By John Ruberry

Now that we have entered the first full day of President Donald Trump’s second year in office it’s a good time to ask this question.

Is Trump a conservative?

“Yes,” is my firm answer.

Fascinatingly, Trump doesn’t talk about conservatism much, nor did he as a candidate. Contrast the president with the dozens of Republicans elected to Congress since the Tea Party wave of 2010 who talked a tough game on issues such as ObamaCare, illegal immigration, and shrinking the government. But once in power, many of these GOPers backed away from strong conservative stances on those issues.

But here we have a president in Trump who didn’t campaign as a conservative but who is governing as one.

Trump’s first major move in office was to nominate Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. So far Gorsuch has been a solid conservative voice on the nation’s highest court. While there have been some qualification issues on a few district court nominees, the president has nominated a solid group of conservative jurists on the district and appellate levels. As for the latter, Trump set a record for the most appellate nominees confirmed in a first year of office.

Our military, with the aid of allies, has had great success against the Islamic State, to the point where we can say that it’s likely that ISIS has been defeated. A strong national defense is the backbone of any conservative playbook.

After six months in office Barack Obama added 60,000 employees to the federal payroll. Under Trump the size of the federal workforce is shrinking.

Amazingly, Trump is exceeding even Ronald Reagan’s pace in slashing regulations.

And last month the Republican tax cut bill was signed into law–which has already fattened the wallets of Americans. Included in that bill was the elimination of the unpopular ObamaCare individual mandate, which may lead to the unraveling of the signature law of Trump’s predecessor.

The cut in regulations and taxes have spurred an unprecedented rally in the stock market since Trump’s election.

Yesterday, although by video hook-up, Trump became the first president to address the annual March for Life rally.

On his radio show last year Mark Levin called Trump “the most conservative president since Reagan.”

As he is on so many things, Levin is correct.

America has a conservative president again—one who didn’t campaign as one.

It’s an inconsistency I can live with happily.

Today there is a government shutdown–why? Because Trump is standing up for conservative policies.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update: Instalance, welcome all, take a peek round find out why Trump & the GOP will do fine in november as evidenced by a single chart here


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Finally might I suggest my book  Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

We have a unique opportunity as conservatives. Donald Trump is new to politics. He’s malleable or, as he puts it, capable of changing his mind whenever he wants. This is the chance we haven’t had in our lifetimes – to mold Presidential policy by using our voices to let him know what we expect.

Trump supporters may argue that doing so is a sign of disunity and therefore any opposition to his policies is going to help Hillary Clinton win. There are two flaws to this argument. First, no Presidential candidate should be given a free pass to implement their whims without hearing the voice of the people even if such criticism may be viewed poorly by others who are still considering the options. Second, if criticism from the right is enough to make him lose to Hillary, he wasn’t cut out for the nomination in the first place.

Hillary Clinton is the worst Democratic candidate in decades. Even Walter Mondale was better; Ronald Reagan would have won Minnesota and completed the 50 state sweep had he been running against Clinton, though DC would have still probably gone to the Democrats. She has been clearly demonstrated to be a liar, corrupt, and unexceptional in every way. Any GOP candidate with a pulse and conservative policies would be pulverizing her in the polls. Trump needs to step up (and lately, it seems that he’s been doing just that).

Trump is a new to political campaigning. He’s new to conservatism. He’s a “baby Christian” as some have called him. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and that can be viewed as either a weakness or an opportunity. I choose to see it as a grand opportunity to point him in the right direction… to the right.

We’ve already seen examples of this. When attempting his leftward lurch on immigration, better known as “the softening,” he received push back from some of his supporters. Frankly, I didn’t think he received enough push back, but it worked. Within a week, he abandoned his toe-dipping into the realm of amnesty-that-shall-not-be-called-amnesty and returned to his original stance. Lately, he’s been hinting at a return to the left on the issue, for which we must continue to apply the pressure.

One does not have to join the #NeverTrump camp in order to oppose some of his policies, nor does one have to support all of his policies if they want him to win. It is imperative that we agree when he’s right and disagree when he’s wrong. He will be wrong on many issues; at heart, he’s still left-leaning and it shows in his proposed policies. If he is to be President, he cannot go down the road of big government and dramatically increased spending. If we say nothing, who will? The left? The Establishment? Only the grassroots and truly conservative politicians will be able to sway him away from any lingering liberal tendencies that are tugging at his heart.

Another major concern is the Supreme Court. Many who are reluctant supporters attribute the SCOTUS as their primary reason for supporting him over Clinton. There’s a problem that is so drastically under-reported that one might consider it to be a conspiracy. Shortly after releasing his amazing list of conservative judges he’d consider for the Supreme Court, he declared that it was just a starting point. Then, during the Republican National Convention in a closed-door meeting, he declared that he had many other names, “fabulous people,” as he put it, who were now on his list. Currently, there is one spot open. There’s a chance that as many as three more will come open in span of his Presidency. Why does he need more than the original 11? Why won’t he release those names? Why won’t he commit to appointing only conservative justices? Is he hedging his bets in case the Democrats take control of the Senate? Is he preparing to use SCOTUS nominations as bargaining chips? We don’t know and currently nobody is willing to ask.

