There’s a lot of talk today about the efforts of Republican pols to separate themselves from Donald Trump’s reaction to the Orlando massacre — well, not all his reaction, but the part about explicitly discriminating against Muslims and people from countries with a lot of Muslims. Speaker Paul Ryan, who will soon be presiding over Trump’s coronation as the GOP presidential nominee, went out of his way to call a ban on Muslim immigration an idea that is un-Republican and un-American. Others are probably privately appalled by the Trump campaign’s neo-Nixonian exclusion of Washington Post reporters from his events. The Post’s sin, as I argued yesterday, was to take seriously Trump’s remarks about the president, which were either an accusation of semi-treason or an incoherent word salad.
But Trump playing the ogre may have actually softened opposition to him in some conservative quarters of the GOP. Check out this reaction from #NeverTrump stalwart Erick Erickson, last seen looking high and low for somebody to run against Trump as an independent:
I couldn’t care less for Donald Trump. I will not vote for the man. But yesterday he did two good things.
First, he gave a good speech. True, the bar is quite low for Donald Trump. But he exceeded it yesterday. He did not dwell on banning muslims, but pivoted to a more reasonable approach first championed by Ted Cruz, i.e. temporarily banning immigration from countries with well known terrorist activity…
Second, Trump banned the Washington Post from covering his events. They deserved it. Look, let’s be honest. Donald Trump is a 9/11 truther. It is not unreasonable to think, given that, that he also believes President Obama is a closet muslim sleeper cell of one hell bent on American destruction. But Trump never said it. The Washington Post, though, ran a headline that declared Trump believed this.
The Washington Post ultimately changed the headline, but never apologized.
You have to appreciate that Erickson’s disdain for Trump probably isn’t like yours, gentle readers, or even Paul Ryan’s or William Kristol’s. In his statement of permanent opposition to Trump way back in February, Erickson made it clear that the tycoon just wasn’t right-wing enough:
Donald Trump believes the federal government should fund Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump believes there are good things the child killers do. What is most damning is how so many are willing to be compromised by Donald Trump.
For eight years the conservative movement compromised itself as a wing of George W. Bush’s Republican Party. The movement became ill defined and conservative became a synonym with Republican.
Yep, Trump’s just too much like the RINO George W. Bush for any True Conservative to support. So it’s not surprising that when Trump conspicuously mocks the solicitude for moderate Muslims that W. shares with Obama, and lashes back at the godless liberal media, old Erick’s right knee is bound to jerk a bit.
But: “[T]wo things in one day does not a campaign make.” It has to make you wonder if four or five days of such redemptive “things” would make the people Erickson represents, if not Erickson himself, see the brighter side of Donald J. Trump — the side whose enemies are enemies of their own. I suspect we’ll find that out at some point between now and Cleveland.