule in the president, using insults, obfuscation, and emotional outbursts to avoid answering a very direct question:
What Would NeverTrump Do?
Alarmed the president wants to pull a few thousand troops out of Syria? NeverTrump should convince Americans that the loss of one U.S. soldier is worth the risk—and use something more than the banal “it’s in the interest of our national security” trope.
Object to the president’s planned withdrawal of 14,000 troops from Afghanistan after we’ve partially occupied that nation for more than 17 years? Tell us, NeverTrump, why the 12 American soldiers killed in that country this year alone, four years after our combat mission officially ended, was a necessary sacrifice.
Instead of mourning the murders of Jamal Khashoggi and (even more pathetically) the Weekly Standard, perhaps NeverTrump should’ve devoted one column—just one—to mourn the murders of the brave Americans who are our real guardians, not the phony warriors celebrated by Time and Commentary.
Don’t like the Tariff Man? Then what, NeverTrump, is your plan to halt unfair trade practices and tariffs levied on American products? How would NeverTrump have exacted a steep reduction in Chinese-imposed tariffs on U.S. automobiles, as Trump succeeded in doing this year? Please explain to a farmer friend of mine who told me earlier this year that “China has been screwing us for years” how NeverTrumpers will stop this one-sided screwing? If only NeverTrump had devoted a tiny portion of the time it’s devoted to the threat of Russian Twitter bots to the legitimate threat of Chinese piracy. How would NeverTrump halt the theft of hundreds of billions of dollars in intellectual property by the Chinese each year?
There is no such thing as free trade between nations no matter how many times NeverTrump clicks its loafers and repeats it in the CNN green room.
Ditto for border security. If a wall won’t fix anything, as most NeverTrumpers insist, then what will? The security and humanitarian crisis at the border—starkly described by John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist this year—is real, and it’s a crisis that establishment conservatives and the GOP not only have ignored for more than a decade, it is one they were complicit in allowing to be manufactured.
It did not have to be this way. Last summer, while admitting the “scene at the southern border is a horror,” the best solution Goldberg could come up with to mitigate the flow of unskilled, destitute migrants was “to make poor countries rich as quickly as possible.” Neat idea, Jonah. Probably nobody has ever thought of that one before.
That mindset exposes NeverTrump’s most egregious flaw: Their shared sympathy for the downtrodden from other countries while ignoring, if not straight up mocking, Americans who face economic and political alienation in their own country. Trump has tackled the lethal opioid epidemic; the exodus of working-class job opportunities in rural communities; and the nation’s costly gambit of prioritizing climate change mitigation over expanding America’s energy production. And, NeverTrump, what say you on these issues?
They’ve got nothing. Trump’s solutions might be imperfect and his presentation might be imprecise, but most Americans recognize he is trying to do the work. Meanwhile, NeverTrump barks helplessly at the darkness. The best they can do is wish for the demise of the Trump presidency. What better way to make sure they never have to answer the tough questions?
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