RUSH: Victor Davis Hanson. He’s got a piece at National Review today called, “The ‘Never Trump’ Construct.” Now, this is a long piece, and I would actually would love to read it to you word-for-word, but I’m not going to because it’s too long. But it’s interesting with the point that I made in the previous hour. “For all the talk of a Civil War in the Republican Party over Donald Trump, 90% of Republicans ended up voting for him.”
He goes on to make the point that that’s the same percentage of Republicans that voted for George W. Bush, about the same percentage that voted for George H. W. Bush. Mitt Romney got 93% of the Republican vote. So where is this civil war in the Republican Party? He’s not denying there’s a civil war. What he’s denying is that it’s over Trump, and he’s drawing a distinction between voters and people in Washington, voters and the establishment. And as far as voters are concerned, there isn’t any civil war going on with Trump.
It’s not Trump that they’re angry at. ‘Cause Donald Trump got about the same percentage of the Republican vote as John McCain in 2008, slightly less than Romney in 2012. “So the present civil war did not translate into much in 2016. United or divided, the Republicans have lost the popular vote in four out of the last five national elections — 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2016 — not because large numbers of Republicans voted for the Democratic candidate, but because there are not enough Republicans to begin with.
“And their candidates were not able to capture enough independents and Democrats, or to motivate enough first-time or lapsed Republicans to register and turn out to vote, or to flip new demographic groups to conservatism. Trump won no more of the voters who turned out and who identified as ‘conservative’ than did Romney. But again,” the key difference, “Trump apparently did get Democrats, independents…” You know, this is a point that I make during the campaign when I was cataloging the supposed rage and anger of the Never Trumpers in the Washington establishment.
These Romneys, the McCains, what did they all say that they needed to do? When Rand Paul ran, he came by my office, and he made the point: “We can’t win with just Republican votes! We gotta go get Democrats. We gotta go get independents.” Well, Trump did! Trump should have been heralded by these people. He actually did what they claimed had to be done, which is why they claim they supported amnesty. The way they decided to do it, the Romneys and McCains — the way they decided to get Democrat votes — was to go Democrat light.
You know, be in favor of amnesty, be in favor of some national health care, but not like Obama’s. In other words, the McCain-Romney approach was, you know, tell enough to fool conservatives into thinking you were one while you were really going out and trying to appeal to Democrats and so forth. But they didn’t appeal to Democrats in the right way. They tried to peel off Democrats by being Democrat light, rather than what Trump did to get them. What did Trump do to get these disaffected Democrats, independents, Reagan Democrats?
What did he do? “Make. America. Great. Again.” Trump ran against the administrative state. Romney, McCain, George W. Bush were Obama, Hillary. They were the administrative state. Trump gave everybody the blueprint on how to win. The civil war — and this is not a surprise — remains the Never Trumpers on the Republican side, who join the Washington establishment in opposing Trump simply because he’s an outsider. Now, the nub of this… You should really read the whole thing, but the nub of this happens near the conclusion.
“Again, Trump is a symptom of widespread disgust, not the head of a carefully crafted ideological movement with a checklist of issues.” Now, some of you may disagree with that. Some of you may say, “No, no! Trump has an agenda, and he announced it every campaign appearance. There’s five or six items. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. Everybody knows what his issues were.” What Mr. Hanson is saying here is that he doesn’t have an ideological agenda based on ideological principles and so forth.
He’s got an agenda, but Trump is a symptom of much more. In fact, it makes the point that Trumpism has been alive and percolating long before Trump came along and gave voters an outlet for it. What it really adds up to is that for 20 years or more, Republicans (conservatives, primarily) have been growing angrier and angrier and wearier and wearier of the Republican establishment. They have grown less trustful and less desirous and less supportive. But they had nowhere else to go.
They had to vote for the Democrat nominee or the establishment Republican. The first guy that came along who was not establishment Republican who articulated, validated what all these people felt… This may not be old news to you, but the point of the piece is to try to share with the Never Trumpers because there are still so many people that to this day have no idea why Trump won.
RUSH: “[W]e should again remember three general principles: First, neither side has yet published policy manifestos that transcend Donald J. Trump or radically contradict the general protocols of past Republican presidents. There is no “Contract with America” that defines Trumpers or Never Trumpers. For now, it is all nebulous and boils down to whether one believes that the controversial messenger trumps, or does not trump, the mostly shared message.”
His point is that the real difference Trumpers and Never Trumpers is not policy; it’s Trump. And he’s chiding the Never Trumpers, the arrogant establishment types who simply can’t… Like the Corkers of the world. He thinks it’s silly. They have an opportunity here to score and score and score, and everybody’s all caught up in decorum and stuff because this is the bottom line.
While all of this argument over decorum and speech patterns takes place, “the administrative state expands, the debt is headed for $21 trillion, crass identity politics tear the nation apart, the effort to restore deterrence abroad grows ever more dangerous,” meaning stopping people like North Korea, “and the campuses, Hollywood, the NFL, and the media are reminding us that progressive politics are now our culture’s orthodoxy, vital for success in nearly all fields. And dealing with all that is the only conservative fight that counts.”
