The Democrats and the Republican Trump-haters (Never Trumpers) have staked their futures entirely on their ability to put across the fraud that 2020 was a pristine election. Many respectable people who know better, from Bill Barr to Brit Hume to the editors of the Wall Street Journal, are squandering their credibility every week with the reassertion of this falsehood.
It’s true that Donald Trump disserved himself with the absurdly miscalibrated legal attacks of Rudolph Giuliani, and, as only he could do, with preposterous claims about having won the popular vote, and with the absurd call for a new election. Having presciently warned of the dangers of ballot harvesting, he didn’t prepare adequately to combat it as the voting and vote-counting rules were changed, often unconstitutionally, in the swing states, ostensibly to promote voting during the pandemic, but also assuring that millions of votes were potentially unverifiable and passed through hands that could not be identified between being marked and cast. The courts refused to judge any of these constitutional cases on their merits. In these circumstances, as in 1960 (John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon) and 2000 (George W. Bush and Al Gore), a candidate was inaugurated, but we will never know who truly won.
All polls indicate that despite the massive media effort to suffocate any serious discussion of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results, the great majority of Republicans and a substantial minority of other voters have serious doubts about the authenticity of the result, as they should. As long as Trump can legitimately claim to have had a genuine grievance about the validity of the election result and the failure of the judiciary to consider the serious cases, it will be impossible to impute to him an illicit or even inappropriate motive in the events of Jan. 6, 2021. He had a grievance and called for peaceful protests, but the political destruction of Trump requires that this be obliterated from memory so he can be portrayed as a dangerous loser with no regard for the Constitution and who was prepared to counsel insurrection. The failure to sell a grotesquely exaggerated version of the gravity of the Jan. 6 events causes the familiar walls to “close in” on the anti-Trump arguments and reduces his enemies once more to hurling vitriol at him as a recidivistic lawbreaker and dangerous extremist.
This is nonsense and it’s wearing very thin now, and especially as the Biden shambles unfolds in every policy area, people do recall that Trump eliminated unemployment, illegal immigration, oil imports, and made great progress in shaping up NATO, resuming the progress of peace in the Middle East, containing Iran and North Korea, and ending the extreme one-sidedness of relations between the United States and China.
The ramshackle anti-Trump coalition that went on a binge of festive thanksgiving following the last election, amplified after Jan. 6 into a righteous crusade against insurrectionism, is changing color like a chameleon again. For a time, the Trump-haters were satisfied that the orange monster had been banished and that they would go back to their charade of periodic changes of party in power in Congress and the White House while the 95 percent of Washington that is Democratic continued to take the country to the left. Two nasty revelations intruded: Trump was not going away or being deserted by his followers, and the person they had put in his place was not the likable, moderate, patriotic backslapping man that they had known for nearly 50 years who could innocuously preside over de-Trumpification.
Various prominent commentators began excoriating Republican aspirants to high office because of their fear of the Trump vote. This theory was blown to pieces by the success of Trump endorsees in the Republican primaries. By the beginning of July, it was clear that President Joe Biden’s approval rating was negative by nearly 20 points; the administration was widely deemed to have botched every major policy area, and Trump’s hold on the Republican Party was getting stronger and not weaker. A new playbook was required, which of course meant recourse to the old playbook. No one was paying the slightest attention to the disgraceful mockery of an impartial inquiry into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, being conducted by the House of Representatives select committee of rabid Trump-haters, wallowing in carefully rehearsed overwrought fulminations.
There was nothing for it but to return to the main script and have the Justice Department section of the dirty tricks division of the Democratic National Committee do another raid: on the former president’s home in the historic mansion of Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach. This already looks like another vintage FBI political operation—an inexcusable, nonsensical, blunderbuss misuse of that bureau for rank and illegal partisan ends. The customary torrent of leaks took the place of any plausible explanation for what the administration thought it was doing. There were a few revivals of the tired pieties of encroaching walls as the leakers scrambled from expedient to expedient to explain what they thought they were doing rummaging through Melania’s clothes (and under-clothes) and the former president’s private office over a matter of documents that is almost impossible to contort into a plausible criminal action.
The real effort has been to change the conversation from the endless depressing failures of the Biden administration: inflation, millions of illegal immigrants and horrifying quantities of lethal drugs, skyrocketing crime, unclear objectives and exit strategy in Ukraine, an insane green energy policy, failed COVID-19 policy, the Afghan debacle, failure to deter Iran from deploying nuclear weapons, and the evident erosion of foreign respect for the United States. Public attention has to be deflected from these inconveniences to retain any chance of avoiding a debacle at the midterm elections.
A rickety argument was formulated that Biden was in full recovery: A supremely ugly duckling of a bill misrepresented as an anti-inflation measure, which doubles the size and avarice of the IRS, raises taxes on the successful, and increases funding for the green terror, was claimed by Biden’s chief of staff to have made him the greatest friend of the disadvantaged since Roosevelt, the greatest builder of infrastructure since Eisenhower, the greatest nominator of judges since Kennedy, and the greatest friend of minorities since Lyndon Johnson. Dream on.
Biden has cut the approval deficit in the polls to about 14 percent, and in the last few weeks there has been a mass movement by the anti-Trump forces to the hackneyed, geriatric, Hansell and Gretel story that Trump and Biden are both over-aged, punch-drunk relics who live by attacking each other and must be sent out to pasture together.
Biden is a mediocre and inattentive veteran of 50 years in the rotten borough of Delaware. He hasn’t achieved anything noteworthy and is an almost completely incompetent president. Trump accomplished more before he was president than anyone in the history of that office except those instrumental in founding the country and those who led great armies to victory in just wars (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Grant, Eisenhower), and despite unprecedented and illegal harassment of him through the corruption of the Justice Department and the intelligence services by his enemies, his was one of the most successful single terms in presidential history, after the first terms of Washington, Lincoln, Nixon, and the first and third terms of FDR, and Polk’s term.
Trump’s enemies would have banished him if they had presented a serious presidential candidate in 2020. They are now in a battle that they cannot win unless Trump loses it for them.