There is no greater profile in courage this election cycle than the conservatives who will only speak out against Donald Trump from behind the comfort of anonymity. Unless it is the avowed #NeverTrump editors who will nonetheless turn over space on their website to a convicted felon for an incoherent defense of the xenophobic sweet potato and Republican presidential nominee that amounts to “He’s not really a right-wing reactionary and anyway it’s Hillary Clinton who keeps making all the gaffes.”
Consider the three examples just from the first two days of the week:
- GQ published the musings of undecided voters and included an anonymous 42-year-old “politics reporter” in Washington who, despite being well aware of Trump’s authoritarian and racist tendencies, suggested he might vote for the mogul anyway because he feels that Trump would be a lot more fun to cover for four years than Hillary Clinton. Besides, “sometimes you just have to blow shit up to build it again.” Certainly the chaos Donald Trump would bring to our body politic, to say nothing of the millions of lives upended by his policies, is worth it to keep political reporters from getting too bored with their jobs.
- BuzzFeed published a story quoting several anonymous Republicans who are terrified by Clinton’s inability to put Trump away, who believe that he is unqualified and would be a catastrophe in the White House, but who nonetheless won’t go on the record with their opposition because they are worried about hurting their future business and employment prospects.
- National Review, which infamously turned over a large chunk of an issue in February to various conservative writers making the case against Trump, sent out a tweet to an article apparently titled "Time to Line Up for Trump.” The piece was written by Canadian Conrad Black, a former newspaper publisher who spent time in prison for fraud and embezzlement. The National Review later deleted the tweet to make it clear that Black’s piece was his opinion alone, not the official position of the magazine. It’s a neat trick, trying to distance the publication from its culpability in printing a piece that tried to normalize Trump by calling him “the amiable husband and father of an exemplary family [who] now appears as he does to those who know him: good-humored, sensible, and moderate,” an absolutely ludicrous claim about Donald Trump for any sentient human being who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to this campaign.
And that was just Monday and Tuesday. Who knows how much more of this kind of spineless hedging about the candidate we will see in the final eight weeks of the campaign.
Now, because the GQ and BuzzFeed stories relied on anonymous sources, it’s good to take them with a grain of salt. There is always the possibility that this is some high-level trolling from Republicans who like to wind up Democrats, a group notoriously prone to panicking.
But if we take them at face value, especially the BuzzFeed sources, then we should be nothing but contemptuous of them. By this point, it seems to be clear to any person to the left of Genghis Khan on the political spectrum that Trump is dangerously unqualified to occupy the Oval Office. (If it isn’t clear, here is a list of a mere 176 reasons why no one should vote for Trump.) Yet here are conservatives using terms like “terrifying” and “terrible for America and for the world” to describe a potential Trump presidency, and who still will only reluctantly vote for Clinton and will certainly not have the courage to publicly take a stand against their party’s candidate.
This is the ultimate expression of privilege, to assume that the presidential candidate equivalent of the Big One won’t destroy your house so long as you keep your head down and don’t let the San Andreas Fault know you’re there.
Added to the farcical nature of the anonymous whining is that these Republicans are apparently mad that Clinton has struggled to put Trump away. This after 25 years of often-baseless attacks and bad-faith complaints about and attacks against the Democratic candidate by the GOP have helped drive her unfavorable ratings with the public into sky-high territory.
In other words, the same people who have suffered from Clinton Derangement Syndrome for a quarter century are now upset that Clinton can’t destroy the candidate created by years and years of their own dishonesty.
It would all be hilarious if it wasn’t so craven and pathetic.