Here’s what we know for certain about the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller: even though we learned Sunday that it found there was no collusion between President Trump or his campaign and Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, opposition to the president will continue unabated.
Trump Derangement Syndrome will continue to fuel resistance not only from Democrats but also from conservative Never-Trumpers. Animosity from the former group is expected; from the latter, it is unforgiveable.
The end of the Mueller probe will not call a halt to the Democrat-led inquisitions of President Trump in Congress. House Committee Chairs Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings, Jerry Nadler et al are far too invested in destabilizing the Trump White House (and boosting their own visibility) to rein in their attack dogs.
Moreover, that’s all they’ve got. As Democrats uniformly march the plank of political extremism, they coalesce around one theme only: that Trump is a very bad man.
The conclusion of the Mueller investigation will also not deter conservative Never-Trumpers who are desperate for someone – anyone – to mount a primary challenge to President Trump. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, leading voice in that chorus, recently tweeted: “The awfulness of Donald Trump isn’t what he might have done in secret. It’s what he does in full public view, every damn day.”
Stephens is right. It is what President Trump does every day that is important, and that has kept his supporters close. His administration’s accomplishments over the past two years have won him outstanding approval ratings within his own party.
In a column entitled “Why I’m Still a Never-Trumper” at the end of 2017, Stephens himself volunteered those achievements:
“Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.”
That was just year one. He could now add: “Pressuring China on intellectual property theft. Remaking NAFTA. Rising wages and productivity. Demanding free speech on campus. Record low unemployment for blacks and Hispanics. Ditching a bogus missile treaty with Russia. Starting the wall. Assigning Golan Heights to Israel. Criminal Justice reform.”
Trump supporters are angry, and rightly so. Like the president, they think he has been treated unfairly by the liberal media, which has perpetuated the Russia collusion story and failed to cover what appear to be serious misdeeds of the Obama Justice Department.
And, of the utmost importance: placing Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and appointing 30 conservative federal appeals court judges. This rebalancing of the nation’s courts will influence the direction of the nation for decades and is not yet complete. As the president of the Ethics and Policy Center said to the Washington Post, “It takes more than two years of strong appointments to begin to transform the courts.”
The reality is that, especially with the Mueller probe in the rearview mirror (and assuming no bombshells contained therein), no Republican contender can possibly wrest the GOP nomination away from the president. The latest Gallup poll shows 90 percent of Republicans backing Trump, among the highest ratings of his presidency. That’s an impossible hurdle for any challenger. It’s also extraordinary. By comparison, President Obama had 79 percent approval among Democrats at the same time in his first term.
At best, a challenger could weaken the president’s reelection effort, wasting valuable resources needed to take on the eventual Democrat nominee. Sufficiently wounded, Trump could lose in 2020, disrupting the most significant conservative winning streak in a generation.
That does not deter the Never-Trumpers. Jeb Bush recently declared that “Republicans should have a choice.” The former governor of Florida and 2016 presidential contender says Republicans should “have a conversation about what it is to be a conservative.”
Maybe Jeb! needs to have a conversation about what it is to win.
Winning will require Trump’s core voters to rally to his cause in 2020. They will indeed come out but, as important, they would surely refuse to support any Republican managing to pull off an upset.
Trump supporters are angry, and rightly so.
Like the president, they think he has been treated unfairly by the liberal media, which has perpetuated the Russia collusion story and failed to cover what appear to be serious misdeeds of the Obama Justice Department. The liberal media has virtually ignored the origins of the Russia narrative – the Clinton-funded unverified Steele dossier, which prompted the surveillance of the Trump campaign and led to the Mueller probe.
Trump supporters are also aggrieved that Democrats in Congress have obstructed his every move, even breaking with convention by blocking the staffing of his administration. They are also fed up with Establishment Republicans like the late John McCain, who at times chose to demonstrate their personal distaste for the president over helping their party win policy battles.
And they have zero patience for Never-Trump conservatives who would rather have seen Hillary Clinton occupy the Oval Office than an uncouth fellow who challenged orthodoxy and was patently not “one of them.”
Will Never-Trumpers vote for the Democrat nominee in 2020 over President Trump? Given the progressive agenda favored by most of those running, that would likely mean backing full-term abortions, the Green New Deal and open borders.
It would also mean sabotaging the unfinished items on the president’s to-do list, like adding more conservative judges.
Will the fastidious Never-Trumpers throw their weight behind John Kasich, Larry Hogan or Bill Weld, all of whom are said to be contemplating a primary run? It’s impossible to imagine, given the obvious shortcomings of all three.
On the other hand, this is the crew that offered up retired CIA officer and GOP party apparatchik Evan McMullin as their pick in 2016. He drew 700,000 votes nationwide.