Saturday, October 13, 2018


I'm not in the mood to do a point-by-point rebuttal of the latest Bret Stephens column, in which the putatively #NeverTrump conservative exactly echoes all the current arguments made by the Party of Trump about the so-called Democratic/liberal "mob." I just want to address this Eeyorish tweet from former Obama adviser David Axelrod, written in response to the Stephens column:

Is that true in the abstract? Is it universally true that "meeting anger and nastiness with anger and nastiness is a losing proposition"?

In the early days of Donald Trump's political career, pundits occasionally speculated on how well Trump would have done if he'd run as a Democrat. It struck me as a ridiculous question -- Democrats in the recent past have rejected their most demagogic politicians (Alan Grayson, Cynthia McKinney), and even those politicians weren't as extreme, ignorant, venal, amoral, bigoted, and narcissistically indifferent to the fate of the United States as Trump. It seemed impossible to imagine anyone like that winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

However, now we have Michael Avenatti, whose ideology we know nothing about but who seems ready to run for president as a Trumpesque smashmouth candidate.

So let's imagine that Avenatti runs, wins, and governs like a Democratic Trump. If Republican respond in a way that could be described as "meeting anger and nastiness with anger and nastiness," do you have any doubt at all that it would be greeted as an unfortunate but understandable reaction -- the agonized outcry of angry but "authentic" Real Americans and their elected champions? We saw how the Tea Party emerged in 2009 and 2010 and went on to neuter the Obama presidency. It was widely argued that the Democrats had this coming because of their "overreach" and failure to do exactly what the heartland supposedly wanted. The Trump counterrevolution essentially started in those years, and there isn't a Republican in America who looks back on the town-hall-mobbing, Obama-effigy-hanging birthers and thinks, "Gosh, I wish we hadn't done that."

It was a winning proposition for the GOP because it's okay to do pretty much anything if you're a Republican.

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