The battle lines have been so sharply drawn, in what is now a bloodless civil war for direction of U.S. public policy, that the two sides cannot really communicate with each other. There is a commendable candor in Kellyanne Conway’s statement: “They hate us and we hate them.” I don’t hate the Never Trumpers. I know many of their principal and most articulate spokesmen who have defected from the conservative Republican ranks, and in many cases I have known them for a great many years. I could never entertain allowing a matter of political differences to interfere in a valued friendship. And while I am hopeful that Donald Trump (also a friend) will be a successful president, and am glad that he has the opportunity to govern, I am not so impassioned on the subject that it blinds me to the virtues of some of his detractors or to the president’s shortcomings.
But it is impossible to receive a serious hearing from a Never Trumper for a pro-Trump argument, and the pro-Trumpers are generally convinced of the discreditable motives of the Never Trumpers. There is now unfolding what must be the last civilized debate about the trajectory of events in Washington before the civil war moves from the heavy and frequent skirmishing that has intensified since the election to the fight to the death that seems inevitably to impend. The president said in a powerful address to a very enthusiastic audience in West Virginia last week, where he received the grace of conversion to the Republican party of the formerly Democratic governor, Jim Justice, that the entire special-counsel investigation into relations between the Russian government and the Trump campaign is “a total fabrication” and “an attempt to [reverse] one of the greatest political defeats in American history.” So it is.