One of the striking occurrences of the Trump administration is that, unlike past elections, where those on the losing side in a primary swallowed their pride and worked for the good of the party and towards achieving shared goals, many of the losers in the 2016 primary have now become de facto progressive Democrats.
We now have a cabal of people who have, in the past, claimed to be conservative and Republican not only actively worked during the campaign to elect a President Hillary Clinton but who have continued to work to elect a President Biden and flip the Senate to the Democrats.
It is these folks at whom American Greatness’s Julie Kelly takes aim in her recent book, Disloyal Opposition. It is a play on the term “loyal opposition” that refers to the out-of-power political party opposing the ruling party on matters of principle but always within the context of the good of the nation and a respect for its governing traditions because NeverTrump is anything but that.
Kelly doesn’t mince words. The biggest offenders–Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, Sen. Mitt Romney, David French, Jonah Goldberg—gather special mention in the NeverTrump “Hall of Lame.” But there is plenty of room for the lesser lights of the constellation: Tom Nichols, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, Mona Charen, Evan McMullin, Charles Sykes, Rick Wilson, David Frum, the late Sen. John McCain, John Kasich, etc.
The book follows a “by their fruits you shall know them” methodology in which Kelly shows just how wrong these people were about Trump in the primary, in the general, and how he’s governed. She also shows how that, to the person, they have all betrayed their loud promises to give Trump a chance and to, as they say, praise him when he’s right and criticize him when he’s wrong. She shows how this modicum of fair play has been replaced with a mindless opposition to everything President Trump does and how willingly they’ve tossed previously held principles under the bus to undermine Trump’s presidency, to elect a House majority that includes such luminaries as AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan “he’s my brother and husband, you got a problem with that?” Omar.
If there is a fault to the book, I would contend that Kelly doesn’t do enough to expose the extent to which conservatism was just a grift to these people, the degree to which their belief in anything was dependent upon who was willing to pay for it. But Kelly gets the big thing right.
People would sometimes suggest that those of us covering Never¬Trump should ignore them; they don’t represent the Republican Party, they don’t speak for Republican voters, and they have nothing useful to offer, some on our side would argue. Further, some of NeverTrump’s more tepid voices insist their criticism is duty-bound—just calling balls and strikes, people who hadn’t found the strike zone in two decades would claim—and part of their professional responsibility. All presidents, after all, deserve scrutiny from their party’s stalwarts. Trump is no exception.
All that is true. But, in my opinion, we need to make sure these back¬stabbers are on record for what they’ve done, and that is my purpose in writing this book. They not only intend to damage Trump presidency’s but seek to divide the country during one of its most unstable periods in history. Instead of serving as honest brokers between a subset of conser¬vatives uneasy about Trump’s past or his conduct or his plans to govern, NeverTrump doused unneeded fuel on the raging political fire.
They have not just rooted for Trump’s failure; by default, they have rooted for the country to fail.
This book isn’t just an account of how badly Donald Trump’s foes have behaved since he announced his candidacy. It isn’t about score-settling or pointing out all the ways the NeverTrump crowd has been wrong over the past five years. It’s a story about disloyalty—how people like me, millions of Republicans across the country, have been betrayed by the influencers we trusted and supported for decades.
For that, they should never have a place in the Republican Party again. This book is a Do Not Resuscitate order for any candidate, office holder, or serious publication that might consider reviving NeverTrump after their usefulness to the Left ends along with Trump’s presidency, either later this year or in 2024.
This is exactly right. Now we know who and what these people are, and woe be unto us if we ever let them back inside the tent.
Listen to Julie Kelly’s interview with Hugh Hewitt.
Watch Julie Kelly and Devin Nunes talk about the book