Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

by tryanmax

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday stretch, an amazing thing happened. A flurry of articles appeared across the conservasphere assessing President Trump’s first year in office and, to the apparent astonishment of many of the authors, it was actually pretty good! From Gorsuch to Tax Reform and a host of things in between, columnist after stubborn columnist had to agree, Trump moved the conservative agenda forward in a way that no one expected. Yes, there are a few campaign promises yet to be fulfilled, the border wall and an actual Obamacare repeal among them, but overall, the marks were high.

Still, there are a few holdouts that refuse to step down from the Never Trump bandwagon. And they were every bit as vocal as ever over the holiday season. The funny thing is, though, they’re running out of things to criticize aside from Trump’s personal bombast. At this point, most of the "conservative" complaints against Trump are just attacking the curtains. As I see them, they fall into three main (and very much overlapping) categories:

1) Trump did something I like, but I don't like the way he did it. This position holds that it isn’t enough for conservatism to win the day, but that the opponents of conservatism must like it, too. At best, these conservatives put winning hearts and minds above the actual work it takes to win hearts and minds. They want people to choose Coke as their favorite without ever tasting Coke first. At worst, they are being mirror-progressives. It’s this group that obsesses over Trump’s twitter account to the point of inflating his presence on the social media site. According to, Trump tweets an average of 6 - 8 times per day. His critics are running digital rings around him.

2) Don't thank Trump, thank Congress. This position is disingenuous in a number of ways. The sudden return to a proper understanding of civics has nothing to do with giving credit where credit is due. We routinely credit the President for Congressional actions. The only reason to withhold credit this time is for the sake of it. Worse, it’s inconsistent. The same Never-Trumpers who want to credit Congress with conservative wins want to still saddle Trump with losses on things like Obamacare repeal and building the border wall, which require Congress to act. On these, they blame Trump for failing to rally Congress. And on some things, such as judicial appointments, the President and Congress work together. Congress can’t appoint anyone the President doesn’t nominate, but Never-Trump only credits the placement while ignoring the pick. Finally, this argument completely dismisses foreign policy and military achievements of which Congress isn’t even a part.

3) But Trump could still screw things up! This is a lame argument, but surprisingly popular. Of course Trump could still screw things up. An unseen asteroid could strike tomorrow, too! What’s your point? The question isn’t whether it could happen, but whether it’s likely and what makes you think so. Given that, after a year, all the things the critics assured us were indicative of Trump’s unfitness for office have shown, thus far, not to be so, what have you got? If anything, still holding onto the notion that a major screw up is just around the corner smacks of wishful thinking and perhaps an intention to blame anything on Trump regardless whether it’s his doing. If nothing else, it’s an amnesiac in its inattentiveness.

None of this is very surprising. A lot of people have staked their reputations on being Never Trump with more than a few rising out of obscurity on the movement. (I’m looking sideways at Tom Nichols, right now.) As long as there are people emotionally tied to the idea that Trump is the worst possible thing, they will find ways to discount, dismiss, and deny that he is anything other than the worst caricature imaginable.



AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'll comment more tomorrow -- thanks for the article. :)

In the meantime, the left keep getting more and more crazy. They are freaking out over vacation photos, secret meanings in how Melanie/Ivanka dresses, and whatever lies they tell each other. I even think they know these are lies, but they don't care because they want to believe them.

It's similar on the right. They are ignoring logic, direct evidence, and long-held conservative beliefs to avoid having to say anything nice about Trump. Definitely obsessive behavior.

Anthony said...

1) Presidents can and do regularly talk people into opposition. For example, Obama wasn't much of a tweeter but his veering into a denunciation of the cop who arrested a professor buddy of his during his first State of the Union was a similar move that harmed him politically.

Economy is doing well, soldiers aren't dying in large numbers, but Trump is polling so poorly some of his supporters are comforted by the fact that one poll has him in the same place Obama was at this point in time, which to me is like saying 'No worries about our boat's problems, the Titanic went through the same thing!'.

