Tuesday, April 16, 2024

April 15, 2024
The Trump enigma

The support for Donald Trump always has been a mystery to me.  His grasp of issues never was firm and he seems to be going downhill, making repeated mistakes or odd statements.[14]  The explanations, or theories, are different for different groups. Much of his support by ordinary voters seems to be based on fear and resentment, reenforced and exaggerated. A  column by Jennifer Rubin described how that can be manipulated: “Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on reactionary strongmen, explains, ‘To get people to embrace violence, fill them with existential dread- the fear that it’s the Leader or the abyss.’ “[15]

Recently I have seen several theories for the support by Republican politicians.  One is, in effecr, “He is our candidate, and we don’t want Biden.”  Even many of those Trump has attacked support him[16]  This is a familiar form of blind partisanship, remarkable only in being applied to someone so thouroughly unworthy.  Some just are afraid of him: they want to stay active in GOP politics and he controls the Party.  

Liz Cheney, in her recent book, describes several reasons or excuses for support by her fellow Republicans: fear that crossing Trump would lead to a primary challenge, even fear that crossing him would put them and their families in danger.  Early on, some didn’t actively oppose him because they thought he would fade away.[17]    

There is some movement away from Trump.  Explanations by those who oppose him also vary. Here is Mike Pence’s reasoning:

Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years. . . .  As I have watched his candidacy unfold, I’ve seen him walking away from our commitment to confronting the national debt. I’ve seen him starting to shy away from a commitment to the sanctity of human life. And this last week, his reversal on getting tough on China and supporting our administration’s efforts to force a sale of ByteDance’s TikTok,[18]  

As to the first issue, the record of their administration is nothing to boast about.[19]  However, Pence’s defection is significant, whatever the reason.

The notion that Trump was a conservative appeared in an extreme form in a column by by Mark Thiessen, a Washington Post columnist, who wrote recently: “Based on his record in office, Trump should be considered one of the greatest conservative presidents we’ve had.”  Thiessen would like to support Trump, but his reported attitude toward Ukraine, Russia and dictators is a problem:

After meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Trump assured him he ‘will not give a penny’ to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression. If true, that’s not the Trump I want to vote for. . . .I can’t vote for a candidate who would abandon Ukraine to Vladimir Putin.[20]

Thiessen also referred to “Trump’s recent flip-flop on forcing the sale of TikTok in the United States.”

Although most Republican oficeholders remain in the MAGA camp, there have been notable defections.  When Trump was impeached over his January 6 behavior, 10  House Republicanns voted to impeach and 7 Republican Senators voted to convict, both record numbers for those of the same party as the accused.[21]

There has been some defection by members of Trump’s inner crcle in addition to  Pence:

Several of Trump’s former top advisers and allies have refused to endorse their former boss’s campaign, including . . . former attorney general William P. Barr and former White House chief of staff John Kelly.
    * * *     
    Former defense secretary Mark T. Esper told HBO host Bill Maher that “there’s no way” he’ll support Trump in November because he believes his former boss “is a threat to democracy.”[22]

 Some are considering the next step:

    Esper: “Every day that Trump does something crazy, the door to voting for Biden opens a little bit more, and that’s where I’m at,”
    Sarah Matthews, a former deputy White House press secretary, supported Nikki Haley in the Republican primaries. She told The Post, however, that if her choice is between Trump and Biden on Election Day, she’ll support Biden.
    Ty Cobb, who was once a Trump loyalist and as White House counsel defended the former president during the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, has repeatedly said that the country cannot elect Trump again. . . . “If the time comes and a vote for Joe is required to stop Trump, then I’d grudgingly vote for Biden,” Cobb said.
Cassidy Hutchinson succinctly stated why that move should be taken: “everybody should vote for Joe Biden if they want our democracy to survive.”[23]

14.  https://greensboro.com/dana-milbank-donald-trump-is-very-confused/article_ 872646de-bba4-11ee-911a-6f4c6a1dddfc.html
15.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/03/22/trump-ground-shift-rhetoric/
16. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/03/14/kemp-sununu-mcconnell-thune- back-trump/
17. Oath. and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning, Little, Brown & Co.(2023). See pp. 59-60, 131, 190-91. As to threats, also see https://www.huffpost.com/entry/anthony-scaramucci-trump- death-threats_n_660676c4e4b0c13128d023d9
18. https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/15/politics/pence-will-not-endorse-trump/index.html
19. ttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/01/25/trump-national-debt/
20. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/03/14/marc-thiessen-vote-trump- national-security/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_opinions&utm_campaign=wp_ opinions
21. https://www.npr.org/2021/01/14/956621191/these-are-the-10-republicans-who-voted- to-impeach-trump    and
https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-trial-live-updates/2021/02/15/967878039/7- gop-senators-voted-to-convict-trump-only-1-faces-voters-next-year
22.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/04/02/trump-aides-wont-vote-for-him/? utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F3d456b5%2F660c2988c2b6150e259e7579%2F5b65de00ade4e2779564ed94%2F17%2F53%2F660c2988c2b6150e259e7579
23. Ibid

Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day