Their partisan squirming and frenzied scurrying from the amoral rot of Trumpism are fascinating phenomena to watch. The conservative commentariat's triumvirate of Brooks, Will, and Krauthammer finds itself in the sourest of pickles — wanting, needing, to distance itself from the foul adolescence of the bullying Donald, while maintaining a simultaneous disapproval of Hillary. A tricky business, this.
What to do, what to do. Well, here's one option. "Hillary" is a name you won't find in Brooks's post-convention reflections. While reading him, one strains to recall whom the Democrats just nominated. He does, however, have much to say about the appalling spectre of Trump, who has "abandoned the great patriotic themes that used to fire up the G.O.P." And once Brooks got started on this theme, he just couldn't stop. "Trump has abandoned the Judeo-Christian aspirations that have always represented America’s highest moral ideals…. Trump has abandoned the basic modesty code that has always ennobled the American middle class…. Trump has also abandoned the American ideal of popular self-rule," and "Trump has abandoned the deep and pervasive optimism that has always energized the American nation."
Brooks, one gathers, is feeling abandoned. And though there's no Hillary, there is a Michelle:
[Trump] left the ground open for Michelle Obama to embrace the underlying chorus of hope that runs through the American story: that our national history is an arc toward justice; that evil rises for a day but contains the seeds of its own destruction; that beneath the vicissitudes that darken our days, we live in an orderly cosmos governed by love.
I'm a tad skeptical of that loving, orderly cosmos thing. As astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said in a televised lecture, "The universe is out to kill you" (black holes, hurling asteroids, colliding galaxies and the like). But we take Brooks's point: Earth's destiny is largely our own, and God save us if not from the cosmos's indifference, at least from the malignant indifference of Trump.
Brooks remains dug in, however, on conservatism's Where-in-hell-did-Trump-come-from? defense:
This week I left the arena here each night burning with indignation at Mike Pence. I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the 'sane' and 'reasonable' Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance.
Good grief, David, Republicans have been loudly, enthusiastically standing by as movement conservatism, over decades, corrupted your party's sacred inheritance.
George Will? He has devised a brilliant alternative to silence about Hillary. She who shall not be named has at least embraced Sen. Kaine, whose Will embraces: "Clinton’s selection of Virginia’s former governor and current senator, Tim Kaine, represents the rare intersection of good politics and good governance…. There probably is no Democratic governor or senator more palatable than Kaine to constitutional conservatives." (I'm interpreting "palatable" as an embrace.)
Last we come to Charles Krauthammer, who is made of stronger partisan stuff. "I don't think I could vote for Donald Trump," said Charles last month, "but perhaps I could be persuaded." What he seems to find most objectionable about Hillary is that she's politically ambitious — unlike John Adams, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan …
No, I don't get it either, so don't ask. What I do get is that Charles is hoping for a cliffhanger, which David dreads:
She still enjoys the Democrats’ built-in electoral college advantage. But she remains highly vulnerable to both outside events and internal revelations. Another major terror attack, another email drop — and everything changes. In this crazy election year, there are no straight-line projections. As Clinton leaves Philadelphia, her lifelong drive for the ultimate prize is perilously close to a coin flip.
Krauthammer fancies himself a realist. So, that's a joke, right?
Just think — 100 days of this comedy, this squirming, this scurrying, this occasional vacillating and this fascinating phenomena of abject conservative discombobulation.