So. Here we are in the aftermath of yet another terrorist attack in America.
Note well that in the earliest stage of the bombing in New York, Pittsburgh talk radio host Rose Tennent had by chance interviewed General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Rose wrote up her conversation with Flynn this way, bold print for emphasis supplied:
While Mayor de Blasio had declared what happened in Chelsea simply an “intentional act,” General Flynn has no doubt about the intent of the explosion and what it represents: “Of course it’s an act of terrorism,” he said. He pointed out that when the Mayor says there is no credible evidence of a terrorist attack, it is, in General Flynn’s opinion, “a disservice to the people of New York. They have all kinds of credible evidence. What they didn’t have is any specific threat that there would be a bomb in the Chelsea area of NYC. We’ve got to be much more honest with the American people. The American people are not stupid.”
Flynn was in the city Saturday night when an explosive had gone off in the Manhattan neighborhood. He told me he feels it is imperative we understand why this is happening. He said, “The American people want to know if our leadership is taking this threat as seriously as they should. I don’t see it. I really don’t see it.
“I’m actually fed up with it to be honest with you. I know that in my years of service going after this enemy that their goal is to strike fear in the hearts of their enemy. They have specific targeting and specific goals. We have to understand that this is a smart, cunning and vicious enemy. They represent an evil that is beyond what most people can understand.”
Yet this latest attack — not to mention the stabbings in Minnesota — was preceded a few days back by Never Trumpers launching their own Twitter war on… Sean Hannity.
Yes, you read that right. And why a Twitter fusillade targeting Hannity? Because Sean had the indelicacy to say this to the Never Trumpers, as reported by the Daily Caller, bold print for emphasis supplied:
“And if we elect a president because you are so stubborn, arrogant, and stupid, that can’t say ‘radical Islam’ and can’t engage an enemy and identify it, that’s your fault as well,” he continued. “And if you help elect the single most corrupt person to ever seek the presidency, somebody who lies like she did, somebody who sold out her office for gain like she has, somebody who has failed on Iran and ISIS and radical Islam in general, and Iraq and Iran and Syria and North Africa and Libya, I’m blaming you!”
“And you are going to say, ‘Hannity, we blame you,’” he said.
“‘You gave Donald Trump time on your show.’ And I gave every other candidate time.”
“His agenda is infinitely better than hers,” he added. “And if you can’t see that, then that’s your problem. You own it.”
“You own her,” he continued. “You own every dumb thing she’s about to do. I blame you.”
“Got it? I am going to name names regularly if she wins.”
And so he has. Among the names cited by Hannity over the last few weeks: Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, Jonah Goldberg, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, John Kasich, Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz. Some now appear to be — reluctantly — on the Trump train. Others, stoutly, flatly, and proudly refuse.
Among them is the baffling Bret Stephens, whose book America in Retreat I reviewed favorably back there in the mists of early pre-Trump 2015. I certainly stand behind the review. But the Bret Stephens of that book seems to have an evil twin who has made Never Trumpism his task in life, attacking not only Trump but Hannity, calling the latter the “dumbest anchor” on Fox. As if boiling down Never Trumpism to ad hominems explains serious thought — unless of course it does.
Those in a huff at Hannity are mad because he has made plain the blindingly obvious. To wit: If you choose to go out of your way to deliberately, with malice aforethought, sabotage the team that you have spent years claiming as your own — and the team loses as a result — then in fact you are at least in part quite obviously responsible for the other side’s victory and all that flows from that victory. Or, as Hannity has succinctly put it, you “Own Hillary.” If you chose the role of Benedict Arnold, you have to live with the results.
This isn’t rocket science. Yet the outrage from those Hannity targets is a wonder to behold. Some have treated Hannity as “tragically unhip” — to borrow a phrase from the movie Clueless. Clueless being an apt descriptive for those who seem to view this election as an in-the-club-versus out-of-the-club junior high school affair.
No better depiction of this junior high school mind set of the Never Trumpers is there than over at the Hill where reporter Jonathan Swan has this piece with the headline:
Republican friendships shatter over Trump
Yes, yours truly is quoted in the piece. But the most telling part of the piece was this concerning our friend Matt Schlapp. Wrote Swan:
A few months ago, Matt Schlapp, the former White House political director under President George W. Bush, walked into a cocktail party and tried to join a conversation with Republican consultants he has known for years.
“The conversation quickly ended,” Schlapp, the chairman of the nation’s oldest conservative grassroots organization, told The Hill in a recent interview. “Everyone looked down at their expensive loafers.”
“I hadn’t had that happen to me in a professional setting before,” he added. “It’s one of those moments when you wonder, ‘Hey, do I have something on my face?’”
Schlapp’s decision to support Donald Trump for president has cost him friends in Washington’s elite Republican circles. Invitations he would normally receive no longer arrive. The vibe he says he’s getting is: “You’re out of the club.”
Former Bush 43 press secretary Ari Fleischer had this charming and quite similar experience:
“On May 3, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary under Bush from 2001 to 2003, tweeted: “There’s a lot about Donald Trump that I don’t like, but I’ll vote for Trump over Hillary any day.”
A former colleague of Fleischer’s, Fratto, the Bush aide who criticized Christie’s support, replied in a tweet: “Then we don’t have anything to say to each other.”
Fratto told The New York Times that Fleischer’s betrayal was “unforgivable.”
“You were the White House spokesperson when Trump said the president lied the country into the death and maiming of people unnecessarily,” he told the Times of Fleischer. “How can Ari be OK with that?”
One doubts that “Ari is OK with that.” Any more than as a Reagan White House political director I was happy with this, as reported in Angelo Codevilla’s classic The Ruling Class:
… former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev has said that in 1987, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush distanced himself from his own administration by telling Gorbachev, “Reagan is a conservative, an extreme conservative. All the dummies and blockheads are with him.”
