Down the home stretch

People seem to be giving their eloquent last-minute best to explaining why Orange Man Bad.

I particularly liked this one because it mentioned an appalling Republican dereliction that was lost in the passage of insane new cycles:

If President Trump loses his race for re-election and takes Republican incumbents down with him, historians may see June 10 as an important day in the story. That is when the Republican National Committee announced that for the first time since its founding before the Civil War, the party would not draft a new platform but would carry over the 2016 platform, word for word.

This decision symbolized Mr. Trump’s takeover of the party. It deprived the party’s candidates of an authoritative account of the Trump administration’s accomplishments. Perhaps most important, it meant that the party would not offer an agenda for the president’s second term. The plan would be whatever Mr. Trump says.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, many voters … experienced the pandemic as a life-changing and often life-threatening disruption, and they looked to the president for leadership. Drafting a party platform would have forced the administration to consider a plan for bringing the novel coronavirus under control beyond relying on a speedy vaccine. Instead, the president minimized his role and devolved responsibility to the states, who struggled to obtain essential medical supplies. The president’s derisive skepticism about wearing masks further complicated the efforts of governors and local leaders.

William Galston, Without a Platform, Trump Falls – WSJ

Now an analysis of how the swamp-draining has gone:

A Washington Post analysis found that the U.S. government has paid at least $2.5 million in taxpayer money to Donald Trump’s company since he took office. “Since 2017, Trump’s company has charged taxpayers for hotel rooms, ballrooms, cottages, rental houses, golf carts, votive candles, floating candles, candelabras, furniture moving, resort fees, decorative palm trees, strip steak, chocolate cake, breakfast buffets, $88 bottles of wine and $1,000 worth of liquor for White House aides. And water.”

The Morning Dispatch

“Lock him up!”, I say.

Amid a coterie of colleagues, many of who profess intent to vote for Trump, Kevin D. Williamson says “Hell No!”:

The case against Trump in 2020 is a lot like the case against Trump in 2016 but bolstered by the accumulation of evidence and experience. Any hope that he might mature in office and come to appreciate the gravity of his responsibility has been dissolved. He is, if anything, a less serious candidate in 2020 than he was in 2016, and even more the game-show host …

There are two distinct versions of the case for Trump, one of them defensible and one of them indefensible.

The qualified case for Trump … goes: “It’s him or the Democrats … That being the case, I choose Trump.” That is not my position, but it is a reasonable position.

The unqualified — and indefensible — case for Trump goes: “Donald Trump’s presidency has been good for America — positively, on its own merits, rather than merely relative to what we might have expected from Mrs. Clinton.” That argument is partly dishonest, partly delusional.

Which brings me to the practical case against Trump: He stinks at his job.

This also brings me to a lie that needs to be addressed — and it is not a misunderstanding but a lie, circulated with malice aforethought: that the conservative objection to Trump is only a matter of style, his boorishness bumptiousness and boobishness on Twitter, his gooftastical manner of speaking, his preening, his vanity, his habitual and often dishonest boasting in matters both small and great, etc These things matter, of course, because manners and morals matter, and they matter more in a free society than they do in an unfree one, because free men govern themselves.

Trump’s low character is not only an abstract ethical concern but a public menace that has introduced elements of chaos and unpredictability in U.S. government activity ranging from national defense to managing the coronavirus epidemic. Trump’s character problems are practical concerns, not metaphysical ones. Trump is frequently wrong on important policy questions (including trade, foreign policy, entitlements, health care, and many others) and frequently incompetent even when trying to advance a good policy. His vanity and paranoia have made it very difficult for him to keep good people in top positions, and this imposes real costs both politically and as a matter of practical governance. Trump’s problem is not etiquette: It is dishonesty, stupidity, and incompetence, magnified by the self-dealing and cowardice of the cabal of enablers and sycophants who have a stake in pretending that this unsalted s*** sandwich is filet mignon.

Kevin D. Williamson, Donald Trump: The Case Against Reelection | National Review (emphasis added)

From a very long piece by another NRO Never-Trumper:

Trump is the kind of guy — the kind of president — who accuses his media critics of murder. We’re supposed to shrug that off, evidently, because “that’s Trump being Trump,” and don’t we know that he’s a “fighter”?

Honestly, some of us doubt that Trump is “a very stable genius,” no matter what he says about himself.

Intelligence briefers are reluctant to bring up Russia, for fear of upsetting the president. How can we have such a person in the Oval Office? It ought to tell people something — especially conservatives — that John Bolton can’t support the president for reelection.

Think of the Ukraine shakedown (over which Trump was impeached). That alone is disqualifying, in my book, as so many other things, alone, are disqualifying.

I think of that lineup whom Trump & Co. trashed: Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vindman, Fiona Hill, and the rest. These are the kind of people I admire, and think we ought to have in government. “She’s going to go through some things,” Trump said. He was speaking of Yovanovitch.

In my piece today, I am only taking drops from a deep well of grossness.

Jay Nordlinger, On Trump and Voting Your Conscience | National Review

Even the Judges can’t take Mona Charen’s eye of the ball. What’s the point of Judges if not the rule of law?:

The appointment of conservative judges (leaving aside the norm-shredding manner in which two Supreme Court vacancies were handled) tops every Republican’s list. But this is a hollow victory. It comes at the hands of an administration that has treated the law like bird cage liner. The Trump presidency has undermined the law in a thousand ways.

You cannot proclaim the administration’s commitment to law when the chief executive repeatedly instructed officials to break the law in exchange for pardons, engaged in witness tampering, encouraged vigilantism, stoked domestic terrorism by winking at the attempted kidnappings of governors, paid hush money to a porn actress, unlawfully diverted funds to his illusory border wall, illegally withheld aid to an ally in an attempt to extort a damaging story about his opponent, treated Congressional subpoenas with contempt, and abused his commander-in-chief authority to use military force against peaceful demonstrators across from the White House, among innumerable other violations.

Conservatives also used to say that character mattered, and some still struggle with this. Shapiro’s solution is to suggest that, while Trump’s moral example is terrible, all of the damage that can be done on that front is already done, and will not be augmented by another four years.

Not so. Millions of children are maturing in a nation whose chief executive models the sort of behavior it has required centuries to anathematize. They watch and learn. Every decent parent, teacher, coach, priest, rabbi, and minister, must attempt to countermand the message that deceit, enmity, cruelty, and recklessness pay off.

Mona Charen, Getting Past Partisan Blinders – The Bulwark

I was never an acolyte, but Ben Shapiro is on my quisling list now.

Finally, Why 14 Critics of “Social Justice” Think You Shouldn’t Vote Trump – Areo.

At least we’re not exhibiting apathy about all this.

… at least 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots for next week’s election, a historic figure that has upended expectations about Election Day ….

Robert Costa. Must. Resist. Urge. To supply narrative of how this is bad for Orange Man.