I found that I had collected a lot of items touching on Florida Man, our recently-ousted President. That’s not too surprising considering the media frenzy over impending indictments.
I’m going to collect them all that Crump trap here, so if you want to read no ill of the man, you can skip this post entirely.
On that indictment matter, by the way, I hope Alvin Bragg does not indict. From outside-looking-in, it looks as if Bragg has set himself an almost impossible case to win, due to statutes of limitation, the implied effort to try a federal crime within a state criminal case, and the questionable factual inferences he’d ask the jury to draw. Inasmuch as Trump supporters will be indignant, if not “death & destruction” violent, at any indictment, let’s make the game worth the candle, like his effort to induce vote fraud in his conversation with the Georgia Secretary of State.
Of January 6
Are you still not convinced that it’s fair to call this a Christian insurrection? I would bet that most of my readers would instantly label the exact same event Islamic terrorism if Islamic symbols filled the crowd, if Islamic music played in the loudspeakers, and if members of the crowd shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they charged the Capitol.
David French, Only the Church Can Truly Defeat a Christian Insurrection (1/10/21)
In my experience, if Trump supporters are asked to turn their gaze away from their perceived opponents, and instead to focus and reflect on him and on his failures, they respond in a couple of consistent ways. Many shift the topic immediately back to Democrats, because offering a vigorous moral defense of Donald Trump isn’t an easy task. It’s like asking people to stare directly into the sun; they might do it for an instant, but then they look away. But if you do succeed in keeping the topic on Trump, they often twist themselves into knots in order to defend him, and in some cases they simply deny reality.
“Motivation conditions cognition,” Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing writer at The Atlantic, wisely told me. Very few Trump supporters I know are able to offer an honest appraisal of the man. To do so creates too much cognitive dissonance.
Peter Wehner, The Predicate Is Fear (Sept. 4, 2020)
I’m not sure why a bit of “old news” just popped into mind so as to irritate me as I read Tim Alberta’s Evangelical Leaders Are Losing Faith in Trump (from The Atlantic).
It cites the familiar statistic that 81% of Evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, and says he enjoyed a similar margin in 2020. But now he’s losing support.
Okay, now. Be it remembered that in 2016, Donald Trump’s biggest boost came from people’s intense hatred of Hillary Clinton. That’s the old news.
But then something happened. Trump, who might plausibly have been viewed as the lesser evil, came to be held up, including if not especially among Evangelicals, as a positive good.
I. Just. Don’t. Get. That. Is it that Evangelicals can’t get it through their heads that the USA may not be God’s special favorite, and that he might thus have left us with a crappy choice? I can imagine the Almighty saying “You made your bed. Now lay in it.”
Then came Election 2022,
[a]nd … Trump sabotaged himself. Desperate to dodge culpability for the Republican Party’s poor performance in the November midterm elections, Trump blamed the “abortion issue.” He suggested that moderate voters had been spooked by some of the party’s restrictive proposals, while pro-lifers, after half a century of intense political engagement, had grown complacent following the Dobbs ruling. This scapegoating didn’t go over well with social-conservative leaders. For many of them, the transaction they had entered into with Trump in 2016—their support in exchange for his policies—was validated by the fall of Roe. Yet now the former president was distancing himself from the anti-abortion movement while refusing to accept responsibility for promoting bad candidates who lost winnable races. (Trump’s campaign declined to comment for this story.)
Thus, if Evangelicals are finally souring on Trump, the walking embodiment of the seven deadly sins, it’s well overdue.
Hallucinators and Grifters
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first,” Charles de Gaulle said, “nationalism is when hate for people other than your own comes first.”
Jonah Goldberg, who I really should read more often if he’s always as sharp is Hallucinators and Grifters:
Team Trump needs another “Flight 93” argument to get people to overlook all of the obvious reasons he should never be anywhere near the White House again. They’re still working through some options, but the leading contender right now is global thermonuclear war … With stakes like that, who cares about a few criminal indictments for trying to steal an election or keep a porn star quiet?
Even the use of the phrase “Western civilization” instead of “our interests” or “national security” is rhetorical sleight of hand. Is Trump for America First or Western civilization First? Because Western civilization can be nibbled away at the margins for a very long time without America herself being meaningfully imperiled.
One of the things I’ve detested about Trump’s … approach to politics from the beginning is the way he wants to be a wartime leader, but in a war against domestic enemies. A lot of people who hear Trump’s blather about “America First” don’t ever catch on that he’s actually just talking about some Americans first (with him at the top of the list). The “only important thing,” Trump said at a rally in the spring of 2016, “is the unification of the people—because the other people don’t mean anything.” Those “other people” are Americans, too. After all, Trump promised his fans to be “your retribution” at CPAC a couple weeks ago. Retribution against whom? Fellow U.S. citizens.
The best defense is a good offense …
… but I’m not sure this defense qualifies:
REMEMBER, THE SAME ANIMALS AND THUGS THAT WOULD DO THIS TO PERHAPS 200 MILLION PEOPLE, BUT ACTUALLY ALL AMERICANS, ARE THE COMMUNISTS, MARXISTS, RINOS, AND LOSERS THAT ARE PURPOSEFULLY DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY!
Florida Man on his (reportedly) impending indictment.
Context & Consequence
[New York Prosecutor] Bragg’s case isn’t playing out in isolation. Trump might soon face charges in Georgia for trying to overturn his 2020 defeat there or federal charges for having removed, then concealed, sensitive state documents upon leaving office. Either one of those cases would have much greater moral force than Stormygate since they involve his abuse of public power. The Georgia case in particular zeroes in on what makes him a singularly deplorable threat to American democracy.
In short, it’s hard to find something encouraging to say about a case that will further complicate the already delicate matter of holding a former president accountable to the law and almost certainly will do more to shake Americans’ faith in the justice system than to restore it.
[M]ost Americans might not grasp—yet—the extent to which the former guy has grown nuttier than squirrel turds.
It’s become a cliche among Trump skeptics lately to point out how he’s decompensated, to borrow a term from psychology. Charles Cooke at National Review marveled in January that Trump seemed to be losing his grip on reality, comparing him to a “deranged hobo.” In his newsletter this morning Kevin described him as being as “crazy as a sack of ferrets.” In one of my own columns this month, I noted that his obsessive fantasy about why he lost in 2020 qualifies him as delusional, quite literally.
One can only hope that the public will pick up on his having become crazy as a sack of ferrets, nuttier than squirrel turds before an electoral majority votes him back into the Oval Office.
Wherefore do I despair of ever getting reliable news
Really, Economist?! Trump "can let Mr Cohen try to enforce the agreement with Ms Clifford, which might look like an admission of guilt and would risk her aggressive lawyer, Michael Avenatti, airing further revelations in court." Have you not noticed that Avenatti is disbarred and jailed? Wowzers!
Where can I get reliably accurate news and analysis?
Death & Destruction
Donald Trump is back in his presidential—or at least modern-day-presidential—form, posting unhinged threats on social media in the middle of the night. Early today, he posted on his Truth Social site:
What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country? Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!
Nearly every phrase in this message is disturbing, but the most rattling part is his threat of “death & destruction.” This is classic Trumpian mob-boss talk: He doesn’t make a specific threat against anyone, and he doesn’t specifically incite any acts. He might even note in his defense that some of his own critics have fretted that arresting him might produce a violent backlash. And yet the intent is unmistakably to intimidate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and anyone else who might try to charge him with crimes. It’s a threat against the American justice system as a whole.
For all its piety and fervor, today’s United States needs to be recognized for what it really is: not a Christian country, but a nation of heretics.
Ross Douthat, Bad Religion
You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.