What explains such insouciance? One thing these intellectuals all have in common is that they are all ether ardent Trump loyalists or ardent Trump apologists. Kimball has gone so far as to call the Trump presidency “salubrious and morally uplifting.”

This herd of independent conservative minds seems to follow closely hoofbeats heard in the White House. Consider how closely their arguments map those of the president they revere. After all, it was on March 9 that Donald Trump took to Twitter to minimize the danger: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

Trump, of course, has shifted into reverse gear and is now predicting that if the death toll is less than a staggering 200,000, that will be his own incredibly tremendous accomplishment. FOX News has furiously backpedaled and attempted to erase its discreditable recent history. The conservative intellectuals, for their part, have thus far retreated into a cowardly silence.

We are witnessing the culmination of a tendency that has been evident (and growing) over the last four years, in which the Trump intellectuals have become willing to justify ever-worse behavior. Those who started by excusing Trump for his boorishness (“grab them by the….”) have wound up in a far darker place.