Let’s acknowledge right up front that the people we’re welcoming to our bosom today are not our friends. George Conway III is a corporate lawyer and a proud member of the Federalist Society. Reed Galen is a veteran political consultant who helped inflict George W. Bush on the Oval Office. John Weaver is another political consultant who tried to give us John McCain and John Kasich as presidents. Steve Schmidt is the political consultant who thought the best choice for vice president in 2008 was Sarah Palin. Rick Wilson, another political consultant, gave us a truly brutal campaign ad that tried to tie war hero Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
In normal times, we would be pillorying them for the damage they helped inflict on our country.
These are not normal times.
These five are board members of The Lincoln Project, the “hive mind” of what the mainstream media has giddily dubbed the “Never Trumpers,” a loose coterie of Republicans who have taken what they say is a principled stance against the modern GOP, because it “has abdicated” the responsibility of serving the people and respecting the Constitution, “and instead pledged their loyalty to one person.” I agree completely, but damn, y’all. Sarah Palin? George W. Bush? Sarah Palin?
Let’s let them explain a bit:
Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character. … Congressional Republicans have embraced and copied Mr. Trump’s cruelty and defended and even adopted his corruption. Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet. … [Between now and November], our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line.
Yes, indeed. I agree absolutely.
And in normal times, I would continue with a “But” or a “However,” and qualify this new-found resistance to Republican criminality and excess with a reminder of how they were involved and complicit with the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush administration and other nests of GOP wrongdoing.
I’m not going to do that for today. In fact, I’m not going to do it between now and November. Because these are not normal times.
The five members of the Lincoln Project wrote an op-ed published on April 15 that reads in part:
This November, Americans will cast their most consequential votes since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. We confront a constellation of crises: a public health emergency not seen in a century, an economic collapse set to rival the Great Depression, and a world where American leadership is absent and dangers rise in the vacuum. Today, the United States is beset with a president who was unprepared for the burden of the presidency and who has made plain his deficits in leadership, management, intelligence and morality.
So they’ve taken a step unprecedented in modern American history. They, prominent Republican movers and shakers all, have turned their backs on their party and endorsed Joe Biden for president.
This is fucking extraordinary, people.
We think we’ve seen this before. We haven’t. A small(ish) sliver of leftists who aren’t really Democrats routinely turn their backs on Democratic candidates and sneer rather than pollute their beautiful minds with dirty political compromise. They helped give us, among other presidents, Richard Nixon (twice), Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. Oh, yes, and Donald Trump. But they aren’t alone. Quite a few centrist and right-leaning Democrats refused to support McGovern in 1968. A particularly obnoxious group of Hillary Clinton supporters turned their backs on the Obama candidacy in 2008 (many eventually becoming Trump supporters, as I understand the progression). But we don’t see this very often in Republican presidential races. Some of them might have considered candidates like Dole, McCain and Romney too centrist for their tastes, but with few exceptions they lined up behind the chosen candidates.
There’s always some “Democratic” jackass like Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman who endorses the Republican when crunch time rolls around. I don’t remember a single Republican of any prominence standing up to endorse Gore, or Kerry, or Hillary Clinton.
We’ve never seen such a prominent, and loud, group of Republicans stand up against their presidential candidate — for re-election, even! — and publicly endorse the Democrat. Never.
The rest of their op-ed is something relatively standard for having been written by four political consultants and one lawyer: a well-crafted explanation of why Biden is a candidate who will appeal to Republican, or Republican-leaning, voters, in contrast to the grinning, gibbering, chaotic ass carbuncle of a candidate being fielded by the GOP.
In this way, Trump is a photonegative of Joe Biden. While Trump has innumerable flaws and a lifetime of blaming others for them, Biden has long admitted his imperfections and in doing so has further illustrated his inherent goodness and his willingness to do the work necessary to help put the United States back on a path of health and prosperity. Unlike Trump, Biden is not an international embarrassment, nor does he demonstrate malignant narcissism. A President Biden will steady the ship of state and begin binding up the wounds of a fractured country. We have faith that Biden will surround himself by advisers of competence, expertise and wisdom, not an endless parade of disposable lackeys. For Trump, the presidency has been the biggest stage, under the hottest klieg lights in a reality show of his making. Every episode leaves the audience more shocked and divided. Trump’s only barometer is his own ego. The country, our values and its people do not factor into Trump’s equation. Biden understands a tenet of leadership that far too few leaders today grasp: The presidency is a life-and-death business, that the consequences of elections have real-world effects on individual Americans, and that all of this — all of the struggle, toil and work — is not a zero-sum game. … We’ve seen the damage three years of corruption and cultish amateurism can do. This country cannot afford to be torn apart for sport and profit for another term, as Trump will surely do. If Biden takes office next January, he won’t need on-the-job training.
