Holding Trump Accountable When Necessary

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to the press aboard Air Force One, on Sept. 14, 2017, during the flight back to Andrews Air Force Base.

By David Limbaugh Published on September 15, 2017

What is Donald Trump up to, and what are his supporters to do? Is Trump betraying his supporters, or are Chuck, Nancy and the media misrepresenting his position?

For the hundredth time, I supported Ted Cruz, not Trump, for the GOP presidential nomination. But when Trump was victorious, I supported him against Hillary Clinton, and I have no regrets about that because though Trump sometimes disappoints, Clinton would have been a wholesale nightmare. Even in hindsight, it’s not a close call.

I have also criticized a small fraction of conservative pundits for their seemingly obsessive knee-jerk opposition to Trump and their apparent glee when he sometimes lives down to their expectations. My main objection to some never-Trumpers is their gratuitous piling on and apparent joy in doing so, even on unfair allegations, such as those of pre-election collusion with Russia. None of us should be motivated by bragging rights — the dubious satisfaction of saying “I told you so,” especially when the interests of the nation hang in the balance.

Since the primaries, I have hoped that despite my doubts about Trump’s allegiance to certain conservative principles, he would be able to advance a conservative agenda more than a centrist Republican could or would. This is not because he is a so-called outsider but mainly because he has shown a willingness to fight. Whatever else you might say about the Republican Party, it has lost its backbone, particularly on budget battles.

But the courage to fight is meaningless unless you are willing to fight for the right things. Given Trump’s general non-ideological bent, why should his feistiness give us any solace?

Good question.

Well, Trump campaigned mostly as a conservative, and if the campaign showed him anything, it is that leftists — no matter what he may have learned living his entire life in liberal New York City — are his sworn enemies. If he hadn’t chosen sides before, he had no choice now. If he hadn’t been paying much attention to ideological issues before, he surely was learning now and becoming more conservative in the process.

No, I had no illusions that Trump had converted overnight to constitutional conservatism, but I was hopeful that he would make significant strides in rolling back Barack Obama’s agenda. I sincerely want to hold on to that optimism.

Recently, however, Trump has given many of his supporters pause — including even some of the die-hardiest of the die-hards. Others in his camp are impervious to any evidence that Trump is faltering or is capable of it. Still others define what is good by whatever Trump does, just as some define what is bad by whatever he does, and those types are unreachable anyway.

A debate has emerged among certain Trump supporters over whether he has betrayed them by cozying up to Democratic leaders or he is playing some elaborate version of 4-D chess. Those unfazed by Trump’s two-step with Pelosi and Schumer are ecstatic that he is finally taking it to Ryan and McConnell. But it will be a cold day in Hades before I rejoice in Trump’s humiliating establishment Republicans when it comes at the price of abandoning his campaign pledges and a mainstream conservative agenda. Let’s not lose our heads.

Admittedly, political analysis is difficult in such a chaotic, convoluted, paradigm-shifting environment. The stakes are enormously high. There are many moving parts. Political constituencies are more fluid than they’ve been in decades. And there is an unusually high level of intramural tension in the Republican Party. Arguably, even the conservative movement is experiencing an identity crisis, with chest thumpers from all sides claiming they are the true conservatives and everyone else is a fraud.

For me, the jury is still out. Yes, Trump is making me nervous sometimes. Reports of his vacillation wouldn’t bother me so much except for his history of sympathy for certain liberal issues, his basic non-ideological bent, his desire for personal approval, his focus on the deal-making process (as distinguished from the goals to be achieved in the deals) and the presence in his inner circle of socially liberal influencers. How, then, can we not be uneasy when we read that Trump’s tax cuts will punish the “wealthy,” that he’s abandoning his opposition to amnesty or his commitment to the wall and that he’s losing interest in undoing the Iranian nuclear deal?

You feel me?

I don’t want to rush to judgment and prefer to believe that Trump will quit going wobbly and make course adjustments back toward those who brought him to the dance. For the record, I happen to believe that those who brought him to the dance are essentially conservatives — not populists, racists or political cultists.

I never want to pile on Trump with those malevolently motivated to destroy him. But his opponents’ bad faith must not blind us to his missteps or silence us about his policy betrayals, should they occur. Political leaders must be held accountable, sometimes on a daily basis. This is for their own good, as well as the nation’s.

Just this week, we read reports of Trump’s alleged deals with Democrats, and within a few hours, after significant blowback from Trump supporters, he raced to Twitter and public microphones to assure us he isn’t fishtailing on the wall.

At this point, it’s difficult to tell whether the media reports were completely fallacious about Trump’s caving or he actually did an immediate 180. Either way, we got strong and expeditious clarification — and that can only be healthy.

If Trump’s supporters don’t ever criticize him for fear of strengthening the position of his opponents, then he might just strengthen the position of his opponents on his own initiative. Trump is an old hand at business, but he is new at the game of politics, and the more constructive feedback he gets the better his governance will be.



David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is The True Jesus. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com.


