September 29, 2019


Prince Don (KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON, September 27, 2019, National Review)

The example of the Roman republic, which often was on the minds of our Founding Fathers, illustrates just how dangerous that line of thinking can become. When the chief executive is the state, when the treasury is his gift for the giving, and when opposition to him is treason, then you no longer have a republic at all. It is always worth remembering that the Latin word from which the English title "emperor" comes means "commander in chief," a term that increasingly shapes how we view the presidency -- a shift away from republican norms for which conservatives bear some responsibility.

Virtue Inc. was a very big business in the 1990s, and the basic conservative case against Clinton and Clintonism was: Character matters. But the role of character is almost always misunderstood. It begins with a preference for having men of integrity serving in positions of power, but it does not end there. Character is functional in a democratic republic -- it is an eminently practical concern. One of the problems with having a man such as Donald Trump serving in the presidency is that in cases of moral ambiguity, it is impossible to extend to him the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt at all about what manner of man he is.

To the extent that conservative media apologists for Trump have been sincere about anything other than the pursuit of market share, their case for Trump has been one of pragmatism. "He fights!" they said. "He gets things done!" If that were true, there would be a "big, beautiful wall" stretching from Texas to California.

Trump's character is in fact a practical liability, one that has seriously impeded his ability to pursue his agenda. His egoism, laziness, arrogance, and above all his habitual dishonesty are crippling. That is why he has been most effective on ordinary Republican priorities such as taxes and judges, those areas in which he can deputize such old swamp-dwelling dinosaurs as Mitch McConnell and the ladies and gentlemen of the Federalist Society to actually get things done. Left to his own devices, he's an ordinary Twitter troll and conspiracy nut with very little in the way of direction or a coherent policy agenda.

Posted by at September 29, 2019 8:51 AM