The Wages of Trump Hatred

Over the last five years, the pathology of Trump Derangement Syndrome has been widely described. It was more than a chronic disease and was often characterized by an array of rapidly advancing symptoms of deterioration in reasoning, emotional stability, and personal ethics. 

More practically, often the deranged Trump hater found in his odium a cover for all sorts of prior personal intemperance and careerist dissipation. Loudly hating Trump became a passport for excess, private and public, and a sort of preemptive insurance that excused or rather greenlighted smears, slander, and personal misdeeds.

The Anti-Lincoln Project

For over a year, the theme of the NeverTrump Lincoln Project was the organizers’ professed superior morality. They had it; most others on the Right did not. Only a select heroic few of the Republican Party would dare to break ranks to end the danger to the country posed by a supposedly morally inferior Donald Trump. 

Forget Trump’s economic, domestic, cultural, and foreign policy record that had belied critics by its successes—despite historic opposition, investigation, denigration, and obstruction. No matter. Character was king. Again, the Lincoln Project had it; Trump followers did not. 

The Lincoln Project’s Band of Brothers—initially four financially strapped, embittered middle-aged white male Washington insiders—lectured the country that those few, those happy few, that band of brothers would fight for us. If only they were adequately funded, they could save us from the moral turpitude of four more years of Trump. 

Their ostensible promise to the Left was that they would hold down their end of the bargain by maintaining the 10-12 percent of Republicans who did not vote for Trump in 2016. In truth, they may have had nothing to do with preserving a bare six percent of Republicans who would again vote against Trump. That was a modest aim, but apparently, every bit of Trump derangement was fundable. Or as the departing, now mansion-buying Steve Schmidt put it, “I really didn’t give a sh-t how many Republicans were voting for Trump or not.”

If one were to believe all the sermonizing of these latter-day Elmer Gantrys, then their inherent paradoxes, hypocrisies, and selfish agendas might magically disappear. 

For example, it was quickly evident that the Lincoln Project luminaries were not just fixated on destroying Trump and derailing the most conservative presidential agenda since Ronald Reagan’s, but also on refuting their own supposedly lifelong commitment to conservative causes by abetting the Biden campaign and the hard-Left interests that drove it. 

When Republicans hired them, they were conservative; when they did not, these buskins were liberal. To ensure their own continued largess, they were not just to be Romneyite rejectionists, not just Bidenites, but abettors of the neo-socialist cause of Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and the squad.

Money was the prime impetus to the project. Again, we were supposed to forget that some of the Lincoln Project luminaries were flat broke. Who cared that others owed huge sums in back taxes, with no apparent way of repayment—given their own reputations for failed campaigns and expensive, but otherwise mediocre consultancy?

Almost all were eager to set up shadow service companies to siphon off the expected huge sums from rich leftists. The project’s directors eagerly assumed their roles of useful idiocy, their donors that of cynical manipulators. Both conspired to destroy their shared bogeyman, Donald Trump, and with him all obstacles to the new hard progressive future. 

Before November 3, the media was not so much interested in the backgrounds or details of these handy moral preeners. Then suddenly Trump lost the election. Biden was inaugurated. And, again mysteriously, a recalibrated media found the grifters of the Lincoln Project expendable, although not so idiotic—given that they had diverted millions of dollars into their own private coffers in the form of “consulting fees.” 

After November 3, we also learned that co-founder John Weaver was a sexual bird of prey. He had leveraged his newfound Lincoln largess and influence as quid pro quos for his own sexual predations—with little apparent regard for the age of his targeted young male victims. 

This sordid fact was apparently known to many of the pre-election sermonizers at the Lincoln Project. But again, disclosure of that fact, in a cost-to-benefit analysis, was considered secondary to preserving the growing revenue stream from the Left. 

So these moralists lied about their ignorance of their own pederast, and apparently on one occasion at least would-be pedophile, in their midst. 

Only after the election, we learned that Rick Wilson and Weaver in particular were raking in and largely disguising exorbitant fees, in part to pay huge back tax bills. After the election, the project’s legal consultants suddenly were “shocked” by such disclosures, and began leaving the now-discredited project—at precisely the time when it was in dire need of a legal autopsy and full disclosure. 