2) For years I have pointed out that power is a poisoned chalice and that those who accept the chalice tend to be viewed suspiciously. It's why a reality tv star famous for conspiracy theories and a dour Congressman who ostentatiously denied responsibility for anything were the last two people standing in a primary boasting a slate of conservative governors of successful states.

I stated almost two years ago (when the National Review came out against him) that conservative opposition to Trump only made him stronger among the talk radio set (I also could have cited the Bernie bros though they may not have been a thing yet). I stand by that. What weakens Trump is the same thing that weakened Obama, the choices of the man (which isn't to say the opposition is always fair).

3) Trump hasn't passed significant protectionist legislation or abrogated free trade deals, but he ran on protectionism and still tweets a lot about it so it's not waiting for a random bad thing to happen (your example was comet falling from the sky) but waiting for Trump to fulfill a promise which would damage the economy.

Like Obama with guns Trump's talk generates skepticism of his intentions. You can tell people to not listen to what the president says (except when they 'should') or you can tell him to stop spouting off. Neither is likely to happen.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, The spam filter had caught your comment. We didn't delete. It's restored now.

tryanmax said...

This Fire and Fury book is dropping some masks.

Maggie Haberman of NYTimes (a name I somehow recognize), is declaring that even Wolffs fabricated quotes, the book is still "notionally accurate."

CNN's Brian Stelter says that despite Wolff's "sloppy" errors, the book "rings true."

Stephanie Ruhle (who?) of MSNBC (oh.) claims people from inside the White House have told her "Even if not all of it is true, the spirit of the book is" which seems to be good enough for her and her network.

These are just the ones I responded to yesterday. I came across many similar tweets, articles, and videos. Basically, the left has gone full #FakeNews.

AndrewPrice said...

OT: I think it's hilarious that Chickiwood said "wear black if you support us!" Black is a slimming color that the majority of women (and all the men) were going to wear anyways.

They did this with their women's movement too, telling women to wear pink as a sign of support.

Clearly, they have no confidence in their support, or they wouldn't rely on trickery like this. Other groups should try this too:

Wear a white shirt if you support ___!
Wear pants if you support ___!


Wait, here's one... wear black to the Academy awards if you support letting sexual predators roam free so you can become rich and famous!! Yay!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That doesn't surprise me.

It seems obvious that the book is pretty much fake. The guy just wrote down every rumor or attack over the past year and then attributed them to anonymous sources within the White House. It reeks like that dosier reeked.

But that won't phase the people who want to believe it.

BevfromNYC said...

I will comment on the article, but first on the OT: Not only are they preening because the womenses were wearing black in solidarity, but that the men were wearing black tuxedos in solidarity. Just an FYI - the black tuxedo has been standard men's formal wear since roughly the 1890's..Just sayin'.

Also - Oprah is running for President in 2010...but the good news is that by then, we will all be desperately seeking a really boring actual non-celebrity politician like Biden or even a Bush.

tryanmax said...


1) There's a difference between a president talking someone into opposition because one doesn't like where he comes down on an issue and because one doesn't like the cut of his rhetorical jib. The vast, vast majority of Trump's detractors go the latter route. Moreover, the denunciation of Trump's rhetoric by the "I don't like how he did it" crowd is window-dressing, as is implied by the "I like what he did, but..." that preceeds it. It's pure petulance.

2) I'm very familiar with the poisoned chalice observation. It doesn't really hold against incumbent advantage. Trump won, not because people were suspicious of other candidates (at least, not without Trump encouraging it—remember "Lyin' Ted"?), but because he was the only standout in a crowded field.

3) Trump has a funny approach to protectionism. He wants to renegotiate trade deals. Let me rephrase that: He wants trade deals. One could make the case that he wants to negotiate "protectionist" deals, but according to the opposing case, "we are being taken to the cleaners" by the existing ones. I don't know what sort of a trade deal is good or bad for the economy. I do know that every president has had a trade policy that is a mix of free trade and protectionist stands, so anyone can charactarize them however they please.

