One of the blessings of the Trump candidacy and presidency has been identifying people who had portrayed themselves as conservatives for years but were suddenly revealed as being interested only in the grift. They wanted speaking fees and free flights and free meals and accommodations and book deals and to be invited to all the best parties. They wanted to feel superior to the people for whom they claimed to provide intellectual leadership. One of those guys was Tom Nichols. He became famous, such as that was, by writing a book called the “Death of Expertise,” in which you learn it is VERY VERY BAD to ignore experts and, unsurprisingly, that Nichols claimed a rather ratty and tattered mantle of expertise is hardly a surprise to anyone. It was more the cri de coeur of someone who everyone was discovering was something of a mediocrity than a cautionary tale for society.
Nichols is one of those guys who claims to have left the GOP and vows to vote Democrat in 2020:
I don’t care if Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a mendacious Massachusetts liberal. She could tell me that she’s going to make me wear waffles as underpants and I’ll vote for her. I don’t care if Sen. Kamala Harris is an opportunistic California prosecutor who wants to relitigate busing. She could tell me that I have to drive to work in a go-cart covered with Barbie decals and I’ll vote for her. I don’t care if Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is a muddle-headed socialist from a rural class-warfare state (where I once lived as one of his constituents). He could tell me he’s going to tax used kitty litter and I’ll vote for him.
[I was sooooooo happy he stopped before he got to “I don’t care if Pete Buttigieg…”]
But he can’t shut up about what Republicans should do.
A few weeks ago, he finally realized that the Democrats were on a glide slope towards defeat in 2020:
We pledged over two years ago to join hands on this one issue. But now I worry that in your zeal to win the Woke Twitter and college campus primary, you will simply make the same mistakes you made in 2016. Your nominee will crush it in the bicoastal race to be the Honorary Governor of the New Californiork Republic. Blue cities everywhere will welcome you as liberators. And Trump will laugh at you every day from Washington.
This election could be a landslide if the public focuses on Trump’s abuses of power, his offenses against the Constitution, his insane foreign policy, his barely contained megalomania and narcissism. I support your efforts to impeach him, but that’s likely to fail, and it is well within your — our — power to remove him at the ballot box when that happens.
But if you can’t get to 270 electoral votes, you’re going to have to live with me as the grumpiest roommate you ever had. You can count on four years of me letting the tub get grimy, leaving my dishes in the sink and not speaking to you.
Because if Trump wins again, it’s going to be your fault.
Now that the Democrats have blown off his expertise and no credible member of the GOP gives a f*** about his opinions, Nichols is having a breakdown.
I am immobilized with a heating pad on my back, so you’re all getting my Sunday night blast of ill-temper about Trump’s latest attacks on Vindman and others. Bottom line: We are not required to think well of people who are still defending this. /1
This should be, in any sane country, a bipartisan moment. The President is now committing multiple impeachable offenses every day by demanding laws be broken at his command. Republicans – especially – should have cut Trump loose long ago as a matter of duty. /2Yes, some support for Trump is “polarization.” But it’s also something darker: It’s a party of opportunists manipulating an ignorant mass of propaganda-addled people. The GOP and its media enablers are as hollow and cynical a group as has ever existed in American politics. /3This is what happens when a group of people whose lives are ordinary and full of normal problems spend too much time connected to an internet and a cable box that tells them their lives could be awesome but for the people in the Emerald City. An old story, with new technology. /5What’s also new is that the GOP – once called the party of ideas even by Sen. Moynihan in my lifetime – has now decided that being in power is more important than fidelity to ideas or to the Constitution itself. There is no legal or constitutional red line they respect. /6Mass communication technology exploited by unprincipled and cynical leaders in wink-wink cahoots with foreign powers, demagogues getting rich by scaring rubes and old people, a sociopath with a cult following. This is something we once would have joined together to stop. /7Nixon was heading for impeachment for a *fraction* of what Trump has done. Republicans know this. They once prided themselves on being the messengers to the White House that the line had been crossed. No longer. /8But back to the main point: Our fellow citizens who