Andrew Sullivan is mad as hell at the Republicans

. . . and he has every reason to be. I know many people around here don’t trust Sullivan in view of his conservative past and stands on several issues, but about Trump and his misdeeds he’s been unsparing. In today’s column at New York Magazine, he’s also angry at the American people (and the GOP) for buying Trump’s lies and ignoring his antics, like his execrable behavior toward Canada and his fawning behavior toward Kim Jong-un.  As I have ducks to feed, I’ll let you read his piece and proffer a few excerpts from it (he has separate bits on May and Merkel’s imperiled regimes and the victories of transgender athletes).

Ugh, the column, “Trump is making us all live in his delusional reality show,” has vanished behind a paywall, and I fear I’ll have to type this out from my printout. Keep checking back in case they put it online. [JAC: a kind reader sent me a transcript, so if ye ask, well, you know. . . ]

. . .If you had any doubts that the GOP is now a cult, this week’s primary results should put them to rest. Republican voters have decided that they will follow their leader no matter what he says, and if that means changing their minds on a dime so be it. Take Canada. Not so long ago, it was funny to attack our benevolent neighbor to the north. Countless episodes of South Park wouldn’t have worked without the baseline of reality that Canada is about as good and boring a neighbor as you can possibly imagine. [JAC: I take exception to the “boring” bit]. But Trump has the power to change minds instantly. So in February of this year, 94 percent had a favorable view of Canada. Now only 66 percent have a favorable view, with 13 in opposition and 22 percent suddenly unsure. Only two years ago, free trade was as solid a shibboleth for the GOP as it gets; now, it’s anathema, even for Larry Kudlow! And watching every Republican senator, apart from McCain, Flake, and Corker (all retiring), stay utterly silent after their president praised a mass-murdering dictator and gave him a global PR coup . . . well, it’s no longer surprising, but it should remain shocking.

I’m not opposed to his meeting Kim Jong-un, by the way. It’s worth a shot. If somehow Trump’s gambit pays off, he’ll deserve a lot of credit. I even see the point. If somehow Trump’s gambit pays off, he’ll deserve a lot of credit. I even see the point of withdrawing U.S. troops at some point. [JAC: I’m not so sure I’m with him!] I’m basically with him in unraveling the American empire. But I’m afraid I cannot forgive or forget Trump’s praise for the most hideously totalitarian regime on the planet, for a bloodthirsty scion who conducts regular public hangings, keeps his subject in a state of mind-control, holds hundreds of thousands in concentration camps, and threatens the world with nuclear destruction. To watch an American president give his tacit blessing to all of that, to laud Kim for being “rough” on his people, right on the heels of attacking every democratic ally, is an obscenity.

. . . We live in a lie now, perpetrated from the very top, enhanced by relentless propaganda, and designed to shore up what is a cult. It is growing in strength. It is precisely now that we must manage at every moment to dispel it. And then to vote, en masse, for its extinction.

The mass loss in elections of Republican candidates who refused to toe the Trump Cult line is dispiriting, and I’m horrified that anybody has any respect for the man now. “It can’t happen here?” Well, it did.


h/t: Simon



  1. busterggi
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Get used to it, Donald has proclaimed that he wants all citizens to support him with an implied or else.

  2. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Column is online for me- no paywall.

    • CAS
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Same here: No paywall.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Same for me re access — no prob. I wonder if NY Mag has a monthly limit on free access? Perhaps you’ve exceeded the limit; but usually a website will give notice. Sullivan is spot on.

        For those who can access the column, scroll down to his “Sexism Over Science” entry — also very incisive. And talk about a lagniappe of sorts, he cites a letter in support of a female professor accused of sexual harassment, signed by numerous academics including Judith Butler. A case of what’s good for the gander is good for the goose? I cannot access the link he provides, but here’s an article on the brouhaha from the Chronicle of Higher Education

        And by the way, there’s a video of Bill Gates speaking to some staff and revealing his opinion of the D[r]umpster, and remarking that Trump asked him twice what was the difference between HIV and HVP. He also mentions Trump’s willingness to be led by anti-vaxxer Robt. Kennedy, Jr. I didn’t know that Bill Gates possessed such wit.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          Oops, HPV, not HVP. Too many damned acronyms to keep up with — IED, IUD is another pair that my tongue or pen conflates sometimes.

