“I’ll call Donald Trump to offer my support,” enthused former NeverTrumper Glenn Beck after readjusting his universe to the presence of the new president-elect. Was this reassuring to the Trump team? Had an entire constituency come home?
Perhaps not. Beck may have squandered his political capital long before he joined the NeverTrumpers and established a micro-niche in cyberspace. First there was the late afternoon talk show on Fox News where Beck routinely dabbled in political history and had an hour of major network time to chew on his assorted obsessions while challenging his audience to make some sense of it. He carried his sophomoric approach to radio where he and a pack of wisecracking pals would do their best interpretation of frat house conversation. So I’m sure Trump is saying, “Thank you. We’ll be in touch.”
But others are coming home – with a varying degree of enthusiasm.
The folks at the ever-petulant National Review, which sometimes seems like the Shadow Review because it’s not as conservative as it purports to be, had some humble pie to eat as well. While giving qualified acceptance of the election results, the editorial staff studiously avoided any mention of the magazine’s pre-election issue with a cover depicting an embattled Republican elephant being submerged by a Democratic blue wave.
Though not so much a NeverTrumper as an AlwaysRyan, House Speaker Paul Ryan has found brave new qualities in Trump and even discovered, after careful examination, that the President-elect may be more conservative than previously believed. Just a month ago, Ryan could “no longer defend” Trump; now he can no longer avoid him. Naturally, Ryan wants to keep his job so like any Washington insider he won’t let yesterday’s apparent convictions impede today’s political reality.
Even syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer who could barely utter Trump’s name without appearing slightly nauseous, has decided it is time to focus his criticism on President Barack Obama – however belatedly. Always articulate and thoughtful, Krauthammer’s antipathy towards Trump was always disconcerting. But of late he has been describing Obama as a “wrecking ball” against the Democratic Party and his legacy as “toast.”
How about The Weekly Standard and Bill Kristol? The post-election issue of the magazine asks the question, “what happened” as if wondering how the Potomac River flooded Pennsylvania Ave. Kristol has meekly offered his hope that Trump is a “better president” than he had hitherto predicted. That’s very big of Bill, but it doesn’t explain why someone of his intelligence could even contemplate dividing the right by running a third party conservative candidate against Trump to virtually assure a victory for Hillary Clinton.
And therein lies the chief contradiction of the NeverTrumpers. They were quick to accuse Trump of hijacking the Republican Party and reshaping it into his populist image while ignoring the fact that he won the nomination fairly and resoundingly. They were fond of saying that he had transformed the GOP into the Party of Trump while forgetting that they wanted to make it the Party of NeverTrump. Wasn’t NeverTrump not so much about being more ideally conservative than being more acceptably elitist and profoundly repelled by all those working class stiffs who surrounded Trump?
Why wasn’t there a NeverRomney or NeverMcCain movement when those candidates captured the GOP nomination? Neither was ideologically ideal but sensible Republicans realized they were a great deal more conservative than Obama and so we rallied around.
Despite the failure of the NeverTrumpers to deny Trump the presidency, conservatives must never forget that the ultimate result of that goal would not just have been the absence of Trump in the White House but the presence of the Clintons there.
Well, saner thoughts are prevailing and that is certainly one thing that separates a disenchanted conservative from the malcontented thugs in the streets who want to overrule the results of an election by force.
At least, unlike the self-obsessed and anti-democratic members of this unruly and insignificant club, the NeverTrumpers have finally acknowledged the will of the people and the results of the election.
Follow David on Twitter @DavidKrayden