Friday, the US Supreme Court overturned the travesty that was Roe vs. Wade and its idiot stepchild, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, in a 6-3 decision. In doing so, it lifted from our nation the shame it has borne for 50 years as some 60 million babies were butchered, mostly out of convenience.
The credit for that decision goes to two men: Mitch McConnell and President Trump. McConnell courageously held open the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Scalia (Love Him or Hate Him, Mitch McConnell Was the Key Man In Getting Rid of the National Shame of Roe and Casey). President Trump filled the three nominations available to him by conservative, textualist candidates (Roe Is Dead and We Have Trump to Thank for That). And a McConnell rose to the challenge of seeing through the confirmation of two difficult candidates, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Kavanaugh, of course, was the subject of a well-funded and coordinated smear campaign based on the debunked “testimony” of what can only be described as a nutter. Barrett, confirmed as the 2020 election loomed, opened McConnell to charges of hypocrisy over filling the seat on the eve of an election while refusing to allow Obama to do the same.
I’ll be the first to say I was not a Donald Trump fan. If you read my posts from 2015-2016, it would be fair to say that I was strongly anti-Trump until Trump was nominated. I focused on writing about Hillary’s flaws and not Trump’s virtues during the campaign. I’m not sure I would be called a Trump fan today. The reasons for all of that might make an interesting post…or not. Be that as it may, a few things were obvious about Trump as a candidate and president.
First, he didn’t have strong political beliefs. Many, including one former writer here a RedState, used to get what seemed to be sexual gratification from calling Trump a “New York liberal.” But, as a salesman, he knew what was important to those who voted for them. To this day, I’m not terribly sure what Trump believes, but I’m also sure that it doesn’t matter.
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Second, he didn’t hold Americans in “fly over country” in contempt. I think Trump connected with conservative Americans in a way that no candidate since Ronald Reagan has managed to do because he wasn’t laughing at us to his rich liberal buddies at cocktail parties.
Third, in the words of my Old Man, “ya dance with them what brung ya.” When Trump was sworn in, he had a choice to make. He could stay true to the people who voted for him or yield to the siren call of Washington’s social life. In a singular act of political courage, he chose loyalty to his supporters.
One of those signs of loyalty was Trump’s overt embrace of the Pro-Life Movement. I’m not sure that Trump had ever spent ten consecutive seconds thinking about the issue of abortion. From his life and lifestyle, I’d not be surprised to find that he didn’t have a personal problem with this horrific practice. Unlike President George W. Bush, whom I admired, Trump was not ashamed of us. President Trump became the first president to personally appear at the March for Life rally since its inception in 1974. Neither Reagan nor Bush, all of whom talked big talk about being pro-life, ever made an appearance, but a New York City playboy cared enough to show up. When it came time to appoint justices, Trump delivered three whose records indicated they were pro-life and conservative.
Unsurprisingly, people who made a career out of being “Never Trump” are trying to rewrite history to take credit for something that happened despite their best efforts. One such article comes from Kevin Williamson at the National Review. Williamson claims that This Is Not Donald Trump’s Victory. Who then deserves credit? Why all the RightKindofPeople(TM) who denigrated Trump and his supporters. And he’s back at it.
Question: Is expecting to win the lottery a responsible way to plan for your retirement?
Answer: Don’t be a goddamned jackass. Of course not.
A lucky or unlikely outcome, no matter how pleasing it is when it happens, does not retroactively redeem stupid and irresponsible decisions. The fact that something dumb worked out in a fortunate way does not mean that the thinking that went into it wasn’t stupid and irresponsible.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t figured it out yet, you, my friend, are the jackass.
The themes of Trump as a buffoon, his supporters as poorly educated yokels, and monkey imagery are recurring with this author. Nearly two years ago, my friend Mike Ford took issue when Williams gratuitously insulted Trump, his family, and everyone who voted for him (see Opinion: Great Move NRO; Insult 75 MILLION Americans). Williamson fired back in a screed called Rage-Monkeys Gonna Rage, in which he called Mike-a West Point graduate, honor graduate of Ranger School, holder of a master’s degree, decorated combat veteran, and a retired infantry colonel-“[s]ome illiterate jabroni over at RedState.” Mike’s response in Opinion: I Am Cletus is a classic.
It was movement conservatism — the institutions derided as “Conservative Inc.” by the rage-monkeys of Twitter and talk radio — that kept the Trump presidency from being a disaster for the Right. Trump signed Paul Ryan’s tax bill, he took up the Club for Growth’s deregulatory agenda, hired a couple of National Review editors for economic-policy advice (he should have listened to them more than he did), and, critically, delegated his judicial selections to the Federalist Society — because he did not really have any choice as a matter of political reality. You can’t be a Republican presidential candidate without backing — or at least saying you back — an originalist approach to the federal judiciary.
That is where you see the success of the long-term efforts of the conservative movement: Trump didn’t find Amy Coney Barrett on The Apprentice. And you have the Federalist Society and the broader conservative movement to thank for the fact that there was no Omarosa Manigault Newman nomination for the Supreme Court — or, God help us, a Maryanne Trump Barry nomination.
A pause here for a brief fact check. The famous lists of possible Supreme Court nominees were developed inside the Trump White House by a team led by Don McGahn. The Federalist Society executive vice president Leonard Leo was an adviser. The selections were not by any stretch of the imagination “delegated.” In fact, it was Conservative, Inc. insiders who howled as loudly as the Washington Post editorial board about how the proposed justices would scare moderate voters.
