But in one way Donald Trump is very conservative/Republican. In fact, he’s the “toughest” most Republicany Republican tough guy when it comes to the defense of national honor. (Or, as Trump spells it, “honer.”)
Trump constantly says America “isn’t winning” and that other countries are defeating America. He also says that America is being humiliated by trivial things. For example:
Donald Trump accuses Cuban dictator Raul Castro of ‘disrespecting’ Obama by not meeting president on Havana runway at beginning of historic visit
That might sound like a comically over-the-top thing to get offended about—and indeed Trump is comically over-the-top about everything—but it is only a matter of degrees. Here’s Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, one of the contributors to National Review’s #AgainstTrump issue, taking issue with a statement the close-to-death Fidel Castro wrote in response to Obama’s visit:
Embarrassment: Fidel Castro Publishes Scathing Letter Slamming The United States and Obama
Not only did the retired leader criticize America (including with a reference to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which arguably says more about his inability to let go of the past than it does about U.S. policy in 2016), at the joint press conference, “Castro openly criticized the United States on human rights issues.” The humanity!
One can imagine an Iranian nationalist shouting about how President Bush called his country part of the “axis of evil.”
Of course, Obama made it even worse by admitting that he is sympathetic to the view that social welfare like universal healthcare could be a human right. It brings to mind Obama’s supposed “apology tour,” which was even criticized by 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The idea was that Obama should never admit, in his capacity of president of the United States, that the United States had ever done anything wrong.
The Heritage Foundation, in 2009, helpfully summarized 10 “apologies” that they thought “humiliated a superpower”:
[In France:] So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years we’ve allowed our Alliance to drift. … [In Egypt:] My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. … [In Spain:] While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. … [In Washington, DC:] Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions.
How dare he say America isn’t perfect! How humiliating!
(Some Republicans also attacked Obama for bowing, as is tradition, to the Japanese emperor, and Trump actually attacked Michelle Obama for not bowing to the traditions of Saudi Arabia and “refus[ing] to wear a scarf.” )
It bears a certain logic with Trump to never apologize. Even after his staffer Corey Lewandowski was accused of grabbing a reporter, even after lied that he had never seen the reporter, and even after he was then charged with battery, he continued to stand behind him and not apologize once or force Corey to apologize. “Trump never backs down,” Slate explained with its front page headline of an article.