Breaking the 11th Commandment

Is it really wise for Republicans to tear down each other?

Watching Nancy Reagan's moving funeral couldn't help but bring to mind her late lamented husband, President Ronald Reagan - or, as Rush Limbaugh likes to style him, "Ronaldus Magnus", Ronald the Great.

To this day, President Reagan is viewed as the pinnacle of Republican leadership; hardly an election goes by without somebody, or several, claiming the Mantle of Reagan.  This has become so commonplace on the right side of the aisle that it's more interesting, and more revealing, to examine the ways in which the candidates are not like St. Ron.

If you've watched even one of the Republican primary debates except for the last one, there's a massive difference that hits you right between the eyes.

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

  - Ronald Reagan

As the saying goes, "Politics ain't beanbag," so a certain amount of rough-and-tumble is expected.  Mr. Reagan certainly never shied away from calling things as he saw them.

But we just can't imagine Mr. Reagan publicly accusing another Republican of being a serial liar; he didn't generally characterise Democrats that way, though admittedly the Democrats of his day weren't yet entirely shorn of the last vestiges of morals as they are today.  Ronald Reagan would surely have been appalled by the volley of harsh charges that nearly every Republican debate produces.

Mr. Trump accuses Mr. Cruz of fraud and deceit in Iowa; Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio accuse Mr. Trump of lying about his record; and Mr. Rubio, well, the whole foundation of his political career was a massive fraud, in that he ran for the Senate as an anti-amnesty Tea Party conservative, then immediately switched round to supporting the Gang of Eight amnesty bill once safely in office.  Neither Mr. Cruz nor Mr. Trump have been shy about pointing this out.

Now, we all know that politicians lie, some more than others.  And some lies are worse than others.  No doubt Mr. Reagan was perfectly well aware of the lies of his opponents, and nobody would expect him to help shove their misdeeds under the rug.

What he didn't do, though, was stand up on stage in front of the world and tell his Republican primary opponent "You're a liar!" - even if, in fact, he was.  He let surrogates and underlings make that charge perhaps, but not he himself for everyone to see.

Borrowing From the Future

Why does this matter?  Because, while it may seem like this is the last election we'll ever have and the last chance to save the country, hopefully things won't actually work out that way.  There will need to be a new President in 2020 or 2024, and regularly thereafter.

And it is highly unlikely that the new president in 2024 will be somebody we've never heard of today.  We tried electing an unknown with Barack Obama with disastrous results.  Donald Trump may be new to politics but he's certainly no new face, having been on front pages for decades.

Which means that, when you call another Republican a liar, you may just be torpedoing the party's best chance of winning some election down the road.

Ted Cruz is 45.  He has maybe three decades of political life left to him, and he has proven himself a worthy crusader for the cause of constitutional conservatism, albeit not always an effective one.  Is it really a good idea to sink him as a serious candidate for anything else?  We'd love to see him as Attorney General, Supreme Court Justice, or President down the road - but how do you make that happen when his fellow Republicans are calling him "Lyin' Ted"?

The opposite is also true: it still does look most likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.  How, exactly, are his rivals supposed to support someone they've derided as a liar, a charlatan, and a conman, if not a fascist?

And if they don't, both alternatives will be worse.  If Mr. Trump wins anyway, he'll owe the Republican party nothing, which will limit his choices of nominees in a way that won't help the conservative cause.  If Mr. Trump loses due to tepid Republican support - well, the thought of President Hillary Clinton speaks for itself.

Worst of all, when the time comes to present a challenger in 2020, all the most experienced and best known ones will have been permanently tarnished by the 2016 campaign.

Truth-Telling and Discretion

Perhaps the biggest reason people support Donald Trump is his reputation for boldly saying what he believes without apology, even when - especially when - the media elites consider what he says to be completely out of bounds.  Mr. Trump's willingness to say what half of America has been silently thinking, like "Stop letting Muslims into our country!", has opened a floodgate of enthusiastic support that had previously been silenced by the treasonous Left.  Same goes for really stopping illegal immigration, fixing with lopsided trade deals, and a whole host of other issues that middle America desperately desires but our elite opinionmakers won't even allow to be discussed.

Alas, there's a downside to Mr. Trump's stream-of-consciousness honesty: It leads him to fling damaging rocks at opponents who may be useful to both him and the party in the future.

Yeah, I think I'll be very presidential at the appropriate time.

  - Donald Trump

The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one.  Congratulations, Donald - and the appropriate time for you to become "very presidential" would be "right now."  You've performed a tremendous service by breaking the dam of political correctness; don't spoil it.  You've won the support of a great many Republicans; now make us all proud!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

Completely agree. Thankfully, Cruz is probably intellectually strong enough to prevail, but the nasty (and untrue) insults from Trump are doing real serious harm to principled conservatives. Take a look at the comment threads on Breitbart, GatewayPundit and the other pro-Trump outlets. It's nothing but ridiculous vitriol again Cruz and the rest of the candidates. Molehills turned into mountains.

March 14, 2016 10:32 AM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...