So my pseudonymous guest author “Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov” notes that his Trump-phobic comments here the other day didn’t sit well with some Power Line readers! As the greatest movie superhero of the 1980s put it, Welcome to the party, pal! Now, what readers should know is that “Molotov” and I are part of a regular three-person email chain for the last three years or so, where we cogitate about all things Trump and related. The third person is someone whose name all would recognize as he’s quite prominent on some other conservative platforms, and is supremely pro-Trump. He’s also an old pal of “Molotov,” who is adamantly anti-Trump, and I’m always the one in the middle! I realized only lately that I should have long ago edited these threads in to a Platonic dialogue of sorts, but in that case “Molotov” would have to be Polus from The Gorgias. But he much prefers vodka to ouzo.
Anyway, here “Molotov” decides to double down on his 180-proof view of Trump. I’ve added a couple of comments along the way. (P.S. A well placed course in New York told me yesterday that Trump is running for sure in 2024.)
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov here, reporting for duty. As I sit in the summer sun at my dacha on the Black Sea, admiring my Order of Lenin while consuming a fine lunch of caviar, sturgeon, and vodka, and not necessarily in that order — and in the spirit of the Great Comrade Степан Haywardov, with not a vegetable anywhere in sight, largely because the socialist paradise is incapable of producing any — I find myself reading the Powerline equivalent of Pravda, to wit, the comments on my very first Powerline blog post about the ineffable Gavin Newsom contemplating a run for the presidency.
Oh, dear. It appears that my offhand comments about our Great Leader Donald Trump have not met with universal approval. As the Great Comrade Степан Haywardov will confirm, I am decidedly a sensitive type. Thin skinned. Easily hurt. [Steve adds: Yes, I can attest to this. You should hear him whine when I draw a demand curve wrong.] Always on the lookout for microaggressions against me, the abusive nature of which are such that no number of teddy bears and baby blankies can compensate for the hurt, shame, and harm being inflicted upon me. I do not feel safe. The Great Comrade Степан Haywardov curiously failed to warn me that my substitute blogging would subject me to the kind of opprobrium reserved for the dungeons at the Lubyanka.
But that’s OK. I agreed to do this while the Great Comrade Степан Haywardov is off somewhere frolicking in a meadow with some sheep; ignore his cover story about whisky distilleries in the Scottish Highlands. I will take a deep breath, steel myself, and as they say in the decadent west, put my cards on the table.
Suppose that our Great Leader Donald Trump had won in 2020. He did not, notwithstanding all his balderdash about the election being stolen, repeated ad nauseam by the geniuses surrounding him, among whom are Rudy Giuliani, Lin Wood, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and the other proud members of the Trump Moron Club. But suppose he had. This coming November would be a bloodbath, with the GOP losing a couple of dozen seats in the House and probably 2-4 or more seats in the Senate and a few governorships to boot. And 2024 would yield a Democrat elected president, a House with a 60-75 seat Democratic majority, a Democratic majority in the Senate with at least 60 or 62 seats, and a loss of another 2-4 governorships.
In other words, it is not nearly enough to point out, correctly, that Trump’s policy instincts are much better than those of Joe Biden. Think about what Trump’s narcissism untethered to a need to be reelected would engender. The longer-run political and policy implications of a second Trump term are not salutary, to put it as mildly as possible. Over the longer term, Trump’s psychological inability to behave in a presidential manner had and would continue to have the effect of making the GOP weaker and the Democratic party stronger, and the policy implications of that dynamic — how can I say this gently? — are deeply problematic.
Trump is so fundamentally resistant to reality that he never asked himself why he barely beat Hillary in the industrial midwest in 2016, despite the fact that she was universally hated, utterly corrupt, utterly tone-deaf, utterly unskilled politically, utterly devoid of actual accomplishment, and a “feminist” who lied her way to the top while clinging to her husband’s coattails. Trump actually seems to believe his own baloney that he beat her in a “landslide.” Say whatever you choose about Joe Biden’s lifelong corruption, mendacity, demagoguery, utter stupidity, and bad judgment: There was no way in 2020 that he carried anything remotely approximating Hillary’s baggage. This was obvious — that 2020 was going to be much more difficult in the swing states than 2016 — to everyone except Trump, who is never happier than when he is admiring himself in the mirror. Except, of course, when he is banging porn stars, whose silence he then buys.
There were very good — extraordinarily strong — reasons for the electorate in 2020 to reject Donald Trump, a sociopath, a supreme narcissist, an inveterate liar, and a man so devoid of self-control that he simply could not resist doing things on a daily basis to shrink the GOP coalition. [Steve: But Molotov—those are Trump’s best qualities!] He was the first incumbent president since Herbert Hoover to lose the presidency, the House, and the Senate in one term. A man who cheated on all three of his wives while demanding “loyalty” from everyone else. Can it surprise anyone that his political appeal would decline as his political habits and mannerisms became more familiar?
Shall we talk about the two Georgia Senate seats that Trump and his narcissism lost for us? Yes, Trump gets some real credit for the three Supreme Court confirmations — Kevin Williamson at National Review dismisses Trump’s role too readily — even though Trump didn’t know bovine excrement from shinola about judges (his sister?) [Steve to Molotov: He was joking about his sister I think. These are the kind of things we argue about in our group threads] until Leonard Leo at the Federalist Society gave him a list. But because Trump is responsible for the fact that Chuck Schumer is the Senate majority leader, Trump deserves a lot of the blame for the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who knows not what a “woman” is because she is not a biologist. Given that, who can believe that she will ever disagree with Elena Kagan about anything? (We’ve come a long, long, looooooong way from John Marshall and even Oliver Wendell Holmes.) Trump claimed that his deeply divisive tweeting and insults and all the rest were needed because his supporters would have found it “boring” otherwise. What Trump actually meant is that he would find it boring, and the hell with anyone else whose political interests might suffer.
