The remainders of the #NeverTrump movement, made up of conservatives who swore never to support Donald Trump for president, generally confessed that Trump had done something special on Wednesday when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and directed the State Department to begin moving the embassy there.
Other Donald Trump achievements, such as the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia, could arguably have been made by other Republican candidates. But there are few others — and perhaps none — who would have dared to defy the foreign policy establishment, the media, the threats of terror, and the chorus of international criticism to fulfill a campaign promise broken by predecessors from both parties.
Trump’s decision is in a category of its own, and most of Trump’s passionate NeverTrump critics could not ignore it.
Most effusive of all was former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro, whose website had all but called Trump anti-Israel during the 2016 campaign, declared that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was an act of “political bravery” and “moral courage” in an appearance on Fox News.
Bethany Shondark Mandel, one of Trump’s (and Breitbart’s) most incorrigible critics, declared the #NeverTrump movement dead last month and tweeted proudly Wednesday: “Americans voted for Donald Trump precisely because he won’t deny basic geopolitical facts because terrorists tell him not to.”
Erick Erickson expressed similar sentiments in an op-ed for Fox News titled: “Jerusalem is why Trump’s in the White House.” In it, Erickson said:
President Trump is committing the most grievance “sin” any politician in Washington can commit. He is walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. This is the behavior that is responsible for his election.
The American people have become deeply cynical about American politics and deeply skeptical of political promises.
They took a radical chance by voting for Donald Trump and, where he can, they are seeing him keep promises other politicians made and never kept.
The reaction of Washington’s elite will only prove to Americans that the voters were right all along about the liars inside the Beltway.
That, in turn, will probably help re-elect the president in 2020.
Commentary‘s John Podhoretz, who has viciously attacked not only Trump but anyone supporting him, praised the president in a column at the New York Post:
“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” President Trump said in announcing America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Never have truer words been spoken, and they were delivered in the best speech Trump has ever given.
What Trump did was stunning. He could just have signed the waiver of the law passed in 1995 compelling the executive branch to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did it six months ago, just like his three immediate predecessors did every six months since 1996. Or he could have not signed the waiver and simply said he was going to start the process of building the new embassy.
Instead, he called the international community’s seven-decade bluff and ended a delusion about the future that has prevented Palestinians from seeing the world and their own geopolitical situation clearly. It is a bold shift.
David French of National Review — a publication so determined to stop Trump that it published an entire issue devoted to the cause — called Trump’s decision “a blow against international anti-Semitism.” French, who had actually contemplated running against Trump as a third-party spoiler candidate in 2016, declared Wednesday:
President Trump’s decision to formally recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to announce plans to move America’s embassy to the seat of Israel’s government is one of the best, most moral, and important decisions of his young administration. On this issue, he is demonstrating greater resolve than Republican and Democratic presidents before him, and he is defying some of the worst people in the world.
The shift within #NeverTrump might charitably be described as a form of intellectual integrity, in that its members can concede when Trump does something right.
However, few have accounted for the fact that had Hillary Clinton won the election — as many expected, and some even hoped — there is no way the U.S. would have recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Quite the opposite: Clinton would have continued Obama’s lame-duck, absurd policy of attacking the very Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem as a flagrant violation of international law.
Not all #NeverTrump pundits were prepared to celebrate what Trump had done. Jen Rubin of the Washington Post spent much of the day commenting on Robert Mueller (for) and Roy Moore (against), and was nonplussed about the news about Jerusalem: “The move strikes me as neither cause for wild celebration nor for apocalyptic talk.”
Others, like Max Boot, likewise downplayed the news about Jerusalem in favor of tidbits about Michael Flynn and Russia.
Republican strategist Rick Wilson, one of the most vulgar of Trump’s antagonists, tweeted a video of Trump’s White House address that suggested the president was “slurring words.” But about Jerusalem itself: nothing.
Bill Kristol, normally a vocal supporter of Israel, was also silent. He found time to tweet from Japan that “Trump is a demagogue” (Tuesday), and “Neither of our two political parties remotely resembles a serious and responsible governing party” (Wednesday), but said nothing about Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and the Israel embassy.
For some, perhaps, the posture of opposing Trump is more important than the consequences of his presidency.