Written of the gutless Republicans, who for five years have cynically rationalized Trump, in the wake of Lin Wood and Sidney Powell and their ilk telling Georgians not to vote in the January 5 runoff Senate runoff election until Georgia Governor Brian Kemp engineers a Trump win in Georgia:
So here’s the thing: All of these people deserve the mess they’re in.
For nearly five years now, it has been obvious that Trump was unfit for the job and the arguments marshaled in his defense were cynical rationalizations that, for some, eventually mutated into sincerely held delusions. Sure, some deluded themselves from the beginning, but I’ve talked to too many Republican politicians and conservative media darlings who admitted it in private. And even the griftier gibbons going full Gorka as they fling their own feces for fun and profit in Trump’s defense knew it. At least Steve Bannon, whose greatest contribution to political discourse has been to introduce the concept of “flooding the zone with shit,” is fairly straightforward about seeing Trump as a tool—in every sense. He’s leaked more anti-Trump tales to more anti-Trump journalists than anyone.
For the Bannonistas, following the wrong path wasn’t a hard choice, but an easy one. You think Jenna Ellis, who rates as a Z-team legal talent only because our alphabet is limited to 26 characters, would become a legal adviser to a president under normal circumstances?
But for a lot of otherwise decent politicians and commentators, doing the right thing was just too damn hard. At every stage, they fed the Trumpian alligator another piece of themselves and said “This much, but no more.” But now all that is left are stumps, and it’s hard to walk in the right direction on stumps or hold your hands up to shout, “Stop!” when you have no hands.
Again, I think most of these people are good people, but good people can be wrong. And if there’s any lesson to be gleaned from 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian influenced literature, it’s that good people can simultaneously be seduced and blind to their seduction and the compromises that come with it. See Graham, Lindsey.
If, six months ago, I were to describe the last month to the politicians still rewarding and encouraging Trump’s behavior, most would say I was succumbing to Trump Derangement Syndrome. “Oh, come on, he wouldn’t do that!” they’d say. And even for those who thought this outrageous affront to the civic order might be possible, they’d certainly take great offense if I followed up with, “Not only will he try to steal the election with deranged conspiracy theories, not only will his champions call for martial law to erase the loss, but you won’t say ‘boo’ about it. In fact, you’ll even say he should run again.”
Well, that’s happened. They created this self-destructive mess. They created it by refusing to take the right path not just because the right path was hard, but because the wrong path was so easy. As Screwtape explains, “the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
Now, America isn’t in Hell, but the people who did nothing, or far too little, are daily beset by lesser, fresher, hells of their own making—and I’m making popcorn. The gloriously entertaining spectacle of Trump and his ambitious progeny suddenly having to deal with their own mini-Trumps in the form of Wood, Powell, and their minions is enough to turn their home-brewed dumpster juice into a delicious elixir sweeter even than liberal tears. Mike Pence fading into the shrubbery like Homer Simpson is a profile in strategic cowardice of schadenfreudtastic proportions. The exquisite agony of Republicans righteously insisting that their own election was devoid of fraud while mumbling that there are “legitimate questions” about the candidate at the top of their own ticket makes the fremdschämen humor of The Office seem like a particularly uplifting episode of Little House on the Prairie by comparison. The Fox pundits who spent years monetizing Trump sycophancy suddenly having to grapple with the object of their toadying turning on their prized soapbox is splendiferously karmic.
I understand that this all sounds awfully self-righteous. But I’ll tell you, I feel like I deserve my gloating. I’m not alone in my right to it, but I deserve my share. I’ve been saying “don’t do this” for five years and I’ve been mocked and shunned for it. So forgive me if I enjoy my I-told-you-so moment. Or don’t forgive me. I’m used to it.
“Making popcorn” is, I think, the attitude most of us in the reality-based world need to take, especially if we call ourselves “conservative.”
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