As the historian Niall Ferguson pointed out early in the Trump administration, the fear preventing many conservatives from joining the Trump train was precisely that the President was at some point going to go down in a blaze of scandal that would make Nixon’s end look like a graceful retirement. Yet this actually isn’t principally what the NeverTrumpers warned about.
Their statement in 2016 criticized specific aspects of the future president’s outlook and behavior. Much of it turned out to be wrong. For instance, they warned that Trump’s ‘advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars is a recipe for economic disaster in a globally connected world’. In fact Trump’s trade wars not only started the return of jobs to America but was about the only calibration to date that might be said to have stood any chance of deterring or otherwise setting back the rise of China as the global economic superpower.
Other early NeverTrump claims were equally wrong. Their founding letter claimed that Trump’s ‘equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false. Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs’. Leave aside the oddly weak verbosity of that statement’s climax and consider how wrong headed the first part is. Whether you give the credit to Donald Trump or to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the Trump team did indeed manage to pull off a set of deals in the Middle East that were like a business deal.