Did you know? The Patriot Post is funded 100% by its readers. Help us stay front and center in the fight for Liberty and support the 2021 Year-End Campaign.

George Will / February 29, 2016

The Albatross of a Trump Endorsement

Donald Trump’s distinctive rhetorical style — think of a drunk with a bullhorn reading aloud James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” under water — poses an almost insuperable challenge to people whose painful duty is to try to extract clarity from his effusions. For example, last week, during a long stream of semi-consciousness in Fort Worth, this man who as president would nominate members of the federal judiciary vowed to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue — to intimidate and punish — people who write “negative” things. Well.

Donald Trump’s distinctive rhetorical style — think of a drunk with a bullhorn reading aloud James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” under water — poses an almost insuperable challenge to people whose painful duty is to try to extract clarity from his effusions. For example, last week, during a long stream of semi-consciousness in Fort Worth, this man who as president would nominate members of the federal judiciary vowed to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue — to intimidate and punish — people who write “negative” things. Well.

Trump, the thin-skinned tough guy, resembles a campus crybaby who has wandered out of his “safe space.” It is not news that he has neither respect for nor knowledge of the Constitution, and he probably is unaware that he would have to “open up” many Supreme Court First Amendment rulings in order to achieve his aim. His obvious aim is to chill free speech, for the comfort of the political class, of which he is now a gaudy ornament.

But at least Trump has, at last, found one thing to admire from the era of America’s Founding. Unfortunately, but predictably, it is one of the worst things done then — the Sedition Act of 1798. The act made it a crime to “write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people.” Now, 215 years after the Sedition Act expired in 1801, Trump vows to use litigiousness to improve the accuracy and decorousness of public discourse.

The night before his promise to make America great again through censorship, Trump, during the Houston debate, said that his sister, a federal judge, “[signed] a certain bill” and that [Supreme Court] Justice Samuel Alito also “signed that bill.” So, the leading Republican candidate, the breadth of whose ignorance is the eighth wonder of the world, actually thinks that judges “sign bills.” Trump is a presidential aspirant who would flunk an eighth-grade civics exam.

More than anything Marco Rubio said about Trump in Houston, it was Rubio’s laughter at Trump that galled the perhaps bogus billionaire. Like all bullies, Trump is a coward, and like all those who feel the need to boast about being strong and tough, he is neither.

Unfortunately, Rubio recognized reality and found his voice 254 days after Trump’s scabrous announcement of his candidacy to rescue America from Mexican rapists. And 222 days after Trump disparaged John McCain’s war service (“I like people that weren’t captured”). And 95 days after Trump said that maybe a protestor at his rally “should have been roughed up.” And 95 days after Trump re-tweeted that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks. (Eighty-two percent are killed by whites.) And 94 days after Trump said he supports torture “even if it doesn’t work.” And 79 days after Trump said he might have approved the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. And 72 days after Trump proved that he does not know the nuclear triad from the Nutcracker ballet. And 70 days after Trump, having been praised by Vladimir Putin, reciprocated by praising the Russian murderer and dictator. And so on.

Rubio’s epiphany — announcing the obvious with a sense of triumphant discovery — about Trump being a “con man” and a “clown act” is better eight months late than never. If, however, it is too late to rescue Rubio from a Trump nomination, this will be condign punishment for him and the rest of the Republican Party’s coalition of the timid.

“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,/In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.” So begins James Russell Lowell’s 1845 poem protesting America’s war with Mexico. The Republicans’ moment is here.

We are about to learn much about Republican officeholders who are now deciding whether to come to terms with Trump, and with the shattering of their party as a vessel of conservatism. Trump’s collaborators, like the remarkably plastic Chris Christie (“I don’t think [Trump’s] temperament is suited for [the presidency]”), will find that nothing will redeem the reputations they will ruin by placing their opportunism in the service of his demagogic cynicism and anti-constitutional authoritarianism.

© 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.