CPAC: The Golden Trump
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The big news out of the CPAC conference so far is the Golden Trump. That’s the larger-than-life golden statue of President Trump, who is due to address the conservative parley tomorrow. No doubt the statue was rolled out in a well-intentioned rah-rah spirit. The pundits, though, went straight for Exodus 32:4, likening the golden Trump to the golden calf the Israelites fell to worshipping while waiting for Moses to descend from Sinai.
That’s understandable enough, given how intensely Mr. Trump is being awaited in the wilderness of Orlando. The question is whether the GOP will emerge as the party of Trump or the party of principle. The two needn’t be mutually exclusive, in our view. Mark, though, that making the GOP the per se party of Trump is a temptation to idolatry. It can’t be good for either the GOP or Mr. Trump.
As we write this editorial, the wires are moving all sorts of reports downplaying the feud within the party. “The Republican Civil War is now cancelled,” is how the New York Post reports it was put Tuesday in a memo from the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott. Yet on Friday, Donald Trump Jr. was warning CPAC against “blindly” supporting GOP incumbents.
The former president’s son took particular glee in mocking Vice President Cheney and his daughter, Liz, the number three Republican in the House. She voted for impeaching President Trump. “Liz Cheney and her politics are only slightly less popular than her father is at a quail hunt,” is how Don Jr. put it. At one point he suggested that the C-PAC conference could be called T-PAC.
One thing to watch for is whether President Trump will acknowledge the olive branch just extended by Senator McConnell. In the impeachment trial, the Republican leader in the upper chamber set the stage for the Senate to acquit Mr. Trump when he announced that he would vote “not guilty” for lack of jurisdiction. Yet no sooner was the president cleared, than Mr. McConnell delivered a scathing denunciation.
Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell declared, “is practically and morally responsible” for provoking the January 6 riot. That infuriated the President. Then, on Thursday, the Republican leader in the Senate did another pirouette, telling Bret Baier of Fox News that he would nonetheless support Mr. Trump for president in 2024, if he were to win the nomination. “The nominee of the party?” Mr. McConnell said. “Absolutely.”
It was a triple axel worthy of Tonya Harding, though she was on skates. The question is whether Mr. Trump will reciprocate Mr. McConnell’s recent gesture and lead a campaign to unify the party — to put up a big tent — between now and 2024, or even 2022. The way to do that would be to focus less on the personal feuds and loyalties and more on the principles of limited government and liberty that undergird America’s system.
Which brings us back to Sinai. It would be inapt to make too much of the comparison, even if a golden statue of Mr. Trump is being wheeled around the halls of CPAC. It would not be inapt, though, to mark the point about idolatry. It’s a moment to remember the story of the Golden Calf. It reminds us that there is only one God, and, not to put too fine a point on it, He is not a politician.