As of May 7, the outgoing neoconservative priestly cast had raised its game. Since Donald Trump has effectively clinched the Republican Party’s nomination, based on his America First platform, they had an ultimatum for him: Stop your nonsense and we’ll take you back.
If Trump quits denouncing George Bush and his Good War, and starts to blame only Barack Obama for Iraq—said commentator-cum-soldier-cum-global crusader Pete Hegseth to an exultant Gretchen Carlson at the Fox News Channel—all would be forgiven. Recall, Trump called Bush a liar and went on to win South Carolina … and Nevada. He continues to denounce the “made by Bush” Iraq war.
But now that Trump has won the nomination, the losing neoconservatives are insisting he get real, renounce the winning plank and perjure himself to The People.
Well, of course. To the losers belong the spoils.
As if on cue, after the deciding Indiana primary, Fox News broadcaster Sean Hannity began beating on breast, begging Trump to hire failed candidates—the kind the country was fleeing. Some of the candidates offered-up by Hannity for his Party healing circle: Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the man who had scolded former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, in 2012, for his candid and correct “47 percent” comment. (“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for [president Obama] no matter what … who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”)
Touted too by Hannity was South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. This divisive Party favorite had chosen last year to excise a part of Southern history: Haley tore down the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia from the State House grounds, even though the Confederate flag had never flown over an official Confederate building, and “was a battle flag intended to honor the great commander Robert E. Lee.”
The most venomous cobra head to rise spitting at Trump has been House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“I’m just not ready to back Mr. Trump,” he noodled to the networks. “The burden of unifying the party” was Trump’s. To get a nod from the Speaker, the “presumptive nominee” would need to “appeal to all Americans in every walk of life, every background, a majority of independents and discerning Democrats.” (Much as Mitt Romney did, right, Mr. Ryan?)
To which the presumptive nominee responded gallantly: “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda. The American people have been treated so badly for so long that it’s about time for politicians to put them first!”
While neoconservatives like Paul Ryan claim—even believe—they are making “the very idea of political conservatism more acceptable to a majority of American voters” (in the words of scholar Paul Gottfried, scourge of the neocons), their impetus consists in marketing a bastardized idea of American conservatism. Where they haven’t already converted people to liberal multiculturalism, pluralism and carefully crafted globalism; their election strategy has been to alienate the natural Republican core constituency in favor of courting powerful, well-heeled minorities.
The ousted core constituency has coalesced around Trump.
Speaker Ryan, who voted for the $1.1 trillion 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill, last December, is demanding Trump show him his conservative credentials. This is as though a guy who never built a thing were to mock a man who has built lots of things. This, too, happened; Obama has mocked Trump’s private productive-sector achievements.
With the Republican establishment’s death rattle growing raspier by the day, here’s what observers need to take away from the Ryan contretemps ongoing. Over to Trump:
Paul Ryan said that I inherited something very special, the Republican Party. Wrong, I didn’t inherit it; I won it with millions of voters!
How many Americans voted for Speaker Ryan, who represents a mere congressional district in Wisconsin? To the role of Speaker, moreover, Ryan was elected by the House of Representatives, not by The People. To be precise, only 236 members of a full House chose Ryan as their speaker.
The People have chosen Trump.
Millions of them.
The People’s voice is not God’s voice—no libertarian worth his salt would countenance raw democracy, a dispensation in which majorities overrule the rights of individuals. But in the confrontation between Paul Ryan and Trump, the Force is with The Donald.