We who thought the Republican Party had the resources to repulse Donald Trump got a rude shock Tuesday when he won the Indiana primary and Ted Cruz quit the race. Suddenly Trump went from political Andromeda Strain to “presumptive nominee.”
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, Trump might become President, leading to the death of our Republic. On the other hand, LOL. The increasing panic and confusion of rightbloggers — who seeded the clouds of this shitstorm and are now running for rhetorical cover — is almost funny enough to make up for the attendant national decline.
Plus, it’s a joke that keeps on giving, because we can count on six more months of rightbloggers reluctantly crossing over to the dark side.
Not all rightbloggers have that journey to make: The low-rent contingent that went for Trump early remain confident and busy in his service. Breitbart.com, for example, is helping Trump get back at House Speaker Paul Ryan — who has withheld his support of their champion — by pimping Ryan’s opponent, Paul Nehlen, with a wave of stories like “PAUL RYAN CHALLENGER PAUL NEHLEN: ‘HE HAS BETRAYED US ALL,’ ” “RYAN’S ‘POLITICAL CAREER IS OVER‘ FOR ‘DISRESPECTING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE,’’ ” “PAUL NEHLEN TOURS BORDER WITH BREITBART TEXAS’ BRANDON DARBY: ‘AGENTS NEED A FIGHTER,’ ” etc.
After Trump’s Indiana win, the Last Refuge put up a heroic header announcing “THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN,” and ran a video featuring an Ordinary American calling herself “Citizen Dale.” In the video, Dale is shown writing to Trump (in old-fashioned longhand!) to tell him “like most citizens of this nation, I am sick and tired of the talking heads on TV working together to brainwash us into thinking that you can’t win. They are fearful because they know you’ve got the people’s vote.” Dale claims 100 million citizens who “typically do not vote” will reverse the habits of a lifetime to elect Trump in a landslide. She calls this bloc “the Monster Vote,” perhaps to strike even more fear into the hearts of the talking heads on TV.
Another pro-Trump video, promoted by actual Klansman and Trump supporter David Duke, takes scenes from the movie 300 and swaps in the faces and voices of Trump and several of his enemies, including columnist Ben Shapiro and rich guys Sumner Redstone and Michael Eisner — boy, you can see why Duke liked this, huh? At the climax Trump kicks President Obama into a big hole and goes marching off with Chris Christie to — wait a minute, didn’t all these guys die in that movie?
In the classier rightblogger districts, all was despair and wounded truculence. Some counseled resistance. At the New York Daily News, Rick Wilson compared himself and his #NeverTrump comrades to — get this — the British at Dunkirk in World War II. “We don’t love this mission, but we’re on it,” he shouted into the wind. “Our Dunkirk won’t be seen as a victory today in the atmosphere of Trump triumphalism, but it’s about survival for conservatism and a principled Republican Party.” We shall fight in the op-eds! We shall fight in the blog posts! We shall never surrender! But if things go south, we can always teach at a J-school.
Many of the brethren just used the Trumpocalypse as a hook for their traditional bugbears and mania. The both-sides types, for example, did their traditional thing, surveying the shattered, Trump-ridden GOP and the smooth rise of Hillary Clinton and declaring them each Just As Bad. National Journal’s Ron Fournier tweeted that “The GOP is unraveling,” but “once the American people realize the power of their pull, the Dem Party also will unspool,” and then the American people will use the thread to mend the worn elbows of the Shirt of State or some shit.
(Runner-up in the bad analogy sweepstakes: The Wall Street Journal‘s Bret Stephens, who wondered of Trump, “Is he Rodney Dangerfield, the lovable American everyman pleading for a bit of respect? Or is he Lenny Bruce, poking his middle finger in the eye of respectable opinion?” How about Carrot Top, but with rabies?)
Andrew Sullivan (yes, him again!) told Democrats to “check their complacency” because their sins actually caused the Trump menace: See, “the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes.… A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to ‘check his privilege’ by students at Ivy League colleges.” I wonder if Sullivan actually witnessed such an encounter, or just extrapolated from an old Archie and Meathead routine? Also, “the Black Lives Matter left stoked the fires still further; so did the gay left, for whom the word magnanimity seems unknown…” Presumably-straight working-class white men can’t catch a break in this country!
But some of the old conservative guard have been a little more accommodating toward their new orange overlord — and I expect over time more rightbloggers will join them.
A Wall Street Journal editorial warned conservatives away from a “third-party temptation,” in part because “the last thing the party needs is an excuse for Mr. Trump and his allies to blame a defeat on a ‘stab in the back’ by other Republicans.” Maybe the ominous reference to Dolchstoßlegende was meant as an inside joke, or a cry for help.
Even one of the National Review guys jumped ship. “Donald Trump is unfit to be president,” Mark Krikorian wrote. “He’s a braggart and a liar. And a serial adulterer. He’s behaved shamefully during the primary campaign. He wouldn’t recognize the Constitution if he tripped over it in the street,” etc. Long story short: “And I’m going to vote for him anyway.” Krikorian’s reason: Hillary would appoint communists to the Supreme Court and as “head of the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice,” forcing Christians to bake gay wedding cakes. Trump can’t possibly be worse!
NR’s Victor Davis Hanson wasn’t endorsing Trump, quite, but claimed to know the mind of the prole Trump voter, which in his account sounded suspiciously like his own. “The stream-of-consciousness litany of his supporters’ peeves, for good or ill, would run like this,” he said: “The wrong people are in the news. Instead of generals, and small-business owners, and muscular workers, we instead see smarmy smart-asses, the pajama boys and mattress girls of the world of TV…the Jon Stewarts, David Lettermans, and Stephen Colberts of Smug, Inc.” He’s got a point — how often have you heard the guys down at the corner bar complaining that the joint chiefs of staff don’t have a network talk show?
Others seemed definitely persuadable. Ace of Spades, heretofore and in the main an anti-Trump type, said last week, “I’m not saying I definitely couldn’t support Trump — it would depend on which of these tinpot authoritarians wished to control me less. They both want to control me, but we’ll see who promises to control me less.”
Promises? From Trump and Clinton? What would those be worth? But forget it, he’s rolling: “Trump could earn my vote,” Spades continued, “by finally understanding other people’s aspirations to not have a second boss in their lives called The US Government.”
Well, if all you need is an anti-big-gummint “promise,” you’re halfway home, Trump-wise. This all reminds me of the aftermath of the protest at a Chicago Trump rally in March, when even committed anti-Trump rightbloggers momentarily flocked to Trump’s side in support of no higher principle, really, than Hippies Suck. Between Trump and Clinton, these guys can’t be confident that their preferred harebrained policies will be instated anytime soon — but at least Trump hates the same people they hate, and for a rightblogger that can be enough.