We’re in E.J. Dionne’s head, he wants into ours

There’s a certain kind of liberal who likes to tell conservatives what they should think about this or that matter in order to be true to conservatism. He has no counterpart on the other side of the political divide. I know of no conservative who gets off on telling liberals what they should think about anything. We tend to confine ourselves to pointing out liberal hypocrisy.

What explains this difference between liberals and conservatives? Perhaps it’s just that conservatives are less inclined to waste time telling people who don’t share our perspective what they should think. Maybe liberals are more sanctimonious than conservatives. It might have something to do with conservatives getting into heads of liberals more than the other way around.

E.J. Dionne is a great example of the kind of liberal I’m talking about. He loves to preach to conservatives, which is odd because I know of few conservatives who still read the guy. Maybe this is just a rhetorical device for Dionne, but I think there’s more to it than that. (See the paragraph above, especially the last sentence.)

In his latest column, Dionne warns conservatives of the dangers of supporting Trump and wonders why conservatives do so. The only explanation he can come up with is that we want to “stick it to the libs” (as the title of his print edition column says), especially those in the mainstream media.

I’m glad E.J. isn’t taking this personally.

Sticking it to the libs has much to recommend it. However, if Dionne were right that President Trump “is telling conservatives to forget pretty much everything they stand for in the interest of grinding their boots into liberal faces,” then he would also be correct in saying that Trump is asking “a lot.”

Too much, in fact.

But Trump isn’t telling us to forget what we stand for. Conservatives stand for a less oppressive, more sensible regime of federal regulation. We stand for lower taxes. We stand for the selection of judges who don’t make law up. We stand for cracking down on illegal immigration.

Trump has delivered on the first three of these items. If he’s fallen somewhat short on the fourth, it’s only because of liberal resistance.

Most conservatives stand for building up the military. Trump has moved to do so. Most conservatives strongly support Israel. Trump’s support for the Jewish state has been unflinching.

Dionne either doesn’t know what conservatives stand for or he is pretending not to. More likely, it’s the latter.

Dionne invokes Trump’s famous boast that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody, and not lose any voters. The columnist claims that Trump is now putting this theory to its toughest test.

But how? What has Trump done that’s the political equivalent of homicide?

Dionne says Trump “has blood on his hands because of his weak and reckless response to. . .Erdogan” in northeastern Syria. I disagreed with this decision by Trump, but don’t see how removing U.S. troops from what might well have soon become a war zone is the moral equivalent of shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.

President Obama has far more blood on his hands because of his decision not to become involved in Syria even after Assad crossed his “red line.” But I would never equate this decision with homicide. Keeping the U.S. out of shooting wars may be wise or unwise depending on the facts. But it is rarely, if ever, the moral equivalent of shooting someone.

Next, Dionne cites “the admission from Mick Mulvaney. . .that the White House withheld nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine to further Trump’s political objectives.” If Trump denied Ukraine aid because it wouldn’t investigate Joe Biden, that’s egregious in my view.

But aid wasn’t denied, it was delivered. And there is no evidence, at least none that has been made public, of a quid pro quo involving aid in exchange for investigating the Bidens. Certainly, Mulvaney confessed to no such thing.

Nor did he admit that aid was withheld “to further Trump’s political objectives.” If Dionne believes otherwise, he should cite the passage from Mulvaney’s presser in which the chief of staff admitted this.

Dionne can’t because it isn’t there. All Mulvaney said about why aid was temporarily withheld is that (1) Europe wasn’t doing its share and (2) Trump was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, of which its involvement in the 2016 election was an example. That’s not an admission that Trump withheld aid to further his political objectives.

One doesn’t have to believe Mulvaney. I’m not sure I fully do. But disbelief is not grounds for putting words in Mulvaney’s mouth.

Dionne is pulling an Adam Schiff. When your adversary’s words don’t get you where you want to go, make up the necessary ones.

Dionne’s final example of homicide is the decision, since revoked, to hold the G-7 summit at Doral. How hosting an event at cost — i.e., no profit — constitutes the political equivalent of murder, Dionne does not attempt to explain.

Many conservatives have their discontents with President Trump. I know I do. But the notion that the only rational reason for conservatives to back him is that he’s the enemy of our political adversaries is laughable. It’s typical, though, of the kind of garbage liberals produce when they tell conservatives what they are thinking, or should think.

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