The religious allusions, the talk of vengeance against Trump, the misremembering of McCain’s life so that it becomes a moral exemplar against the alleged crimes of Trumpism, exposes the infantile moralism of the so-called resistance. Albert Burneko, assessing some of the madder McCain commentary, says there is now a ‘condition’ that he calls ‘Resistance Brain’, where people display an ‘urge to grab and cling on to anything that seems, even a little bit, like it might be the thing that Finally Defeats Donald Trump’. Even if the thing they’re grabbing on to is actually a bad thing. Like a seemingly endless FBI investigation into the elected presidency. Or George W Bush, whose moral rehabilitation on the back of Anti-Trumpism has been extraordinary. Or neoconservatism: this was the scourge of liberal activists a decade ago, yet now its architects are praised because they subscribe to the religion of Anti-Trumpism. Being against Trump washes away all sins.
Some on the left have criticised the moral rehabilitation of McCain. ‘Let’s not forget that he wanted war with Iran and lots of other places too!’, they cry. Yet the truth is they paved the way for his posthumous rebranding as one of the great Americans of the late 20th century. Since 2016 they have talked about Trump as a uniquely wicked president, a shocking aberration, the closest thing to Hitler since the 1930s. Their anti-Trump hyperbole, driven by their own political disorientation and increasing sense of distance from the electorate, has allowed any politician who is not Trump to mend their reputations and gloss over their own destructive behaviour. The transformation of Trump into the bête noire of all right-minded people, a pillar of unrivalled wickedness that we all have a duty to protest against in our pussy hats and orange wigs, has been a boon to the wounded pre-Trump political class keen both to whitewash its own crimes and to prepare for its return to the position of power it enjoyed before the electorate was corrupted by ‘post-truth’ hysteria.