Honest to God, I love these guys.
The night of the Iowa caucuses in 2016, Ross Douthat wrote a tweet that, to the man’s credit, he has never deleted. I was afraid he had when I went looking for it to include it in this essay. This was Ross’ reaction when Trump finished in second place in the 2016 Iowa caucuses (narrowly losing to Ted Cruz):
TRUMP HAD A CEILING HE ALWAYS HAD A CEILING I TOLD YOU HE HAD A CEILING I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU YOU LAUGHED BUT I TOLD YOU
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) February 2, 2016
I don’t care who you are. How does that not put a smile on your face?
When Trump won, I was fairly bummed. For one thing, it was a hard-to-ignore setback for my overall project of transferring ownership of the means of production to the working class. I was also very concerned he would continue certain Obama-era policies toward immigrant families that I think are clearly inhumane. One part of it I did enjoy, however, was watching some of the worst people in the human race look stupid. And I mean, really stupid.
Oh, sure, Hillary Clinton, obviously—but it was more than her.
It was your Bill Kristols. It was your Max Boots. It was your Rick Wilsons. When I was in a bad mood about Paul Ryan suddenly having political power, I would think about Henry Kissinger somewhere, wondering if it had all been for nothing—and smile. I would think about Ben Shapiro reloading Twitter like a madman, worrying that he’d made the worst mistake he could possibly make: backing the wrong horse.
The “Never Trump” guys. How can you not love these guys? They really thought they owned the place, didn’t they? Strutting around in their little bow ties, swapping erudite bon mots about William F. Buckley’s jowls. Masters of the universe, with their little magazines and affected mid-Atlantic accents that made them sound like Frasier Crane’s gay uncle, perpetually explaining the subtle parallels between George W. Bush and Seneca. And then—boom! The guy from the Apprentice walked into their house, ate their lunch, kissed their wives, peed in their brandy snifter, and now their son (Romulus) calls him dad. Come on. That’s funny!
The guy from the Apprentice walked into their house, ate their lunch, kissed their wives, peed in their brandy snifter, and now their son (Romulus) calls him dad. Come on. That’s funny!
Sadly, after Trump won, they mostly bent the knee. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, whoever. They all turned out to be pushovers. (Big surprise). I don’t know if John Kasich is still a Never Trump guy, because I could not honestly tell you whether John Kasich is still alive.
But some of these precious little lads and lasses held out, and oh, am I ever glad they did.
Because now they’ve got a new line in the sand. And, of course, we all better listen this time. Because although these guys might be willing to vote for a Democrat, they are putting their foot down about one thing. So get clear on this. If you want their help? Don’t even think about nominating that guy. You know who I mean.
“The rise of socialist Bernie Sanders is frustrating Never Trump Republicans.”
Stop. No. It’s the first sentence and I already don’t want this to be over. I am printing this article out so I don’t lose it.
Tell me: has anything ever not been “frustrating” to “Never Trump Republicans?” Frustration is basically who they are, isn’t it? They stood, watching, getting more and more frustrated as Trump became the only 2016 candidate who actually could break a “ceiling.” Then they stood watching, getting more and more frustrated as he actually won the election. And now, it’s 2020, it’s time for payback, and this time we’ll just see whose pants get pulled down in math cl—wait, what? No! It can’t be! Bernie Sanders is winning now, too? Okay. Alright. Tell me, honestly, how bad is it? Tell me how far behind exactly David French is in the delegate race. I mean, how far behind could he be? He was a JAG!
“If Sanders is the Democratic nominee, many will sit out the election and be deprived of the opportunity of voting against President Trump, they said.”
Did you hear that? These extremely good boys and girls will be deprived of the opportunity of voting against President Trump! No! Oh, God, anything but that! First the Weekly Standard collapses, now this? Please. No. This is not a joke. Here! Take my commemorative “Mitt Romney ’12” dog carcass. Take my signed copy of “Hope for America: Evan McMullin and a New Generation of Leadership,” by Diane Sheafor. (Real book). Take my “¡yo quiero Jeff Flake!” fidget spinner. Anything but the opportunity to post a ballot selfie on Twitter so it pops up in the feed of the MSNBC producer that might actually like me!
“Sanders is surging days before the Iowa caucuses and a couple of weeks before the New Hampshire primary, leaving Republican operatives avowedly opposed to Trump worried and perplexed. Most are convinced swing voters in key battlegrounds would reject Sanders, paving the way for Trump’s reelection. They are also convinced the Vermont senator, 78, is simply too liberal to earn their vote. With a Sanders nomination, Never Trump Republicans are unsure of what comes next.”
Yeah, that’s these guys. “Worried.” “Perplexed.” “Unsure.” Checks out!
