From #NeverTrump to #WhateverTrump: Between Conventions, Rightbloggers Continue Transition


Since Trump was crowned at the Cleveland GOP Convention last week, an eerie calm has come over rightbloggers — even those who have affected outrage at his takeover of their party and movement.

It’s as if, after months of bitching about Trump, they’re forced to admit that there’s only one course left open to them — and it’s not Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. But to maintain plausible deniability, they’re stressing the importance of defeating Hillary Clinton, then handing their followers a ballot and hoping they can put two and two together.

The convention seemed to animate the fringier parts of the conservative coalition. At Traditional Right, William S. Lind said after the Nice terror attack that the people of the West should “overthrow the cultural Marxists, take their countries back, and expel the Moors, at least those not hanging from lampposts.” Klansman/politician David Duke emerged from the historical dustbin to announce a Senate run; Trump did not rule out supporting him.

At the Federalist, John Gibbs told readers “5 Reasons Donald Trump Should Focus On The White Vote.” But, record scratch! Gibbs is black, so no fair saying racist. Gibbs said in order to win even some black votes, Trump would have to “give up many of his core beliefs that made him popular in the first place,” so “some loss of the black vote may be a smart price to pay for an even bigger increase in the white vote.” Besides which, think how great a whites-only presidential campaign would be for the country!

The convention itself was a Trumpfest, with no pale pastels, every speaker amplifying on either the evil of Hillary Clinton (“That’s right, Hillary for prison! She deserves to be in stripes!”) or the magnificence of Trump (Rudy Giuliani actually said that Trump constantly made donations to worthy causes “anonymously,” and no one laughed). A signal feature was frequent cries of “lock her up” from attendees, referring to Hillary Clinton, which practice was defended by Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist.

“It is true that mobs shouldn’t cry out for imprisonment, particularly before a trial,” Hemingway allowed. “But it’s also true that mobs shouldn’t be forced to cry out for justice because their institutions are doing such a horrible job of applying law fairly.” This particular mob was forced by FBI director James Comey, Hemingway reasoned, when he “invented a legal fiction to allow Clinton to escape being held accountable” for insufficiently securing her emails. When the authorities fail to prosecute someone on the grounds that they had committed no crime, and that someone is a Democrat rather than a police officer, why wouldn’t you expect the mob to howl? It’s not like mobs can be wrong.

Trump’s acceptance speech was a lurid portrait of an impoverished, anarchic United States which he alone could save. There were some complaints about it. The New York TimesRoss Douthat, for instance, was pissed that Trump spoke kindly of gay people. “When authoritarianism comes to America,” he tweeted, “it will be careful to endorse LGBTQ rights.”

But many rightbloggers who weren’t overtly pro-Trump nonetheless agreed with him that America was a shithole and perhaps needed drastic measures, not that they were making endorsements.

“Sometimes worthy causes have unworthy champions,” said William Voegeli at National Review, comparing Trump to Joseph McCarthy, who maaayybe went a little far, but at least he was fighting Commies, just like Trump was going maaayybe a little far fighting Muslims but not really. “Trump’s voters believe that he, like them, is unequivocally committed to thwarting jihadism,” concluded Voegeli. “About his political opponents, they feel they know no such thing.”

“Yes, Donald Trump is a flawed messenger for the case against Hillary Clinton,” agreed Voegeli’s colleague Jim Geraghty, “but that doesn’t make the message any less true or compelling.” The message, in this case, was that “some illegal immigrants are violent criminals,” Geraghty said, and when they do crimes they’re “briefly detained by police authorities and then released, or even worse, effectively protected by ‘sanctuary cities.’ ” That’s right, they’re sent (probably first-class) to “sanctuary cities” like New York, where they and the hipsters hang out at micro-cervecerias and laugh at decent Americans.

“Many Republicans I’ve talked to find Trump’s willingness to outsource actual policymaking to Mike Pence or Paul Ryan reassuring….” said his colleague Jonah Goldberg. “If Trump could be trusted to simply play a ceremonial role, serving as a kind of corporate motivational speaker for the country, I might board the Trump train.” But then he said some mean things about Trump, thus maintaining his integrity.

Some of the brethren sank back into their traditional mope that the rise of Trump to the top of their own party was actually the fault of President Obama (“How the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Gave Us the Trump Campaign“). Others insisted the anti-immigrant, law-and-order, Scalia-praising, pro-life Trump was a liberal (“Trump’s Republican Party Is Now Secular, Materialist, And Big Government. In Other Words, Leftist,” “Trump’s Speech Makes It Official: It’s Democrat v. Democrat in 2016,” etc.).

But a nod’s as good as a wink; Hillary’s still public enemy number one, and the brethren were manning up for the Democratic Convention set to open in Philly on Monday.  A last-minute Wikileaks dump of Democratic National Committee emails, showing egregious party favoritism toward Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the recent campaign, gave them some hope of sabotage. “Now we get the trainwreck on the Left,” cheered Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. “Will Sanders delegates revolt?” said Kyle Foley of RedState, rubbing his hands. “Will Sanders give a speech to the Democrats much like the one Ted Cruz gave to Republicans?”

Short answer, no: DNC Chairman Wasserman Schultz is out, and Comrade Sanders, who had called for her resignation, looks to be on board. The brethren did what they could. “I predicted W-S would last through the election as a face saving measure,” said Aaron Goldstein at the American Spectator. “Well, there’s no saving that face now.” The .001 percent of Americans who have ever heard of Wasserman Schultz will know something is up!

More bad news for rightbloggers came with Clinton’s selection of moderate, charismatic, and observably male and white vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine of Virginia. They did what they could with that, too; while the Kaine announcement “was a very buttoned-up, polished event compared to the Pence announcement and the same will almost certainly be true of the convention this coming week…” admitted National Review’s Rich Lowry, “this year a significant slice of voters may consider this very professionalism a sign of inauthenticity and politics as usual.” See, they fucked up by not fucking up!

Well, that’s okay; anything can happen in Philly, and whether it does or not we’ll soon get back to the usual rightblogger plan: denouncing the godless, socialistic, cop-killing liberals and their Satanic champion. Pay attention, America, and then, in the immortal words of Ted Cruz, vote your conscience!

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