Opinion -- On May 30, renowned conservative columnist Dennis Prager wrote an excellent piece defending President Trump from his critics on the far-right. In a nutshell, Prager argued that the pettiness of far-right conservatives who maintain that the President is “not conservative enough” are ignoring the big picture in favor of conservative tribalism, and a refusal to admit that they were wrong about Trump winning the election, and implementing conservative policies.
He argued that we must put aside such minor differences between right-wing factions and unite however we can, in order to fight what Prager calls the “existential battle for preserving our nation,” which he even equates to being a second “civil war.” We are in a very volatile period of time, where the left is on the verge of not just defeating the right in electoral battles, but wiping out every last trace of the right: They control our culture and media, they control our colleges, and they are getting more viciously hostile as time goes on under President Trump.
Indeed, these are desperate times. And yet Prager’s message isn’t even calling for desperate measures - but simply the notion that we should unite behind our President and the conservative policies he wants to implement. He is not calling for us to unite behind Trump because he is Trump, but because he is the best - and possibly the last - chance for us to make an impact and reverse the course of the left-wing tide that seeks to “fundamentally change” America.
And yet, Prager’s article still faced overwhelming backlash from many other conservative commentators, who mostly confirmed his criticisms of the far-right anti-Trump crowd. Although Prager himself did issue a very eloquent response roughly a week later, I still wanted to take the time to give my thoughts on how each major response to Prager’s original piece still fell flat.
Jonah Goldberg fired the first shot. Although his was the focus of Prager’s response piece, I still found several serious issues that were absent in Prager’s rebuttal. First, Goldberg’s argument essentially boils down to semantics; many times he makes a statement along the lines of “Dennis said this, when he should’ve said that; if he said that, I’d support him.” Goldberg takes issue with Prager’s use of the phrase “civil war,” and tries to argue that it’s not really a civil war - and instead, a “culture war” - because there’s no actual military conflict or violence. This is obviously missing the forest through the trees, arguing over the terminology while missing the big picture. Also, Goldberg seems to conveniently forget about the fact that there is indeed actual violence breaking out across the country, like the semi-anarchic state of California, which allows the Anarcho-Communist scum of Antifa to thrive in its hotbeds of violence such as Berkeley.
Lastly, Goldberg ends up more or less defeating his own argument because of his focus on semantics. At one point, while trying to argue what Prager should have said, he even concedes a major argument that proves Prager’s point about how detrimental anti-Trump conservatives are, saying: “If he’d written that Trump critics are making the perfect the enemy of the good or some such, he’d be on much firmer ground.” That’s already what supporters of the President (including yours truly) have been saying for months now. So Goldberg basically just proved Prager’s point without actually conceding defeat.
Erick Erickson’s brief response is not worth extensive coverage, since he openly admits that he’d basically just say “ditto” to Goldberg’s piece, even with all its obvious flaws. That speaks for itself.
Next up is David French, who - beyond the same mistake of arguing semantics - takes a safe route of hiding behind vague, broad, “feel-good” statements that we technically have to universally agree with, and thus claims victory. First, he tries to claim that using the phrase “Never Trump” is no longer relevant since the election is over - again, completely missing the forest through the trees.
Second, French makes a not-so-subtle comparison between Trump and Hillary Clinton, in order to argue that we should maintain “healthy skepticism and diligent investigation...and the rule of law,” concluding that we should always be prepared to condemn wrongdoing whenever we see it, regardless of party. Of course this is true and few people would deny this - but by making this statement, French seems to throw a bone to those few on the right who actually believe in the nonsensical Russian conspiracy theories or any other possible “wrongdoing” under Trump, as if to imply that those are even remotely equivalent to the plethora of legitimate scandals and possible crimes committed under Hillary’s watch. Such a terrible comparison risks aligning with the left just to undermine President Trump.
Last up is the least awful response, by Dan McLaughlin. McLaughlin makes one major mistake by claiming that Prager is attacking anti-Trump conservatives as “a monolithic group,” even though Prager does no such thing. He is not attacking every single person who has criticized the President, but rather those who are basically being obstructionists. McLaughlin himself acknowledges this group and labels them “Ted Cruz-type conservative purists” who “pound him with criticism for being a bad and phony conservative and a man of low character.” These individuals, in my opinion, are indeed rather problematic because they focus more on virtue-signalling than on finding solutions to the country’s current problems; after all, what kind of group spends time doing such grandstanding about “low character” and determining what defines a “bad and phony conservative”?
The one reason McLaughlin’s response to Prager is the best (or least-awful) of the bunch is the fact that McLaughlin actually acknowledges Prager’s overwhelmingly factual argument. In his original piece, Prager gives a massive laundry-list of conservative achievements under President Trump, from Justice Gorsuch to repealing burdensome government regulations and being tough on foreign policy issues. McLaughlin writes off most of these examples, with his general excuse being some variation of “This is good, but not great” or “Not much has been done on this yet” (News flash: It’s been exactly five months since Trump took office. We can’t expect him to get this stuff done overnight).
Overall, these failed criticisms exemplify the very same pettiness and dodging of the big issues that Prager was talking about in the first place. It proved that certain individuals in the conservative movement are indeed more focused on mundane issues, semantics, and buzz-phrases about “principles” and “character” without going into any detail whatsoever, while at the same time ignoring the cold hard facts about the crucial time we live in. Prager is 100% right - we are in the midst of a civil war, and this is no time for such petty bickering.
You can follow the author on Twitter: @EricLendrum26.
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