Thursday, December 15, 2016


Jonathan Chait has noticed (as I have) that a lot of the old NeverTrump guys have rolled on their backs and peed in submission to The Leader. National Review writers in particular were, back in the day, writing columns like "Is Trump a Double Agent for the Left?" and filling entire issues with demands that he be stopped, but even before the election began extending feelers ("He is a demagogue, but he might be our demagogue") and are now wholly bought in.

Some of the NR guys are crabbing about it. Kevin D. Williamson complains that Chait tied their movement to Ayn Rand, which is absurd because Rand's for babies -- mature wingnuts go for Charles Murray. Also, God: "Actual conservatives are more likely to be found in church, where, among other things, they exercise the philanthropic impulse in community." (Trump goes to church too, and even tried to drop money in the collection plate at least once, so I guess he's as philanthropic as Wilbur Ross and Kevin D. Williamson. Also, doesn't he have some sort of foundation?) Williamson does not otherwise describe the intellectual pedigree of modern conservatism, but judging from the insults with which he peppers his essay he might have named Don Rickles.

Better still is Charles Two Middle Initials Cooke, who has apparently been working on his House Englishman routine:
Here’s a fun theory, courtesy of New York magazine’s resident apparatchik, Jonathan Chait: Because they are devotees of the work of Ayn Rand, Donald Trump’s critics have begun to shut up.

I shan’t attempt to explain how ineluctability silly is this contention...
Oh, you shan't, shan't you? He goes on toffee-nosing like this ("I have seen it expressed elsewhere and think it needs nipping in the bud") for some time, but eventually has to get down to the real bullshit:
In order to answer these questions, one has to reiterate what exactly the Never Trump position entailed, as well as remember that it was never a pledge to reject conservatism or to join the Left on the barricades. Rather, it was a description that was applied to those rightward-leaning figures who believed that Donald Trump was a poor choice as the GOP’s nominee, and that he was an unfit candidate for president. Although I rarely used the term myself, it did apply to me as a practical matter: Throughout the primaries and the general election, I argued that Donald Trump was (a) an immoral man, ill-suited to the office of the presidency; (b) a political opportunist, likely to pursue policies that would seriously damage conservatism in the long run; and (c) a wannabe authoritarian who shouldn’t be trusted with power. As a result, I both opposed his nomination during the primaries and concluded during the general that I could not back somebody so manifestly unsuited to his coveted role.

Quite obviously, Trump’s victory rendered much of this moot — not, of course, because his victory has altered his character or because his success has impelled reconciliation, but because the role of Trump’s critics has by necessity been changed...
Go read the rest if you like, but it comes down to this: NeverTrump didn't mean NeverTrump, it meant UnlessHeWinsTrump, in which case he's like any other Republican, which is to say mostly dandy.

You may compare this posture to the conduct of Evan McMullin -- who was sufficiently NeverTrump to mount an insurgent campaign against him and, unlike many of his fans from that time, continues to kick both Trump and the Trumpified Republican Party in the ass. McMullin seems to have a different idea of NeverTrump than Cooke, based on principle and the plain meaning of words.

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