But wait. What’s that, you say? The Never Trump guys have a brand new, clean bib? And they’ve fastened it tight around their little pink necks? And they’re sitting down at the dinner table to make some swing-state predictions, so that they can then eat another gigantic helping of crow? Why—certainly!
Every question, for these people, is tough. These people would die in a burning building if the only way out was a knob that forced a choice between turning left or right.
“‘I don’t know where the anti-Trump movement goes from there,’ said Jennifer Horn, a Never Trump Republican and former New Hampshire GOP chairwoman who is affiliated with the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans who have pressured GOP senators to support impeachment.”
“Former” New Hampshire GOP chairwoman, is it, Jennifer? Ah. Well, hey, sounds like you were in the mix there for a little while. And I guess that sounds a bit better than the way your Wikipedia page describes you: a “two-time challenger for New Hampshire’s 2nd congressional district.” Ooooh. Two-time challenger! You get a sense of how those challenges went; and, by the way, this keen strategic mind used to be a management consultant, a journalist, and some kind of “liaison” for a health insurance company. Tough to guess why she might have some reservations about Bernie Sanders.
“‘It’s a really tough question,’ added political strategist Sarah Longwell, a Never Trump Republican at the center of an unsuccessful effort to recruit a formidable candidate to challenge the president in the 2020 GOP primary.”
Every question, for these people, is tough. These people would die in a burning building if the only way out was a knob that forced a choice between turning left or right. But don’t underestimate Sarah Longwell. No, no, no. Because, yes, it’s her. It’s that Sarah Longwell, the one you can find in countless columns by Jennifer Rubin, a dusty mummy that was once left in the Washington Post’s offices and came to life. In “Not all Republicans have lost their souls,” Rubin tells us about how Longwell bravely quit the board of the Log Cabin Republicans after the group endorsed Trump. (That article also mentions Jennifer Horn! Wow, that’s a weird coincidence. It’s almost like there’s only about four of these dead-end losers, total, and they just sit around waiting for the phone to ring so they can give a journalist a quote about how confused they are at whatever’s happened today). Rubin also wrote of Longwell’s brave defense of Robert Mueller, the muscular supercop whose verbal fluency has diminished even more rapidly than Joe Biden’s.
“‘It’s asking a lot from people on the center-right or in the old Reagan wing of GOP to go full Sanders in November,’ said Jerry Taylor, who runs the Niskanen Center, a Washington think tank that has become a hub for the Never Trump community.”
The Niskanen Center was founded by a bunch of people who used to work at the Cato Institute, before completely losing control of their own organization in a power struggle with the Koch Brothers. Are you sensing any recurring themes, by the way, with these people?
Oh, and one more thing. As Jerry says, it’s asking a lot of a sturdy old Reaganite like him to vote for an avowed socialist like Bernie Sanders. It is. It’s asking a lot. But don’t worry—he’ll do it.
“Taylor does plan to support Sanders in the general election if the senator wins the Democratic nod.”
Honestly, that is the first thing these guys have said that’s made me nervous. I do not like the idea of standing in line at the polls behind a Never Trump guy who runs a think tank for Cato Institute cast-offs, and then having him turn around and tell me “I think our boy’s got it, don’t you?”
“Should Sanders emerge, Never Trump Republicans say they and independent conservatives itching to oust Trump in the fall are likely to sit on their hands or vote for a hopeless third-party candidate in protest.”
Aw, no, come on, guys, don’t do that! Come on. Don’t sit on your hands or write in “God, Country, and Yale!” or whatever. No, no, no. Okay. You know what, you win. We won’t nominate Bernie. But you gotta promise that you’re going to vote for Amy Klobuchar, so she can get D.C.’s three electoral votes, okay? Do you promise? Because I’m trusting you dude. You promise? Okay. Should we shake on it? Alright. Put ‘er there.
If there’s one thing these guys know anything about, it’s getting beaten by Trump.
Ahhhhh! Gotcha. Haha. Sorry, just kidding, I was just messing around. Let’s shake for real this time, I won’t pull my hand away. That was a joke, sorry, this is serious. Let’s shake for the deal.
Whoops! Haha. No, hey, come back. I’m sorry. You’re right, that was inconsistent with Nozickian Virtue Ethics or whatever you just said. Sorry, I was listening but there was like a noise or something. Anyway, obviously, that was all a joke, and we both have jobs that we have to get back to, so let’s just shake on it. No Bernie. It’s a deal. 1-2-3, shake.
Just kidding! Look, Bill here just publicly announced that he’s a Democrat. You’ll vote for Bernie—and like it.
“’Bernie Sanders will get beaten by Donald Trump,’” Longwell said.”
If there’s one thing these guys know anything about, it’s getting beaten by Trump.