"I forgive you."
I've lost count of how many people have told me that since
My position as a committed "Never Trump" (and "Never Hillary") conservative in the primaries and general election earned the disappointment and wrath of a great many folks on the right, from longtime readers to longtime friends. Although I still feel in my bones that I have nothing to apologize for, it does seem to me that forgiveness, solicited or otherwise, should elicit some introspection.
Are my critics -- either the forgiving ones or the menacing ones -- right about me? Just how wrong was I?
I did get the election wrong. Although there were occasions when I wrote that Trump had a shot, certainly at the end I was convinced that he'd lose.
And yet, defensive though it may sound, I think the claim that I got "everything wrong" in 2016 reveals more about my detractors than about me. No doubt I got much wrong this year (this is true of every year ending in a number divisible by 1), but the only sense in which one could plausibly claim I got everything wrong is if
There is a weird, not quite fully baked idea out there that if you -- or me -- were wrong about Trump's electoral chances, that means you must be wrong about the man in full. There is no such transitive property in politics or punditry. I don't know what
That said, I already feel comfortable admitting that, beyond my electoral prognosticating, I got some things wrong about what a Trump presidency will look like. Though many on the left and in the media see his Cabinet appointments and policy proposals as cause for existential panic, as a conservative I find most -- but by no means all -- of them reassuring.
I argued frequently that Trump's conservatism was more marketing ploy than deeply held conviction. But his appointments at the departments of Education,
I am also surprised by the benefits of having a political novice take over the executive branch. From his phone call with
Of course, there is also a downside.
And that brings me to what I think I got right: Trump's character. I am not referring to his personal conduct toward women, a culture-war weapon that Trump and
What I have chiefly in mind is that rich nexus of unrestrained ego, impoverished impulse control and contempt for policy due diligence. I firmly and passionately believe that character is destiny. From his reported refusal to accept daily intelligence briefings to his freelancing every issue under the sun on Twitter -- including, most recently, nuclear arms policy -- Trump's blasÃ© attitude troubles me deeply, just as it did during the campaign.
On balance, I don't feel repentant. But I acknowledge that Trump has surrounded himself with some serious and sober-minded people who will try to constrain and contain the truly dangerous aspects of his character. If they succeed, I'll happily revisit my refusal to ask for forgiveness.