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Shouldn't We Expect Trump to "Fight" Honestly?

There appears to be an unfortunate transition of MAGA Republicans into the spitting image of 1990s Democrats.

There’s a concerning reality that was recently highlighted by Kevin Williamson: many Republicans have seemingly made their peace with Trump’s self-evident dishonesty. Whenever it comes up, this conversation has largely focused on Christians and the 80% of them that reportedly voted for the serial adulterer and posturing populist when he ran against Hillary in 2016.

But that’s a different issue, of course. While I was not among their number, I can certainly understand the thinking of fellow Bible believers who saw Trump as a flawed, even dreadful choice, but pragmatically a better bet for the future of our civilization than the other major party candidate on the ballot.

While I’ve grown concerned at the seeming unwillingness of some of those Christians to hold Trump morally accountable since attaining the office, many of them have – praising the president for doing good things, criticizing him when doing bad things. That’s how it should be.

But what Williamson is getting at is something different. He’s remarking on the unfortunate transition of MAGA Republicans into the spitting image of 1990s Democrats:

Republicans here find themselves playing the role of Clinton-era Democrats. Democrats knew what Bill Clinton was, and rather than recoil from his dishonesty, they relished his slickness and exulted in his talent for besting his political adversaries. They were correct in insisting that there wasn’t any crime in the Clinton–Lewinsky affair per se (there was a crime in Clinton’s perjury related to it) just as there isn’t any obviously criminal aspect to what President Trump is known to have done so far — in spite of Democrats’ increasingly hilarious attempts to stretch the definition of “obstruction of justice” to cover things such as criticizing federal agencies for official actions.

I worried about this when the selling point for many Republicans during the 2016 campaign became Trump’s willingness to “fight.” Having grown disgusted with the Democrat Party’s history of incessantly holding Republicans to double standards of decency and morality, it seemed that many on the right were excited by the prospect of having someone on our side who would behave like a leftist.

This never made sense to me given that so much of what I thought had frustrated conservatives was the way leftists behaved. For years the right complained about the mentality among liberals that “the ends justify the means.” When “the means” included the abandonment of personal character, moral integrity, private virtue, and basic human decency, we said that wasn’t acceptable.

But now seemingly, Donald Trump’s “habitual and reflexive dishonesty” has become an acceptable means to the ends we want? As a Christian and a conservative, I remain firmly opposed to where that is going to lead us.

I think there is a difference between being acceptable and accepting something the way it is. Trump's dishonesty is not acceptable. However, as someone who had beaten on that for over 2 years, we have to accept the environment for what it is. Trump is not going to change. He is dishonest today and he will be dishonest tomorrow. If I knew Trump would sit in front of Mueller and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I would be all for it. The odds are that he won't. Rather than committing another crime by perjuring himself, he needs to pass on it. Once he commits that crime, we have to deal with the ramifications of it. If we can keep him from making it, that is the way to go. He needs to avoid interviewing with Mueller. Agreeing to do so isn't going to turn him into an honest guy, it just opens up a door for real and legitimate criminal charges. I care more about what it does to the direction of this country. Whatever Trump gets, he brings on himself. However, we have a lot of issues in this country. Trump facing a perjury charge is just going to complicate that. My hope is that he doesn't commit the crime in the first place.

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I still think there is a difference between this and Clinton. (I didn't vote for Trump because of his immorality, track record of lying to get what he wants, and general long term damage he would do to conservatism by claiming the mantle.) Clinton flat out lied about a very specific incident and did so repeatedly. If Trump met with a Putin associate and he lies about that, throw the book at him. I just have a real feeling that they will end up catching Trump in an irrelevant lie, because he can't help himself. The best way to avoid that is to avoid testifying. Know your weaknesses. I also don't have any faith in the Mueller investigation to get to the truth in an unbiased fashion (as an early supporter of Mueller and the investigation). There are too many tangled webs, shady connections and corruption within the FBI and Mueller's team to trust them with an issue that is this political. I got here, not by gut reaction right off the bat because it was against Trump, but by observation and a review of these people and their actions and inactions. I would much prefer to have Pence as the President, but Trump was elected. He should not be targeted for minor and irrelevant things. That opens the door to embroiling every future President into the same sorts of stuff. Trump makes himself an easy target by associating with known scoundrels and criminals like Manafort, Page and Flynn, and that is on Trump. However, discussions to remove a duly elected President are very, very serious. Removal is the ultimate goal of the left and I fear, many within Mueller's team and their associates at the DOJ and FBI.