As a Reaganite dummy and blockhead knowing this attitude about my boss and my colleagues I still voted for George H.W. Bush anyway, believing then and now that he would and did make a much better president than the lefty Michael Dukakis, the Hillary Clinton of 1988.
Codevilla goes on after citing this Bush story to say:
This is all about a class of Americans distinguishing itself from its inferiors. It recalls the Pharisee in the Temple: “Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men.”
Exactly. The problem is that this Never Trump/Ruling Class resistance to owning Hillary and the consequences of a Hillary presidency would be hilarious if the consequences that flow from this utterly bizarre behavior were not so serious — as this latest terror attack in New York and New Jersey illustrates vividly. Trump states the obvious — that a bomber has struck New York. General Flynn, with the smoke still in the air, states the obvious that “of course it’s an act of terrorism.”
And Hillary? She released a statement cautiously parsing words about “apparent terrorist attacks” with the Washington Post reporting her reaction this way, bold print supplied:
Clinton’s statement Sunday followed remarks to reporters on her campaign plane Saturday night in which she cautioned against rushing to conclusions about the attacks and criticized her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, for quickly telling an audience that an explosion in New York was a bomb that served as a reminder for the United States to “get very tough.”
This is the attitude that killed four Americans in Benghazi when she was, as the saying goes, the responsible officer of the government. And if she is in fact elected then all of these Never Trumpers will find themselves owning the latest terror attack that her attitude will inevitably invite. And that’s before the Supreme Court appointees, the continuation of Obamacare, and the inevitable scandals that will accompany a second Clintonian presidency. In his “Never Trump for Dummies” column at the WSJ (note that his use of “dummies” eerily parallels George H.W. Bush’s Ruling Class assessment of Reagan and his staff — hmmmm) columnist Stephens says this: “My fundamental objection to Mr. Trump is that he is unfit, as a person, to be president.”
Back there in 1997, the Wall Street Journal issued a 500-plus page book titled: A Journal Briefing: Whitewater, edited by the paper’s legendary editor, the late Robert Bartley. Reprinting its editorials from the array of Clinton scandals in the day, the book provides chapter and verse that illustrates in detailed fashion just why Hillary Clinton is “unfit, as a person, to be president.” And this was long before her tenure as Secretary of State and the web of deceit that has been spun around the Clinton Foundation.
None of this will mean a thing to the Never Trumpers. Stephens makes plain he will vote for Hillary, while Jonah Goldberg says he will not, but he will not vote for Trump either.
The inimitable James Taranto, like Stephens a columnist for Bartley’s old paper, has this telling tell of the media world and their treatment of Trump in his own column at the WSJ. An excerpt that provides a clarifying look at how things work behind the scenes of what you see and read:
For some in the media, though, it may be more personal. Consider this exchange from NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday, between host Chuck Todd and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd:
Todd: New York Times, I think it was Saturday, Maureen, had a lead that said, basically interviewing all these Upper West Siders panicking now. And in fact I think referred to it as “The polls are showing a ‘margin of panic’ for Clinton supporters.” Describe this east coast freakout that I feel like you’ve seen among the elites this week.
Dowd: Right. Well my friends, one of my friends, Leon Wieseltier (of the liberal New Republic, Brookings Institution and The Atlantic fame) calls it a national emergency. And my friends won’t even read, if I do interviews with Donald Trump, they won’t read them. And basically they would like to censor any stories about Trump and also censor any negative stories about Hillary. They think she should have a total free pass. Because as she said at that fundraiser recently, “I’m the only thing standing between you and the abyss.” Oh, and they’re taking— Democratic strategists are taking antacids. In the Times today.
The Times story is well worth reading; if it doesn’t make you laugh, you have a heart of stone.
Imagine being a political reporter who sees the world in that Upper West Side way, and so do all your friends. But you operate under the professional constraint of being impartial, or at least appearing impartial. Suddenly Trump does something so dramatic that a signal goes through the media hive: The constraint of impartiality has been lifted.
In other words? The media, the hive, a collection of pals, is desperate to defeat Trump and is now closing ranks. No wonder they hate Hannity!
In 1964, all sorts of liberal Republicans renounced the conservative Barry Goldwater in language and tone not dissimilar to today’s Never Trumpers. In fact, Goldwater’s candidacy was a long shot from the start in a year following the assassination of JFK and with LBJ’s then-ascendant popularity. But without doubt, all that flowed from that LBJ landslide with the help of Republican saboteurs — the disaster of Vietnam, the wreckage that became the “War on Poverty” and the bureaucracy of the “Great Society” — can most assuredly be laid at the feet of those Never Goldwater types. In fact, the most prominent among them — Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney — wound up sabotaging their own once bright presidential prospects by their actions, with the party’s grassroots never forgiving them. There is no accident that the two people who either openly advocated for Goldwater — Ronald Reagan — or stoutly defended Goldwater on the campaign trail — Richard Nixon — both went on to the White House. And in fact, the Never Trump argument aside, the polls repeatedly show that Donald Trump can win this election.
The harsh fact of political life in this campaign season is that yes, of course Hannity is right. The Never Trumpers — and the list is longer than the names mentioned even by Hannity — will in fact own Hillary if she wins. From her Supreme Court appointments that promise decades of attacks from within on the Constitution to terrorist attacks on American soil to Obamacare to the inevitable parade of scandals, every last bit of it will rest on their shoulders.
To pretend outrage at the charge may make them feel better, but it doesn’t make the point any less true. And the only thing snarking on Twitter about Sean Hannity does is just underline the point of exactly how responsible for a Hillary presidency all of these Never Trumpers will be.