Saturday, October 24, 2020

Trump: Yes ... Just Look at the Alternative

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
As I write this, the outcome of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is not yet known. Besides observing that she is eminently qualified, there is just one thing we can say with confidence: The president trying to seat a third justice on the nation’s highest judicial tribunal is not Hillary Clinton.
Those two words, “Hillary Clinton,” more than any others that can be uttered, explain why Donald J. Trump is president of these United States.
Out of the 17 Republicans who sought the party’s 2016 nomination, Mr. Trump was at or near the bottom of my preference list. More times than I can count, I’ve argued that the best thing he had going for him in the final showdown against the Democrats was . . . the Democrats — in particular, their nominee.
Plus ça change . . .
But Trump is unfit, many proclaim. Tell me about it. Conservatives and Republicans have made that case with great persuasive force since the New York real-estate magnate first announced his candidacy in summer 2015. The consuming narcissism, nonstop dissembling, infantile outbursts, inability to admit error, withering attacks on well-meaning officials he entices into working for him — though Trump has been a much better president than I thought he’d be, it’s not like the leopard’s spots have faded away.
The indictment continues: Trump is unprincipled — that’s the modifier invoked by those without patience for the grand-master designation preferred in MAGA Land, transactional. The norms he is demolishing are not, in fact, musty, deep-state relics; they are, to the contrary, the essence of the presidency, of its capacity to influence world events for the better. So deep runs his solipsism, so thin is his skin, that he cannot — not will not, cannot — distinguish between his own petty interests and the vital interests of the nation. Nor can he spot friends from foes, thus becoming infatuated with the rogues who flatter him and antagonistic toward allies anxious to preserve the post–World War II international order and America’s stabilizing centrality in it. His social-media fusillades, more befitting Don from Queens on his fourth beer in the saloon than the leader of the free world, degrade the office, undermine the rule of law (Attorney General Bill Barr has said that the president’s tweets sometimes “make it impossible for me to do my job”), and confuse both American officials and foreign powers regarding what the position of the United States is on matters of great importance.
We could go on, as some have indeed gone on in this vein for four years running. Yet this argument has always missed the point. The most compelling case for Trump has never been Trump. It has always been, and remains, Trump . . . as opposed to what?
A presidential election is not the occasion for a personal endorsement. It is a choice. Donald Trump is a deeply flawed man. I get that. I’ve never not gotten it. Trump was not my choice to be president. He was the choice on offer when my preferred candidates were no longer in the running. At that point, there were only two left, Trump and Clinton. I don’t condemn anyone for rationalizing that a U.S. presidential election is not a binary choice; for myself, though, I don’t buy the notion that, because I could always write “Clarence Thomas” on the ballot, I am able to soar above the grime that is real-world politics.
In the world where I come from, we put twelve ordinary people in the jury box and expect them to decide, faute de mieux, guilty or not guilty. Sometimes the FBI collects evidence in unsavory ways but the evidence shows that the defendant is a ruthless criminal. Our fellow citizens do not get to escape the choice because it’s excruciating. We expect them to use their best judgment, understanding that “guilty” is not an endorsement of brass-knuckles police tactics and “not guilty” is not necessarily an exoneration. But there is no evading the decision; to abdicate it just means foisting it on other citizens.
Donald Trump or Joe Biden is going to be president. That’s the alternative.
Biden, too, is deeply flawed, in ways different from Trump. His embarrassingly patent senescence and habitual incoherence are problems, to be sure. But in his prime, such as it was, he was never regarded as serious presidential material, despite his several attempts. Mediocrity is something he’d have to aspire to. He was a gentleman’s-C undergrad who went on to finish 76th out of 85 in his law-school class. He entered politics in a one-party state right out of law school, and there he has stayed for a half century, plagiarizing his way through as he did in school. If he has distinguished himself, it is mainly by being wrong on virtually every issue of great public consequence, often after vacillating from one side to the other. His accomplishments are nil. The defining attribute of his current campaign is to run away from a few sensible positions he used to hold. Otherwise, he would not have been viable to today’s woke Left, against which he is largely impotent.
Read the rest from Andrew C. McCarthy HERE

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