When Boris Johnson was dumped by his party, who didn’t ask the question: why Johnson and not Trump?
When news broke of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation, forced by massive dissent within his own party, many of us immediately came to the same burning question.
How did Britain’s Tories get rid of Donald Trump’s friend Boris Johnson so convincingly when nearly every US Republican still genuflects at the mere mention of Trump’s name? (We should stop here to give special thanks to Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and a few other GOP members who had the courage to publicly stand up to Trump.)
You would think that in any kind of normal democracy (or republic), Trump could hardly remain the undisputed favorite to be the Republican nominee for president again in 2024. Trump is so desperate to divert the country’s attention from overwhelming hearings on January 6, that he could soon announce his intentions. Like, very soon. Like, unprecedented soon.
I mean, if he announces anytime before the November midterms, that would be a giveaway for the Democrats because Trump would likely once again screw up his own party’s needs for his own ends.
We know Johnson is a lot like Trump, if more widely read and with more of his own hair. He was a negligent prime minister, challenging the truth, with no respect for ethical concerns. His rapid decline in popularity began when he was throwing big booze-fueled parties just as he and his Conservative Party had put the country under a strict COVID lockdown — a nationwide lockdown far more comprehensive than anything in America. Johnson initially lied about it, of course. Then he was caught in the act of lying. Then he sort of apologized, but it’s still took a few more scandals to knock him down.
But as David Frum rightly pointed out in the Atlantic Trump and Johnson may have both led dysfunctional governments and may have both been lying demagogues (Johnson became Prime Minister on the promise of Brexit’s supposed benefits to the working class), but Unlike Trump, Johnson never attempted to overthrow the British government. Also, in the British parliamentary system, it’s relatively easy to get rid of a leader. You don’t need an impeachment or an election.
Republican politicians had three easy opportunities to get away from Trump. Each time they refused. We are talking about impeachment trials nos. 1 and 2, then, of course, the insurrection of January 6, with the assault on the Capitol. During this time, some Republican leaders (see: McCarthy, Kevin; McConnell, Mitch) actually briefly blamed Trump for the riot before making the more cautious decision to kiss the Trumpian ring.
McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, may have been more blatant in his post-January 6 aspiration, but Senate Minority Leader McConnell is intact in his hypocrisy.
Minutes after voting to acquit Trump in impeachment No. 2, McConnell passed in front of the cameras to say, “Former President Trump’s actions leading up to the riot were a disgraceful and disgraceful dereliction of duty, Trump is practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of the day.”
And yet, days later, McConnell said he would of course vote for Trump if he ran again in 2024.
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It’s not that hard to see why most Republican office holders refuse to dump Trump, even though many of them privately agree with what McConnell said about Trump and his shameful behavior. .
Those who defend Trump, or keep silent, are certainly afraid of Trump, but they are much more afraid of Trump voters, now (and forever?) the Republican base.
A Monmouth Poll published a few days ago explains everything.
In June 2021 – months after the January 6 riot – and then again in June this year, Republican voters were asked if they thought the events of that day amounted to an insurrection, if it could be called a riot or whether it was simply a form of “legitimate protest”.
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In each case, Republicans grew more committed to the Trump version of the day.
In 2021, 33% of Republicans said January 6 was an insurrection. Last month, only 13% would call it that. And don’t worry, it’s getting worse. Last year, 62% would call the event a riot. Now only 45% do.
And even worse, a year ago, 47% of Republicans polled said the rioting insurgency was more of a “legitimate protest.” Last month, 61% – a solid majority – described what appears to have been part of a coup attempt as merely “legitimate protest”.
That’s not all. In a pair of CBS News/YouGov polls, Republican voters were asked if they agreed that the events of January 6 were an attempt “to void the election and keep Donald Trump in power.” When first asked the question, in January 2021, 56% of Republicans agreed with the position. In a poll taken last December, the number had fallen to a remarkable 33%.
Editor’s note: Mike Littwin will be leaving next week for a well-deserved vacation in the Colorado high country.
In other words, the Big Lie, in its various iterations, is still believed to be the truth by a large majority of Republicans.
The question is why? Why here and not in Brittany?
An obvious answer is Fox News and similar outlets, featuring Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Steve Bannon and the rest of the mob who chose to lie on Trump’s behalf to their seemingly gullible audiences instead of reporting obvious truths.
But more of the blame should rest with every cowardly Republican politician who continues to allow Trump and has either encouraged the Big Lie or simply let it fester.
It’s hard to understand how anyone who followed the January 6 hearings – and especially anyone who watched the White House aide The explosive testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson — might believe that Trump should once again be allowed near the White House.
Not even if someone like, say, Lindsey Graham or maybe Lauren Boebert has offered to arrange a visit.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He’s covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions, and countless mind-numbing speeches in the snow of New Hampshire and Iowa.
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