GOP Pundit: ‘Charlottesville Is Why’ I’m A Never-Trumper (TWEETS)

John Podhoretz on
John Podhoretz on "Morning Joe" (image courtesy MSNBN


In a sane world, Donald Trump’s presidency would have effectively ended on Tuesday. He not only reverted to his outrageous initial line on the nastiness in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend–that “both sides” were responsible–but inexplicably suggested that protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee was no different than protesting the removal of a statue of George Washington. If the “never-Trump” wing of the Republican Party wasn’t already saying, “We told you so,” they definitely are now.


One never-Trumper who is probably saying “I told you so” louder than anyone after Tuesday’s press conference is John Podhoretz, the longtime editor of Commentary magazine. In what now looks like a remarkably prescient column in the New York Post, Podhoretz argues that Trump’s disgraceful response to the events in Charlottesville proves why he and many others cannot support Trump.

Podhoretz is a member of one of the first families of the neoconservative movement. His father, Norman, started out as an ardent liberal, but his criticism of the New Left pushed him steadily to the right in the 1960s. The younger Podhoretz was an ardent supporter of George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and was a mainstay in conservative media long before taking over his father’s magazine in 2009. But Podhoretz also has scruples–and those scruples led him to predict last February that Trump’s “extraordinary flawed character” and “lack of principle and scruple” would make him “nothing less than a disaster” as president.

As he sees it, the last eight months have proven him right. To those who wonder why he’s still a never-Trumper even though Trump has pushed hard for deregulation and managed to get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, Podhoretz has a simple answer.

“Charlottesville is why.”

Podhoretz bluntly states that he cannot in good conscience support a president who can’t seem to condemn racists and neo-Nazis, and do so “unqualifiedly and by name.” He doesn’t think Trump’s “many sides” line was an accident, but “a deliberate communications choice.” For Podhoretz, it was an uncomfortable reminder of how Trump issued a Holocaust remembrance statement that didn’t mention Jews.

Podhoretz then turns to Trump’s attempt at false equivalency–and does what may be the best job to date that anyone on either side of the aisle has done in cutting that argument to pieces. While condemning those who “met violence with violence,” he rightly points out that they “cannot be considered equal in fault in any way.” He then explains why–for the benefit of those who weren’t paying attention, as well as Trump.

“They were responding to agitation. They were not the causes of the agitation. They weren’t carrying Nazi flags and chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ They weren’t bringing the latest terrorist tactics to our shores in the form of the automotive slaughter we’ve seen in Jerusalem and Nice and London.”

To Podhoretz’ mind, Trump’s failure to recognize this, and call out this “evil in our midst” for what it is, is a sign that we have a president “whose moral sense is stunted–if he has a moral sense at all.” For that reason, he believes that those who demand that he support Trump for the good of conservatism needs to ask themselves “what their moral obligations require.”

Podhoretz watched Tuesday’s train wreck of a press conference, and was as appalled as just about anyone was who isn’t still bowing to Trump.

When Trump stepped off the podium, Podhoretz recalled how two leading conservative intellectuals demanded that he get off the never-Trump train just days earlier.

After this latest disaster of a press conference, Black and McAllister–actually, D. C. McAllister–owe Podhoretz an apology.


In a nutshell, Podhoretz has been saying what those of us who oppose Trump, Democrats and Republicans alike, have been saying all along. No cause or policy goal is so important that basic standards of decency have to be thrown out the window. What we saw on Tuesday only proves it. A president who actually thinks there are two sides to a situation in which a member of one side drove his car into a crowd of protesters is a president who is not worth supporting. Period.

(featured image courtesy MSNBC via Mediaite)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.