Premature Anti-Trumpism

The 13th post on the Journal of American Greatness originally published in March, 2016.


We can’t repeat often enough that we hold no brief for Trump personally.  Our interest is in Trumpism: secure borders, economic nationalism, interests-based foreign policy.

We are therefore in no position to refute the many conservative attacks on Trump’s temperament and character, all of which may be true and may even, should Trump be elected, produce the woeful effects that Trump’s critics on the right confidently predict.  We only ask, mildly, what good reasons there are to support candidates whom we know will not enact the tripartite agenda outlined above but will likely pursue its nation-killing opposite.  If Trump is as bad as everyone says, isn’t the saner alterative to let Trump do the necessary dirty work of destroying the “stupid party” and then—when the deed is done—dispatch him like Remirro de Orco(metaphorically speaking, of course) and build a new party based on Trumpian principles?

In any event, the conservative anti-Trump case would be stronger if they got basic facts right.  Andrew Bacevich has done yeoman’s work over the last decade as a scourge of neocon imprudence and adventurism.  One might think he’d support Trump’s anti-neocon approach to foreign affairs, but Bacevich finds Trump’s character too gravely wanting.  Fair enough.  But this:

with absolute unanimity, Trump, Cruz, and Rubio ascribe to Barack Obama any and all problems besetting the nation. To take their critique at face value, the country was doing swimmingly well back in 2009 when Obama took office. Today, it’s FUBAR, due entirely to Obama’s malign actions.
is just dead wrong.  One of the reasons Trump has the professional right so beside itself is precisely his eagerness to blame past Republican failures, above all George W. Bush’s.  Bacevich doesn’t have to like or support Trump, but fair is fair.
Bacevich goes on:
a Republican president can, they claim, dismantle Obama’s poisonous legacy and restore all that he has destroyed. From “day one,” on issues ranging from health care to immigration to the environment, the Republican candidates vow to do exactly this.
Perhaps Bacevich missed Trump’s endorsement of universal health care and other elements of the Obama economic agenda.  He also apparently hasn’t been listening to Trump (or Cruz) on foreign policy:
Here, too, the Republican candidates see eye-to-eye and have solutions readily at hand. In one way or another, all of those solutions relate to military power. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are unabashed militarists … A Republican commander-in-chief, be it Trump, Cruz, or Rubio, won’t take any guff from Moscow or Pyongyang or Beijing or Tehran. He will eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism,” put the mullahs back in their box, torture a bunch of terrorists in the bargain, and give Bibi whatever he wants.
Really?  Trump has been savaged by the right for saying nice things about Putin and that his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be “neutral.”  His comments about China focus on negotiating better trade deals; he has shown no appetite for ratcheting up military tensions in the Western Pacific.  Yes, his rhetoric on ISIS has been tough, but ISIS really is a threat to American interests.  By contrast, Trump has categorically renounced the Iraq War and the whole neocon nation-building project.
It’s one thing to be fed up with the neocons.  We understand, Colonel!  But your aim in finding new, deserving targets could be more precise.
—Decius
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