LONDON — They have been dubbed the Conservative rebels, a group of renegade lawmakers willing to risk their careers to defy their newly chosen leader, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and hobble his leadership over their clashing views on Brexit.
But behind all the talk of revolutionary ardor and mutinous tactics is an unlikely group of insurrectionists — a band of starchy grandees of Tory politics that includes Winston Churchill’s grandson and a 45-year party veteran and ex-chancellor so colorless that he earned the nickname “Spreadsheet Phil.” Running the government only weeks ago, they now flout it from the sidelines.
They believe that Mr. Johnson, in his zeal for pulling Britain out of the European Union without a deal, is risking severe damage to the British economy. But they also believe that he is tearing the Conservatives apart, setting fire to their vision of a big-tent party with priorities beyond Brexit.
In setting aside their usual caution and threatening to rip the heart out of Mr. Johnson’s Brexit plans on Tuesday night, they are offering perhaps the clearest indication yet that the party, squabbling for decades over Europe, is on the brink of a civil war.
A new movie makes a retired firefighter out to be a prophet. In reality, he’s a radical conspiracy theorist who thinks Democrats control the weather.
Even more disturbingly, earlier in this same interview Taylor describes how God has been speaking to him through racehorses, reading the euthanization of a racehorse named after Barack Obama as a sign that Democrats are about to start being executed.
“This has nothing to do with Roe vs Wade right now,” says Taylor of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “This has everything to do with military tribunals, them being charged with treason, and going to prison for the rest of their life and some being executed.” He continues:
The racehorse named Barack Obama was euthanized. That is probably the biggest prophetic sign that you could have of God saying this man is going to go down. Period. That’s the bottom line. You can get mad at me all you want to, but God’s the messenger here, he is the one sending the message. People don’t think that this stuff is real or it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen.
This is real. Justice is not coming, it’s here, period, and it is taking place on the earth. This whole thing with Kavanaugh is about trying to stop the military tribunals … This is all about rounding these people up, charging them with treason, and they know that, basically, their head is going to be in a noose, literally.
Taylor’s beliefs are extreme even for Christian fundamentalists. But by co-producing a motion picture about his life, Liberty University—one of the largest, most organized institutions of American evangelicalism—has effectively endorsed Taylor’s status as a prophet.
That The Trump Prophecy aims to establish the legitimacy of a “prophet” whose latest “prophecy” predicts the state-sanctioned murdering of Trump’s political enemies is a fact that the film’s most prominent reviewers haven’t even touched on. Harriet Sherwood, writing for The Guardian, ends her coverage of the film with a feel-good quote from producer Rick Eldridge, who says “every American who loves his country should appreciate the movie and be inspired by it.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, likewise, was pronounced a “traitor” by Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
.. News he doesn’t like is “fake.”
Actions he doesn’t like are “illegal.”
People he doesn’t like are “traitors.”
Trump says the famed journalist and author should be disbelieved because “I don’t talk the way I am quoted.” But Woodward’s Trump sounds exactly like the Trump we hear daily.
.. Trump suggested that the so-called surveillance of his campaign was “treasonous.” On June 23, he told Mike Huckabee that coverage of his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was “almost treasonous.” On Feb. 5, after congressional Democrats’ failed to applaud for him at the State of the Union, he said: “Can we call that treason? Why not?”
.. On Jan. 11, he told the Wall Street Journal that FBI agent Peter Strzok’s text messages to his mistress were “a treasonous act.” He has also embraced the view that Hillary Clinton, leakers and Republicans who didn’t support him in the 2016 election were traitors.
.. In Woodward’s account, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Trump had the understanding of “a fifth- or sixth-grader,” Cohn described him as a “professional liar,” then-lawyer John Dowd told the president that he was “not really capable” of answering a prosecutor’s questions, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron,” and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly called him an “idiot.”
One of the unpleasant surprises of your 50s (among many) is seeing the heroes and mentors of your 20s pass away. I worked for Chuck Colson, of Watergate fame, who became, through his work with prisoners, one of the most important social reformers of the 20th century. I worked for Jack Kemp, who inspired generations of conservatives with his passion for inclusion. I worked against John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries but came to admire his truculent commitment to principle.
Perhaps it is natural to attribute heroism to past generations and to find a sad smallness in your own. But we are seeing the largest test of political character in my lifetime. And where are the Republican leaders large enough to show the way?
President Trump’s recent remarks to evangelical Christians at the White House capture where Republican politics is heading. “This November 6 election,” Trump said, “is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion.” A direct, unadorned appeal to tribal hostilities. Fighting for Trump, the president argued, is the only way to defend the Christian faith. None of these men and women of God, apparently, gagged on their hors d’oeuvres.
.. “It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that [Democrats] will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence.” Here Trump is preparing his audience for the possibility of bloodshed by predicting it from the other side. Christians, evidently, need to start taking “Onward, Christian Soldiers” more literally.
.. This is now what passes for GOP discourse — the cultivation of anger, fear, grievances, prejudices and hatreds.
.. “the true populist loses patience with the rules of the democratic game.” He comes to view himself as the embodied voice of the people, and opponents as (in Trump’s words) “un-American” and “treasonous.”
.. As Robert S. Mueller III continues his inexorable investigation of Trump’s sleazy business and political world — and if Democrats gain the House and begin aggressive oversight — a cornered president may test the limits of executive power in the attempt to avoid justice. If the GOP narrowly retains control of the House, Trump and others will take it as the vindication of his whole approach to politics. The president will doubtlessly go further in targeting his enemies for investigation and other harm. He will doubtlessly attack the independence of the FBI and attempt to make it an instrument of his will. He will doubtlessly continue his vendetta against responsible journalism and increase his pressure on media companies that don’t please him. On a broad front, Trump’s lunacy will become operational.
.. But at length he was asked to retreat from that final area where he located his self. And there this supple, humorous, unassuming and sophisticated person set like metal, was overtaken by an absolutely primitive rigor, and could no more be budged than a cliff.”
Republican leaders may dread it, but they will eventually be forced to identify that final area where they keep themselves — or find there is no one there.