by Conrad Black
In his most recent column, George Will, dean of serious American political commentators and high priest of Trump-hate, broke new ground in the reconciliation of buyer’s remorse over last year’s election and visceral aversion to Donald Trump. Will counseled Joe Biden’s entourage to tighten the cocoon that protects him from journalistic scrutiny or any form of spontaneity in public, lest Trump be reelected in 2024.
I have agreed with Will on almost everything between the 1964 and 2016 elections, and we have been cordial acquaintances for 40 years, although among its other regrettable side effects, the Trump phenomenon seems to have paused contact between us. George Will now purports to believe that the disappearance of Trump, which he had assured himself and his readers was inevitable if it were only possible to evict him from office last year, is necessary for the restoration of two-party rule.
With respect, I offer an alternative view. Trump is instrumental in the restoration of two-party rule.
Will and I were soldiers of approximately equal fervor, though grossly unequal influence, in our support of Ronald Reagan. As that splendid and successful era came to an end, he described Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush, as speaking with “the tinny arf of the lapdog.” I then thought this an unjustly dismissive opinion, but the senior Bush did allow an outright political charlatan, Ross Perot, to seize 20 million mainly Republican votes, bringing down the Clintons upon America. This was the end of two-party rule: for eight consecutive terms, 32 years, (1981-2013) one member or other of the Bush and Clinton families was president, vice president, or secretary of state. The Bushes, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney: all generally said that they would do as the Democrats did but would do it better.
From the retirement of Reagan to the election of Trump there was little appreciable difference between the parties which collaborated in the inexorable leftward drift of public policy. The White House would change hands every eight years, and the Congress every four or six years, but 95 percent of the permanent federal government was liberal and all were complicit in the betrayal of the American working and middle classes, the appeasement of China, the porosity of the southern border, the erosion of every aspect of citizenship including the requirement of it to vote in a federal election, the pace of requisitioning money from those who had earned it to distribute it amongst those who had not (in exchange for their votes whether they were citizens or not); all this quickened, especially under Obama, but the political class was merely shifting places on a bipartisan conveyor belt to the left.
Trump reversed this trend. He practically ended illegal immigration, unemployment, oil imports, disadvantageous trade agreements, the appeasement of China, and an economic definition of globalism that exported capital and jobs and imported unemployment. Trump was the first head of a serious jurisdiction in the world to incentivize through the tax system circumstances in which the lowest 20 percent of income earners were gaining income more quickly in percentage terms than the top 10 percent. The majority of Americans approved of these policies and it was generally recognized that Trump would be reelected until China unleashed COVID-19 on the world.
It is understandable that the Democrats and their Siamese twin in the national political media attempted from the start to terrorize the population with a reenactment of the Bubonic Plague, and to stigmatize the president as a scientific Luddite: a primitive enemy of advanced medicine prepared to monetize life itself in his enslavement to commerce and desire to avoid inducing an economic depression.
It must also be added that Trump effectively cooperated with his enemies by oscillating between affecting unconcern over the pandemic and shouldering Vice President Mike Pence aside, taking over the daily coronavirus briefings himself, and allowing them to degenerate into painful baiting sessions.
It need hardly be added that with Trump’s policy accomplishments, which normally would have assured his reelection and which were by far the most substantial of any president since Reagan, if not Nixon, there came the vagaries of his personality. I think George Will and I were about equally disconcerted by aspects of the Trump public persona, except that I found some of it a refreshing antidote to official pomposity. But George stealthily and swiftly developed a sort of Will Doctrine, which held that almost anything was justified and even praiseworthy if it led to Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, that said defeat would banish him forever from American public life, and that he would be replaced by an almost normal Monrovian Era of Good Feeling—even in the improbable, hackneyed, quasi-senescent, and permanently undistinguished person of Joe Biden.
While George Will was not a leader in promoting the monstrous falsehoods of Trump-Russia collusion or an impeachable conversation with the president of Ukraine, he knew better. He saw Biden assist Teddy Kennedy in the crucifixion of Robert Bork, and had some idea of what America would get with Biden.
Now, of course, it has all come unstuck and gone horribly wrong. There is no exit for over three years from the dead end of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They are both clearly incapable of executing a national office and the Constitution does not provide any appropriate way for replacing them other than at an election.
There is some justice in the terrible embarrassment that now afflicts the country. All the elites banded together to produce this horrifying result: Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the sports industry, the political media and Washington commentariat, the oligarchic social media cartel, the academy. They all joined hands, defamed the president far beyond what his frequently embarrassing utterances justified, outspent him to 2-1, de-platformed him from social media, and under cover of COVID, elaborated ballot harvesting into monstrous vote-counting irregularities in six swing states, and intimidated the judiciary at every level from examining the voting and vote-counting problems seriously. They even tried to impeach Trump after he left office, and falsely claimed that, when he addressed hundreds of thousands of his understandably aggrieved followers on January 6, Trump was trying to incite an insurrection.
In fact, what occurred was minor-league hooliganism at the Capitol which Trump did not incite or condone and the negligence of the speaker of the House and the mayor of Washington, D.C. was responsible for inadequate Capitol security. Hundreds of alleged trespassers were rounded up and sweated in solitary confinement for months, in the normal operation of the corrupt American plea-bargain evidence-extortion system, that has still failed to produce anything damaging to Trump. This is what Will and others have styled “1/6” in order to bring 9/11 to the public’s mind, as if there is the slightest comparison between them.
The only justice in this is that the American elites, in gaudily demonstrating their complacency, mediocrity, and institutional dishonesty on a monstrous scale, have punished themselves before the entire world; unfortunately the whole nation shares in the collateral damage of this exposé of gigantic failure and usurpation. No further puppetization of Joe Biden, as George Will proposes, will achieve anything.
Before this international nightmare of incompetence is over, George Will and Peggy Noonan and the other conservatives who should have known better will be well launched in their foreseeable effort to justify allowing snobbery, which was comprehensible up to a point, to override their political judgment. As Adam Smith said, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation,” and America will survive. Confession is good for the soul and the Will-Noonan axis could benefit from a bit of that, too.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.
Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.