Prodigal Scum: Rightbloggers Come Home to President-Elect Trump
President-elect Donald Trump listens as President Barack Obama talks to the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
Photo by Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images
When — as it will be described by history, should mankind be fortunate enough to rebuild — a popular TV clown was elected leader of the free world on Tuesday, solidly pro-Trump rightbloggers howled with glee ("Hah-Hah! Liberals Release Teary-Eyed Safe Space Video to Rally Snowflakes After Election Thumping"), and also with rage and paranoia, because for them even victory is not a sufficiently powerful antidepressant. ("When It Comes to Cucktards, Never Forget. Never Forgive," "CONFIRMED: Obama Will Declare Martial Law To Keep Trump from Taking Office," etc. Finally he's taking their guns away!)
More interesting are the reactions of rightbloggers who’d been or pretended to be dubious about Trump: The NeverTrump guys who’d been saying for months that Trump wasn’t a real conservative, that he was so aberrant a character his election would be dangerous and therefore insupportable.
As it turns out, when putsch came to shove, they found that what Trump offers — xenophobia, militarism, and vengeance on their opponents — is close enough to what they want.
Not all conservatives have turned to Trump. There are a few like David Frum who, to my surprise, have been more ferociously anti-Trump since the election than they were before.
But other rightwing writers have been more fungible. Take Erick Erickson, the former CNN pundit who for months denounced Trump in nearly apocalyptic terms — e.g. "With the rise of an authoritarian menace to our republic, it is important to go on record now, while he can be stopped, that we will play no part in his rise."
After the election, Erickson was conciliatory — not toward voters who had tried to stop Trump, but toward Trump himself. "Perhaps," he mooned, "as only Nixon could go to China, maybe only Trump can reunite the country."
The atmosphere has really taken a turn at NeverTrump redoubt National Review. Readers may recall they put out a special "Against Trump" issue in January. Back then, NR editors called Trump a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist" and one of the "excrescences of instant-hit media culture"; they said Trump’s immigration plan "wouldn’t survive its first contact with reality," that he knew "almost nothing" about national security; and, worst of all, "he appears to believe that the administrative state merely needs a new master, rather than a new dispensation that cuts it down to size and curtails its power." Bad enough he was an excrescence, he didn’t even believe in tax cuts for the wealthy!
(Actually, Trump did turn around on the tax cuts, which may explain some of what’s happened since.)
The "Against Trump" issue had many "Conservatives Against Trump" signatories — for example, William Kristol. The Commentary editor said then, "Isn’t Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn’t the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?"
Where stands Kristol now? In a series of tweets the weekend after the election, Kristol sighed, "Best and most hopeful case for Trump: His presidency will be like that of the president closest to him in the alphabet — Truman.… When Truman became president, was widely considered unprepared. Was blunt, coarse, profane, thin-skinned, not formally well-educated." Also, like Trump, he was a failed haberdasher!
Former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese scored Trump in January for his "vicious personal attacks" on his fellow Republicans, and declared "our people need positive, unifying leadership, not negative, destructive political rhetoric." Meese is now on Trump’s transition team. Maybe it was the change in tone signaled by Trump’s "grab 'em by the pussy" tape that brought Meese around.
In January veteran conservative Cal Thomas compared Trump to Lonesome Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd (which, back before Trump won, was considered a diss) and asked, "Isn’t a narcissist what we currently have in the White House?"
Last week Thomas said, "The courts may be saved from secular progressives for years to come and the Constitution respected again. That is victory by anyone’s definition." He also said Trump’s cause was "part of a global movement" to "restore countries to the values that have made them uniquely British, German, French and American" — shout-out to Reichsbürger! — and "this is an opportunity that comes along once in a century.… If Trump succeeds in all he has promised, he will have saved the country from disaster. It will be said of him that he really did make America great again." Now he tells us!
Some of the brethren were a little more slippery about their willingness to embrace, if not Trump, at least Trumpism. Take David French. French wasn’t in the "Against Trump" issue, but he was briefly and hilariously floated as a NeverTrump third-party Presidential candidate. Back then he condemned Trump as "a walking Planned Parenthood commercial," said Trump’s " 'war strategy' is a child-killing war crime," that he "demonstrates such a breathtaking level of malice and cruelty in his treatment of his fellow citizens," etc., etc.
This week French offered the traditional hope that the new President would do good, then defended Trump voters’ decision to back him. "[Trump] won my precinct with 72 percent of the vote. His supporters are my friends and neighbors," French said. (No wonder he abandoned his NeverTrump campaign. No base!) "They’re some of the best people you’ll ever meet," French went on, "and many of them made the decision to back him with no small anguish in their hearts." French didn’t say what the source of the anguish was — maybe it was that Trump didn’t want to deport enough people; maybe they were just saying that to French to be nice.
