Via Mediaite, I agree. All I’d add is that the situation we’re in is a neat twist on the traditional critique of the powerlessness of righty media. Trump fans like to note that the so-called Never Trump “movement” isn’t a movement at all among average-joe Republicans. It’s a small corner of the small universe of conservative media. Their media megaphones amplify the anti-Trump noise they make but in terms of raw numbers they’re a rounding error of the overall Republican coalition. They’re ignorable, and ignored.
Which I’ve always thought was true. It may be less true today than it once was, but it’s a fair cop.
There’s a corollary to that point, though. Conservative Never Trumpers seem overrepresented in the population by dint of their media platforms, but so do principled nationalists. You’ve got your Coulters and Carlsons and Ingrahams and Bannon-era Breitbarts, but the share of the party that’s likely to punish Trump meaningfully and at length for losing this standoff on the wall is vanishingly small. Coulter will. Tucker will be mad for a few days. Rush Limbaugh’s upset won’t last 24 hours, though. Hannity’s won’t last an afternoon. The average Republican’s won’t last an hour. The strange thing about the current dynamic is that Trump seems to have recognized long ago that traditional conservative media has no power over him but he hasn’t recognized that nationalist media has no power over him either. Twenty-three hours a day, Trump will tell you (again, accurately) that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single voter. But during that one other hour, he seems to believe that if he shot someone whom Ann Coulter liked and she wrote a mean op-ed about him, he really might start to lose people.
It’s strange to say but apparently true: He doubts the loyalty of his own cult of personality, at least in certain circumstances. MAGA Nation is loyal to him, not to Fox News, but I’m not sure he believes it. You would think that the Bannon episode of early 2018 would have put those doubts to rest for him. Bannon, after all, was probably the most prominent advocate for principled nationalism in America, the man who built Breitbart into a populist media powerhouse and then for an encore helped Trump get elected president. He spent much of 2017 organizing primary challenges to Republican senators in hopes of remaking the party in his (and Trump’s, but mostly his) own image. If there’s anyone whom you’d think was capable of dividing MAGA Nation’s loyalties in a dispute with Trump, it’s him. Yet when it came out that Bannon had been a key source for Michael Wolff’s book and Trump was pissed off about it, he was un-person-ed within the GOP overnight. Now, a year later, Trump’s supposedly worried that Ann Coulter might think less of him if he decides this wall standoff isn’t going anywhere productive? C’mon.
I mean, there are people in the midwest whose businesses are failing due to the trade war who, if asked about it, will tell you exactly what Tur says here: “I trust his judgment.”
Here’s the only reason I can conjure for why he worries about support from the Coulterites: He knows they’ll hold a capitulation against him forever. Everyone else will forgive and forget in due time depending upon when the next crisis strikes and Trump comes under attack from Democrats, requiring a circling of the Republican wagons. But the hardcore nationalists who really have convinced themselves that the wall is going to be built along a thousand miles of border and will by and large solve America’s illegal immigration problem? He’ll hear about it from them to his last day. Which is an unusual position for Trump to be in. Not only are the people who like him typically fiercely loyal, but he’s used to have fallings-out with friends and sycophants and then repairing the breach. The small niche of supporters that cares more about the wall than it does about his own happiness won’t ever quite let it go, though. Maybe that bugs him.
Or maybe he’s reading stories like this one about his voters getting restless with a trade war that’s hurting their bottom lines at work and thinking that he can only afford so many disappointments before the “Fifth Avenue” line no longer applies.
In lieu of an exit question, enjoy these new tweets from Coulter in which she rips on Trump for his … planned photo op at the border this week. He’s not going to win with her unless he convinces Democrats to build the wall with their own bare hands. He might as well stop trying.