Over and over again, in videos, speeches and interviews, the theme from Trump’s children was that their father, our champion, had been called from his happy life to serve the Republic. He didn’t want to do this. He has been called by destiny, pulled by patriotism. He is a modern day Cincinnatus laying down his golf clubs.
Never mind that Trump has wanted to run for president for 20 years.
.. Nowhere in his speech did Trump give any sense that he knew — or cared — how he would get things done through his “sheer force of will.” That’s the thing about magical thinking, you don’t need to explain it.
.. In the Mythic Trump story, he is like Moses living amongst the Egyptians before he sees the light. “Nobody knows the system better than me,” he says with an ironic wink. The idea is that he has been amongst the oppressors, in mufti, learning their secrets and now he shall deliver his righteous people from them.
.. As for the doubters? They are like some heretical fifth column. In his prepared text, Trump proclaimed, “Remember: All of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place.”
But then he ad-libbed: “We love defeating those people.”
And of course, the crowd — brimming with the very same elites who have lived off politics and Washington like remoras on Leviathan — went wild.
.. Just a day earlier Trump said, “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.” Keep in mind, this was in the context of criticizing human-rights abusers like Turkey and Russia. But no matter, he told the audience he was going to — through that indomitable will of his — make America proud again. And the crowd went wild.
.. By the normal rules the speech should have been a disaster. But as we all know the normal rules no longer apply. I am fairly certain Trump will get his post-convention bump. I no longer think it is extremely unlikely Trump will lose. This was a bread-and-circus convention and, it seems, a great many people want to see how the mythic story of Trump, The People’s Champion, plays out.
.. It’s clear many of my friends on the pro-Trump right are giddy with resentment-justifying glee at the alleged comeuppance of Trump opponents. One need only listen to quite literally anything Laura Ingraham or Sean Hannity say about Trump critics to see how large a role spite plays in the now-unbreachable divide between the new nationalists and the old conservatives.
.. Then again, I think maybe not. The Trump movement in its glandular core is a movement about resentment and payback. It makes sense to conclude that at least some of its most ardent disciples are psychologically inclined to resentment and payback as well.
.. But the truth is conservatism has become shot-through with a kind of vindictiveness that reflects poorly on everyone, friend and foe alike.
.. I hate that after 20 years of fighting what I believe tobe the good fight, so many can’t muster the good will or generosity to consider that I’m doing what I think is right. I’m entirely open to the argument that my analysis and judgment is wrong. But I am resentful, furious and, most of all, contemptuous of the lazy and self-justifying assumption that my motives are malign.
.. I have nothing but sympathy for those who feel they must vote against Hillary Clinton. But I have scorn for those who think that requires lying about Trump. If you’re a true-believer in Trump, that’s fine. I think you’re making the same mistake that the Left’s 2008 true believers made about Obama. There are no saviors in politics.
.. In Cleveland, I met scores of fellow heretics. We didn’t meet in catacombs. But we plotted and planned all the same. We are the anti-establishment now. We stand opposed to two parties united behind two different facets of statism and identity politics.
As I wrote in a column last week, I think Rick Perry has defiled himself. He took a strong, principled stand against Trump early on, likening him to a “cancer” on the GOP. He said that a Trumpified Republican party would lead to “perdition.” It didn’t work out well for him. Now that it’s Trump’s party, he says he wants to help this cancer “any way I can,” including being considered for his running mate.
.. That is one of Trump’s greatest accomplishments. He won by declaring the political class morally bankrupt and craven, and as a reward the political class proved him right.
.. I honestly believe that a President Trump would do enormous, perhaps fatal, damage to the conservative movement as we know it. I also believe that without the conservative movement, this country is toast. But I further believe that Hillary Clinton would do obvious and enormous damage to the country. That’s why I’m not voting for either of them.