He's very realistic in his formulation of the various sectors of the voting public and punditry class and how they can be defined in terms of how they regard DJT.
At the ends of the spectrum are the NeverTrumpers and what he calls Camp Hard Core (what here at LITD we call Trump-bots, or water-carriers).
In between is a swath of the populace that reluctantly got on board, and he sees them as actually being quite influential:
As it turned out, Trump dominated two voting blocs; voters who couldn't stand either candidate (49-29), and those who considered the Supreme Court picks as issue numero uno (56-41). Both of those groups would fit under the reluctant Trump umbrella, and had he not dominated both subsets, Hillary would be president today.
The latter category is key, as most of those who voted for Trump, and listed the court as the most critical issue, were indeed reluctant Trump voters. How do we know? Because the full-on supporters were on the train before any talk of the court even came up. They cheered him when he criticized Antonin Scalia with racially charged left-wing talking points, as well as when he was somewhere between Barack Obama and Justice Roberts on government-run health care. Trump's list was in no way aimed at his early adopters.
They didn't care. Clearly.
No, this list idea didn't come about until he had clinched the nomination in fact, during a period when there was much doubt about his ability to unite the party behind him.Enter Rick Santorum, who at the time was indeed a reluctant supporter. He rebuffed Trump's first request for an endorsement, and on Trump's next try, Santorum agreed with one condition: that Trump release a list of potential appointees to which he would stick, and that this list must include Judge Hardiman, a personal friend (and excellent judge). The list was not aimed at Santorum so much as it was the wider universe of resistant conservatives.
Members of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, two groups well to the right of Trump, worked on the list. When acceptable to Santorum, he endorsed Trump. The list was then used, wisely and widely, as a comforting commitment to reluctant supporters. Charles Krauthammer, no Trump fan, hailed the list on Fox News as having a "dramatic effect" while observing that “the one thing holding back people who have resisted supporting Trump or at least the major thing is the fear of what a Clinton presidency would do to the Supreme Court and how it would change it for a generation. Now you get a list of 11 who are quite sterling."
He was right on all counts. This list, and the inherent promise, gave us reluctant Trumpers some much needed fodder as we jousted with our #NeverTrump friends. And we did, often.
The roll was then expanded by ten more names, including that of Judge Gorsuch, with input from Steve Bannon and Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society. Bannon clearly knew where Trump's support was too weak, and was determined to firm it up. Yet again, the list of 21, and the late addition of Gorsuch to that list, was a creation of, and a reaction to, one group of people: conservatives reluctant to support Trump.
Much needed guardrails. Sounds like a noble mission. The key is for them to keep their heads on straight and remain very clear about their principles. They'll have to know instantly when the waters are getting muddied in any situation.This is not to discredit Trump in any way. He agreed to have a list, and to release it, and then he stuck by it. Good for him, and good for America. Such outside the box thinking and follow through is rare in politics, and refreshing. The important lesson, however, is that reticent supporters perform a very valuable function for Trump. They are the much needed guardrails for a president who is admittedly nonideological, and who's base support refuse to ever criticize him.
UPDATE: The comment thread underneath was quite dismaying. Full of Bots with the same absence of graciousness found on the Left, who wanted to trash Jonah Goldberg and Charles Krauthammer and basically show that they have no understanding of core conservative principles. Some even trashed Wright for failing to sufficiently genuflect before Squirrel-Hair.