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Thursday, September 08, 2016

When Never Trump dined with Obama

What do George Will, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Rich Lowry share in common?

Never Trump, right?

They also are among the conservatives who met with Barack Obama the night before his inauguration.

A reader tipped me to this.

From the New Yorker on January 30, 2012:
On a frigid January evening in 2009, a week before his Inauguration, Barack Obama had dinner at the home of George Will, the Washington Post columnist, who had assembled a number of right-leaning journalists to meet the President-elect. Accepting such an invitation was a gesture on Obama’s part that signalled his desire to project an image of himself as a post-ideological politician, a Chicago Democrat eager to forge alliances with conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill. That week, Obama was still working on an Inaugural Address that would call for “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
Obama sprang coatless from his limousine and headed up the steps of Will’s yellow clapboard house. He was greeted by Will, Michael Barone, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Lawrence Kudlow, Rich Lowry, and Peggy Noonan. They were Reaganites all, yet some had paid tribute to Obama during the campaign. Lowry, who is the editor of the National Review, called Obama “the only presidential candidate from either party about whom there is a palpable excitement.” Krauthammer, an intellectual and ornery voice on Fox News and in the pages of the Washington Post, had written that Obama would be “a president with the political intelligence of a Bill Clinton harnessed to the steely self-discipline of a Vladimir Putin,” who would “bestride the political stage as largely as did Reagan.” And Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard and a former aide to Dan Quayle, wrote, “I look forward to Obama’s inauguration with a surprising degree of hope and good cheer.”
Now to be fair, not all the guests of Will are Never Trump snobs. For example, Kudlow isn't.

But there they were. There was this tidbit:
At George Will’s house, Obama impressed his companions. He got a big laugh when he teased David Brooks, a Times columnist who is a less orthodox conservative than the others, by asking him, “What are you doing here?” Kudlow said that the tone of the dinner was essentially “We’re going to disagree, but we wish you well.” As the President-elect departed, Rich Lowry grabbed Obama’s hand and said softly, “Sir, I’ll be praying for you.”
The point of the article was to show these conservatives as refusing to live up to some unwritten agreement to cooperate. Given that Obama gave Republicans zero input in the stimulus or Obamacare, that took some chutzpah to claim in 2012. Still it is interesting to see the same people who would dine with Obama before his inauguration now oppose Donald Trump no matter how evil Hillary's deeds are.

It's an insider's game.

Animal Farm ends with the pigs dining with the farmers. I always wondered about those farmers. Why would they dine with pigs? Obama is no pig, but now I have my answer.


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  1. I remember and didn't like it at the time.

    Now I know why.

  2. Those lousy two-timing unprintable-in-polite-companys!

  3. Will brought up this meeting several times after he moved to Fox, when I was still watching it, even last year as I recall and so did Krauthammer. Will always did so in the context of burnishing his credentials as an important player, more so than say the bugs he was forced to sit next to on whatever panel he was on at the time. He called Jeb a Reagan Conservative and of course regards Trump as a boob.Many pundits saw Obama as a transformative figure, surely mostly because of his skin color, and being public figures, wanted to say they were willing to be supportive to avoid the usual racist labels, or maybe they believed he was. Noonan even wrote a pathetic, groveling endorsement. To them he just looked like a nice guy who couldn't hurt a fly. Only Krauthammer saw or at least wrote about his darker side but embraced him anyway, perhaps out of courtesy.I have never followed the others but I note the absence from this meeting of Fred Barnes, probably the most astute Washington political writer still working and Kristol's partner and better half. I would like to think he was not sucked in. Of this group only Krauthammer and Noonan have shown some softening towards DT. Ideological purity is not a sign of political competence or even great intelligence. But I guess if Someone wearing a crown labeled Zeus descends from his limo to meet you in your own home you may come to believe you are really someone other than the mortal creature you saw in the mirror that morning and so should at least pretend to be more Olympian.

  4. They all missed the obvious conclusion that he would govern as an unabashed liberal and use his skin color to his advantage as in any opposition to him would be deemed racist. As to the first, he campaigned as an unabashed liberal ("...spread the wealth around."). Why these supposedly intelligent people willfully ignored his campaign made their motives and intelligence suspect. Peggy Noonan destroyed her brand by outwardly supporting him. A conservative Reaganite strongly supporting one of the most liberal presidential candidates ever? Reaqan is spinning in his grave. As to using his race? That's a typical Dimocrat strategy. I predicted how he would govern back in 2008. Me. An insignificant blogger from Georgia.

  5. To be fair none of them supported Obama or his policies for long after that meeting.