Dallas talk radio host Grant Stinchfield, writing at The Federalist, contends that “The Never Trump Movement Is Anti-American And Hypocritical.” Stinchfield’s article is a small masterpiece of the kind of point-missing, perspective-lacking commentary that got us into this mess in the first place. Three examples of why before we get to the meat of his argument:
1. Ad Hominem
A hallmark of bad punditry is excessive name-calling in lieu of argument. In a column that runs barely more than 800 words, Stinchfield refers to those of us who won’t vote for Trump as “anti-American,” “ultra-conservative” (an odd charge for a guy who claims the Tea Party mantle), “arrogant know-it-alls who may be more narcissistic than Trump,” “ridiculous,” “nonsensical,” “throw[ing] a temper tantrum,” “whining and crying,” “sound[ing] like my seven-year-old son when I told him he could not have two cookies.”
This is not a particularly effective tactic for persuading people to vote for your side.
2. Assumption of Bad Faith
It’s always easier to avoid confronting the best arguments against you if you assume that your opponents don’t mean them and are acting from nefarious hidden motives. Rather than engage with the possibility that objectors to Trump have legitimate causes for doing so, Stinchfield accuses us of “acting exactly like the party elitists they purport to despise,” people who “seek to control the outcome of the election. They will stop at nothing to get their way”. He claims that Paul Ryan is “actively working to destroy America” and “acting like a spoiled rich kid who didn’t get what he cried for: a nominee like Jeb Bush.” As if Ryan, who endorsed nobody in the race, could only have wanted Jeb rather than the dozen-plus other alternatives to Trump. The need to brand all opponents of Trump as secret Jeb supporters was a hallmark of the Trump flacks throughout the primary (like Laura Ingraham trying to brand this website “JebState”).
Sometimes, it helps to remember what you were arguing yesterday. Stinchfield last appeared in the pages of The Federalist less than a month ago, writing a piece entitled “I Regret Voting For Donald Trump”. A flavor:
Donald Trump is off the rails. He is a train wreck. It’s not just his antics and childish behavior that has me so put off, it’s his failure to improve as a candidate.
After nine months on the campaign trail, I expected Trump to fully grasp the issues and have in-depth policy solutions to our problems….I fell victim to my own hatred. Donald Trump offered me a vehicle to stick it to the bloviating bureaucrats I despise…Trump was the guy who was going to scare the hell out of the “establishment,” the guy who was going to turn Washington on its head. So I voted with anger in my heart. I gave my vote to Trump with expectation he would find his way by putting smart constitutional conservatives by his side…
Sadly, I did exactly what my mother always warned me not to do. I made an important decision while in an emotionally fragile state of anger and despair. My vote for Trump amounted to a vendetta against the ruling class of DC career politicians. I made a mistake.
It’s why I am publicly apologizing to governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker. I abandoned them way too early. I now realize their level-headed grasp on conservative values and principles would have made them the perfect candidates to carry a torch of limited government straight into the White House.
Governor Perry, Governor Walker: I am sorry. The worst part I fear it’s too late. Can anyone save the Republican Party?…I have always said that the only way we lose to Hillary is if we sabotage ourselves. It’s amazing to me that’s exactly what we’re doing.
The date on that piece: April 19, 2016. Of course, that night, Trump won a majority of the vote for the first time (in his home state of New York), and his sweep of the Northeast and his win in Indiana put the race away, and now Stinchfield is back to lecturing us about following Trump. You would think, having been fooled by Trump before, he would have a little more humility in addressing those of us who saw through the Trump fraud from the very beginning. It seems not.
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