Originally posted on August 22, 2022.
Denizens of the Swamp:
- the bureaucratic elite,
- their media and academic mouthpieces,
- worker bees in the ambient welfare jelly
- the nomenklatura who win elections and circulate in and out of the corridors of power.
This powerful, nearly monolithic force is a monument to special privilege and two-tier justice, writes Roger Kimball at SpectatorWorld. And the prospect of dismantling it is daunting, Mr. Kimball warns.
The fact that Donald Trump, from the moment he sailed down the elevator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy in 2015, managed to open a bleeding fissure in that smug consensus shows why the ruling class considers him so dangerous. One man, almost without allies, inexperienced in the ways of the Swamp, dependent at every turn on ambassadors and front men from the very thing he had campaigned to destroy: how much damage could he really do?
Look around, advises Mr. Kimball.
Is there anyone, anyone at all, who occupies more space in the political ecosphere than Donald Trump? His every endorsement garners national headlines. His trolling of Democrats in various New York House races does the same. No wonder Dick and Liz Cheney, talking orifices for the Swamp, provided sound bites for the mass market edition of Michael Anton’s essay. In the entire history of the United States, quoth Cheney père, no individual has presented a greater threat to the republic than Donald Trump.
Gosh. Really, Dick? Do you think wearing a cowboy hat while you say that makes it more plausible?
Liz Cheney’s Waterloo
Liz’s Trump obsession was her own undoing.
But the consensus that (what Liz) and her father represent underscores the panic coruscating through the arteries of the Deep State. Like many others, they have reached for the rhetoric of revolution to oppose Trump. They have vowed to do “whatever it takes,” to employ “any means necessary,” to keep him from getting “anywhere near the Oval Office” again.
This panicked extremism has not only been ratcheted up against Trump — and it’s not only rhetoric, as last week’s FBI Stasi-like raid against Trump’s residence in Palm Beach reminds us — it has also and increasingly been wielded against anyone who can be presented as being allied with the spirit of Trumpism.
A Reign of Error
Peter Navarro, former assistant to Trump’s trade and manufacturing policy, blames Jared Kushner (the president’s son-in-law) for doing “more damage to the presidency and the Trump agenda during his four year reign of error at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue than anyone.”
Mr. Kimball believes a number of people are to blame, but he also acknowledges Navarro’s point:
Ultimately, the biggest failure of the 2020 election was the failure of the Trump campaign itself. The campaign went from the beautifully orchestrated Steve Bannon masterpiece in 2016, with twenty people on Trump Force One barnstorming flyover country, to the ugliest equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s beyond-bloated Hindenburg of a campaign in just four years.
The jury is still out on what this portends for the future, advises Mr. Kimball, although he believes there is a lot to Navarro’s warning.
If Trump is to succeed, he needs to extricate himself from the Swamp. But the Swamp is well nigh ubiquitous. It supports and has infused its spirit into close members of his family, even. It has also insinuated itself in the America First Policy Institute, a nominally Trump-friendly think tank whose members include many anti-Trump figures.
Trumpism without Trump
Are forces stacked against Donald Trump’s return? Roger Kimball’s suspicion is that without Trump, anything put forward as “Trumpism” would be a masquerade, “just another version of elite, beltway bureaucratic surrender, enlivened here and there with little dollops of robust-sounding rhetoric.”
So we are left with a paradox: Donald Trump is far and away the most vital political force in American politics. He supplies almost all the oxygen for public debate. But “the people who really run the United States of America” have decided that he is unacceptable. Where does that leave us? It depends on two things. One, how far the opponents of Trump are willing to go to keep him out of power (“whatever it takes”?). Two, how far the rest of the country — the tens of millions of people who support Trump — are willing to allow the anti-Trump leviathan to go.
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