#Nevertrumps confront their biggest terror: Trump Making America Great Again
The #NeverTrumps, who've mostly otherwise been known by the overused "neo-con," are confronting their worst nightmare:
That their much-reviled Donald Trump really is Making America Great Again.
Irwin Stelzer has a great piece in Weekly Standard describing the dawning reality, with a tasty opener:
Never say Never. That’s what some of the Never Trumpers are saying, and even more are thinking. Both in private. They are afflicted with a nagging suspicion. Trump might, how shall they whisper it, Make America Great Again.
The tax bill has given the economy a bit of a tailwind, most Americans have more money in their pockets, and corporations have greater incentives to step up spending and to bring some funds home. The NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada likely will be revised to America’s advantage. The president’s decision to punish Assad for crossing the red line that Obama refused to enforce is popular and his decision to defer to his military advisers and keep the response targeted so as not to induce a response from Russia has met with broad approval. His threats against North Korea—my nukes are bigger than your nukes—appalled the fastidious members of the establishment diplomatic community, but have led Kim Jung-un to say he will shut down a nuclear test site, suspend all missile tests and negotiate a peace treaty with South Koreas.
Then there is China. Trump has done what previous administrations failed to do: forced China to make some concessions, opening at least a crack in the wall it has erected against imports. Majority-owned American financial firms will gain entry into several sectors, and tariffs on made-in-America automobiles will come down, while the United States tightens restrictions on intellectual property theft by the Chinese regime, in part by limiting China’s ability to buy tech-heavy U.S. firms. Even dyed-in-the-cotton-apparel free-traders are now conceding that the president’s negotiating tactic—threaten to bring down the international system, unless it gets fixed—is working. And should have been tried administrations ago.
It's a classic case of stolen thunder, given that neo-cons in general have always had this fascination with "American power," and some of them, such as Paul Wolfowitz, have been overly willing to use it as if we held it in unlimited supply. (Neo-cons, often ex-leftists, never were big on the laws of economics.) They thought the lefties were all in favor of American weakness and by contrast, that left them as the sole standard-bearers for American power and its projection.
Actually, lefties with their love of big government have never been all that unwilling to use American power to achieve their ends. Obama went hogwild with the drone strikes for assorted capricious and non-capricious reasons, Bill Clinton did the camel-butt strike to wag the dog, LBJ had the bombing of Hanoi - and they all have used and abused power significantly, especially Obama with his big and politicized government at home, too. There never was the dilemma between being in favor of power and not being in favor of power that the neo-cons imagined.
No, the issue was whether we would be leftwing and politicize everything, or instead respect choice, borders, rule of law, and individuals, including voters, consumers and 'the deplorables.' That's where the real fault-line lies, and it was Trump who seized on it, rendering the neo-con school of thinking sort of irrelevant. Which may be why so many of them disdained President Trump.
I've never been a big fan of heaping hate on neo-cons and #NeverTrumps for simply reading the situation wrong, or for their status anxiety, as some, such as Glenn Reynolds, have observed (NeverTurmps like to get invited to their Washington cocktail parties, and being a hate-Trumper is the best way to seem respectable), as some of pro-Trump people of the populist stripe have advocated. Their views are in the same family as ours and unlike leftists, they do show a capacity to read and recognize reality.