This is all fine and dandy, but do you know what Conservative, Inc. couldn’t do? Win a single freakin election. Conservative, Inc. gave us John McCain and Mitt Romney. Conservative, Inc. tried to sell us on Scott Walker and Jeb Bush. Conservative, Inc. sent our manufacturing to China and didn’t care about illegal immigration or H1B abuse because their jobs were not in jeopardy. Conservative, Inc. actively attempted to ensure the election of Hillary Clinton because they couldn’t stand the thought of the crass, nouveau riche real estate salesman from the Outer Boroughs who liked his steak well-done with catsup being president no matter what the cost to our nation of a Clinton presidency.
The author of the Dobbs decision was appointed by George W. Bush, not by Donald Trump. The most important originalist on the Court, Clarence Thomas, was appointed by George H. W. Bush. Donald Trump is not a trailblazing champion of constitutionalism — he is a guy who got out in front of a parade and pretended to be leading it
Sure, George W. Bush gave us Samuel Alito. But, do you know who else he gave us? John Roberts. Roberts is the guy whose concurrence in Dobbs tells the majority that included all three Trump-appointed justices that they were completely wrong in their decision. In a weird way, we are lucky to have John Roberts. We were saved from much worse because Bush couldn’t find enough inbred senators willing to foist Harriet Miers off on us. I agree that Clarence Thomas is a treasure. But do you know who else George H. W. Bush put on the bench? David Souter. Souter wrote the opinion in Casey that sought to forever lock in abortion as a Constitutional right. He voted with the majority in the Lawrence vs. Texas decision that changed or placid “slouching towards Gomorrah” posture into the Usain Bolt-style sprint that put us on the glide path to codifying a cheap simulacrum of actual marriage as the law of the land.
Am I glad to see Roe gone? Absolutely. Do I think that Trump’s role in this could have been performed by a reasonably well-trained monkey? Absolutely.
If a “reasonably well-trained monkey” can get elected president, I’m not sure what it says about a political movement that is routinely repudiated at the polls. I’m definitely not sure what it says about the competence of either Bush administration. Perhaps we’d been better off with a couple of those simians when the “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge was made, and we decided our mission in Afghanistan was building schools for girls.
A few final thoughts.
Legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi was famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything, but it’s the only thing. In our business, there is no second place; you’re either first or last.” This is much more true in politics than it is in football. Winning is all that matters–winning ugly counts precisely the same as winning with skill and elegance. Winning by one vote is just as valid as winning by a landslide. Politics is not an “it’s how you play the game” activity. If you don’t win, your principles and ideas can go f…I mean, hang themselves. Conservative, Inc. doesn’t operate that way. They want to be lauded for being clever and cultured. They really don’t care if they win or lose because the think tank, cable news commentator, and political journalism gigs are always there. As the t-shirt slogan says: First prize-all the marbles; Second prize-a set of steak knives; The choice is yours.
All the big thoughts by Conservative, Inc. are just as substantial as the “The Road Song of the Bandar Log.”
Much like the target of Hotspur’s scorn in Shakespeare’s Henry IV (“but for these vile guns/He would himself have been a soldier.” ), Conservative Inc. would be soldiers if they didn’t have to do anything but talk.
The Gospel Matthew (21:28-32) contains the Parable of the Two Sons. The story is that a father asks his two sons to go work in the vineyard. One tells his father “no,” but then relents and goes off to work. The other tells his father, “yes,’ and doesn’t go. The question is, who actually did their father’s will? I’m not trying to make a theological argument defending Trump; I am merely using this well-known (at least I hope) Bible reading as a point of departure for a comparison. Trump spent his entire life never giving much thought to governance. Yet once he was president, he governed more conservatively than any president in the past 20 years. Not only on Life but the economy, neutering Iran, the Abraham Accords, and, I’d contend, bullying the freeloaders in NATO into starting to meet their obligations. In essence, he said “no” at first but ended up doing the hard work in the vineyard.
On the other hand, we had “conservatives” who were elected, pledging to defend life. When it came down to nut-cutting time, they still agreed to fund Planned Parenthood, ignore the Pro-Life Movement outside of election year photo-ops, and appointed judges who, to this day, continue to support abortion and anything else the administrative state desires. They are the ones who said “yes,” and decided they liked being invited to the cool parties and maybe moving out of the conservative punditry ghetto more than fighting for causes. So who was actually the more conservative?
Donald Trump won in 2016. He won because he likes to win and because he knows if you aren’t a winner, you are the other thing…that would be a loser.
Because of his win, something that most Never Trumpers still haven’t recovered from, he was able to appoint three justices to the Supreme Court. Yes, President Trump had advisors who accepted and vetted the recommendations of the Federalist Society. Those recommendations, however, are useless unless you win. I’d also point out that George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush also had the advice of the Federalist Society; that advice gave us the author of Casey and the faux-concurrence in Dobbs.
There is a place inside the conservative tent for thinkers as well as for doers. What there isn’t a place for are people who fought tooth and nail to keep abortion legal by supporting Hillary Clinton…and Joe Biden…and then claim the Dobbs victory for themselves and their fellow travelers because they had wonderful thoughts and wrote erudite articles.