  3. Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    The most likely thing at this point is more people jumping on the Trump bandwagon, whether they want to be part of a cult or not, simply because he’s seen as a winner.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      I think the GOP is doubling down because they think it is the best way to avoid being wiped out.

  4. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    The artistic director of the Berkeley Rep wishes he was not quite so prescient in having staged this in Sept-Nov 2016.

  5. Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    The fact that the GOP voters are picking Trump-friendly candidates in their primaries may well be their undoing. While Trump’s followers will be solidly behind those candidates in November, the rest of us won’t be. In fact, what better to help get the anti-Trump vote out than to have the opposition candidates be unable to take any positions that oppose Trump’s and have all their outrageous Trumpisms played back in opposition ads.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m totally with you on that. I hope the Republicans field the Trumpiest candidates they can find. The midterms should be a clear choice, and the party of Trump should suffer humiliating defeat.

  6. Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Trump is certainly doing Putin’s job for him in eroding the power of the U.S. and other country’s support for us. Before Trump is gone (the sooner the better)we will have been turned into an anti-democracy with few, if any, friends.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      The USA lost its friends after 9/11, as Ayman al-Zawahiri predicted. Not that Bush Jr. and Obama didn’t help. Trump is just finishing the job.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    So is Sullivan just now waking up to the Trump Train damage or has he been on it a while. At least Thomas Friedman has been there for a time. It is surely time to stop play that old tune about the Republicans in Congress and how they will be there to save him from any reasonable disaster. I know that has been popular for many at this site for some time but it is getting very old hat and it’s time to get beyond that excuse and tell me something we do not already know.

    Maybe it is time to get on the Mueller train and see if good old fashion justice and the law might actually prevail in the Trump swamp. I have thought so and it is nice that a couple of folks are coming around. Forget the republicans in Congress – Trump has.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Sullivan voted for Hillary Clinton and he absolutely loathes her so I think he’s been sounding the Trump alarm at least as far back as shortly pre-election.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Oh, so he is more like a George Will, who I think even left the Republican party after years in the conservative region. When the loonies took over he had to get out.

        So we have the Cult party and we have the lost republicans. I think it better to say the republican party honestly is dead, it’s over. So the liberals, the democrats should move on. Stop wringing hands about the condition of congress and debating if they could impeach maybe. Just get out there and win the congress back and get to work. As it goes today Trump the insane will self destruct in time.

  8. Robert Bray
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    ‘The Party of Lincoln. . . ‘

    Our Trumpian mini-me here in my congressional district wanes pious (he’s too stupid to know how to wax) every Lincoln’s birthday. He has of course no idea that Abraham Lincoln would hotly repudiate everything Trump ‘sits for.’ Here’s an excerpt from one of AL’s letters to his friend Joshua Speed, written in Aug., 1855, just as the Republican Party was beginning to take shape.

    ‘I am not a Know-Nothing. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of
    negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress
    in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began
    by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it
    ‘all men are created equal, except negroes. When the Know-Nothings
    get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes,
    and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer
    emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving
    liberty–to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure,
    and without the base alloy of hypocrasy [sic].’

    The contemporary Know-Nothings have indeed gained control, and

    ‘OUR PROGRESS IN DEGENERACY. . . ‘ has not only been ‘pretty rapid’ but is well-nigh complete.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Lincoln was longing for the old Whig party about then. He knew the republicans could not let these loonies in. Much smarter than today.

    • nicky
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      ‘I do not like that man. I must get to know him better.’ The best Lincoln quote IMMO.
      Maybe we should get to know Mr Trump, Mr McConnell, Mr Pruitt, Mr Ryan, etc., etc. better? Abe definitely gave us some hard homework…

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I think what Canada’s top diplomat, Chrystia Freeland said about populism and the US (while avoiding mentioning Trump by name) in her acceptance speech for Foreign Policy’s Diplomat of the Year Award in Washington, is apt. I especially like this part:

    Remember those great words at Gettysburg: “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”

    Preserving Lincoln’s vision means striking back. It means resisting foreign efforts to hijack our democracies through cyber-meddling and propaganda. It means outshining the other models and encouraging those who are on the fence.

    And it means governing with integrity. Facts matter. Truth matters. Competence and honesty, among elected leaders and in our public services, matter.

    You can read the whole speech here.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Really nice speech. Have seen her on various shows, some on Fareed’s show. I think she could be at the head of govt. there someday.

