Bill Kristol—whose record of being wrong about Trump is exceeded only by his record of being wrong about everything else—and Jeb Bush—who has suffered more than any other candidate from the Trump boom—both think Trump has been less than completely terrible for the GOP, and for the same basic reason.
“I like the fact, to a limit, that he’s politically incorrect, because we’re way too uptight. There is no leeway anymore about expressing your views. There’s no margin of error. And everyone assumes you’re hateful or you’re a racist or whatever it is. ... The fact that he’s made a contribution to kind of loosen things up a little bit? I think that’s good.”
What’s bad about Trump, according to Jeb?
“He disparaged a person he knew had a disability, and he made fun of it.”
No quarrel there. Trump is certainly mean-spirited. But setting aside the obvious, inherent tension between praising Trump’s political incorrectness in general and condemning it in specific, there’s something revealing about the silver linings conservatives see here.
As bad as it is to be insensitive to disabled people, it’s something a contrite politician can survive (see: Obama, Barack). Being uncouth ranks way below being, for instance, an unreconstructed bigot. But despite all the problem he’s caused conservatives and the GOP, they can’t bring themselves to say anything like that. To the contrary, they chalk accusations of racism up to political correctness, and praise Trump for speaking his mind.