Huckabee to #NeverTrumpers: Fall in line or get out of the party

A leftover from yesterday via Mediaite. Alternate headline: “You can’t quit. You’re fired!”

I’m tempted to tsk-tsk him for responding to conservatives’ angst by rhetorically flipping them off but the whole point of #NeverTrump is that never means never. In which case, why bother pleading? Kiss them off, as Trump himself has already done, and be done with them. Too bad, though, that Huck makes the same self-serving mistake Katrina Pierson did earlier in claiming that #NeverTrumpers are refusing to honor some sort of tacit agreement in which all party members hold their noses and vote for the nominee no matter who it is. By that logic, if Hillary Clinton somehow got herself nominated by the GOP — which seems less implausible today than it did 10 months ago — we’d all be duty-bound to suck it up and vote her in. Here’s the thing about Trump, though: He’s now basically running his own party under the GOP banner, which is why his victory is so often described as a takeover. McCain’s nomination wasn’t a “takeover.” Neither was Romney’s. They were both more or less in sync with what the party’s stood for post-Reagan.

Trump is an almost total break. He overlaps with grassroots conservatives (although not party leaders, lord knows) on immigration, which was important to him building cred in the primaries early on, but to the extent that his economic and foreign policies are coherent, they’re an obvious, multifaceted split from what lots of conservatives believe. It’s as if a new nationalist party was founded, adopted the name “GOP,” and then Huckabee expected Republicans to pledge allegiance to it once it won an election against the extant GOP. “It calls itself the Republican Party! What more do you want?” But above and beyond all that, ideology isn’t even the core of #NeverTrumpers’ objections. Ben Shapiro is correct that the deeper objection to Trump is to his character, that he’s simply unfit for office morally and temperamentally irrespective of what he believes in. You would think Huckabee, one of the most prominent moral scolds in American politics, would be more sensitive to that objection. “I’m deeply troubled by what kind of man Donald Trump appears to be, Pastor Huckabee.” “Shut your mouth and pull the lever, jerk.”

Speaking of #NeverTrump scolds, Peggy Noonan of all people has herself a case of populist fee-vah today:

It does not show an understanding of the moment to say Donald Trump by himself has changed the Republican Party. It is closer to the mark to say the base of the party is changing and Mr. Trump’s electric arrival on the scene made obvious what was already happening.

For this reason among others, I do not understand the impulse of the NeverTrump people to anathametize and shun those Republicans who will not vow to oppose Mr. Trump and commit to defeating him. They have been warned that if they don’t do these things they will not be allowed to help rebuild the party after Mr. Trump destroys it. Conservatives love to throw conservatives out of conservatism; it’s like an ancestral tic. But great political movements should not be run like private clubs. And have the anathemitizers noticed they aren’t in charge anymore? That in the great antiestablishment disruption of 2016 they have been upended, too?

She wrote that on the same day Huckabee was busy making sure #NeverTrumpers know they’re not welcome in “the club.” In fairness to her, I have seen a few anti-Trump righties on social media shaking their fist and vowing to punish the Hannitys and Rick Perrys of the world who meekly capitulated to Trumpism instead of standing on principle. But they’re a minority, and I suspect they’re acting that way because they do understand, very well, that they’re not in charge anymore. “Hannity will be shunned when this Trump thing is over!” is something you tell yourself to cope with your feeling of impotence upon realizing that the Hannitys and Perrys won’t be shunned at all. The Perry types will either assimilate into the new nationalist GOP or Trumpism will fade and they’ll revert to a more conservative stance and, after a few months of intramural squabbling, everyone will get over it as we reunite to fight the left again. If you doubt me, ask yourself how much of a price Hannity paid for saying shortly after the 2012 election that the party must get on board with comprehensive immigration reform in order to win elections. Now he’s best buds with Donald “Mass Deportation” Trump. But just because #NeverTrumpers have no power to excommunicate conservatives-turned-Trumpers doesn’t mean they shouldn’t point out that pols like Perry, who crowed for years about their fidelity to principle, turned out to be ridiculous hypocrites once public opinion shifted. In fact, isn’t that what Trump himself has done so successfully — call out politicians and their media sycophants for their BS? It’s not just the Republican establishment that’s full of frauds. The conservative establishment is too. Right, Huck?

In lieu of an exit question, here’s a fine point from Orin Kerr responding to Trump fans who insist that, if for no other reason, Trump is preferable to Hillary Clinton because of the Supreme Court appointments he’d make. Is he?