It’s another way of saying that the Never Trumpers who don’t see the real problems facing the country remain the problem, not Trump. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online today.
RUSH: This is Kevin in Columbus, Ohio. Great to have you, sir. How are you?
CALLER: Hey, Rush. Hey, isn’t Corker of Tennessee chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?
RUSH: Yeeeeeeah. Yeah.
CALLER: Okay. If so, then how does he still have that chairmanship? He has done nothing but treat or president with total disrespect, and if McConnell doesn’t remove him, then isn’t McConnell tacitly supporting him?
RUSH: I don’t know.
CALLER: And if that’s the case, you know what the president should do? We should all focus on this May coming up, and the president should come out with his list of Republicans that need primaried (sic), that need removed (sic), because they have been nothing but an obstruction to him and he has still accomplished many things even with the obstructionism from his own party going on. It’s just to the point where it’s actually ridiculous, and for “McCorkle” (sic) to speak the way he has publicly about our president and still hold that chairmanship just totally blows my mind.
RUSH: Well, look, I don’t know what Senate rules are in this instance here. Corker has announced that he’s not seeking reelection, that he’s retiring. But he’s still there. I don’t know that that would automatically provide instant grounds for McConnell removing him. I think McConnell likes him. I think Corker is… Especially with this can kerfuffle with Trump, there are some people in the Senate invested in Corker. Corker is doing the bidding of a lot of people in the Senate, but the Senate runs itself. Trump can’t…
I mean, he could call McConnell and he could say, “You know, I think it’d be really great if you get rid of the guy. The guy is a pain in the rear.” But this is strictly McConnell’s call, and what the seniority system is and all these rules? I don’t pretend to know what would be involved. Your overall point that Trump ought to be providing leadership on which Republican senators up for reelection need to go? Um… (sigh) In the real world, that’s a job for surrogates to do. The fact remains that — and it’s something to shoot for.
The fact remains that if there would just be… I’m sounding like a broken record on this, and I know you’re gonna think it’s sophistry given the actions of Corker lately. But the fact remains that if there could be just for three months, even just the appearance of a unified front between Republicans in both the House and the Senate and Trump on the agenda and really take action to move it forward… This is the point of Victor Davis Hanson’s column today.
He said when you get right down to it, the policy differences between Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill are not that great. And he made the point that for all the talk of congressional Republicans opposing Trump, the fact is that 90% of them have voted with Trump on one or several other pieces of legislation that have come up. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t opposition to Trump. The point is that the opposition to Trump is infantile, it’s immature, and it’s childish, because the left is doing what it’s doing.
The left is continuing… The national debt is being added to — the spending — and that’s partly the Republicans’ responsibility as well. But if you look at what’s happening with the NFL, and if you look at what’s happening on college campuses, if you look at what’s happening in Hollywood, the left is on the march in the culture. As Mr. Hanson points out, there’s an orthodoxy that you have to subscribe to. You have to behave… In these areas the left runs, you have to behave according to their demands or you’re out — and, as such, it is a powerful cultural influence.
And the administrative state is still expanding while all of these kerfuffles are going on. Ultimately, what needs to happen is the Republicans need to unify around the same thing that we’ve been dying for them to unify around: Stop the left! I’m sorry to scream or yell, but I get worked up about this, because that is the objective. But to too many people — it doesn’t take many — the objective is: Stop Trump. It’s childish, and it’s based on things that are not real.
If you read Victor Davis Hanson’s entire column, you find out that most of the differences between Never Trumpers and Trump is not policy. It’s Trump. It’s his manner of speaking. It’s his personality. It’s his decorum. It is that he embarrasses people in his party and it embarrasses them because they want to be respected by our opposition, by our enemy. It’s the same old lament. There’s nothing new in it. But it is childish. There is an agenda out there that needs to happen to restore the country’s greatness and to defeat the left.
This insider-versus-outsider thing is a childish thing that’s stopping it. It’s pure opposition to Trump based on things that are not related to policy. It’s not as though Trump is doing things the Republican Party doesn’t support. He’s doing everything they do support! Or say they do. Repeal and replace Obamacare. Cut taxes. Fix immigration. Regrow the economy. Everything Trump’s doing is exactly what the Republican Party has said for years that they believe in, and yet there’s a number of them that can’t bring themselves to.
Both in the media and in academia to think tanks and in Congress, they just can’t bring themselves to agree with Trump because Trump repulses them personally or what have you. It’s small-minded, it’s small-sighted, and it’s actually kind of selfish when you consider the stakes involved. Meaning: The future of the country and what kind of country we’re gonna be and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we have here. I don’t know about you, but I never thought we’d have full control of the House, the Senate, and the White House at the same time.
I never thought this opportunity would present itself. I hoped, don’t misunderstand. But I never thought so actually. Now it has, and it’s being squandered. It’s being squandered, and not because Republicans disagree. Now, I realize a lot of Republicans say things on the campaign trail that they don’t mean — and McCain! McCain is out there… Well, I gotta take a break. McCain is supporting some newfangled cockamamie thing called truthfulness in ads. (snorts) From the guy who lied to the American people about his immigration policy just to get elected, and then abandoned it after he gets sworn in again.