They Never Blame Themselves

Republicans won’t take the heat if Trump loses.

Trump supporters don’t care what Matthew Continetti has to say. He’s part of the problem. Married to William Kristol’s daughter, mentored by Rich “Starbursts” Lowry, his contempt is probably welcome. It’s troubling to have to admit that someone like Continetti, who so clearly comes from the Always Wrong Caucus founded by his father-in-law, is actually dead right about something, but he’s written a great autopsy of the Republican Party which can also serve as an application for 2016’s Darwin Award.

Ordinarily, I’d see his piece on the Self-Immolation of the Republican Party as little more than a neoconservative salvage operation, except that virtually every word of it rings true. He’s especially right when he predicts that Trump-supporting Republicans won’t accept any blame for the result in November:

And when we are in late October, and Trump is still behind, his supporters will dismiss the polls as skewed, as phony. And when Trump loses, his cheerleaders in talk radio and on the Internet won’t accept a smidgen of responsibility, but will blame the neocons and the media and the Republican establishment for not doing more to help a lunatic become president.

It’s a joke. All of it: his candidacy, the apparatus of propaganda and grift surrounding it, the failures of governance and education and culture that have brought us to this place. What disturbs me most is the prospect that Donald Trump is what a very large number of Republican voters want: not a wonk, not an orator, not a statesman, not even a leader, really, if by leader you mean someone who persuades and inspires and manages a team to pursue a common good. They just want a man who vents their anger at targets above and below their status.

Of course, I could have written the exact same words to describe the Republicans’ reaction to Mitt Romney’s loss or to describe the national disgrace represented by mainstream support for George W. Bush. After all, Dick Morris and Karl Rove gave us the skewed polls argument in 2012, and Dubya was no wonk or orator or statesman or leader of any project for the common good.

Of course, George W. Bush is currently in the news because he’s coming out of the woodwork to campaign for several vulnerable Republican senators, including neoconservative champions John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. There is a neoconservative salvage operation underway, it’s just a bit like trying to patch the Titanic with a box of band-aids.

Continetti blames “failures of governance and education and culture” for bringing us to this place, when he would be better off looking at a family portrait. We have to go back to Warren Harding to find a comparable example of failed governance to the latter Bush administration, and the GOP turned into a grift machine under the watchful eye of the Bush family. As for education, has anyone treated it as more of a business opportunity than Jeb Bush? There’s a cultural rot here, but there are actual people to blame for it, and it’s not the recipients of catapulted propaganda.

So, we’ll keep seeing these “what have we wrought” pieces from the remnants of the old Bush coalition, but there’s never enough “we” in them for my tastes. So, when Continetti says the following about Trumpistas, I feel like he should be writing it about himself as he watches his movement circle the drain:

How cathartic it is to give voice to your fury, to wallow in self-righteousness, in helplessness, in self-serving self-pity. It’s what one expects of teenagers, artists, bloggers, pajama boys—immature, peevish, radical, self-destructive behavior.

We got to this place. People like Continetti led us here.

Now he’s looking around, saying “This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!”

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.