      • Posted June 15, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Yes, she’s really smart and sensible. She’s also been on Bill Maher’s show a few times.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      That was a great speech. If she ever ran for Prime Minister, I’d vote for her.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Heard somebody the other day refer to the Trump Republicans as “Cult 45.” Sounds about right.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Now that’s a good one!

      Hell, even Senator Corker(R) called this presidency “cult-like”. But it’s sad that the only republicans who criticize Trump are ones who are retiring or dying: McCain, Corker, Flake…and some small grumblings from Ryan.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Be forewarned, Donald. If this craziness keeps up, Paul Ryan is really gonna furl his brow at you, Mister!

  11. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Yes! Take for just one tiny example during Trumps’ meetings with the dictator of North Korea he, on a whim I suppose, saluted one of the North Korean generals. If any sitting Democratic prez did anything like that the political right would have gone into a frenzy. But for Trump? Barely a remark. Just one minor passing moment in a daily list of outrages.

    And don’t get me started on the apparent news that Trump used funds from his charity foundation in his campaign.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I believe Trump’s salute was in response to the NK general saluting him so it may well have been an unconscious response. Trump must have to return salutes quite often as POTUS. I believe we of the opposition need to save our ammo for more important targets, of which there are plenty.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        There is a protocol about who salutes and who returns a salute and this was definitely out of line of that protocol! I don’t personally care about any of that stuff. But my point is that if this was a democratic president the republicans would have made a huge deal of it. So it is noteworthy how they choose to ignore such matters when it arises in their ranks.

        Lets’ just say that any faux pas, major or minor, by any future democratic president gets a pass. Forever. As if that will happen.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 15, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Actually as a civilian and from another country, he is not suppose to salute, especially an official enemy. I thought what he said today was a real strange one. Said he was really impressed with how the N. Korean people stood up when he commanded it. Wished the Americans would do that for him. The delusional dictator.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 16, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            I know, scary isn’t it? Pathetic to want to command people to stand up at attention. I feel more and more sorry for Melania every day. It’s going to be rough for Canada as soon as he hits us with auto tariffs. It will hurt the US but I’m pretty sure we will be looking at a 50 cent dollar and many of us will be unemployed. I don’t get how someone waged war against allies and praises enemies unless that someone loves the livelihood of the enemy and disdains the livelihood of his allies.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 15, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you both. Saluting back the guy who salutes you is just instinctive normal politeness, IMO. And yes, if Obama had done it there would have been a shitstorm from the Right.

          To my mind it’s a ‘so what?’ I wouldn’t add it to the indictment of Trump (which is already several thousand items long…)

          (I have just accused Trump of being polite. That’s a first! But I doubt it will happen again)


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 16, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

            Well there are lots of polite people who are jerks elsewhere so you’re forgiven. Hannibal Lecter comes to mind.

      • Posted June 16, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        For it to be an unconscious response, Trump must have served in the military at some point.

        I’m fairly sure that as a civilian, POTUS does not salute.

        • Posted June 16, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          Not true. Search for “trump salute” on YouTube and you’ll find plenty. I think we’ve all seen presidents get off their choppers, a Marine salutes them, and they salute back. Obama infamously did it with a coffee cup in his saluting hand and got ridiculed for it.

          • Posted June 16, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

            Well they shouldn’t be doing it (read the article I posted). Army regs say you do not salute in civvies.

  12. Historian
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Is Trump delusional or just a consummate con artist playing the crowd? I don’t know; maybe it’s a little of both. Much more disturbing is the existence of his cult, which the media seems only to be recognizing now, but was obvious to keen observers for at least a year or so. These people are truly delusional because they have no concern for the “truth” or democracy. They have sunk into fantasyland because Trump has promised them they can retain their privilege (real or imagined) over all the “others” (both socially and economically) that are challenging them for a fair piece of the pie. In other words, these cultists are a group perfectly receptive to the appeals of demagogues. For them, if democracy must go, so be it. It’s not all that important. Add to this that the Republican Party consists largely of moral cowards whose politicians are either Trumpists or too afraid to challenge him lest they lost the offices, and it becomes clear why democracy is in danger. Social change is frightening for those who cherish the status quo and nothing becomes more important than to fight for it.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Unless the electorate make Trump and the gutless Republican Congress pay a big price at election time, I guess we are the ones who are delusional.

