He seized the moral high ground, and from that vantage point, he mowed down his adversaries with ruthless efficiency and terrifying effectiveness.
These days, the moral high ground is the providence of the progressive movement. Donald Trump makes it easy for them, for he has abandoned the field.
In the 1990s, it was conservatives who occupied the hallowed moral high ground. Bill Clinton made it easy for them, too.
The moral high ground gives the occupier a sense of superiority, an ability to pontificate, to gain an advantage over rivals. It gives nations a talking point: We are better than you because we have the moral high ground.
America has always uneasily dominated the moral high ground. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal (except those who aren’t). A more perfect union, indeed.
America, betwixt and between Europe and the frontier, the colonialists who broke free from the motherland and brought civilization to the savages, in search of the moral high ground. John Winthrop and his Puritan buddies knew how superior they were to everybody else when they built their shining city on the hill.
But those who believe the myth forget the history. We are an exceptional country like our children are exceptional, mostly because they are ours. We have had our own rough and tumble past, our own sins, our own moments in history that perhaps we wish we could sweep under the rug.
The priest at Sunday Mass waded forcefully into the political maelstrom, looking safely down from the pulpit, ensconced in the moral high ground.
How can America separate kids from their parents, he thundered. The American people should welcome all those who come to our borders. That is what Christ would do.
Christ is an important figure when you enter the moral high ground. The Moral Majority, under Jerry Falwell, had an entire business plan using Christ to promote their view of proper society. It wasn’t a very inclusive plan.
The moral high ground is a tricky place to stay atop of, though. Because what is moral to one person is blasphemy to another. It is easier to negotiate interests than morals. That’s one of the reasons why we have a First Amendment here.
When it comes to the border crisis, both sides cling to their own view of morality. Sure, it is immoral to separate kids from their parents, and how dare the Trump administration allow that to happen. But is it moral to allow people to come into this country and not pay attention to any of our laws?
Yes, we need compassion in our public policy, but at what point are the American people being played for suckers? Are we a nation of laws or not?
Tolerance is the battering ram that progressives use to compel compliance of their beliefs. The Obama administration used that battering ram to try to compel the Catholic Church to toe the line on its view of abortion and same-sex marriage.
But the left only tolerates its perspectives on these issues and others. Those who disagree must be shouted down, harassed, branded racist and homophobic and all the rest.
It’s amusing to see Hollywood attempt to occupy the moral high ground. As if.
What happened to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Lexington, Va., is only the latest example of a leftism that has spun out of control. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has now opined that anybody who works for this president should be hounded out of the public square, humiliated, ostracized.
I think we all know how dangerous this game could become.
I have seen enough of politics and enough of the human condition to know that those who most aggressively proclaim their ownership of the moral high ground have the least claim to it.
The refreshing thing about Donald Trump is he understands that he has no claim to the moral high ground. He just wants to make a deal. Not that he would necessarily be a role model to my children.
Our political system would work better if it functioned in the real world and not in the rarified air of the moral high ground. It’s tricky up there.
Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs atwww.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL).