Richard Nixon famously said about Barbara Bush that “she knew how to hate.” For a Republican, that’s a hell of a compliment. Even though I have to spit whenever I say David Frum’s name because of his role as warmonger speechwriter for GWB, I have to admit that his latest piece in the Atlantic shows that he knows how to hate, too. First, the facts:
That the pandemic occurred is not Trump’s fault. The utter unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault. The loss of stockpiled respirators to breakage because the federal government let maintenance contracts lapse in 2018 is Trump’s fault. The failure to store sufficient protective medical gear in the national arsenal is Trump’s fault. That states are bidding against other states for equipment, paying many multiples of the precrisis price for ventilators, is Trump’s fault. Air travelers summoned home and forced to stand for hours in dense airport crowds alongside infected people? That was Trump’s fault too. Ten weeks of insisting that the coronavirus is a harmless flu that would miraculously go away on its own? Trump’s fault again. The refusal of red-state governors to act promptly, the failure to close Florida and Gulf Coast beaches until late March? That fault is more widely shared, but again, responsibility rests with Trump: He could have stopped it, and he did not.
The lying about the coronavirus by hosts on Fox News and conservative talk radio is Trump’s fault: They did it to protect him. The false hope of instant cures and nonexistent vaccines is Trump’s fault, because he told those lies to cover up his failure to act in time. The severity of the economic crisis is Trump’s fault; things would have been less bad if he had acted faster instead of sending out his chief economic adviser and his son Eric to assure Americans that the first stock-market dips were buying opportunities. The firing of a Navy captain for speaking truthfully about the virus’s threat to his crew? Trump’s fault. The fact that so many key government jobs were either empty or filled by mediocrities? Trump’s fault. The insertion of Trump’s arrogant and incompetent son-in-law as commander in chief of the national medical supply chain? Trump’s fault.
Then, the hate:
He has never tried to be president of the whole United States, but at most 46 percent of it, to the extent that serving even the 46 percent has been consistent with his supreme concerns: stealing, loafing, and whining. Now he is not even serving the 46 percent.
“Stealing, loafing and whining” captures Trump’s approach to the Presidency more precisely than any other phrase I’ve heard.
I don’t have any illusions that never-Trumpers like Frum or the equally eloquent Jennifer Rubin (she’s pitch-perfect here and in most of her recent, prolific output) are going to achieve their goal to eject Trump and Trumpism from the party. But it is instructive to watch their rhetoric, because both of them are good at criticizing Trump without pulling any punches. When they’re in, they’re all in.