I had my 2016 Moment last night. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal described such moments earlier this week:
The Moment is that sliver of time in which you fully realise something epochal is happening in politics, that there has never been a presidential year like 2016, and suddenly you are aware of it in a new, true and personal way. It tends to involve a poignant sense of dislocation, a knowledge that our politics have changed and won’t be going back.
I naively thought myself immune from the Moment because I’m fighting for the Right. Globally and locally, I’m doing. In fact, I received notice of Noonan’s column because of the email thread she mentions later in the column, in which “a group of conservative women — very bright, all ages, all decorous and dignified…were courteously tearing each other apart over Mr Trump and the GOP.” Probability is high that I participated in that thread.
It is hard to feel dislocated when you are in the fray. Furthermore, I know how the process works. I’m not quite ready to call the race for Ted Cruz as this popular analyst did, but I see what he sees. I’m grateful that he did the delegate math.
But while I expected Donald Trump to sweep the primary states on Tuesday, I find it very depressing and a little ominous that he over-performed. I also find it depressing that a part of the country is hurting so badly that they are resting on assurances from a charlatan.
Trump is not credible on his politics, his personal relationships, or his business life. He has flipped and cheated. He is in debt to a host of banks, and probably isn’t worth what he claims. We don’t know because he won’t release records to let the public verify his pronouncements.
There are so many red flags on his trustworthiness, but I suppose we have gotten used to that in our politicians. President Obama has proven all talk, to which he treated the UK last week.
Just for fun, compare Sen. Ted Cruz, Brexit statement in The Times yesterday to President Obama’s “back of the queue” threat last week:
I believe Britain’s future in Europe is a matter for the British people to decide. If Britain does vote to leave the EU, the United States should respect that decision — and treat it as an opportunity for our own country.
If I am elected to be the next president of the United States, we will ensure that the special relationship is strengthened rather than weakened, and that America works closely with Great Britain to address the myriad challenges faced by the free world, from Islamist terrorism to a resurgent Russia.
If Brexit takes place, Britain will be at the front of the line for a free trade deal with America, not at the back.
Who is the statesman?
We have the option to chose the statesman but seem to be falling for the charlatan or the criminal. I can think of little more depressing for the US and the world than a Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump presidential race.
I have mostly avoided writing about the match in public. I’ve been intellectually prepared to make the case for Trump should the race arise because Clinton has a record of failures that have weakened our security and increased strife in foreign nations. We lost an ambassador on her watch and she practically broadcast confidential intelligence to foreign and hostile nations. She has sufficient legal skill to chose federal judges who intend further to dismantle the US Constitution. All of that goes on top of what she has done to women. For all of Trump’s red flags, she has more. Or shorter: Donald Trump is a bull in a china shop. Hillary Clinton is a wrecking ball set to demolish the building.
But I do not want to make that case. I do not want to chose between shades of awful.
That was my 2016 Moment. I realised that I had to move beyond intellectual preparation to emotional preparation. I might actually have to do this. And I know (see mention of email thread above) that it will not be a simple sell. Many Republicans plan to vote for Clinton if Trump is the GOP nominee. We will endure another Clinton presidency and the GOP and many personal relationships will collapse.
I didn’t sob like Peggy. I didn’t retch or throw anything. I just went numb.
Cruz now must win Indiana next Tuesday to prevent Trump from going to the convention with enough bound delegates to win. Fair or not, history might one day note that the American Experiment and Pax Americana rallied or perished on a Tuesday in May in the State of Indiana.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)