The Enemies of Their Enemy 

News has been surfacing lately about coordinated attempts to remove Donald Trump from the political scene, and even to bring criminal charges against him. The hoped-for trial would take place in a Washington, D.C. court, and it is hard to think of any court anywhere that leans more strongly in an anti-Republican direction. Michael Anton recently wrote a provocative commentary on the subject. 

In “They Can’t Let Him Back In,” Anton depicts the class war that is erupting around Trump. His antagonists, the people who insist he was inciting an “insurrection” on January 6, represent the permanent political class and their globalist allies. These actors are committed to international free trade, “endless wars” to benefit the arms industry, and keeping the Washington establishment in clover. Although Trump as president did not consistently work against these interests, he did appeal to a class base that is revolting against American elites. It is therefore necessary, according to Anton, to destroy Trump’s reputation and political career to protect those who control public administration, the secret service, the media, the educational system, and the culture industry. 

Although not all interests in the ruling coalition are identical, there is enough overlap among them to make these allies equally unfriendly to Trump and the populist revolt he personifies. Anton is correct that as much as our rulers may complain about Trump’s vulgarity, there is more to their opposition than a distaste for Trump’s elocution. Joe Biden unloads obscenities on his critics in the press corps and has repeatedly attacked white Americans as systemically racist. Yet this profoundly offensive language has not caused any expression of outrage against Biden from those who ostentatiously scorn Trump. 

The former president’s detractors hate him primarily because they view him as a threat to their exercise of power.

Attacks against Trump are also, once again, coming from the Republican establishment. Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has been exerting itself on this front. Fox News has reportedly banned Trump from its network, while the Wall Street Journal and New York Post have given positive coverage to the Democratic-controlled January 6  committee. Anti-Trump Republicans are insisting he may have committed crimes in trying to reverse the November 2020 election and possibly have abetted an insurrection. Certainly, these charges are overblown, as Julie Kelly, Mollie Hemingway, and many commentators have argued. 

It is also the case that nothing that has been imputed to Trump couldn’t be ascribed with even more credibility to the shenanigans of Democratic leaders. In 2016, Democratic representatives, led by Jamie Raskin of Maryland, indignantly contested the registering of the presidential election results in Congress; and “black-clad activists” unleashed a destructive riot in Washington during Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.   

Trump’s critics in the Murdoch orbit are, not surprisingly, high on Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and other possible Republican presidential contenders who are seen as less abrasive than Trump and presumably more open to “bipartisanship.” But allow me to raise this unwelcome question: Why would the Democrats and their ever-compliant media permit any of these figures to occupy the Oval Office? 

Some of the Left’s favorite Republicans, say Representatives Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), receive plaudits because they are going after pro-Trump Republicans. But their temporary patrons are not going to give any of these “good” Republicans a free pass to the White House. 

Mitt Romney and George W. Bush are now the darlings of liberal journalists, who happily trot them out as righteous critics of Trump and his voters. But these public figures didn’t have the same fan base when they dared to reach for the presidency. Then they were denounced as right-wing extremists or, in Romney’s case, a grasping, inhuman capitalist. Although critics on the Left may dislike Trump with special intensity for all the reasons given by Michael Anton, that doesn’t mean they’d hesitate to decry other Republican presidential contenders as Trump lookalikes. 

Please note the fate of the hapless Larry Elder when he hoped to replace Gavin Newsom as governor of California last year. Suddenly a black candidate who set out to appeal to other blacks became for the national press the candidate of white supremacists, who black voters were urged to shun. And it was the rhetorically measured Elder, not Donald Trump, who the media then tarred and feathered. 

The Left threw even more vitriol at Mike Pence before he became their foil to Trump in 2020. In 2017, The New Yorker published a long rant against Gentleman Mike whom it attacked as a “doctrinaire ideologue” and “the corporations’ inside man.” That was at a time when the Left feared Pence, a devout Evangelical Christian, might still become president and move the country further to the Right. It is foolish to imagine that the Left would not return to old rants if the NeverTrumpers had their way and if Pence became the Republican standard bearer. 

About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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