2016 vs. 2020: Trump is fighting the last war

The euphemism has always been that the president is “transactional.” Of course, that only makes sense as the simulacrum of fixed principles if there is something identifiable that the transactions are designed to advance. In the president’s case, that would be Donald J. Trump. That is not an original observation, either.

What conservatives and Republicans often gloss over, since it is not very flattering, is that we are transactional, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not singing from the Never-Trump hymnal. I am not accusing my fellow conservatives and Republicans of whoring themselves, of checking their principles at the door and making loyalty to the president their compass. Quite the opposite. The trick in this uneasy alliance has always been to maintain our principles while convincing the president to come around. Not because he necessarily agrees, since his agreements are fleeting. He has to be convinced that it’s in his interest to come around.

Which brings us to this business of fighting the last war.