Well said.

I think it is more of a communication gap, or inability to get some things across, to those who might want to have heard something said differently, in the first place. Trump has a method to his "Madness", if you will, and that comes with pitfalls built in, when he has so many of his own party members who want things said differently, also. That meeting about the DACA deal, for example, was his way of getting both sides in a room, but he was working towards a deal he knew would probably never take place, if he didn't get his way. He knew that, expected that, and when Dick Durbin started the lie about him using certain words, he let it backfire on the Democrats. What did they gain? Nothing, they lost ground on that issue. He knows pretty well what he is doing, and it just doesn't seem to be in the flavor some Republicans want to hear, but in the past, the other way ended up with bad deals that got passed, and how has that helped the country? Give the guy credit for knowing how to hold, and when to fold. Trump is looking to have finally gotten enough support from his own party to make gains in 2018, has shown his negotiation skills to be good, and starts from a winning position. He may have made a believer out of Ryan and McConnell, and that only serves to unify the entire Republican caucus. Quit selling him short. I don't know about all this dishonesty he is still being accused of, by people on the right. He comes off as being like that, to some, I guess, but the end result doesn't appear to show what people have apparently perceived. I do know this for a fact because I have seen it happen on too many video clips of the MSM portraying him the way they want him to be seen. My suggestion there is to start using a better BS filter when forming opinions grabbed off of those MSM "Stories". It all depends on how you take the information in. If you viewed your world through the eyes and ears through someone, like Brian Stelter, for example, the only way you could view anything would be from the far left's perspective. I think too many people are still too willing to use garbage reporting, like that, to use conveniently against Trump, along with their raw distaste of his personality. That is more of a sad statement about many people's own vanity and unwillingness to just get over it.

I think you just don't like the brutal honesty he uses to fight the political fight. His version is being successful, where Bush's version of a kindler, gentler approach wasn't.

So we have people here on earth that own the moral high ground on lying or immorality? Really? When you begin your argument by saying in one way or the other that you are a superior person than the person you are about to take down maybe you ought to stop right there and ask for forgiveness. Donald Trump, in my view, since he has been in office (and I never paid attention to him before this) has behave more as a Christian than anyone since Reagan. Trump has fought for religious freedom, spoken up for Christ and Christian values so if you don't like him state the political reasons why but do not try and take the moral high ground.

Brutal honesty like the size of his inauguration crowd, the viewership of his state of the union address!

Trump lies about such mundane and fact-checkable things it's ridiculous. It shows a man who can’t accept reality and would prefer to believe one that fits his view of things.

Is he more successful though? Bush was able to get a surprising amount of legislation done even against democratic opposition. All Trump has seemed to achieve is angering “Snowflakes” and tanking his approval ratings.

Good for you Peter. There's no excuse for lying. It's weird seeing conservatives twist themselves into pretzels to justify it.

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To pretend that it is not verifiable that Trump lies constantly is just being willfully blind or dishonest. You don't need to watch anyone's opinion of Trump. Just cue him up and listen to him talk. He will often dispute himself within a few minutes. Pretending that Trump is some 4D chess player and an honest guy doesn't do anyone any favors. He has done a pretty good job. Most of his lies are trivial and irrelevant. They still exist and they undermine his credibility. Yes, the monkeys flinging feces in the window show that he does distracts the left from the failures and flaws, but it also distracts the American people from the successes and from the serious policy conversations that we could be having. Trump could sell good policy, but he doesn't have the credibility, personal discipline, detailed knowledge or attention span to do it. That is where he could really do more and what is frustrating to some of us. He can be boisterous and attack the media without being a lying, narcissistic jerk, but he won't. The best advise it to use a BS filter on everyone, the media and Trump.

It's a measure how Democrats have screwed up the morality of this country in the last forty years that you have to write a column like this. Trump is simply the first Republican national leader to truly behave like a Democrat with different policy values.
This is the fundamental problem with NT and people who wish to blame Trump or MAGA, or supporters for the situation. Trump is merely a symptom of the problems in our country - not the cause. If we can't get serious about addressing the causes we will get an endless stream of Trumps....maybe more polished, maybe ethnically different, maybe female, maybe Dem or Republican but all Trump.

