The Republican Party is devolving, at an accelerating speed, into a cult of Donald Trump, with increasingly comic manifestations. Yesterday, Fox News harshly interrogated Senator Marco Rubio for denying that Kim Jung-un, the third-generation dynastic heir to an impoverished hermit kingdom, is “talented.” But since Trump is now lavishing praise on the rulers of the world’s cruelest dictatorship, the party rank and file must follow suit:
A party in which a president is praised for his harsh denunciations of North Korea, and then can reverse itself so rapidly that a party member is seen as disloyal if he has a bad word about that regime, is a cult. Today, Donald Jr. — coincidentally also a manifestly untalented heir to a maniacal authoritarian leader — was asked on the state-news program about the charge that the party has become a Trump cult. He did not exactly deny it. “If it’s a cult,” replied Trump, “it’s because they like what my father is doing.”
Well, yes, that’s how cults work. They start off by inculcating some sense of group loyalty, then they are taught to disregard any external source of information — and, say, instead get their news from a source that is working for the cult, like Fox News — and pretty soon, they have lost any capacity to make independent judgments. Eventually, they are praising the toughness of Kim Jong-un and treating Donald Trump Jr. as a respected and accomplished figure.