Biden is a blithering idiot — always has been — and is every bit as despicable a man as Trump. Witness his lifelong demagoguery and his repeated applause for the southern segregationists. His behavior during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings was so disgraceful that Orrin Hatch publicly had to threaten to resign from the Judiciary committee in order to induce Biden to display a modicum of decency. And if you believe, as I do, that Trump’s behavior during the debates was utterly shameful, go to YouTube and call up the 2012 vice presidential debate between Biden and Paul Ryan. Trump learned from a master, but that is no excuse. Biden has never had an original thought — that is how he descended into one plagiarism scandal after another — and is the kind of guy who believes whatever he heard from the last person with whom he has spoken. Biden is and always has been a demagogue, a shameless liar, and an utterly stupid man incapable of any original thinking. There is a real sense in which Biden and Trump deserve each other.
Both of the Trump impeachments were fully justified as political “high crimes and misdemeanors,” as Trump obviously tried to use the Ukraine foreign aid package to get dirt on Biden, and then sat there while the MAGA idiots on January 6 rioted at the capitol, even as his son and others implored him to say something to get the morons to back off. How many hours went by until Trump finally did so, halfheartedly, after Pence had been threatened and all the rest went on? Good work, Donald: You gave the Democrats and the left an issue that they will ride for years. And for what? So that Donald Trump could indulge his sociopathy for a few more hours?
Many of my right-wing friends and I agree that the most important race this November is the Florida governor contest between Ron DeSantis and, probably, Smilin’ Charlie Crist, whose lack of principle is matched only by the fakeness of his suntan. If DeSantis can get close to 60 percent of the vote — I think that 55 percent is almost a given — then he will be in a very good position to fight against Trump if he runs, which is far from certain, in 2023-4 with a coalition comprising the Trump MAGA vote, the old Reagan vote, suburban women, a substantial part of the Hispanic vote, the Asian vote, and a lot of black males. Should you doubt this, merely consider the Virginia governor race last year: In all of the 132 counties and cities reporting their votes, Glenn Youngkin 2021 outran Donald Trump 2020. In every single one of the 132, including the Trumpiest counties in the southwestern parts of the state.
Ron DeSantis is not a libertarian, but he is about as good as we can do in this day and age — I think he really does believe in limited government — and he would beat any Democratic candidate that I can think of. Many of the Democrats who are not political idiots understand that they have to nominate one of their governors (or maybe a senator) who can pretend to be a “moderate” in order to have a chance in 2024. Gavin Newsom is not that candidate; he is too stupid, devoid of experience at dealing with Republican arguments, and too deeply submerged in the leftist/woke cesspool. But given even an average level of political skill, a different candidate pretending to be a moderate would beat Donald Trump, who is poison in suburbia.
There is the further matter that Trump ran on an actual agenda in 2016, whether good or bad and however poorly articulated; in 2024 bitterness about 2020 as a central theme will be a loser. I think Trump probably would beat Kamala Harris, a real totalitarian, and an amazingly stupid individual who has never had to confront GOP/conservative arguments, although she would get a lot of votes from white suburban women seeking to feel good about themselves. I remain unconvinced that Trump would beat Biden, but I find it difficult to believe that he will be the Democratic candidate in the end. Would Trump beat one of those governors or senators masquerading as a moderate? I rather doubt it.
There is an interesting question to which I have not given a lot of thought, to wit, how it came to pass that the American political system in 2016 and 2020, and conceivably in 2024, coughed up as presidential candidates three of the most despicable individuals ever to have emerged from the American political system. Hillary is the most corrupt public figure at least since Lyndon Johnson, power-hungry and contemptuous of the constitutional constraints on government power. Let us not forget the White House Travel Office scandal in 1993, in which she was perfectly comfortable politicizing the FBI in pursuit of her enemies. (She was ahead of her time.) Trump simply is incapable of truthfulness as a personality trait; he lies when he thinks it will help him, he lies when there is no reason to do so, and he lies when doing so obviously is counterproductive, just to demonstrate that he can and that there is nothing that anyone can do about it. (Ted Cruz, the very definition of spinelessness, stood there in silence when Trump accused Cruz’ Dad of being involved in the Kennedy assassination. That’s our Donald.) If any of you actually believe that Trump cares about the wellbeing of ordinary working people, merely repeat two words: Trump University. He is fundamentally lazy, believing that “his gut” is a sensible guide for thinking, and, like Barack Obama, Trump really believes himself a man smarter than everyone else. He is utterly unworthy of the presidency. And, finally, there is Joe Biden, every bit as despicable as Hillary and Trump, for the reasons already discussed.
Alas, I have run out of vodka. And so I am off to a meeting of the local Party cell, where there will be a large stash of the stuff, although unlike the highest-quality Soviet vodka made from the finest Soviet potatoes produced right here in the U of SSR — my ignorance of the basics of international trade rivals that of Donald Trump — the magical liquid served at the Party meetings will be that awful Polish swill made from the tuber equivalents of moose droppings. But it will have to suffice, and all I will have to do is deliver an absolutely vociferous round of self-criticism. As a wise man once said: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
Steve concludes: So, “Molotov,” shall I mark you down as undecided?
Also, “Molotov,” remember that vodka corrupts, and Absolut vodka corrupts Absolutly. (Which may explain things here.)