Peggy Noonan (see the Wall Street Journal of 3/19/16), in giving us a soft warning that she might provide a soft endorsement of Donald Trump, is disappointing those of us who had thought she was strongly influenced by her former boss and mentor, Ronald Reagan.
Noonan is on the mark when she observes that a big chunk of America is so frustrated by the pols of both parties that it is willing to gamble on a vulgar, ignorant blowhard in the hope that he will liberate us from a hopelessly dysfunctional “establishment” – which it blames for the sorry state of our nation. Mr. Trump has sold his claque on the fantasy that, despite his smorgasbord of shortcomings, he has the strength and determination to fix things, and that is enough for them – and they couldn’t care less whether he is a conservative, or even a Republican. We are dealing with emotion here, not reason.
Say this for Mr. Trump. He has done the nearly-impossible: he has gotten the Republican Party (and a lot of Democrats) to treat his last plausible Republican opponent still standing, Sen. Ted Cruz, as a part of the hated Establishment, even though Sen. Cruz made his bones by thumbing his nose at the entire U.S. Senate and positioning himself as the leader of the anti-Establishment revolt. This is not necessarily a bad thing for Sen. Cruz, as Mr. Trump might have made the senator seem a bit more tolerable (if not cuddly) to the actual Establishment and to the less-gullible segment of the Republican voters.
Where Ms. Noonan loses her way is in implying that country might be no worse off if the Republicans placated the Trump faction by nominating their man and sending him off to certain defeat at the hands of Ms. Clinton, rather than offending the Trumpsters by nominating someone who might actually have a chance of beating her. The devil you know vs. the possible wrath of the frustrated Trumpsters. That seems to be the Noonan bet.
Well, let’s think about the devil we know. What we know about her is that when the chips are down, her venal, inner-socialist emerges, along with her inner Neville Chamberlain, and what we know about our situation is that the chips are already down. It is conceivable that Ms. Clinton would not irreparably damage the nation in four years, that the opposing party should be able to un-do the harm we know she would cause. Thus the suggestion that it is better to buy domestic peace through passivity, to nominate Trump and let Ms. Clinton have her way with a Trump candidacy, than it is to risk upsetting the sensibilities of the pro-Trump cult.
But the hard reality is that in 4 years Ms. Clinton could re-make the Supreme Court into a permanently-leftist proxy legislature, a mere agency of the White House. (What, you don’t think any more Republican justices could die in those 4 years?) In those 4 years, she could make Pres. Obama look like a tough guy by comparison. She could treat the Axis of Evil like she treated Benghazi – don’t ask, don’t tell. She could allow Iran to develop full nuclear capabilities, to dominate the entire Middle East, and to impose a second Holocaust upon Israel. She could allow Russia to continue to do what it is doing, likewise North Korea – not to mention Venezuela, Cuba, etc. – and she could watch benignly while NATO fiddles, the Chinese permanently take over Hong Kong and the South China Sea and the rest of the west Pacific rim, and Europe and the rest of the free democracies of the world crumble or surrender.
You really want to go for that, rather than messing with the fragile psyches of the Trumpsters by giving the Republicans a chance to win the election ? Gimme a break.