When Ann Coulter tries to sound reflective, you know it’s because every other gimmick in her playbook is used up. But last week she got some attention, her drug of choice, thanks to a Q&A with The Daily Caller advertising her disenchantment with President Donald Trump. “I think everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque,” said Coulter, apparently unaware of how funny that sounds coming from her. Now she’s worried that “the Trump-haters were right.”
According to her, his true believers are “petrified” by what’s going on—or not going on, starting with Trump’s increasingly chimerical Great Wall. Thanks to his unexpected ineptitude, the magically callous, xenophobic USA she and her fellow white supremacists were craving doesn’t seem to be materializing on schedule. Do you feel sorry for her yet?
What makes this noteworthy, if you ask us, is that Coulter—whatever else you think of her—can be fairly shrewd when it comes to reading the tea leaves and refurbishing her brand to match. In many ways, Trump’s rise turned her into yesterday’s news. Her Cruella deMille performance-art shtick anticipated his insult-comedy candidacy by more than a decade, but it’s hard to remain the personification of right-wing outrageousness when the President of the United States can outdo you with a single tweet.
Republicans have been paralyzed by fear of offending Trump’s loyalists, but his base is starting to weary.
Last year, Coulter tried to keep herself relevant by embracing Trump the candidate with the blasphemously titled In Trump We Trust. Really, shouldn’t evangelicals have been horrified by the Golden Calf effect? Now she’s trying to reposition herself by casting him as the god that failed.
If she’s guessing right, conservatives turning on Trump could wind up being something of a fad in the not-so-distant future. (It says a lot about today’s GOP that Coulter’s example could embolden her betters.) Up to now, Congressional Republicans have been paralyzed by fear of offending Trump’s loyalists. But there are signs that his base is starting to weary of the circus, including some slippage in his popularity with the college-uneducated white folks he counts on to pack auditoriums whenever his inordinate ego could use a massage. What if he ends up needing them more than they need him? They’ve got other things to live for, after all. He doesn’t.
Four months into Trump’s term, his only legislative “success” is the House’s passage of a health care bill so badly thought out and massively unpopular that the Senate will have to rework it from scratch. Meanwhile, his firing of FBI Director James Comey has managed to turn Russiagate into a front-burner issue even among people who once refused to believe that Russiagate even belonged in the kitchen. Just in general, the spectacle of a dysfunctional White House that can’t get its act together keeps veering from perplexing to alarming to flat-out fatiguing.
This week, Trump switched it back to alarming when The Washington Post reported that he’d blabbed classified national-security information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during their Oval Office get-together last Wednesday, apparently just to show off what a hell of an important guy he is. Most presidents count on the Oval Office to be a sufficient reminder of that all by itself, but not this one. Nobody knows for sure how much damage this caused or may cause to the intelligence feed in question, but it’s a safe bet no ally of ours will feel comfortable sharing secrets with us again so long as he’s in office. That’s especially true for Israel, the injured party here and not a country known for taking kindly to being fucked with. Trump’s visit there next week should be a blast.
Meanwhile, it’s no secret at all that plenty of Republicans in Congress and other Establishment niches are privately appalled by Trump, something this latest blunder is certain to inflame. It’s bad enough he’s jeopardizing U.S. security, but does he have to keep making us look like such boobs in the bargain? That’s why liberals have been waiting since around noon on January 20 for the tipping point that finally convinces the GOP’s mucky-mucks their unquestioning support of him just isn’t worth the gamble.
More likely, though, if their misgivings ever do get the upper hand, it won’t be because of a single event—unless, of course, that infamous pee video surfaces at long last. Instead, odds are the cumulative effect of Trump’s almost daily proofs that he’s a dangerous incompetent will gradually wear them down, and maybe the red-state public too. He’s already past the point when he could have convincingly pivoted to being “Presidential.” This Donald Trump is the only Donald Trump there is, and by now millions of Americans wake up most days pining for a vacation from him.
Even Mitch McConnell is grumbling that he could do with less White House drama and more action on the GOP’s long-deferred dream agenda of ramming through more tax cuts for the wealthy, dismantling Obamacare and so on. If Trump can’t help them make that neat stuff happen, they have very little reason to go on being craven apologists for his asininities. That’ll be especially true once retaining their House and Senate majorities next year becomes the party’s sauve qui peut priority.
So let’s try to think of Coulter as the proverbial canary in a coal mine. It’s precisely because, not unlike Trump himself, she doesn’t care about principles—she cares about selling books and otherwise pleasing her fan base—that her sort-of apostasy is a useful test of the durability of Trump’s appeal to right-wing zealots. Then again, maybe she isn’t a canary so much as she’s the GOP’s Punxsutawney Phil. If she sees her own shadow and scurries back to the safety of praising Trump instead of slamming him, America could be facing three more years of winter.