But to make that strategy work, the party must convince veterans that Trump’s stance genuinely contradicts his pro-military, pro-uniform, pro-strength public persona, and that won’t be easy. Inconsistency has always been Trump’s version of consistency. He’s paid no political price for contradicting himself in the White House during his presidency, so it’s wishful thinking that a new work of journalism will turn Trump voters into Biden supporters. As Michael Kruse and Noah Weiland wrote for POLITICO in May 2016, Trump sported a both-sides-now persona well before he took the White House. He would claim not to be a politician but also claim to be one. He would be for and against gay marriage, for and against abortion, for and against small talk, a big reader and not a reader at all, “a nice person” and “no angel,” a fan of George W. Bush and John McCain and Hillary Clinton and not a fan of any of them, and for and against the Iraq War.
When Trump moved into the White House, he brought with him his talent for switching positions. During the campaign, he loved WikiLeaks. Inside the White House, he professed not to know much about it. He denounces the press as “fake news” but cites it approvingly when its findings are useful to him. In January, he praised the Chinese for their handling of Covid-19. By March, he was damning them. He opposes mail voting but votes by mail himself. He’s the war president, musing about nuking Afghanistan or North Korea. Then he becomes the peace president, continually stating his opposition to America’s endless wars. First, he was against mask-wearing, then he was for it, and most recently, he was urging Reuters reporter Jeff Mason to take off his mask at a White House presser. At one April news conference, New York Times reporter Peter Baker noted in a roundup of Trump contradictions, the president clearly announced he was going to place a “powerful” hold on money to the World Health Organization. Minutes later, when caught backtracking, he claimed that he denied a hold, only that he was “going to look at it.”
If Trump’s self-contradictions haven’t already bitten him, it seems unlikely they’ll suddenly do so now.