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  • John

    The Republicans early on showed Trump they are not ready to govern. After 7 years of crapping on Obama care they utterly failed to rescind it. Guess what, Trump noticed and he is sending them a message, “if you can’t get your act together I will make the best deal possible for the American people”. All die hard conservatives and fake repubs like John McCain need to take a good look in their mirror. As for the dreamers , we were never going to boot them out , Paul Ryan even said as much. As long as they can’t vote and are not granted citizenship right away (altering our electorate) I am fine with it. Trumps deal on border security will ensure we are not talking about DACA 20 years from now with 5 million dreamers. Enough said. As long as Trump does not bend on the life issue and a foreign policy that calls radica Islam what it is he’s got my support.

    • Az1seeit

      I’m just wondering if the establishment do-nothing-republican-never-Trumpers in congress will ever get a clue that it is their utter disdain of the American voters that gave us Donald Trump in the first place. We’ve given them everything they told us they needed, and now that they’ve got no excuse, their true colors show. They never meant any of it in the first place, we are just their “useful idiots” until we quit playing along. God help our country.

  • Hmmm…

    All one has to do to know that we dodged the bullet is to watch the opposition currently touring the country promoting a book that exposes how truly small and clueless is Hillary world. Even her closest campaign cadre were amazed by her lack of instinct (how about heart!). (The question remains why she keeps dodging the bullet with her name on it for at least one of her crimes.) The Republican division and its variations are new to me as they emerge to majority, along with the general malaise. Kickback on Trump is understandable, though similarly vexing for progress.

    Let’s face it, we have a governance we have earned by our national sins, succinctly one: turning from God. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. We have lived in that circumstance all our lives. Now, we are beginning to know what it’s like to live under the curse, where instead of having faults and omissions covered, no matter what you achieve (like a party majority everywhere, as one example) nothing avails. Things don’t work like they should. As Christians, we are to believe for the best not the worst, and we will have our God’s keeping as we are personally faithful to him. However, in the broad view, our quixotic president is just a small part of the poor harvest for which our nation has sown. America must turn back to God.

  • Really, David? Trump’s “history
    of sympathy for certain liberal issues, his basic non-ideological
    bent, his desire for personal approval, his focus on the deal-making
    process (as distinguished from the goals to be achieved in the deals)
    and the presence in his inner circle of socially liberal influencers”
    don’t — even in sum — force you, an avowed Christian, to gag at the
    glaringly anti-Christ-ian ontology of the two-faced Donald Trump
    hiding behind the campaign curtain?

    Wow. Just wow.

    Oh, and btw, name-calling everyone who
    voted against *both* anti-Christ-ians in 2016 as “never”-Trumpers
    commits the well-worn fallacy of the Excluded Middle (a.k.a. the
    False Dilemma). The vast majority of the biblically faithful remnant
    who would “never” settle for the mere LESSER of two evils
    in that election (selecting, instead, the LEAST of all possible evils
    [since all mortals are inherently evil]) would jump on the Trump
    train today if he would simply acknowledge his sin and repent from
    it. There were, David, other presidential candidates on the 2016
    ballots in most states, and in most of the rest of the states
    registered voters could write in candidates who were not printed on
    their ballots.

    For the record, allow me to cite The
    Donald’s record for those readers who care enough about honoring
    Christ in *everything* we do (Pr 3:6, Col 3:17, et al) — including
    voting. Any Christian who can carefully study Donald Trump’s moral
    and political records (two sides of the same coin, actually, since
    the latter is simply the expression of the former) and not become
    sickened over the depth and breadth of his sin (like yours and mine,
    btw, w/o Christ — which The Donald absolutely is) is in grave danger
    of being no Christian at all (Jm 2:26).

    Unfortunately, I have learned the hard
    way that I cannot include URLs in Stream essay Comments (their
    automated and/or manual filters prevent such Comments from ever being
    published). Ergo, I will spell this reference out long-handed so that
    interested readers can navigate through the
    Politics/Republicans/Donald Trump menu located near the top of each
    page (right under the picture of the stupid crybaby cowboy). The Web
    site (with hundreds of pages, btw) is called Another Slow News Day
    (ASND) and it is published as a WordPress collection of blogs. I
    recommend, first, a visit to the Pre-Election page
    (Politics/Republicans/Donald Trump/Pre-Election) and suggest you not
    leave there until you have at least read through the citations from
    the “Biblically Faithful, Evangelical Remnant” section
    (about half way down that page). After that, there are (currently) 16
    other Trump pages — topically collated — with hundreds of
    references to examine. Christian readers left ambivalent (as your
    essay here indicates you are) after reading the many (*many*) Trump
    citations on ASND cannot be careful thinkers if they are careful
    readers. Donald Trump’s anti-Christian record simply does not leave
    that option available.

  • Why does Stream delete my attempted Comments here w/o explanation?

    • Az1seeit

      I am wondering the same thing. I emailed them and asked for an explanation. I am polite and eschew sarcasm and snark. Haven’t heard anything back…

      • Wondering now why this Comment (and its concomitant thread) wasn’t deleted as well. Twilight zone.

  • BroFrank

    I would caution placing too much stock in Mr. Trump right now. Not only is he apparently backtracking on immigration and spending, he is actively opposing a staunch conservative (Judge Roy Moore) in Alabama–campaigning for the former Judge’s opponent . . . . Is this a sign that Mr. Trump has second thoughts about having solid conservatives up on the Hill? We need to be watchful, and realistic (aggressive) in our prayers, before the next Supreme Court appointment battle validates this concern (hope it doesn’t!!).

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