Considering how much some of you respect that New York Times Upper West Side screaming liberal, Frank Bruni, today’s offering comes from a bona fide conservative.
Bret Stephens writes conservative foreign policy commentary for the Wall Street Journal. He is arguably the best foreign policy columnist writing today. He is anything but a screaming liberal. As best I can tell, he does not live on the Upper West Side. Therefore, you are permitted to read what he writes. You will not be having your mind corrupted with thoughts of dubious provenance.
For the purposes of discussion, I will refrain from commenting on Stephens’ column on the rise of Donald Trump. I post his opinions in order to allow others to have a say on the question.
Stephens pulls no punches. His rhetoric, dare we say, resembles Trump’s:
If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.
If you have reached physical maturity and still chuckle at Mr. Trump’s pubescent jokes about Rosie O’Donnell or Heidi Klum, you will never reach mental maturity. If you watched Mr. Trump mock fellow candidate Lindsey Graham’s low poll numbers and didn’t cringe at the lack of class, you are incapable of class. If you think we need to build new airports in Queens the way they build them in Qatar, you should be sent to join the millions of forced laborers who do construction in the Persian Gulf. It would serve you right.
A bit more substance please, Mr. Stephens.
He conveys a can-do image. He is the bluntest of the candidates in addressing public fears of cultural and economic dislocation. He toes no line, serves no PAC, abides no ideology, is beholden to no man. He addresses the broad disgust of everyday Americans with their failed political establishment.
And so forth and so on—a parade of semi-sophisticated theories that act as bathroom deodorizer to mask the stench of this candidacy. Mr. Trump is a loudmouth vulgarian appealing to quieter vulgarians. These vulgarians comprise a significant percentage of the GOP base. The leader isn’t the problem. The people are. It takes the demos to make the demagogue.
What does it portend for the Republican Party? Stephens answers:
It says that we may soon have a conservative movement in which the American creed of “give us your tired, your poor” could yield to the Trumpian creed that America must not become a “dumping ground” to poor immigrants from Latin America, as if these millions of hardworking and God-fearing people are a specimen of garbage.
It says that a party that carries on about the importance of e pluribus unum and rails against the identity politics of assorted minorities is increasingly tempted to indulge the paranoid (and losing) identity politics of a dwindling white majority.
It says that a sizable constituency in a party that is supposed to favor a plain reading of the Constitution objects to a plain reading of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
It says that a movement that is supposed to believe in defending old-fashioned values and traditions against the assorted degradations of the postmodern left might allow itself to be led by a reality-TV star whose meretricious tastes in trophies, architectural and otherwise, mainly remind me of the aesthetics of Bob Guccione.
It says that a party that is supposed to believe in the incomparable awesomeness of America thinks we are losing the economic hunger games to the brilliant political leadership of . . . Mexico. It says that a movement that is supposed to believe in economic freedom doesn’t believe in the essence of economic freedom: to wit, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor.
It says that many of the same people who have bellyached nonstop for the past seven years about the cult-of-personality president currently in the Oval Office are seriously willing to consider another cult-of-personality figure on the off-chance he’s peddling the cure America needs.
Speaking as a leading voice in the conservative punditocracy, Stephens is optimistic that Republicans will, in the end, not nominate Donald Trump:
Republicans like to think of America as an exceptional nation. And it is, not least in its distaste for demagogues. Donald Trump’s candidacy puts the strength of that distaste to the test.
I offer these remarks with commentary. Feel free to offer your own.
And yet, when conservatives are attacking a candidate and liberals are sitting back enjoying the spectacle, you might give the matter some thought.