George Will: I left the GOP for the same reason I joined it, because I'm a conservative

A leftover from yesterday via Mediaite. Note that it’s not Trump or Trump’s nomination that sent him running for the lifeboats. It’s Paul Ryan’s half-hearted embrace of Trump, which is odd. If Ryan had resigned the Speakership rather than endorse the presumptive nominee, Will would still be stuck in a party whose members handed an easy win in the primaries to an “impetuous, vicious, ignorant and anti-constitutional man.” Speakers come and go but the party’s base is what it is. Ultimately that’s the association you make when you register — not with Paul Ryan but with fellow Republicans. It would have made more sense for Will to pull the trigger on leaving the day after Indiana than this month.

From his column a few weeks ago excoriating Ryan for making nice with Trump:

All supposedly will be redeemed by the House agenda. So, assume, fancifully, that in 2017 this agenda emerges intact from a House not yet proved able to pass 12 appropriations bills. Assume, too, that Republicans still control the Senate and can persuade enough Democrats to push the House agenda over the 60-vote threshold. Now, for some really strenuous assuming: Assume that whatever semblance of the House agenda that reaches President Trump’s desk is more important than keeping this impetuous, vicious, ignorant and anti-constitutional man from being at that desk.

Some say in extenuation of Ryan’s behavior that if he could not embrace Trump, he could not continue as speaker. But is Ryan, who was reluctant to become speaker, now more indispensable to the nation’s civic health than Trump is menacing to that health? Ryan could have enhanced that health by valuing it above his office.

The key word there, I think, is “anti-constitutional.” Anti-Trump arguments tend to be either distinctly ideological (“he’s not a conservative!”) or distinctly moral (“he’s a bad guy!”). Will’s isn’t. He seems to say that the moral objection informs the ideological one. The ultimate conservative value is, or should be, fidelity to the Constitution; Trump won’t be faithful to it because his character flaws will lead him towards executive power grabs. If you tolerate that in return for him signing off on a few right-tilting economic proposals on the House’s agenda, in what meaningful way has conservatism won? Will seems able to tolerate a party base that’s okay with aggressive government so long as it’s their form of aggression but watching Ryan sign on in exchange for a handful of items on his policy wishlist means the leadership’s given up on smaller government too. What’s left?

After you watch Will, listen below as Mike Huckabee (via BuzzFeed) excommunicates him and Ben Sasse from the party for refusing to pledge their devotion to Trump. The idea of an ordained Christian minister getting audibly pissy at someone for exercising a conscientious objection seems deeply weird to me. And to Sasse:

We’re destined to spend the next four months, I think, with Trumpers shouting “good riddance” at anti-Trumpers and insisting that the party doesn’t need them and also that they’d better fall in line because the party desperately needs them and they’ll be blamed if Trump loses. Huckabee’s just getting warmed up.

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David Strom 8:31 AM on October 02, 2022