Thursday, July 14, 2022


The Atlantic's Peter Wehner, a Never Trump Republican, wonders why Donald Trump's staffers and supporters are having so few second thoughts in response to revelations coming from the January 6 committee
Almost all of Trump’s supporters want to cast their gaze elsewhere—on some other issue, on some other hearing, on some other controversy. They’ll do anything to keep from having to confront the reality of what happened on January 6. What you’re very unlikely to see, except in the rarest of cases, is genuine self-reflection or soul-searching, regret or remorse, feelings of embarrassment and shame.
Well, of course. There's no soul-searching because most of them thought they were doing the right thing, and still feel that way.

Wehner acknowledges that, but sees it as specific to Trump:
Some of them may have started out as lukewarm allies, but over time their support became less qualified and more enthusiastic. The unusual intensity of the Trump years increased their bond to him. He was the captain of Team Red. In their minds, loyalty demanded they stick with him....

What began as a reluctant willingness to defend Trump soon became an ingrained habit. They ignored or excused his moral and legal transgressions; each time they did, the next excuse got a little easier. They could not bear to acknowledge to themselves, and certainly not to anyone else, that they were defending a seditious scoundrel. The cognitive dissonance was overwhelming; their self-conception would not allow them to admit they were complicit in a corrupt enterprise.... And so they twisted themselves into knots, downplaying Trump’s maliciousness, hyper-focusing on the sins of the left. They rather liked that Trump would bring a Glock to a political and cultural knife fight.
But Republicans began to believe it was necessary to defend "Team Red" at all costs years before Trump became the leader of their party. For decades they've been "hyper-focusing on the sins of the left," which they regard as so abhorrent that, as they see it, nothing they do to sabotage the Democratic Party or liberalism can possibly be immoral. Trump pushed the limits of how much they could get away with in their war on Democrats, but the war predated him. They waged it against Barack Obama and Bill Clinton -- thirty years ago, as part of an all-out assault on Clinton, the Wall Street Journal editorial page helped hound a White House lawyer, Vincent Foster, to suicide. In a letter found at the scene of his death, he wrote, "The WSJ editors lie without consequence.... Here ruining people is considered sport."

Decades later, the Journal editorialists attacked news organizations that reported on the rape of a ten-year-old Ohio girl who then traveled to Indiana to obtain an abortion because it was impossible for her to obtain one under a new Ohio abortion ban, expressing doubt about the story because only one source was identified. (The story was accurate. The suspect has now been arrested.) Faux-liberal Jonathan Turley was among the many other Republican apparatchiks who attacked the story.

Use a ten-year-old rape victim as a political football because you hate the party that supports of abortion rights? Sure, why not? It's war. The end justifies the means.

They don't even care if they're destroying the life of one of their own, if that's what they consider necessary to defend Team Red. They've hounded Ray Epps out of his home and destroyed his business, even though Epps is a Trump supporter who showed up to rally around the president on January 6, because portraying Epps as a saboteur FBI agent gave Team Red a counternarrative when Democrats (and a few Republicans) accurately described January 6 as insurrection. Tucker Carlson, Ted Cruz, and many other others have slandered Epps. But when you're in existential struggle against Pure Evil, there's going to be some collateral damage. Sorry!

In September 2016, a right-winger named Michael Anton described the presidential contest as "The Flight 93 Election":
... charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
That's what they believe, and they believe it about every instance of Democratic rule: It's like being in a hijacked airplane on 9/11. It's "Russian Roulette with a semi-auto." So hanging Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi to prevent a Joe Biden presidency would have been an act of patriotism. Of course they feel no remorse.

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