Yesterday, the worst miss in job’s report history made its debut. Only 266,000 out of over one million projected jobs were added to the economy, and it wasn’t just the economists who were surprised. Joe Biden’s handlers had pre-scheduled what was clearly meant to be a victory lap later that morning. But as the president shuffled out to take the podium, reality had punched him in the face, leaving him to levy pathetic excuses for how stagnation in the recovery was actually a good thing.
It was a watershed moment in the new administration that showed that policy actually matters, and obsessions over decorum seem rather shallow when the bullets really start to fly.
Naturally, given the seriousness of what we witnessed, that meant resident Never Trumpers were talking about Donald Trump yesterday — instead of the failures of Joe Biden and how inflation is threatening to crush the middle class.
For 6 years, elected GOPers have rationalized their Trump support saying to themselves "if I just compromise my values this one time" the worst will be behind me. They've been wrong every time.
Trump's not going away. This isn't going to get easier. Trump won't bring GOP unity
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) May 7, 2021
This has a very “old man yells at cloud” vibe. On one of the worst days of the Biden administration so far, this was the hot take Hayes felt like sharing? It also happens to be wrong, precisely because the GOP is united. Unity is not defined by whether House Republicans want to keep an ineffective Bush throw-back like Liz Cheney in leadership. Further, anyone actually observing the current political environment can see that the GOP are heavy favorites to win in 2022. That’s not a reality that would exist if the GOP were in shambles, a picture Hayes continually tries to paint.
It was his next response that truly stuck out, though.
"Electorally winning agenda."
In 2016 and 2020, Trump underperformed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign at the national level. Romney won a higher share of the total vote in 2012 (47.2%) than Trump did in either 2016 (46.1%) or 2020 (46.9%). Romney was challenging a popular incumbent. https://t.co/HmDBILbyEM
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) May 7, 2021
This is the delusion of Never Trump, in as stark of terms as I’ve ever witnessed.
Note the appeal to participation trophies instead of actually, you know, winning elections. Mollie Hemingway is obviously correct because Trump did actually win, and her qualifier of “electorally winning” is important. No one outside of the neoconservative consultant class cares about a 1% difference in vote share. What they care about is who campaigns in a way that can actually win the electoral college, and thus, the election.
Hayes turns into a tout for the popular vote here, because he thinks it fits his narrative. Further, even taking Hayes’ point as relevant, the actual gap in percentage between Romney and Obama was far higher than Trump and Clinton. Meanwhile, Trump’s 2020 loss mirrored Romney’s, in that regard.
There are other errors here, as well. Barack Obama was not a “popular incumbent.” In fact, in the heat of the 2012 campaign, he routinely carried an approval rating below 50%. What turned Obama into a “popular incumbent” by the time election day rolled around was the failure of Mitt Romney to wage an effective campaign. Attempting to separate Romney’s face-plant from Obama’s late rise is pure gaslighting.
Regardless, none of this really matters. It is an exercise in beating one’s head against a brick wall to continue to sugar-coat Mitt Romney as the true representation of a winning coalition. He simply wasn’t, as evidenced by the fact that he did not win. Hayes can cherry-pick whatever results he wants, but in the end, the GOP has moved past Romney’s vision of the Republican party. No amount of fluffing The 2012 loss and obsessing over Donald Trump is going to change that. That doesn’t mean you have to support Trump himself as the 2024 nominee, but it does mean you have to accept the reality of how the party has changed in regards to policy and posture.
The current dynamic is simple. Republican voters prefer a far more restrained foreign policy; they see China as a threat to be combated; they oppose big tech monopolizing the means of information distribution; they want immigration laws followed; and they give no quarter to big corporations that turn around and spit in their faces with woke ideology. It’s not 2005 anymore. Mitt Romney and those like him are never going to represent the GOP at a high level again. Liz Cheney is not the future of the party.
These are facts that can be accepted and worked with, or one can continue to yell at the clouds as they pass. Hayes and his cohorts have chosen the latter path. We’ll see how that works out for them.