George Will Can’t Hold a Thought About Trump

On the comic side of politics today, George Will rouses himself to one of his signature imperious tongue-lashings of people and phenomena that displease him, and today’s object is Donald Trump and those who support him. It’s fascinating to watch how quickly the great intellect slips and stutters and changes direction in this essay.

He begins with the straight-on insult, referring to Trump as nothing more than the local blowhard in the local bar, but one with the money to impose himself on the rest of us.

Then he points to Trump’s changes of position as an indicator he’s no true Republican or true conservative (I’m guessing Will’s wife, who works for Scott Walker, didn’t overhear that argument being developed).

Suddenly he lurches into a comparison of Trump to 1948 third and fourth-party candidates Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond, but seems to lose focus and darkly suggest he’s not sure today’s Republicans have the spine to fight off a splinter effort, presumably from Trump.

Next Will squints at Trump’s supporters, and cannot imagine they could be Republicans or conservatives, either, rather conveniently ignoring that other current and past candidates have indulged in a similar kind of right-wing populism aimed at people who don’t buy GOP elites’ economic pieties.

But having decided Trump is no Republican and nor are his supporters, Will gets behind the idea of barring Trump from debates unless he takes “the pledge” to support the nominee, all but chuckling to himself for coming up with the idea that this is like a country defending its borders.

But very next thing Will reflects that Trump will fade when politics gets real and he faces the other brilliant, amazingly well-qualified GOP candidates (which he just did in a debate).

Finally, needing a coda, Will calls for expelling Trump from the conservative movement the way Buckley expelled the Birchers, a clairon call he seems to have made primarily in order to end his column with the sacred name of Ronald Reagan, who praised that explusion.

I don’t know if Donald Trump is driving Republicans crazy, but he’s sure striking them dumb, and by that I do not mean speechless.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.