Mark Levin might be the prototype for the type of conservative voice that can support Trump while still holding his feet to the conservative fire. He’s denounced Trump’s $7 trillion retreat on tax cuts. He’s called out his plans to expand government and dramatically increase the national debt. He’s highlighted nearly every liberal policy that Trump has proposed, a large list which seems to be getting bigger. However, he praised him on immigration. He praised the wall. He praised his willingness to act against terrorism and confront the Islamic State. He was #NeverTrump. Now, he’s voting for Trump. In lieu of the example set by so many Trump supporters from average voters to television pundits, Levin has chosen to endorse him with his vote while keeping his leftist policies in view.

Trump’s supporters have a dual-purpose this election year. They need to get him elected and they need to keep pushing him to the right against his leftward lurches. To do one and not the other is inviting the worst-case scenario: a “Republican” President who, in the name of bipartisanship and without the dissent of his constituents, pushes a liberal agenda without opposition.

A tweet today pointed me to the Dan Riehl, Ross Douthat, Mark Levin et/al stuff. So lets talk about thinkers who are or are not entertainers.

Douthat dismisses Levin as an entertainer saying that it is the only way to define Levin’s book and defend it.

There’s nothing wrong with appreciating these entertainers, admiring their success, and enjoying the way they skewer people and causes you dislike. But to insist that they’re also worth taking seriously as political and intellectual actors in their own right, worthy of keynote speeches at CPAC and admiring reviews in highbrow journals, is to make a category error that does no favors to the larger causes that you and they support.

Dan (the blogger least like what people expected at CPAC) Riehl hits Douthat as an entertainer as well:

The sum total of Douthat’s accomplishment comes from writing two books. That’s it. One can say anything one wants about them – but in point of fact, they are little more than entertainment for a mostly eggheaded bunch that enjoys talking about the nuance around and within politics without ever actually having accomplished much of anything.

Both Douthat and Riehl are right but I think both are missing the point here, so lets take this backwards:

When Dan blogs I presume he writes not only to express himself but in the hope that others might find his writing and ideas interesting enough to come back to read (If I’m wrong please correct me). He writes with the hope that it may be entertaining enough on either an intellectual or gut level to get that tweet from Sissy Willis or a blog post by someone else to get his thoughts and ideas out there. In other words he wants someone to entertain his ideas.

The relevancy of that thought and it’s worth in terms of expression come both from the meat of what he is saying and the response it generates, thus the entertainment value of said thoughts are part of the discussion of it is worthy emulating or advancing his positions.

Now I’ve met Dan once in passing at CPAC but I don’t know Dan or how he makes his living but he is not to my knowledge dependent on his writing for support so if he fails to cause people to entertain his thoughts it’s no skin off his back.

As far as Ross I’ve never met him at all, I’ve not read his books, and only occasionally read his columns which frankly leave me cold. But he’s writing for the NYT. He is paid to cover a niche, a conservative writer in a liberal paper. Just enough of a conservative to be called one but not enough of one to actually risk challenging the readers who are looking for affirmation over information.

Conservatives and conservative thinkers are not his audience. The times knows that he is not going to draw them and that’s not what he is paid for. His audience is the current times readership and it’s current publishing team. If he fails to generate the proper buzz, the right reaction, to entertain he will be replaced.

I don’t know if he cares if his ideas are advanced. I don’t know what ideas he wants to advance or any. I don’t know if he needs this job to make a living, but he is where he is as long as he serves the purpose in question and not a moment longer. If he fails to sustain that purpose, he’s out.

Now onto Mark Levin. I haven’t read his book, I don’t listen to his radio show, he’s louder than I like but when I’ve heard him he’s tended to talk sense. His arguments are strong enough that Millions of copies of his book have been purchased and read and his ideas advanced. His presentation is strong enough that thousands of people listen to him on the radio. The fact that they might also be entertained has no relevance on if his thoughts should be rejected, however if he fails to get those listeners his show will be off the air. This is a basic fact.

But Levin’s goal is two fold. He wants to make a living and he wants to advance a series of ideas. The combination of said ideas and an entertaining presentation has allowed him to do this.

The entertainer argument is most commonalty used against Rush Limbaugh. His job is to host a radio show and draw the greatest number of listeners possible to maximize the profit he can make selling ads. He has done this better than anyone else. No serious person denies this.

Rush also has a series of beliefs and ideas that he wants to advance. He has been very successful in this endeavor. No serious person can claim he has not been.

Rush’s ideas are also serious ideas offering solutions for actual problems. This is where certain serious people don’t DARE agree, not because it is not true, but because to acknowledge it imperils their own agendas.

Entertainer is not a bad word, to pretend it is rejects stump speakers who have made their case for hundreds of years and denies history. The rejection of that aspect of intellectual persuasion is in my opinion simply an aspect of pride and bigotry or simply sour grapes.

For related stuff check out this post at SISU