This is powerfully persuasive for anyone, and particularly right-leaning voters. (Trump cultists don’t read as a rule, and I doubt very seriously anyone on Fox News will read this to them except to mention it and waggle their flabby asses at the authors. Piss on all of them.) And the Lincoln Project doesn’t need to peel off a huge percentage of Republican voters. In February, Galen told a McClatchy reporter, “If we move 1 percent of voters from either the Trump side or staying at home to an alternative, whoever the nominee is, not only does Trump lose, he loses in a landslide.” Yasss.
Biden, like other centrist and center-left Democratic presidential candidates, has always been open to culling support from the less rabidly committed fringe of Republican voters, to the endless disgust of the purists on the far left. Biden’s press secretary, T.J. Ducklo, told the same McClatchy reporter that Biden intends on assembling a broad coalition of voters, including “the base of the party, African American and Latino voters, but also … independents and disaffected Republicans who are determined to defeat the most corrupt president in modern history.”
To a degree, I share the concerns of the leftist Democrats. I didn’t support Biden’s primary candidacy, in part because he has been all too willing to get cuddly with Republicans and big-money types to the detriment of ordinary Americans. And in normal times, I would be ill that this elderly centrist was the choice of Democrats when we had far more interesting candidates like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, even Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker. I’d still vote for Biden in November, because I’m a goddamn adult who knows when to step up and do the right thing regardless of my personal preferences, but I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about it.
These, as I’ve said, are not normal times.
I am horrified by this presidency in a deep, visceral way that I’ve never felt, even for that pusillanimous little pissant, George W. Bush, and his mean Uncle Dick Cheney. Trump sickens me. He outrages me. He offends me. And he offends the Lincoln Project members, too.
Good. I welcome their support. And up to the aftermath of the November election, I will support them wholeheartedly. They are enemies of my enemy. They are my allies.
After November 3, that changes. Schmidt, Wilson, Conway, Nicolle Wallace, and their NeverTrumper buddies are going to continue to be conservatives (some have left the GOP, others remain, presumably in hopes of revamping the party to get the Trump stink off of it). Suddenly the divide between us and them will become much more evident. (Unless hanging with the good guys will have changed them a bit. Hell, if Magneto can join the side of right and justice, anything can happen.)
They may join me and other Democrats in our demand for justice. I want Trump in a Supermax prison for crimes against humanity, for treason, for any number of wanton, cruel and flagrant violations. He can be joined by Barr, McConnell, Miller, Ross, and pretty much every sorry son of a bitch who was a member of his administration. Good. Again, I welcome their support. You do, too.
But. They will also want Biden and the Democrats to start embracing, or at least getting a bit snuggly with, conservative policies and ideas. Remember, they wrote:
We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.
Hmph. “Broadly conservative” should have no place in a Biden presidency. (I don’t believe it will, though Biden will likely meet at least some Republicans much closer to halfway on specific issues than I would like.) They can also forget about “quid pro quo.” Neither Biden nor the rest of us will owe them a goddamned thing for their help in unseating the Orange Monster. They did it out of a sense of justice, humanity, and fidelity to bedrock American principles, not because they expect to be granted favors by the incoming president.
They should be given no consideration except a sincere expression of gratitude and a willingness to share lunch sometime. (Same with the angry Bernie Busters on the left. If some of them climb down off of their mountaintop to vote for Biden, they get a warm and genuine expression of thanks. They do not get to rewrite Biden’s policy platform to mirror Bernie’s in return.)
In short: We welcome the Never Trumpers and their assistance during this campaign. We appreciate it. And after Janury 20, 2021, Biden and his White House will govern like principled Democrats, regardless of what the Never Trumpers want.
They are allies for now. No more, no less.