Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, was politician who successfully took to the field to defeat Napoleon and then resumed his political career, eventually rising to become Prime Minister.
Given his alpha male status, and the rather loose morals amongst the aristocracy in the early 19th century, Wellington was consistently unfaithful to his wife. In 1824, one of his amours broke the rules of discretion that governed aristocratic peccadilloes, writing down her recollections about their liaison, including details that would have embarrassed the Prime Minister.
The publishing house that obtained the memoirs contacted Wellington and blackmailed him: pay us or we publish. Wellington refused. In the intervening years, the letter containing that refusal has been distilled to a single apocryphal (but accurate) quotation: “Publish and be damned!”
Those words keep running through my mind in this season of non-stop media attacks against Trump based upon his sexual habits. This time, though, the words come, not from the target of the attacks, but from the American public.
No matter the revelations, Americans are simply sneering at the media: Publish and be damned! We don’t care about idle boasts from a boastful man eleven years ago (especially since those boasts, contrary to Anderson Cooper’s repeated lies, clearly speak of consensual interactions). We don’t care that women are coming forward to claim that Trump misbehaved ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. Primarily, of course, we don’t believe what the media is telling us:
First, we simple assume that the accusers, because they are all Hillary activists, are liars.
Second, incoming data proves our assumptions are correct. Those close to the aptly named Rachel Crooks say that her interaction with Trump more than a decade ago was brief and that her current accusations bear no relationship to her story at the time. In other words, she was either lying then or she’s lying now. Common sense tells us that the latter is more likely.
Jessica Leeds’ inflammatory claim that Trump was all over her “like an octopus” is equally suspect. It’s either a quotation from a Velvet Underground song (widely known when Leeds was young) or, possibly, a quotation from a well-publicized sexual harassment lawsuit in England. One more thing: Leeds has the same phone number as the Clinton Foundation. Really. What are the odds of that?
Third, we know that the media is using the attacks against Trump to help further its cover-up of Hillary’s conduct and its complicity in that conduct, so the media has no credibility.
Fourth, even if Trump was behaving badly thirty years ago, in a pre-Social Justice Warrior era such conduct, while nasty, was pretty much normative behavior amongst powerful men. Surely if the Left can forgive Robert Byrd for being a big beagle in the KKK; forgive Teddy Kennedy for murdering a woman in his youth (something that was always a no-no); forgive Bill Clinton for raping a woman in his prime (something, again, that was always a no-no), we conservatives can be allowed to forgive Trump for behaving like a typical alpha male in an era when all the alpha males did that. And Trump, unlike Kennedy or Bill Clinton, has apologized for his conduct.
Of course, all of the above can be viewed as just craven conservative for what should be seen as unforgivable behavior. I reject that line of argument, which brings me to one more thing I want to add to this post.
Yesterday, John Hinderaker published at Power Line what he probably thought was a kind of throwaway observation, but what I think is one of the most profound observations out there to explain the conservative willingness to forgive Trump. Hinderaker points out that in both 2008 and 2012, conservatives nominated men considered to be of exceptionally good character — and the Left utterly destroyed them anyway:
Last cycle, we nominated the ultimate Boy Scout: Mitt Romney. Whatever you think of Romney from a policy perspective, he is as admirable a man as you will ever meet. To find a presidential candidate of better moral character, you probably have to go back to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Romney never said a rude word about a woman in his life.
So what happened? Did Romney and the GOP get credit in the press for the candidates’s outstanding character? No. Romney, who helped to create tens of thousands of jobs at Bain Capital, was denounced as a “vulture capitalist” and blamed, absurdly, for one woman’s developing cancer. The Washington Post made a front page story of the fact that 50 years earlier, when he was in high school, he and others had cut a classmate’s hair. Oh, and Romney was a racist, too. Does anyone remember why? I don’t.
The cycle before that, GOP voters nominated John McCain. McCain is a great patriot, a man of extraordinary character and courage who survived years of torture and abuse as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Did the liberal media give Republicans credit for nominating such a hero? No. The New York Times, to its everlasting shame, peddled a false rumor that McCain had an affair with a lobbyist. (Bill Clinton would have done that before breakfast.) It also berated McCain for failing to release his medical records–which, actually, he did, unlike Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
The Left’s permanent smear campaign against conservatives doesn’t just extend to Republican presidential candidates. Recall how the Democrat/media complex treated the Tea Party. Prominent House Democrats lied, disgracefully: they claimed, falsely, that Tea Party activists at a protest in Washington had hurled racial insults at black Democrats like John Lewis. The press ate it up. They printed the Democrats’ lies as facts, and to this day reporters and editors have never corrected the libel, even though a $100,000 prize to anyone who could substantiate the Democrats’ lies went unclaimed.
If the media is going to destroy morally decent people, the sensible response — the response the majority of conservatives opted for in 2016 — is to choose a moral reprobate and then say, “We already know what Trump is — and we don’t care. We’re not voting for him because he’s a paragon of virtue; we’re voting for him in part because his lack of virtue means that you cannot destroy his reputation as a means of destroying his candidacy.”
In other words: “Publish and be damned!”