When Principles become “Preenciples”

When principles become preenciples the message is lost.

Michael Walsh, widely published commentator and author of two great books I’m reading, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and The Fiery Angel, has coined a pithy and poignant new word, ”preenciples.” It’s a portmanteau term meant to capture the way in which those conservatives we’ve come to call #NeverTrumper declare their distaste for Donald Trump by congratulating themselves on their adherence to conservative “principles” which they claim Trump either completely lacks or is too stupid to even understand and properly appreciate.

Preener in Chief

Nevermind that Trump has brought them the most conservative administration in history. Nevermind that Trump has a list of accomplishments all of which are things these conservatives have always said they wanted.  Apparently, they don’t want them if Trump gets the credit. Or perhaps all their promising, preaching and preening was merely lip service for votes.

It’s probably true that Trump is not a “movement” conservative. He’s been a business man all his life and not a politician. He seems to think in ways that signal common sense but not specifically as conservative principles. Why would anyone care so long as what is being established is in essence exactly what those so-called principles stand for? The only reason to even make the distinction is so the #NeverTrumper Republicans can find Trump guilty of offending their “fastidious sensibilities,” as Walsh says.

For all their rhetoric these Trump hating Republicans in Washington have never accomplished much of anything. Some, like George Will, simply have lost their minds over Trump upstaging them in just about every way. They are like the corporate executive who has kept his position by promising a bright future for his company that never seems to arrive but is just around the corner if the company will only continue his policies and strategies. Then when the directors finally tire of waiting and replace him with a new CEO with fewer credentials but who actually does turn the company around to a more profitable enterprise the old guard in the company who were faithful to the former CEO get huffy.

Trump is doing well because he understands things the #NeverTrump GOP has seldom been able to grasp. Liberal Democrats fight hard and take no prisoners. To defeat them one must be willing to fight back. Democrats are the aggressors and in every conflict the aggressor makes the rules. Trump is playing by the rules they make. The sclerotic wing of the GOP is having their fecklessness thrown in their faces. They hate it. They see Trump as the catalyst so they hate him. The only hope for the future of the GOP is if more and more of these politically inept Republicans are winnowed out in future election cycles.

Grant at Cold Harbor

When principles become preenciples the messenger undermines his credibility.

Trump is to his base what Ulysses Grant was to Lincoln. When Lincoln’s advisors counseled him to fire Grant for his drunkenness and belligerent stance, which they found dangerous, Lincoln succinctly said, “I need him. He fights.”

We need Trump. He fights.

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