  13. nicky
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Regardless of all the ‘Russia Conspiracies’, Mr Trump’s lacking tax returns, bankruptcies and involvement with Russian oligarchs , let us look at what Mr Trumps is actually doing. Apart from attempts to lift sanctions or getting the G-7 back to G-8:
    – dividing the West
    – isolating the US
    – dividing the US internally
    Now, whose agenda is that?
    And which American would do that? A paid shill, a victim of blackmail, or what?

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      I still hear people say things like “Trump should stop tweeting but I kind of like the upheaval he has created.” Dave Rubin says something like this in his recent one-on-one with Sam Harris: Harris, in typical fashion, claims to not be much into politics and then delivers a lengthy scathing assessment of Trump that Rubin doesn’t argue with.

      • nicky
        Posted June 16, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        Thank you very much for that, what an interesting interview.
        Harris is not much into politics as a politician, he’s not supporting any political party in particular, I’d say, but of course he is ‘into’ politics as any thinking you or me.

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Have you folks seen the kinda candidates the GOP has been nominating for the midterms? A reactionary in South Carolina, and in Virginia — site of the Charlottesville Klan riot — a stone-cold neo-Confederate (whose hero was an anti-Semite). And white supremacists elsewhere around the nation.

    The GOP is moribund, as dead as the Whigs or the Know-Nothings; it just doesn’t realize it yet, since it controls all three branches of the federal government and the majority of statehouses. There’s only so long a Party with a shrinking demographic profile (and the rapid attrition of white suburban voters, especially women) can cling to power through gerrymandering, voter-suppression measures, electoral-college capriciousness, and the ruthless manipulation of parliamentary procedures.

    When Trump goes down, as inevitably he must, he may take the Party down in flames with him. There’s gonna be a battle royale eventually between his deplorable dead-enders and the party regulars looking to fight another day. It may tear the Grand Old Party apart for good.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the republican party is dead. The cult lives on and South Carolina, well what can we say.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      I hope you are right and that Trump doesn’t take the country down too. If he takes the GOP down only, he will have provided a worthwhile service to the country and the world, perhaps earning him a statue or two when history can see it in perspective.

    • Posted June 16, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I’ll believe the Republican Party is dead when it gets wiped out in the mid terms, although, I’m not really that hopeful.

  15. rickflick
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    The word “obscenity” hangs in the air like bodies on so many ropes.

    “But Trump has the power to change minds instantly.” So did Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Mussolini. Is this a stretch? Am I reaching?

    When will the other shoe drop. I try to live life as if it is not absurd. I try not to reflect on how people must have felt long ago when humanity failed itself.

    • Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes, sadly retaining cognitive equilibrium with Trumpism is a chore.
      It doesn’t help that a certain megalomanic with a ridiculous moustache was thought of as the leader of a “loony party” in 1933, with no votes to speak of.
      Four years on and this loony party had a third of all the votes.
      More importantly though, looking like a viable alternative party to the population in a dysfunctional democracy, a highly educated populous at that.
      It’s not THAT bad of course (Trumpism) but it looks like an equivalence (of sorts) in this day and age…
      I don’t live in the US and i have my own reasons for a highly functioning US democracy on this planet and i suspect if i may, yourself, definitely our host, going by the post, and other readers here.
      If i am wrong, sorry about that.

  16. Jon Gallant
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    The discussion of the potential downfall of the Republican Party all hinges on the expectation that it will lose badly in the upcoming 2018 Congressional elections. Now, suppose it DOES, but then Mr. Trump reveals himself as an admirer of Bolivarian Socialism and simply sidelines Congress—and goes on to appoint a new Congress of his own, like President Maduro in Venezuela.

  17. Randy Bessinger
    Posted June 15, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I wish I had confidence that the Republicans will lose one or both chambers but I don’t. I just know too many otherwise reasonable people who only get their news from Fox and believe Trump is the second coming. I am worried. I also worry that we are being pkayed by Russia and China with regards to the North Korean “peace plan”. I believe the long term goal that Kim Jung Un may have signed on to is no less than a desire to weaken the US internally by using Trump. Am I crazy?

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 16, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just reread Sullivan’s piece. It echoes of Orwell. You ask me, Sullivan’s doing the clearest writing, and clearest thinking, of his career.

  19. Posted June 18, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    What I don’t understand is if McCain and so on are so “principled”, why don’t they resign their party affiliation and sit as independents until they retire?

    • Posted June 18, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      They’re still dedicated to the Platonic ideal of the Republican Party.

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