Has Donald Trump’s most prominent conservative-commentator supporter abandoned ship? Not quite yet, but as the Daily Caller’s Alex Pfeiffer discovered in his interview with Ann Coulter, she’s got a flotation vest on and has begun searching for a lifeboat. A lack of progress on the border wall and the rise of nepotism has Coulter despairing of the Trump presidency she championed as America’s “last shot”:
So there’s no wall, and Obama’s amnesties look like they are here to stay. Do you still trust Trump?
Uhhhh. I’m not very happy with what has happened so far. I guess we have to try to push him to keep his promises. But this isn’t North Korea, and if he doesn’t keep his promises I’m out. This is why we voted for him. I think everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque, it was the issues.
I hate to say it, but I agree with every line in my friend Frank Bruni’s op-ed in The New York Times today. Where is the great negotiation? Where is the bull in the china shop we wanted? That budget the Republicans pushed through was like a practical joke… Did we win anything? And this is the great negotiator?
Rather than go with a naval allegory, Coulter describes the Trump presidency as a road trip heading in the wrong direction. Rather than heading to Los Angeles as promised, Coulter says, the feeling so far is that he’s driving the opposite direction:
It’s not like I’m out yet, but boy, things don’t look good. I’ve said to other people, “It’s as if we’re in Chicago and Trump tells us he’s going to get us to LA in six days. But for the first three days we are driving towards New York. Yes, it is true he can still turn around and get us to LA in three days, but I’m a little nervous. …
If we just keep going to New York. Well again, I’ll say we had no choice, but the Trump-haters were right…It’s a nightmare. I can’t even contemplate that. Right now I’m still rooting for him to turn around and take us toward LA.
Perhaps the better analogy would be that Trump promised to stay in Chicago and middle America. Instead, Trump has gotten caught up in the Beltway swamp and NY-LA media glare, or at least it might appear that way to Coulter. That, supposedly, has been the disappointing feature of the Trump presidency — that’s he’s been co-opted by the swamp and focused too much on his coverage to get tough and force his will on Congress and the courts. Going to either LA or NY is part of the problem, not the solution.
This seems a bit … premature, if not over-the-top. Polling shows that Trump’s base remains patient while his administration gets its sea legs, even after a fumbling response after the firing of James Comey. His media surrogates like Coulter and some others have no patience at all. This isn’t the same as the so-called “Trump haters” (or other “Trump lovers,” for that matter) seeing everything through the prism of their 2016 positions; it feels like panic, as if Trump has mere weeks left in his presidency rather than 43 months.
Coulter’s charge that Trump’s nepotism (having Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka in the White House) amounts to a surprising hint of fascism seems even more odd. Trump’s most vociferous backers — Coulter included — hailed Trump’s business track record as his best qualification to run the federal government. Trump’s business track record shows a very solid streak of nepotism, though, and nepotism isn’t what made the fascisti a danger either. Having Jared and Ivanka in the White House as advisers hardly presents the kind of nepotistic threat to separation of powers and independent checks on the presidency as, say, appointing one’s younger brother as Attorney General — and yet we all managed to get past the John F. Kennedy era without fascism raising its ugly head.
It may be that the Trump presidency produces nothing of interest for border hawks or conservatives, save the important judicial nominations on which the White House wants the latter to focus, but we have a long way to go and a midterm election to watch before we even get close to that conclusion. But that’s hardly a new concern either; many of us pointed out that risk during the GOP primary fight, and were roundly dismissed by Coulter and other Trump supporters at the time. I warned sixteen months ago that a Trump presidency could follow the same arc as Jesse Ventura’s disastrous term as Minnesota governor:
It’s possible that an anti-establishment outsider could shake up the existing order and provide the kind of leadership needed to forge new alliances and make sharp improvements. It seems more likely that both Trump and Sanders would become another Jesse Ventura – an executive with no alliances, whose inexperience and/or antipathy toward institutions produces little but a lost four years and strengthening of the party establishments they both seek to demolish.
As that ancient Minnesota proverb warns, be careful what you wish for, uff dah – you might just get it, you betcha.
We’re hardly there yet, though. The FY2018 budget has only just begun to get attention, and while there may still be difficulties in getting border-wall funding, the White House hasn’t abandoned it yet. Perhaps everyone just needs to pull the car over and take a deep breath.