affirmatively support this behavior do not deserve our understanding or our patient arguments. They are beyond this. They deserve our unyielding – and peaceful – disapproval. There is no obligation to be “understanding.” /9Their support for Trumpism should not produce shouting matches or ruined family dinners. It should produce resolute changing of the subject. Outside of family, it should lead to shunning of friends who insist on arguing over why Trump is right to smear combat veterans. /10At some point, friendship and comity require shared values. Americans have broken friendships over early Communism, McCarthy, civil rights, Nixon, Vietnam. This was not a tragedy. It was the social opprobrium that is a sign of moral health rather than relativistic anomie. /11This is another of those times. The President has become a raving paranoid on national television, name calling members of Congress, smearing military officers, promising secret revenge, demanding others in the govt break the law, deriding our intel and LE professionals. /12There is no “but socialism” or “but abortion” hiccup that is acceptable. None. Republicans did not say “if we impeach Nixon the commies will roll over us and there will be abortions in the streets.” They did their duty before the Constitution. The country eventually agreed. /13I have no interest in debating anyone on why Trump’s crimes are not impeachable. We all know better. Sens. Portman and Collins and Romney and yes, even McConnell, all know better. This is not a good-faith disagreement, and it never was. /14The bright spot here is that this is not “Civil War 2.0” or a fascist movement. That would require commitment and bravery from the Trumpist inner circle. They are led by a cowardly man and they are cowards themselves. The rank and file are groupies, not activists. /15There is no mass movement party here, no hard central corps of true believers who will advance the cause, because there is no “cause.” Trumpism is about people who watch too much TV, who have shown, over three years, they have no real idea what to do with power anyway. /16But the damage to the legitimacy and the long-term health of our institutions is now, in some cases, deep and irreversible. This will harm everyone long after this idiocy is over, except for the right wing grifters who will take their payday and skip town. /17If you are still enthusiastically supporting Trump, your politics are morally flawed, or you are lying to yourself. More likely, you know what you’re doing, and you’re supporting him for the pure opportunism of using an increasingly sick man for your own parochial interests. /18
Either way, the rest of us are not obligated to respect those views, no more than we had to respect the supporters of Joe McCarthy, Father Coughlin, Huey Long, George Lincoln Rockwell, or any of the other hideous Americans who attracted a mass following. Enough is enough. /19x
At the end of the day, I, and most other people, vote for my interests. That decision is a transactional one. It isn’t laden with morality or meaning. Do I think Trump is a morally upright man? No. I don’t. But I don’t see him running against anyone any better than him. And I’m under no obligation to assist a Democrat victory simply to get the approval of Vichy Conservatives like Nichols and the Bulwarkians and their fellow travelers. On balance, the near-daily sh**storm aside, President Trump has done more to advance issues important to me in three years than George Bush, a man I did and do admire, accomplished in eight years. And he’s locked a lot of those changes in for decades by his court appointments.
All Nichols manages to do is put on public display the arrogance, the hubris, the small-mindedness, the lack of self-awareness, the know-nothingness and the lack of intellect that many Americans always expected existed in our political punditry. He’s convinced himself that he is smart and should be running things and the fact that people ignore him–or if they don’t, they are usually trying to suppress a guffaw–means that they are all stupid.
19 tweets about how dare the little people get involved in politics and decided they are fed up with how DC works.
Trump was always a terrible vehicle for people to protest or reform our political system (and the GOP in particular) but he was the only one on offer. https://t.co/ww4Ef2sPLN
— Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) November 4, 2019
In short, if you want to understand how we got Trump. we got him because this is what we sensed in the guys like John McCain and Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
I’d only have one request to make of Nichols (actually two, but the first one is still a felony in a few states in the Deep South despite the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage), you’ve already quit the GOP, your contempt for the center-right voter is plain to see, why don’t you just STFU and leave us alone? You and I will both feel a lot better.