Cannibalizing Their Own Candidate
George Neumayr
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Chasing after pats on the head from the media, country club Republicans continue to line up against Trump. They rose to power on appeals to “Republican loyalty,” but now display none. Party pragmatism suddenly disgusts them, as they deliver lectures about “values” higher than victory. Who knew RINO proponents of abortion rights and gay marriage cared so much about transcendent values?

Of course, it is never explained how handing victory to Hillary will advance those values. According to Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, Hillary is a more “survivable event” than Trump. While providing the political season’s dumbest comment, Stephens calls Sean Hannity Fox’s “dumbest” anchor. The Republicans Stephens represents denounce Trump for his superficiality even as they glibly warm up to what would be a disastrous Hillary presidency. They call Trump vulgar while showering him in vulgar epithets and profess horror at his egotism while wallowing in their own.

The same Republicans who call Trump a loose cannon championed John McCain and defended him to the hilt against charges of instability and poor temperament. If Trump held the same positions as McCain on war, immigration, and trade, he would have received a similar defense. The reason they see Hillary as a “survivable event” is that she appears to them as a recognizable member of the ruling class. They admire her vote for the Iraq war, support her plans for amnesty, and feel comfortable with the de-Christianized America that she will accelerate. Meg Whitman, whom the country club Republicans foisted on conservatives in California, speaks for the GOP elite when she proclaims that “Clinton’s temperament, global experience and commitment to America’s bedrock national values make her the far better choice in 2016 for President of the United States.”

The country club Republicans insist on treating Trump as a uniquely dangerous threat to the character of the country, though one could never imagine them engaging in such moral hysterics about far more obvious threats to it, such as a million-plus abortions a year or the disintegration of the traditional family. They can’t bring themselves to call abortionists “inhuman” but they don’t hesitate to apply that label to Trump for what amounts to a handful of impolitic remarks. There has been more coverage of a “baby” that Trump didn’t throw out of a rally than of babies tossed into dumpsters by Hillary’s friends at Planned Parenthood. Republicans who moan about Trump’s “refusal to apologize” have yet to apologize for their willingness to repeat that bogus “baby” story.

The aversion of Susan Collins to misogyny applies to Trump but doesn’t extend to the protection of female fetuses. All the pompous talk about Trump as a threat to “national values” simply reveals that the country club Republicans share the rotten values of the ruling class. They believe in “virtue signalling” but not in virtue. In fact, they usually tell conservatives to lighten up about traditional virtue and go with the cultural flow. Before casting Trump as the enemy of all things decent, Bret Stephens was making the “conservative case” for gay marriage. That in his opinion is a survivable event for children.

The windy talk about “preserving the integrity of the conservative movement” is coming from a crowd that long ago betrayed it. Trump couldn’t do any more damage to it than they have. The idea that a Hillary presidency would somehow stimulate a return to “first principles” is a joke. What it will stimulate is even more me-too liberalism from “conservatives.” Yesterday’s Democratic position will become today’s Republican one on issue after issue, and anyone who complains about these conservative capitulations will be told to “move on,” as Paul Ryan once chastised critics of Romney’s PC stances.

Hillary must be chuckling at the GOP’s cannibalization of its own candidate. The country club Republicans have proven more useful to her campaign than her legion of six-figure staffers. The campaign has centered on Trump’s words, not her deeds, with the GOP elite reinforcing the skewed coverage by overreacting to Trump’s gaffes and downplaying the dangers of her presidency.

“Republican voters,” Bret Stephens has said, must “learn their lesson that they cannot nominate a man so manifestly unqualified to be president.” But they are more likely to be in the mood to mete out lessons than learn them should Hillary’s boot land on their necks. If that agony comes, those who spoke of it as “survivable” will look like Hillary’s most useful idiots.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.
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