In any normal world, these would be called significant accomplishments. But in the NeverTrump bubble, none of these victories can evade the protective refracting mirrors that intercept and distort the message. For months, the Huffington Post ran the following disclaimer after every article about Trump: “Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims—1.6 billion members of an entire religion—from entering the U.S.” Even now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 5 percent of news stories about Trump are positive.
Moreover, in the surreal and paranoid precincts of the NeverTrump bubble, fake news and outright fabrication proliferate. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is going to quit—say “sources”—only he isn’t. Chief of Staff John Kelly is keeping people from seeing Trump, is irritated by his tweets, is frustrated by the president’s behavior. Only he isn’t. As Kelly said at a press conference last week, Trump’s agenda is pursuing “what’s good for America.” Asked directly whether Trump’s tweets made his job more difficult, Kelly said “No.” Trump himself he described as a “decisive” and “thoughtful” man of action who was sometimes impatient with the slow-moving habits of Congress. His chief frustration, said Kelly, was with the press for reporting things that were simply not true. Asked by one reporter what he expected them to do, he said: “Maybe develop better sources.”