Some readers may remember columnist Bret Stephens as a generous contributor to the "The Right's Anti-Trump Lexicon," starting way back in August 2015, when he wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling."
"A is for Appalling": Takes you back, doesn't it? Then there was, "S is for Sewer":
The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism.
What nuance. And who could forget "S is for Stench"?
Trump's agenda is "a parade of semi-sophisticated policies that act as bathroom deodorizer to mask the stench of this candidacy."
No wonder The New York Times hired him.
Mona Charen was also a Lexicon contributor -- for example, "S is for Stoop."
Conservatives who stoop to support Trump are a disgrace.
Which should also be cross-referenced in "D is for Disgrace."
Another Charen entry is "S is for Sewage":
Martha Bayles reminds us in the Claremont Review of Books of two barrels — one contains sewage, the other wine. If you pour a cup of wine into the sewage, it’s still sewage. But if you pour a cup of sewage into the wine, it is no longer wine but sewage. ... Chris Christie's endorsement was the first tablespoon of sewage. Jeff Sessions' was the second.
The list of defilers is too long to itemize now.
That goes in "D is for Defilers" -- of whom I am one.
I hope no one is taking this personally. This is just how these well-respected professional writers choose to engage in and guide our political debate -- and, to be fair, many of Stephens' and Charen's NeverTrumper colleagues engaged in more perverse discourse, and even X-rated gutter talk. Of course, then they all complained about Trump's "low tone." (See Charen's entry, "L is for Low Tone.")
What remains notable about the NeverTrumper attacks of Campaign 2016 was the fury they directed not only at Trump but at Trump's supporters -- nearly 63 million of their fellow Americans, as we found out on Election Day 2016. According to Stephens, Charen and their NeverTrumper brethren and sistren, we are "appalling," we "stoop," we "defile" something something "sewage," and the rest -- which is exactly as befits those Hillary Clinton labeled "Deplorables."
No surprise that most NeverTrumpers (liberals?) endorsed Hillary Clinton, including Stephens, after which they loudly proclaimed themselves True Conservatives, scoring gigs at the New York Times, Washington Post, et al, as True Conservatism Made Manifest.
Sewage under the bridge? Hardly. None of this has stopped. It's just changed form.
NeverTrumper Stephens' latest NYT column opens with a paean to NeverTrumper Charen for what he considers to be her courage in raising at CPAC the frequently trodden topic of Donald Trump's "treatment of women" -- albeit with the NeverTrump twist. During a panel discussion, Charen called out conservatives as "hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are sitting in the White House" -- meaning Donald Trump. "Because he happens to have an R after his name," she said, "we look the other way, we don’t complain."
Courage aside, Charen is not correct. During the heat of the presidential campaign, all Americans had ample opportunity to examine a litany of charges made against Donald Trump, listen to the Billy Bush tape, consider the credibility of the man's accusers and their lawyers. We were able to compare Trump's "record on women" (and everything else) with that of Hillary Clinton's and her husband's "record on women," and we voted accordingly. This is not looking the other way, not failing to complain. It's confronting a desolate cultural moment in which our presidential candidates were shockingly flawed human beings and determining which one was the better candidate and also the better human being. Donald Trump won on both counts, I am still happy to say.
Charen and Stephens both, however, stick to the NeverTrumper script, which NeverRelents on bashing Trump or his voters. After recognizing Charen's courage for making her point -- applauded everywhere but CPAC, possibly, to a point of numbness -- Stephens adds a new twist. Here it is a nutshell: When NeverTrumpers such as Charen and, of course, himself, echo the powers that usually be -- the Left, the Deep State, the Establishment, the MSM -- what they are really doing is following in the footsteps of Soviet-era dissidents.
I'm not kidding.
But as even minimally sentient Trumpified Republicans know, what Charen said at CPAC was true. NeverTrumpers haunt the conservative movement the way Polish or Czech dissident intellectuals such as Czeslaw Milosz and Vaclav Havel haunted that segment of Central European intelligentsia that made its peace with Stalinism after World War II.
It's hard to know how to comment on a turn of mind with so little historical understanding, so little humility as to link his happy lot as a celebrated journalist at a leading newspaper inside a prosperous democratic republic with Central European or other dissidents manuevering under Soviet-era totalitarian controls, surveillance, and incarceration. Not only does it verge on an eyebrow-raising self-deification, it turns those whom Stephens simply disagrees with into nothing less than Stalinists, and our duly elected President Trump into Stalin himself.
It also turns Bret Stephens into the Conscience of the New York Times Archipelago.
Stephens isn't finished:
The Trumpers (and Stalinists) traded conscience for power; the NeverTrumpers and dissidents chose the reverse.
Setting aside the trivializing of dissidents and smearing of Trump supporters, we might well marvel at this tiniest of worldviews in which one may loom so large as to block out historical, and philosophical perspectives.
What next? Perhaps Stephens is right now haunting MAGA "Stalinists" somwhere near the Starbucks samovar, preparing next week's New York Times column on his Apple I-Samizdat, powerlessly ministering to his dissident-conscience ....
Who says we don't live in a heroic age?