A Few Easy Shots
I mentioned the other day that Jonah Goldberg is a writer who, in spite of his having remained agreeably consistent in his anti-Trumpism, has nevertheless failed to endear himself to me (not that he was trying to do so). I feel compelled to note, therefore, that his latest editorial (click the link) on the dying embers of the Trump presidency has me twitching just this side of offering him a mea culpa — and I despise that expression almost as much as I despise Trumpism.
I despise Trumpism. That does not, for the umpteenth time, mean I hate Donald Trump. Trump is a despicable character who has engendered a “deplorable” cult following. (To deny the truth of Hillary Clinton’s adjective would be no more than an ad hominem — she was at least somewhat correct, in spite of being herself no less deplorable than the people she claimed to deplore.) He is a strange, dangerous growth formed in the depths of an American beer belly bloated to almost obscene proportions.
But do I hate him? I have no time or energy for that. Furthermore, Trump is too small to be dignified with such a grave sin as personal hatred. I only say that his existence — not he himself, exactly, but his existence — is doing as much harm to his country’s essence and foundations as any American has ever done. The distinction between the man himself and his mere existence, in that last sentence, is meant to highlight the point made in the preceding paragraph. Trump is a harmful growth, but he would be nothing without a receptive and encouraging host. He lacks the mind or the passion demanded of an aggressively evil tyrant. He is simply an amoral idiot and childish self-seeker with a savant’s knack for crowd manipulation. That he has found a crowd so large and eager, right there at the highest levels of American public life — not entertainment or slimy real estate dealings anymore, but national politics — is a bleak testament to what America, and particularly the best part of America, has become. The men and women who, six years ago, seemed to be the only hope left, have turned out to be, by a wide majority, the source and proof of ultimate hopelessness.
Trump is now, as was inevitable, turning on Mike Pence. Pence, the one man above all others who gave semi-rational credibility to the Trump presidential ticket in 2016. The man who joined the normalizing effort early and has stood fast by the dimwit through all his ugliest ruses, dumbest mistakes, and most tyrannical maneuvers. Even today, Pence, as a loyal member of the team, claims that he wants the case for overturning the electoral college votes of every close state Trump lost to be heard — as though a criminal enterprise deserved a hearing merely because millions of cultists have abandoned their independent souls to the criminality.
Pence has this coming. As I have said repeatedly, with regard to every ordinary Republican who has chosen to forsake principle for a piece of the Trump popularity machine — all those who joined the administration, and all those who carried the spit bucket for Trump in Congress and the “conservative media” — they have earned the humiliation of having their careers and ambitions lynched by Trump and his mob.
Loyalty. That is the one word used most often, throughout his long public life, to describe Trump’s demands from his underlings and appointees. He expects “loyalty,” meaning he expects them to support him in everything he says and does, to tell lies for him, and to will his fantasy world into reality with him.
Interestingly, and a sign of how well Trump’s manipulative self-assertion works on the weak-minded, no one ever talks about Trump’s own consistent and predictable disloyalty to every one of his friends, flatterers, and lackeys in the long run. Trump is loyal to no one, and clearly believes he owes no loyalty to anyone.
His admirers, like all true pop star groupies, seem not to mind this disparity, assuming without question that of course Trump, being the superior being, owes nothing at all in return to those who are expected to sacrifice their very souls to him.