It's when, not if, (and considering the polling for the upcoming election, "when" might be as early as this summer) Trump starts working with Democrats to "get things done" over the Republicans that "but he fights" and "judges" will no longer be acceptable defenses.

My opinion is that no matter what Trump does or says, conservative Christians will excuse it based on one fact only - he is not Hillary. That's all it took for them to vote for him and all it takes for them to support him unconditionally.

Etbass, I know when he has lied, but those are not the prevailing messages he is broadcasting. Why is his popularity increasing? I think more of his "Lies" are much more to be hyperbole. That's what his schtick is. He could do much better with some coaching, but I think it would also be seen by his base, to be tampering with the raw diamond they believe him to be. Comparing him to the latest two Bushes, he is a different type of leader, not as much the polished pol, but more one who is more brutal in his message. That appears to be refreshing to a large part of the voting public, nowadays, for better or worse. And considering the alternative, I'm satisfied with the results and don't care for all the pettiness from him, or the antis. That's just nonproductive for the country. I never was a moderate, and always took my political approach from my father, my two surrounding neighbors, and Barry Goldwater and Reagan. Unfortunately, we will never see another Reagan, and this is likely to be delivering more good than bad, but less polished. I can handle what he gets out much better than getting lied to, in a more polite fashion by those polished politicians that can lie and make you believe anything.

BenjaminD, "Trump lies about such mundane and fact-checkable things it's ridiculous. It shows a man who can’t accept reality and would prefer to believe one that fits his view of things." And those are things that set you off? There is much more hyperbole around here than Trump says about things, like that. Besides, how does anyone know about the number of an audience without taking ticket counts? For someone who has his own view of things, and you or I don't(?), why is he having such success? just so you know, I voted for all the Bushes, but that doesn't mean I liked every piece of legislation they accomplished. The Bushes were heading our country to the left, more so than any other Republican presidents. for lack of a better term, they were all globalists. Remember a phrase "New World Order?"

Very well said!

When you're talking about Trump, there is, quite literally, no moral high ground to be found.

This article is right. My question to evangelicals would be: If you want to reverse sinful cultural trends within America, how do you accomplish that by electing someone who glorifies sin and inspires new sinful cultural trends? If we become what we oppose, we are no longer the salt of the earth but have lost our saltiness and are no longer useful for preserving society from destruction (Matthew 5:13).

I oppose the progressive march towards a post-God society as much as you do, but your methods of fighting it are not Scriptural. Conservatives are fond of saying that we must fight fire with fire, but God says that - in the battle against evil - we should not pay back evil with evil, but instead overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21). He says that our war is not actually against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of wickedness in this world, and that we should employ spiritual [not political!] weapons to fight them (Ephesians 6:10-18).

If we want any chance of changing the attitudes of our political enemies against us, God says to employ this strategy: "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head" (Romans 12:20). Heaping burning coals may be a confusing idiom, but it was actually a cultural practice of the day that a person would put burning coals on their head as a sign that they were repenting of something wrong they had done. If you want to win people over to your side, and overcome their evil, that's the way to do it - not with angry tactics born of angry attitudes, which can't accomplish anything righteous (according to James 1:20). That's why I don't engage in all the hating on liberals that is popular within conservatism - it is wrong and counterproductive. That may be radical thinking within our culture, but Christianity always has been counter-cultural.

In the end, God won't care what we accomplished politically (since it is HE who moves the hearts of kings in whatever direction He chooses, not us - Prov. 21:1); but what we accomplished spiritually. He saved us so we would resemble Christ (Romans 8:29-30) and be His ambassadors in this fallen world.

Evangelicals need to count the cost of being Christians, instead of focusing on using politics to make their lives more comfortable on earth. Jesus said being a real Christian is costly: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25). Some evangelicals are so busy trying to "save their lives" by looking to politicians to prevent persecution of Christians in this country that they are forgetting about God's purpose for their life. Besides, the Bible says that persecution is a given for those who want to live a godly life (II Tim. 3:12), so they won't avoid it by electing pro-Christian leaders to Washington.

Evangelicals need to decide whether they are willing to do what it takes to really follow Jesus or not.

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