New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens revealed he still sees himself as a "never Trumper" after a year of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE's term in the White House, despite agreeing with many of Trump's policy moves.
In an op-ed in the newspaper Saturday, Stephens wrote, "I still wish Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell The Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight Powell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief MORE were president."
"[C]haracter does count, and virtue does matter, and Trump’s shortcomings prove it daily," Stephens writes. "This is the fatal mistake of conservatives who’ve decided the best way to deal with Trump’s personality — the lying, narcissism, bullying, bigotry, crassness, name calling, ignorance, paranoia, incompetence and pettiness — is to pretend it doesn’t matter."
“'Character Doesn’t Count' has become a de facto GOP motto," Stephens adds. “'Virtue Doesn’t Matter' might be another."
Stephens joined The New York Times in April 2017, leaving The Wall Street Journal to join the more liberal ranks of the Times opinion page, and at the time was a vocal member of the #NeverTrump movement of conservatives that had sought to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination the year before.
In early December, he seemed to renounce the Republican Party amid Trump's support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreRoy Moore loses lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen Shelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race Of inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint MORE (R), who was accused in a Washington Post investigation of previous sexual misconduct with underage girls.
“I think I speak not only for myself but for many other people that I could never vote ever again for a party that is making an open endorsement of a man against whom there are credible accusations of pedophilia,” Stephens said of Moore.
Stephens warned on Saturday that the GOP's support for Moore likely tainted the Republican Party's brand with younger voters.
"It also risks permanently alienating a millennial generation for which the GOP will forever be the party of the child-molesting sore loser and the president who endorsed him," Stephens writes.
"Conservatives may suppose that they can pocket policy gains from a Trump administration while the stain of his person will eventually wash away. But as a (pro-Trump) friend wrote me the other day, 'presidents empower cultures.' "
"This won’t end with Trump," Stephens concludes. "It may have only begun with him."