In comparison, whining is a small matter. “Complaining not only ruins everybody else's day, it ruins the complainer's day, too,” Prager writes. “The more we complain, the more unhappy we get. Want to raise children who will be happy adults? Teach them not to whine.” Still, I find it hilarious that Trump literally declared himself “the most fabulous whiner” and unabashedly described his own approach to public life as follows: “I do whine because I want to win and I'm not happy about not winning and I am a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win."
The weight of the evidence is overwhelming: Trump is the quintessential embodiment of so much that Prager claims to abhor (so much that he alighted on Trump as an example of who shouldn’t be president in the past); and Trump is the antithesis of much Prager claims to value. No wonder Prager’s support for the Republican candidate has caused observers to charge that he is abandoning his principles!
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That brings us back to Prager’s defense of himself.
Given these seemingly flagrant contradictions—and there are many more that I could offer—what can be made of Prager’s argument that “defeating Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, and the Left is also a principle … And that it is the greater principle”?
A principle, by one standard definition, is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”
So Prager’s claim is that he still holds all the principled beliefs that have shaped his columns over the years—he is still for goodness and against torture, still abhors “the rape of names,” indiscrete adultery, and public profanity—it’s just that those principles are less important than defeating the Democrat in this presidential election. Thus the decision to support Trump, even if he is a no good, torture-loving, character-assassinating serial adulterer who curses. It’s the principled thing to do!
If one’s long held principled concerns are suddenly subordinated to an overriding concern, such that one acts in conflict with them, is it correct to consider them abandoned?
Perhaps there is wiggle room. Reach your own conclusion about the semantics.
What I wonder is where Prager now draws the line. He ranks declining to support a man who engages in “the rape of names” as less important than winning the election.
Would rape itself cross the line? Or murder? What principles, if any, does he regard as more important than the “greater principle” of defeating Hillary Clinton?
Uncomfortable questions like that lend insight into why some Dennis Prager fans are dismayed by this turn. They’re used to the sort of counsel that one would expect a public moralist to offer. But now it’s as if they’re dealing with a career political operative, the sort who tells the idealistic young intern, “To hell with your precious principles, it’s time to do what it takes to beat those damned people on the other side. So leak that nasty, false rumor! Or do you lack the greater principle?”