French also, and expectedly, took comfort in the defeat of wingnut bête noire Hillary Clinton, and portrayed that defeat as massive and crushing. "Millions of Democrats stayed home rather than vote for another thoroughly corrupt Clinton," enthused French. "…arguably, it was the decision of millions of blacks and Latinos not to mobilize against [Trump] that put him in the Oval Office." (You say "voter suppression," he says "decision not to mobilize"; potato, potahto.)
In his other post-election musings, French repeated this interpretation: "GOP voters kept voting while millions of Democrats voted with their feet — they walked anywhere but the polling place," he said in "The Great Progressive Repudiation"; "This election was less about the love of Trump…than it was about rejecting the colossal hubris of the progressive establishment," he said in "God Bless President Trump."
At least French mentioned, albeit briefly and dismissively, a fact that would seem relevant to any analysis of America’s "repudiation" of Democrats: "Clinton is winning the popular vote." Most of his colleagues left that bit out of their own Clinton-got-clobbered stories, like Ben Shapiro’s ("Minorities didn’t show up to vote for her. Nobody showed up for her. And so she lost").
In fact, Clinton’s voting majority was so annoying to conservatives (and embarrassing to those who remembered recent stories like "Trump Supporters Point To Gore-Bush As A Precedent For Refusal Of Election Results") that many tried to say the reverse was true. "Plot Twist: CNN Now Saying That Donald Trump Will Win The Popular Vote," said Christine Rousselle at TownHall; she later updated with "CNN Admits Design Flaw" to explain her error. Others headlined Trump’s popular vote "victory," then weaseled out in the text after their cookies had been accepted.
Some rightbloggers advanced the tried-and-true "the Electoral College is good for you" argument — like Rich Mitchell of Conservative Daily News, who showed state maps with tiny blue areas representing heavily-populated cities, and explained that’s how that crook Obama won: He "spent resources in urban areas so that that concentrated mob could overwhelm the voices of the rest of their states," said Mitchell. "President Obama didn’t need to win the majority of areas, just the large city centers in those states with lots of electoral votes," which was terribly unfair to the areas.
"The problem wasn’t the existence of the national Electoral College," said Mitchell, "it was that states have not adopted their own versions of it." Imagine a state free to dismiss voters who are unrepresentative of its largest, most barren districts — just as the Founders intended!
Others, like Steve Feinstein of American Thinker, just kept saying it never happened, or rather it would be shown never to have happened if absentee ballots were counted, because those votes are typically from "students overseas, the military, businesspeople on trips, etc." who tend to be Republican — and would have also reversed the popular vote in 2000, Feinstein claimed: "So much for Gore’s 500,000 popular vote 'victory.' "
Here’s Snopes refuting that whole idea, but they’re a bunch of liberalbias so what do they know: Patriots around the internet are still telling each other things like "remarkable how they forget that Romney won the popular vote in his loss to Obama" and "I think Trump #won the popular vote too but we're being told he didn't so Clinton can save face," etc.
Another thing the brethren, whether NeverTrump, EverTrump, or WhateverTrump, were sure of: Protesting Trump’s election, as hundreds of thousands of citizens have been doing, is definitely uncool. Sure, they protested Trump when they were younger (back in early 2016) but that was then, and they did it the right way, on a website and for money, not actually walking around like a street person.
They hauled out the usual rightblogger protest playbook. Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge reported that the protests were not grassroots like, say, the Tea Party, but showed "Professional Activist Involvement" because some of the protest organizers have organized protests before. "WikiLeaks exposes them as experienced protest organizers and activists," he wrote. (Ah, Wikileaks — where would Trump be without them?)
Erick Erickson returned to proclaim these snot-nosed liberals the intolerant ones — thanks to their PC shenanigans, "a large number of Americans refuse to speak up, even to anonymous pollsters," he said. "And who can blame them? Tweet something you find funny, and suddenly an angry horde of 'progressives' show up at your office demanding punishment." Actually Erickson has claimed to have experienced this kind of harassment himself — except in that case it was by Trump supporters. New realities, comrades!
Other rightbloggers blamed Upper West Side Gold ("George Soros Gives Anti-Trump Protesters a RAISE – Look How Much These Sniveling Little Punks Are Making Now"), or called protestors fat. "It's tyranny," screamed ragequeen Pamela Geller. "We have seen this before — in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia...."
Meanwhile, President-Elect Trump has, after the shock of his elevation, slowly returned to his normal behaviors, such as accusing his enemies of lying about him when they report things he’s on record as having done. He also promises to deport two or three million illegal immigrants at least, and that as President he’ll continue to go around the country holding rallies in defense of his policies. So we face the prospect of a spotlit Leader Trump barnstorming and bellowing about expelling Mexicans and Muslims in front of roaring crowds of followers.
Heads up, folks, I suspect the jokes in these columns are going to get a little dark.