Trump's talk on trade has heavily referenced Reagan, and with Trump's Reagan-inspired tax plan in place, I think we can take it seriously in that vein. As Reagan eloquently stated, "I believe that if trade is not fair for all, then trade is free in name only." Trump has stated it more simply, "I am all for free trade, but it's got to be fair."

As to listening to any president, it's not a matter of when one should or not. It's a matter of taking the words seriously, not literally, as I am not the first to prescribe. Seriousness involves contextualizing, learning the speaker's rhetorical tics, and not pushing all words to the margins of hyper-literal vs. hyperbole.

tryanmax said...

Addendum: I got kinda mired in specifics on point (3) above. The point I was trying to make is that most of the nightmare scenarios predicted by Trump detractors are completely detached from his rhetoric. They're not worried that he'll damage the economy because something Reagan did won't work in 2018. They're worried that he'll walk into negotiations and drop a deuce on the table. And I wish I could say I made that up myself.

BevfromNYC said...

Part of me still believes that all of the Trump hullabaloo is a result of social media/24-7-365 information. How politicians act like in private has always been entirely different from how they will act in public. And how the media responds is exactly they way the politicians have always led them to respond. Trump = P.T. Barnum. Now I admit that Trump may appear to have no filter which in some ways is refreshing.

I must admit, it is nice to have our Constitutional Government know the one where Congress makes the laws, the President executes the laws, and the SC decides the constitutionality of the laws being enacted. I hope when the 2018 mid-terms come around, the Dems continue this 'tradition'.

Unfortunately, when the Dems take the majority (which they will), their first order of business will be to start the "impeachment" process which for some reason they think means "conviction" and no one can convince them otherwise. They will literally run their campaigns on that promise...let's see how that goes for them.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think Trump is a bit more than just the social media.

Trump made himself President by basically identifying with every complaint conservatives have had over the past decade or so. He then delivered these points in a-hole rhetoric. The result was that he seems a little ungrounded.

What really cause the insanity though is that:

1. The left is upset about how the fringe right treated Obama and they want revenge. So they are throwing the full-retard tantrum at him.

2. The whiny women's movement was angry that the public elected a sexist man when it was "a woman's turn."

3. The never-Trump conservatives are frustrated that he's not a lifelong ideologue who speaks in hushed tones.

4. The elite are terrified of him as he's put the lie to everything they've said about politics for decades.

So you have a mix of a lot of people who are irrationally angry because Trump disproves their worldview mixed with a guy who has little self-control when it comes to his style and has no clear political views.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Let me put an even finer point on this...

80% of the human race are herd animals. They want to believe that they are rational creatures who exercise independent thought, but they aren't. You can find proof for this everywhere.

When someone challenges the herd, these people instinctively become belligerent. This is why so many people hate and despise anyone who goes against prevailing "wisdom."

Trump came along and said, "F the herd!" And he won and he continues to act against the "truths" that the herd believes... and he's succeeding.

This causes a deep, fundamental disquiet in the herd. This is then made even worse by leftist politicians and media saying that it's ok to express that disquiet as hate. That is how we got here.

Anthony said...


In sales personality/tone matter quite a bit. It's not shocking the same is true in politics.

2. Incumbent advantage means less and less as time passes. That is why politics has shifted every eight years. Each time there is talk about how revolutionary the win is. And they usually are for one reason or another.

Like I said the fact the other last guy standing was Cruz shows primary voters wanted to avoid anyone with responsibility.

Voters wanted talk radio Obama. They got their wish. I have not been surprised (called his primary win early, called his victory over Hillary once the emails reemerged) in a long time, doubt I will be over the next several years.

Anthony said...


Trump is challenging the herd? How so? Populism is all about herd mentality, victimization and conspiracy theories.

It also tends towards big government solutions though we haven't gotten there yet.

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