Rarely has the abyss between the pretense and the lie been so vast: a group subsidized on purported conservative moral principles, and aimed at stopping the cultural damage to the cause by Donald Trump, was funded by left-wingers eager to buy off a few financially imperiled has-beens, who exaggerated their vestigial consulting clout among the Washington swamp. But then again, beggars cannot be choosers.

In turn, the Lincoln Project spent much of its near $100 million on themselves. And the grift sort of worked, as they puffed themselves up about the Biden win, rescued themselves from the IRS, splurged on opulent vacation homes and appurtenances—and declared that ending Trump was the only the lucrative beginning, as they made lists to hound and denigrate his former appointees.

But the con sputtered out, as they ended up accusing each other of improprieties. Rodent-like they scrambled overboard from the now rotting, putrid, and sinking ship. 

The loudest of the moralists, Steven Schmidt, epitomized the absurdity of the project when he contextualized his silence about the free-wheeling Weaver. Schmidt, you see, was a victim himself, as he related a long ago purported childhood abuse trauma. And in racialist and chauvinist fashion, as Schmidt left he announced that he wanted a non-white male to replace him in the almost all-white male partnership. 

Think of the condescending absurdity: Mostly all-white male swamp creatures were happy to rake in millions. But when their own moral lapses and depravities destroyed their grift, they quit—and only then invited in more women or people of color to sort out the mess they left in their wake. 

The only mystery in this entire moral putridity was who deserved the most censure: the cynical rich leftists who funded the charade hoping to manipulate pseudo-conservatives to serve their hard-Left needs—or these two-timing, born-again charlatans who masqueraded as conservatives to shake down millions from those who could afford to so indulge themselves. 

The common denominator, again, was Trump hatred. And so that noble aim excused every sordid means to enhance it. 

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gubernatorial Lethality

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should have become a political pariah by summer 2020. His handling of the COVID-19 virus was all in all the worst in the country. At first, like most politicians, Cuomo had downplayed the chance of a pandemic. Then, like most politicians, he blamed other politicians for downplaying it as he had, once the coronavirus swept his state. 

Where were the ventilators, the hospitals, and the beds, once the virus struck? 

For a brief moment, Cuomo praised Trump, who had sent a hospital ship to Manhattan that went unused, who gave him a plethora of ventilators that were stockpiled, and who sent an entire tent hospital to the Javits Center that mostly stayed empty. But as the death toll mounted, and as the 2020 election heated up, and as Trump’s popularity dipped in the polls, Cuomo pivoted.

Abruptly, he now blasted Trump as negligent, derelict, a veritable killer of the innocent. He appeared on his brother’s CNN show, as they yucked it up to showcase his pandemic competency—and always the federal government’s purported sudden laxity. 

His self-serving daily press conferences amplified his bombast and snark. And ostensibly they won Cuomo an Emmy for his televised theatrics. Hollywood’s subtext was that by weaponizing the epidemic against the now candidate Trump, the useful idiot Cuomo at least deserved some sort of acting award.

As with the grifters of the Lincoln Project, as long as Donald Trump was on the ballot, Cuomo was deified. He wrote his own hagiography about the arts of dealing with a pandemic. He, not COVID-19 and its victims, was the story. He bantered, strutted, and cajoled on national television—always eying either the 2020 vice-presidential nomination or at least the attorney generalship in the Biden Administration. 

Cuomo may have had the second-worst record of any governor in the United States, in terms of deaths per million from the virus (currently 2,361 per million New York residents, second to next-door New Jersey). He may have shut down his state, drove out millions to seek refuge elsewhere, ruined New York’s economy, and yet suffered more deaths and inflicted more damage on his own than a similarly sized, open, and economically rebounding Florida and Texas. Still, Cuomo had one advantage those red-state governors lacked: a large left-wing media platform to blast the hated Trump. 

Now, again mysteriously, after the inauguration of Joe Biden, we learn the sordid details about Cuomo, in the fashion revelations appear daily and simultaneously about the Lincoln Project. It was known long ago that Cuomo, in a panic about the epidemic, had shuttled infected patients into the state’s extended care homes—and by executive fiat—where they proved mobile Petri dishes, infecting vulnerable residents, who began dying en masse

Cuomo might have stopped the awful practice. He might have announced the accurate number of the dead to highlight the need to end immediately the lunatic diversions. Instead, we now learn he ordered his aides to hide the lethality figures. If he was blasted for 8,000 rest home deaths, then what, he feared, would be the public reaction at the true figure of 15,000 dead?

