David Brooks summed up his opposition to Trump rather succinctly in his column:
Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.
No realistic policies, you say? Like, perhaps, building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants? Would it shock you to learn Ted Cruz has endorsed the exact same idea? Or that he wants to pass a Constitutional amendment that requires a balanced budget, which may be the most fiscally irresponsible thing he could do with the possible exception of implementing his ludicrous flat tax and abolishing the IRS?
No advisers, you say? Would it shock Brooks to discover that Cruz’s foreign policy adviser is Frank Gaffney, who in true Joseph McCarthy fashion accused the federal government of having become infested with radical Islamist sympathizers who pined to institute Sharia Law? Would he be aghast to learn that Michael Leeden and Elliot Abrams are also Cruz advisers, men with tarnished reputations for their involvement in Iran-Contra and the human rights violations rampant in Central America?
Trump’s narcissistic, you say? Has he admitted that he aspires to world domination? Is he so insufferable that his former college roommate has made it his life’s mission for everyone to know just how supremely awful he is?
Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.
And Cruz is so notorious for backstabbing it’s one of the main reasons everyone in congress hates him. It’s why Lindsey Graham joked that no one would care if Cruz was shot on the senate floor (even though he wound up reluctantly endorsing him later, probably because for the first time in his life he faced a true ‘better the devil you know’ dilemma).
Couldn’t you extend a lot of this criticism to the GOP at large? Weren’t the warplans of the neocon wonks that came in with Bush II largely based on nothing but theory? And by ‘theory’ I mean Krauthammer op-eds in WaPo or substandard journals like The Weekly Standard? Wasn’t Todd Akin, who infamously declared that a woman’s body could prevent pregnancy if it were a ‘legitimate rape,’ a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee? Aren’t God and Jesus the go-to advisers of most of the Republican party?
The thing is, the GOP candidates who have come and gone have also had equally ridiculous platforms, equally untenable ideas, equally harmful paths for the country. The difference is that Brooks knows those candidates in a way he doesn’t know Trump, and those candidates more-or-less fall within the parameters of acceptable Republican stances.
It’s easy for Brooks, or anyone, to say #NeverTrump. It’s harder for Brooks, or anyone, to do the same with rank-and-file Republicans, because they’re so much more presentable. When that’s the case, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make excuses for them, because they dress up bad ideas in suits that sound so friendly.