by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… Trump’s partisans are not judging the president’s performance in office on its own terms or in comparison to some notional Republican baseline; they are comparing it to the counterfactual case of the Hillary Rodham Clinton administration, the hypothetical deficiencies and outrages of which can be exaggerated to whatever scale is necessary to comfort them and keep them from thinking too much about the merits of the Democrats’ case against the president. (Here are two things that are simultaneously true: 1. The Democrats would be working to impeach Trump even if he had a record in office of unblemished virtue; 2. Trump does not have a record in office of unblemished virtue.)
Republicans have convinced themselves that backing Trump is a necessary emergency measure — perhaps regrettable in some ways, but the only prophylactic against Democratic machinations that many of them believe, or profess to believe, would result in the end of the republic. Democrats of course tell themselves the same story: that given the existential threat the Republicans pose to all that is good and decent, his opponents enjoy moral license to employ any means necessary. …
… One of the little political ironies of our times is that both parties have the same opportunity in front of them, and both of them are missing it for the same reason: Mutually reinforcing radical partisanship is a stupidity arms race with no possibility of real victory.