Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Penultimate thoughts on Trump

This may be my final post on Trump. 

1. There are conscientious conservatives like Dennis Prager, Robert George, Robert Gagnon, Bill Vallicalla, Victor Hanson, Thomas Sowell, Scott Klusendorf, Andrew McCarthy, Tony Perkins, and E. Calvin Beisner who've argued that it's reasonable to vote for Trump to block Hillary. We must choose from the available options. 

What I've seen in some quarters is an effort say it's out of bounds even to make a case for that. I disagree. Their arguments merit a respectful hearing. I won't vote for Trump, but we face a real dilemma. It's understandable that some people fall on the other side of the dilemma. You can disagree with them while granting that their position is ethical and rational.

I'm referring to the good guys. We need to separate the good guys from the bad guys. For instance, Ralph Reed is a snake. 

2. Another problem is that NeverTrumpers need to be more evenhanded. It was a mistake for NeverTrumpers to direct nearly all their fire at Trump, to the neglect of Hillary. It's not enough to document how bad Trump is. You need to document how bad Hillary is. 

From time to time I've thought about doing a post in which I make the case against Hillary. But for several reasons I never did. For one thing, I doubt most Tblog readers are inclined to vote for Hillary. And the few that are would not be swayed by what I say. 

In addition, I haven't attempted to keep track of all the wacky things Hillary has said in speeches, debates, and interviews since she threw her hat into the ring. Not to mention the revelations from Wikileaks. But the case against Hillary would be incomplete without that additional supporting material.

But that's really not my responsibility. Unlike National Review or The Weekly Standard, I'm not a paid political junkie. I write about many other things. And they have a different audience. 

3. Regarding Trump's "locker room banter," both liberals and conservatives have accused the other side of hypocrisy. Ironically, they sometimes use the very same example! Liberals exclaim: "You said 'character counts during the Lewinsky scandal. But once Trump becomes the nominee, you change your tune!"

Conservatives exclaim: "You feign outrage at Trump's sexual ethics, but you turned a blind eye to Bill Clinton, or even defended his shenanigans!" 

What are we to make of this?

4. Some Trump supporters are hypocrites. They are blind partisans whose principles change with the candidate. And the same holds true for Democrats. In my observation, that's more true for Democrats. 

This is the difference between an ideologue and a partisan. An ideologue is consistent (for better or worse). 

5. That said, remember that the Lewinsky scandal was almost 20 years ago. I don't mean by that that because it's an old story, it doesn't matter. What I mean, rather, is that there's been lots of turnover in the GOP and the religious right since that scandal broke. Therefore, it's inaccurate for liberal critics to simply scream "hypocrisy!" It would only be hypocritical if the same people who took one position on Bill Clinton have pivoted when it comes to Trump. But you can't just assume that people who take a position on Trump even had a position on Bill Clinton back then. 

6. Someone might object that if I'm going to make that allowance for conservatives, I should make the same allowance for liberals. And I agree. The reason I think it's legitimate to counter liberal fulminations about Trump's sexual ethics by reminding Democrats of JFK, Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton et al. is not necessarily to say they've changed their tune. Some have. But I'm using these as test cases. Even if you had no position on them at the time, do you, in retrospect, hold them to the same standard that you now hold Trump to? 

7. And, of course, this isn't just about the past. The pop culture routinely celebrates sexual debauchery. And the women are just as debauched as the men. For instance, Jersey Shore ran for six seasons. At its peak, it was the top-rated MTV show. And to some extent that was just a teaser for even more explicit DVDs. Beyoncé is another example:

So it's hard to take the outrage seriously.

8. Someone might object that I'm excusing Trump by saying "you're just as bad!" But that's not what I'm saying. Rather, I'm using a tu quoque argument. I'm responding to liberal critics on their own grounds. I'm challenging them to be morally and logically consistent. Liberals live in such an echo chamber that it doesn't even occur to them that they chronically contradict themselves.

When I parry their moralistic denunciations of Trump by drawing attention to moral degenerates that the pop culture and the liberal media (often indistinguishable) glorifies, that doesn't represent my own viewpoint. There's no point in having two political parties if the GOP is just as bad as the Democrat party. That's the problem with the Trump nomination. So I do think it's important for the GOP to be a better alternative. Otherwise, it has no raison d'être.

BTW, assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, the tu quoque is a perfectly legitimate counterargument:

P.S, I never thought the Lewinsky scandal was the worst thing you could say about Bill Clinton. As I've said, it was like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. 

9. Finally, there's nothing necessary hypocritical about changing your mind. We can't anticipate every eventuality. We sometimes take positions that make sense at the time. But when times change, that may force us to become cognizant of additional considerations that didn't occur to us before. As finite creatures, we make shortsighted statements. 


  1. Speaking of Hillary, Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks people are no conservatives, but they've recently been dumping thousands upon thousands of emails regarding Hillary which (on the face of it) seem to incriminate her in very serious ways. There are at the very least as serious allegations against Hillary in these emails as there are against Trump for his sexual harassment allegations, shady business dealings, etc. However, the major liberal news outlets seem to have barely picked on the WikiLeaks story. Rather, their current top stories are mostly about Trump. Why don't they better cover the WikiLeaks emails against Hillary?

    1. Because they are largely in the tank for HRC. The object is to play up everything negative about Trump (plenty of material there) and bury/ignore anything negative about the Clintons.