The Amazing Shift of Never-Trump Stalwarts Into Trump Inc. Acolytes

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

It is no small irony that the loudest opponents of Donald Trump have become fawning towards him.

As it stands today (checks my watch), 11 people have announced their intention of running for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024. Along with Donald Trump, there is in the mix a clutch of governors, one senator, a former UN ambassador, Trump’s VP, a talk show host, and two software industry veterans. It is a varied field, with names landing at various points to the right of the center on the political axis.

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Despite this diversity, there are two names, of course, dominating the discourse. Trump is, as expected, the figurehead, and Ron DeSantis is the target, and this reality exposes everything flawed about the self-proclaimed defenders of the conservative legacy: the loud cranks of the Never-Trump cult. Select pundits at outlets with the letter (R) buried deep in resumes, the condescending crowd at The Bulwark, and the circus of distemper known as The Lincoln Project have all rushed in to beg for notice in the feud of Florida.

This completely exposes the sham of these groups in their claim of conservative preservation principles. For years, as they have bellowed and howled about the dangers presented by Trump, I have asked of this crowd one question, without ever being shown an answer: Who do you promote to put forward your claims of proper conservative leadership? Who is your preferred conservative candidate? Since 2016, all the way up to today the response has been the same; there is no name ever given.

Today, with nearly a dozen people looking to get on the ticket you do not see any of them being promoted by these claimed experts. There is no individual held up and backed as the voice of the movement. Instead, only two names are ever mentioned, and the fact that one of them is even discussed should raise an eyebrow. That he is spoken of with laudatory words is stunning — but explainable.

What has been evident for some time is that Governor DeSantis has them scared. He is politically formidable, and popular, and does not need to coddle the press to get his message out. I recently covered how the press cannot resist declaring any rising star to be “the worst ever,” and they have now painted themselves into a corner with their hyperbole, as DeSantis now has to be elevated to cartoonish villain-levels of critiques. But something else is taking place.

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These people who have pledged themselves to a life of hating Trump have uniformly fallen into a pattern of praising the man. Start with the press. Recall that, for years, we have been told he poses such a threat to our safety and democracy that he needs to be censored and banished from social platforms? Well, today, Trump is regarded as a fertile source. His posts on Truth Social are routinely retweeted. Trump operatives are quoted as sources when writing hit pieces on DeSantis and his wife. Hit pieces in the press are fed from the Trump camp.

But Trump’s loudest detractors over the years have become, rather quickly, a gang of fawning sycophants. Here is Charlie Sykes, commander of the bad ship The Bulwark, mocking Ron DeSantis opting to announce his presidency on Twitter Spaces, calling the decision Meatball’s Musk Moment. It was not so long ago that Sykes would be scalding in his rebuke of Trump for using sophomoric names to shame opponents he would not engage with intellectually. Today, Chaz echos Trump by employing his daft nickname for DeSantis.

Bill Kristol has built a long catalog of critiques about why Trump is horrific and needs to be banished. For this reason, it becomes downright laughable to see him looking at DeSantis and not only trembling but rushing to invoke the qualities of Trump that diminish the DeSantis import. His attempt to mock the Twitter move means Bill resorts to fan-boy lingo for Trump.

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The dysfunctional troupe at The Lincoln Project (a crowd never big on introspection) put out a public letter to DeSantis, and while they certainly felt they were delivering harsh cuts on the governor, what they completely missed was they ended sounding like Trump cultists of the most rabid levels.

You think you are owed a win, but you’ve never been attacked like Trump will wreck you. Your height, your recent and sudden weight loss, your terrible political judgment, the bad advice from domineering advisors, will all be fair game to Trump. He’s going to go through you like fingers through pudding. You’re too weak and afraid of Trump and his MAGA cult members to fight him to win.

Pick any member of the Trump camp and place those words under the banner of their social media account; no one would blink. To see this level of bile, while delivering praise for Trump and realizing it comes from the crowd that has pledged to bring him down for years, is hilarious.

What is at play here is that, despite any of their assurances, what all of these depraved figures share is a common goal – a Trump victory. He is needed to be a fixture in order for them to continue with their “justified” outrage. Even a second presidential election victory would not be considered bad news. It would ensure four years of job security for them.

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Of course, lost on these elevated thinkers is if he were to win, it means their avowed opposition to Trump had been a complete failure to stop him. But…it would not stop them and their money-hoovering grifts.

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