Wilson devotes many pages to trying to trap Trump voters in his tu quoque. They hated Barack Obama’s cult-like following, but what about their own Trump cult? They hated Obama’s “empty promises” about job creation in the solar industry, but what about Trump’s empty promises about job creation in the coal industry? They hated Obama’s Ivy League credentialism but love Trump’s boasting about his Wharton degree. Too true! But so what? Nearly every tu quoque can be easily reversed: Liberals were awed by Obama’s elite education and mock Trump’s degree from Wharton. They mock the Trump cult while gazing adoringly at the official portraits of Barack and Michelle. Whataboutism doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s not argument, it’s self-pleasuring.
I wonder if either Wilson or the judge, the Never Trumper and the Forever Trumper, see any of the other in themselves, assuming they give one another any thought at all. You wouldn’t have to worry about seating them side by side at your dinner party. They could discuss how much they hate Paul Ryan for being a sellout; after an hour or so of that they could start in on the sellout Mitch McConnell—indeed the entire Republican “establishment,” they both believe, has relinquished the right to call itself Republican. Wilson thinks he’s the real Republican around here; the judge believes she and her fellow Forever Trumpers are the vessel of true Republicanism.
Another trait they have in common is that they’re both wrong about this. If the last 30 years have taught us anything, it is that there is no ideological core around which the Republican party revolves. There is no real Republican. There’s just Republicans, corralled together for reasons they’re increasingly uncertain about. The chief thing that holds each party together is contempt for the opposite team. And many Never Trumpers are losing even this binding glue of ill will for the other party—understandably, I guess, since they and Democrats share a common enemy. Wilson wanders off into several digressions about the political ineptitude and overreaching of his former adversaries, but these read like fraternal criticisms. He insults Trump Republicans with a zest, bordering sometimes on cruelty, that he would never direct against any Democrat, no matter how bovine or credulous.