It’s the kind of win for President Donald Trump that liberals should be worried about.
When National Review published an entire issue devoted to stopping the Trump candidacy back in January of 2016, liberals thought they had an unlikely ally in the editors of a magazine that’s been a leader of the conservative movement in the United States for decades.
But a post this week by National Review’s editor shows how much times have changed.
In a short commentary, editor Rich Lowry took on one of liberals’ biggest talking points against Trump — his unwillingness to get into a public, personal dispute with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and turned it back in their face.
The piece was headlined “Why Does Trump Never Criticize Putin? Maybe for the Same Reason He Doesn’t Criticize Xi,” and contained the kind of logic even liberals could understand.
For liberals like the loathsome late-night “comic” Stephen Colbert, Trump’s personal engagement with Putin is a sign that the 45th president either envies the Russian strongman for the power he’s accumulated for himself, or fears some kind of kompromat Russian intelligence agencies have gathered.
(Even the most demented Trump critics must realize they’ll have to put aside the Russian-prostitutes-water-sports story aside by now, but liberals are sure there must be something.)
Lowry pointed out that Trump has also avoided personal tangles with Chinese President Xi Jinping, even while talking up tariff polices that took the United States to the brink of a trade war with the Peoples Republic of China:
“Could it be that Xi also has something on Trump?” Lowry wrote. “More likely is that, given how his own psychology works, Trump thinks it’s a mistake to personally criticize anyone who you ultimately want to do a deal with (outside of Kim Jung-un, who Trump wanted to intimidate, and for good reason).”
In the pre-Trump era, that kind of thinking went almost without saying.
Serious people understand that the United States’ relations with large, dangerous rivals are not improved by presidents engaging in personal confrontations with those countries’ leaders. (Trump has reportedly been confrontational with Putin privately in way that has not yet been seen in public.)
They also understand that just because leaders toast each other’s health in a face-to-face meeting — like the one Trump and Xi had in Florida last April or in Beijing in November — it doesn’t mean their countries would be seeing eye-to-eye for all generations to come.
And when it came to China, for all the friendly talk, when push came to shove on tariffs, Trump and his advisers decided that the confrontation was worth the risk.
Lowry cited a Trump Twitter post that proves the point.
The thing that makes Lowry’s post noteworthy is that it shows how Trump’s performance in office so far has won over even some of his strongest critics in the conservative movement.
From a time in January 2016, when big-name conservatives were putting all their chips into stopping Trump’s ascendancy, to the spring of 2018, when critical midterm elections are just taking shape, Trump has managed to unite disparate wings of the Republican Party — and that’s a major win by anybody’s standard.
With control of the House and Senate both up for grabs in November, it’s the kind of win Trump and the Republican Party need right now.
And it’s the kind of win liberals really should be worried about.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.