Would the president whom he demagogued now demagogue him? So Cuomo lied. He hid the grim data from a media all too eager before November 3 to comply. He lied to the New York state legislature. He lied to the U.S. Department of Justice. He lied to the public. And he assumed these were all “noble lies”—necessary for the good cause of ending Donald Trump. 

Clipping His Twitter Wings

Before November 3, Silicon Valley—especially the $4 trillion quartet of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter—had become unhinged by Donald Trump. They had no idea what to do with his 70 million Twitter followers, the legions of his Facebook fans, and the Gmail millions who adored him.

The Left became irate at Big Tech. What good did it do for the obsequious traditional media to slant the news, to offer 90 percent negative television and print coverage of Trump, to smother the achievements of his presidency, when he circumvented the putdowns through Twitter and Facebook?

Who cared whether they check marked, or temporarily deplatformed or for a while canceled or shut down Trump and thousands of his Trumper followers—when he still stirred up millions through the technological gadgetry and hard-won capital of Silicon Valley’s progressive anointed? After all, when the Obamas go public in their demand to expel Trump from social media, who can resist their speaking truth to power?

The January 6 Capitol riot at last gave Big Tech the long-awaited and long-planned opportunity. And they seized it in night-of-the-long-knives fashion.  Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, again mysteriously in concert, banned the president from its collective platforms of communication—for life. 

For the first time in his own political life, Donald Trump went silent, inert, mute. The media continued its nonstop invective, but now Trump had no detours around them. 

Trump, they alleged, had used their product to incite violence, perhaps in the very manner Antifa and Black Lives Matter had used their platforms to plan demonstrations that characteristically ended in rioting, arson, and looting. 

But could not Trump reroute to the conservative alternative, the upstart non-Silicon Valley Parler?

Big Tech had considered that, too. So on January 11, 2021, in the same manner of the collisional nocturnal action of Twitter and Facebook, so too Apple, Amazon, and Google, again mysteriously, in the wee hours eliminated everyone’s access to Parler, a sort of neutron bombing of a rising competitor. 

In hours, it was clear that they had effectively strangled Parler in its crib to preempt a Trump and MAGA mass exodus from Twitter and Facebook, and thus inadvertently transmogrify the ban into a Parler bonanza. 

In the old days, these leftists of the Stanford-Silicon Valley corridor might have called such collusion market “rigging,” “fixing,” and “scheming.” Their lopsided market shares might have earned the muckraking ire of independent journalists aghast at such open monopolies, boastful cartels, and unapologetic trusts. 

But the masters of the universe now owned the news media and the means of most Americans both to access information and to communicate over email and social media. Besides, Trump was widely hated by Big Tech, Wall Street, the media, academia, entertainment, professional sports, foundations, and the corporate boardrooms. So who would object to their roles as our 21st-century versions of Jay Gould and Diamond Jim Fiske?

Hatred of Donald Trump became the wealthy agnostic’s version of medieval indulgence. One’s collective sins can be washed away and a once marred soul can still make its way to tech heaven—if the offender can purchase a contracted exemption. 

Hating Donald Trump and doing something about that venom are just those indulgences. And they can excuse past, present, and future sin. Bar, cancel, and end a social-media Trump, and all the wrongs of monopoly, market fixing, cartelizing, and trust creation are washed away, in the eyes of the progressive supreme deity Reason.

So our cartels are beloved for colluding and fixing their markets to ban not just Trump but any future access to their competitors. 

Trump is free to tweet and post whenever and wherever he wants, but there will be nowhere else to tweet and post. So spoke the liberal descendants of the old Jim Crow racists who insisted they were free to deny service to anyone they wished, even when there were no alternative motels or lunch counters to be found.

Hating Donald Trump in the hater’s eyes makes one moral. But in the real world, such pathological fixations usually result in abject immorality and moral decline, as the hater becomes far worse than what he hates.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the recently released The Dying Citizen, and the forthcoming The End of Everything (May 7, 2024).

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