“Where gifts be given freely – east, west, north or south –
No man ought to look a given horse in the mouth.”
– John Heywood
While the above cannot be indisputably credited to the 16th-century playwright John Heywood, he did at least manage to codify his practical sentiment such that many still attribute the phrase “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” to him. Of course, this means that one receiving a gift should not immediately begin to appraise it for flaws. It’s akin to the axiom that beggars cannot be choosers.
There’s a certain wisdom in that, and it that can certainly be applied to the relationship between some modern conservatives and President Donald Trump. There are a few prominent conservative pundits who, prior to Trump’s nomination as the Republican nominee in 2016, thoroughly embarrassed themselves with regard to their remonstrations against Trump due to the fact that he is not in fact a conservative.
Regular readers of this column will recall a few prominent, principled conservative pundits who framed Trump’s prospective nomination as akin to the Four Horsemen bursting through that inter-dimensional gate to herald the coming of the Apocalypse. Why, I wondered at the time, did they find it necessary to use the same rhetoric as their far-left counterparts when referencing the candidate, when that candidate had already captured the hearts and minds of so many of their devoted, passionate, conservative fans?
I won’t characterize Trump as a conservative messiah, because he’s not – but he has managed to accomplish in a couple of months certain things conservatives feared might never be accomplished, and credit is due.
The truth is that a few of our celebrated conservative icons – who are now almost grudgingly bestowing accolades upon Trump – were simply not on board with regard to the faith their followers had put in Trump, nor for the insight they had concerning the likelihood that Trump would follow through with his campaign platform and the issues that concerned them so much.
It doesn’t much matter whether or not Trump is a principled conservative if he actualizes that which he promised to actualize when he was campaigning. To certain ideological conservatives, of course this matters a great deal. However, I do recall conservatives giving credit to Bill Clinton for going along with the Republicans Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the welfare reform measure. Although it was later killed by ideological Democrats, at least Clinton’s willingness to compromise was acknowledged by conservatives at the time.
Again, I wondered why, given the gravity of America’s situation in 2016, Donald Trump was being opposed for who he was perceived to be by some prominent conservatives, rather than being given the benefit of the doubt for what he was articulating. I suppose that some of this may have had to do with the relative frame of reference between those conservative voters who backed Trump versus that of the conservative icons of whom we speak. In general, someone with a lucrative media gig simply has not experienced the kinds of things that drove so many voters, conservative and otherwise, to take a gamble on the billionaire businessman who somehow spoke their language and addressed each and every issue plaguing them in that language.
On his fourth day in office, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which had been crafted by the Obama administration. What does that mean to Joe Six Pack? A job? A roof over his family’s head? Inexplicably, voters were savvy enough to figure stuff like that out.
Now, Trump’s TPP action was somewhat symbolic, since the deal was one of those Obama measures that stank so bad it couldn’t even get through Congress, but Trump’s move was telegraphic; it was indicative of a modality our Asian trade partners should fear – that America wasn’t going to be pushed around anymore.
And I’ll tell you a secret: Those folks respected Nixon, Reagan and Bush 43 a whole lot more than they respected Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.
On March 27, the White House announced that President Donald Trump will, via executive order, eliminate several Obama-era climate change orders in favor of policies centered on America’s energy independence. This includes rescinding the Obama-era Interior Department-imposed coal moratorium. Trump said, “The war on coal is over. …”
Do I hear anyone on our side complaining? I certainly hope not.
Many wondered how the Trump White House could countenance the whorish “Ryancare” health-care bill that was on the table last week as an ostensible fix for Obamacare. Suddenly, after a meeting between the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Freedom Caucus members, the bill slammed into a granite mountain at light speed. Whoda thunk? In the interim, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., filed a one-line bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
Really? Could they do that?
Of course they could. Congress (Ryan and party progressives) simply bank on our ignorance in presuming such action is impossible – but Trump knows it can be done.
Lastly (but certainly not leastly), earlier this week, President Trump publicly asked why congressional lawmakers were not looking into the dynamics attendant to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with regard to Russia. Ideally, I’d suggest they look into a whole lot more, but one has to start somewhere.
These measures are not trivialities, and I think that in the interest of pragmatism, conservatives need to acknowledge and support the myriad common-sense initiatives our president is taking, even if they don’t think he is taking them for the right reasons.