(March 22)  The modern political impulse to insult not just enemies but erstwhile allies, too, now has infected the Never Trump ranks. The impulse, wherein Never Trumpers adopt one of former President Donald Trump’s discreditable behaviors, is extremely counterproductive.

Trump has made a self-harming habit of continuing to insult Republican adversaries and their supporters after they have dropped out of the race (Nikki Haley) or even endorsed Trump (Ron DeSantis). Social media is full of critics justifiably saying such behavior will make it hard for Trump ever to attract those supporters of Haley, DeSantis, or others in this fall’s general election.

Now, numerous leading Never Trumpers, not content merely with conservative voters refusing to vote for Trump, insist that if those voters do anything other than openly support President Joe Biden, they are ethically deficient. Rather than merely recognizing variations in philosophies, political analyses, or prudential judgments, the leaders impugn the very characters of those who aren’t 100% on board with Biden. The insults are wrong on substance and tactically inane.

The most egregious entry in this intra-Never Trump cannibalism came Wednesday from conservative columnist Mona Charen, for decades one of the most thoughtful, astute, and gracious writers on the Right. Granted, columnists don’t always write their own headlines, but this was a doozy: “A Third Party is the Coward’s Way Out.” In the column, Charen was taking exception to a column by John Lehman, secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan and a wonderfully stalwart citizen. Charen was aggrieved that while Lehman wrote that he could never vote for Trump, he would be looking for a “third-party candidate to support” instead of embracing Biden. Yet rather than merely explain why she thought Lehman is wasting his time with a third party, a case Charen argued quite cogently, even though I disagree with her, she concluded by calling Lehman a “feckless lightweight.”…. [The full column is here.]


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