A little mint on the pillow before bedtime on the east coast via Mediaite. “This clip is incredible,” says Philip Klein, “for anybody who listened to conservative talk radio during the Clinton era.” Indeed. Imagine being a Clintonista, worried that the sheer mass of Hillary’s sleaziness might sink her this fall, and discovering that your old enemies in the ranks of conservative polemicists now agree that character doesn’t matter when the policy stakes are high enough. To quote Ann Coulter:
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 16, 2015
Lincoln suspended habeas in the middle of a Civil War, Reagan got divorced, and Trump — well, Trump’s going to end globalism. When you’re judging whether he’s fit for office, what more do you need to know?
What you’re hearing here is a variation on the argument Trump fans have been making to conservative Trump skeptics in many contexts lately: He’s a difference in degree, not in kind. That was Katrina Pierson’s and Mike Huckabee’s point last week in grumbling at #NeverTrumpers for refusing to back the nominee. Grassroots conservatives held their noses and voted for McCain and Romney, right? Well, time to repay the favor by voting for Trump. He’s different — but only in degree, not in kind. Meanwhile, when they’re not pitching him to skeptics, every breath they spend praising him is devoted to the idea that he is different in kind, not just degree. It’s a “takeover” of the party. It’s a “new” GOP. It’s a revolution! We’re a nationalist party now! Read this new WaPo analysis and ask yourself whether Trump is a difference in degree or in kind. And if he’s a difference in kind, if he really has formed a new party, what duty to him do people who belong to a fundamentally different party owe?
In order to believe that Trump is “conservative,” you need to believe that taking a hard right-wing line on one policy question, immigration, is sufficient to qualify. And in order to believe that Trump’s character is no more disqualifying than Reagan’s, you need to believe that any single moral failing is no less damning than a multitude of them. This is conservatism now, I guess.