Thursday, December 20, 2018


In between horrible headlines for the president and the GOP, right-wing commentators this week have been discussing the question of what the post-Trump GOP will look like. On Monday, National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote:
... it’s fair to ask at this moment: Who’s equipped to hold the Trump coalition together? ... it is easy to picture some Trump supporters finding [Mike] Pence too nice, too vanilla, too establishment and too boring to truly continue “Trumpism” as a political agenda.

... Almost everyone leaves the cabinet on bad terms, plenty have left tainted by spending scandals, and some cabinet members became outright critics, like Rex Tillerson.

Most high-level Trump supporters who try to emulate the president fall flat on their face when they try to be a separate leader, like Steve Bannon....

There is no natural ideological successor....
Power Line's Paul Mirengoff responded on Monday by suggesting Senator Tom Cotton. Today, Townhall's Kurt Schlichter names, among others, Cotton, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, and eyepatch-wearing congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw -- though he finds some of them lacking (Cotton's a lousy speaker; Haley and Crenshaw might actually -- horrors! -- work with Democrats).

But the next Trump probably won't be part of the political system. If you're a politician, the difficulty in trying to be the spiritual leader of the Republican base is that, well, you're a politician -- you've probably lost a few votes, which means you've failed to induce liberal tears on a number of occasions. In fact, liberals may have induced your tears once or twice. You are held accountable because you've been in office and yet you've failed to crush liberalism and the Democratic Party into dust.

The people who don't have that problem are the bloviators of the right-wing media. They can't be blamed for the fact that liberalism still exists, because they're not in office. Unlike officeholders, they can go on the air every day, urge Republicans in D.C. to be unyielding purists, and never have to deal with the fact that this frequently doesn't work.

Earlier this week, President Trump seemed ready to sign a stopgap budget measure with no money for his precious wall -- and with good reason: The votes for the wall aren't there in the Senate, and if a stalemate and shutdown carry over into next month, the newly Democratic House will reject wall funding.

But right-wing media voices have said it's time for Trump to dig in his heels. The president was harangued yesterday morning on Fox & Friends. In the evening, the first ten minutes of Hannity were devoted to Trump's wall concession. Ann Coulter wrote a column titled "Gutless President in Wall-less Country." And now Trump is insisting on wall funding again. Rush Limbaugh says Trump "got word to me" personally that he won't back down now.

If this ends in disaster for Republicans, the bloviators will be fine -- it won't be their loss. And that's why the post-Trump leader of the GOP, or at least the first one to truly inspire the base, will be a media figure. Media figures never lose to the opposition. They never have to count votes. They just have to pretend that victory is always within reach if you eschew compromise while yelling "Wolverines!" and reciting speeches from Braveheart and Animal House.

Donald Trump was a part-time Fox bloviator before becoming president. The next truly inspiring figure in the GOP will probably be a full-timer.

No comments: