By now you may have noticed the difficulty many conservatives have defending everything President Trump does and says. I'm not just referring to the big policy moves, most of which conservatives can support fairly easily (so far). I mean the whole whiplash-inducing spectacle: the unfiltered, impulsive tweeting, bizarre interview non sequiturs, glib insults and distractions.
If you honestly have no idea what I'm talking about, you may need to be de-programmed from a personality cult. But for example: over the weekend,
It's been interesting to see how various Republican leaders respond to
This is a particularly popular talking point among his talk radio and cable TV boosters. It's almost as popular as attacking the mainstream media's very real double standard toward Trump and Obama.
Recently a new defense has sprouted up: Trump promised to take "action" and action is what they're getting. Yet another is to defend President Trump's "right" to say something. "Every president has a right to be critical of the other branches of the federal government," Pence said on
But if you look closely, you'll see that all of these defenses are not actually, well, defenses. The issue with Trump's Twitter account isn't the medium, but the message. If he took to skywriting, and blazed Bring Me The Head of
But the more worrisome defense is the one that I fear is coming -- and I hear on social media all the time. Just trust him. He knows things we don't. He is playing chess and everyone is playing checkers. He won the primaries relying on his judgment, and we should have confidence he knows what he's doing. Place your faith in him. Or, as
This sort of thing was creepy when
What worries me about the nascent Trump administration is that he is making it difficult to defend Trump on the merits. Again, this isn't specifically a point about substance, but process. Trump's impulsively glandular style of governing and communicating frequently leaves his staff and surrogates guessing what he will do next and at a loss as to how to defend his statements. Numerous times he has undermined or contradicted his own supporters and spokesmen, particularly
When a political leader replaces fixed principles and clear ideological platforms with his own instincts and judgment, he gives his supporters no substantive arguments to rely on. Eventually, the argument to just say "Have faith" in our leader, he knows best, is the only safe harbor.
And that's not what conservatism is about -- nor, for that matter, democracy.