Ooh, Ooh, I know! Is it "that they have no morals, principles or human decency?"
Last week I found myself reading “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” the new book by Stuart Stevens, the longtime Republican operative
Oh, man I could've saved you some time there. The Republican Party has always been Trump. It was just waiting for him to ascend the throne. If you need a book to show you the through-line from
then I don't think any book is going to really give you a lot of insight.
Stevens belongs to one of the notable sects in the church of NeverTrump, consisting of figures who once held prominent posts in Republican campaigns — Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson, most notably — and now have reinvented themselves as the Trump-era party’s would-be scourges.
Yeah , that's the only "sect" of "Never-Trumpers." The people known as "never-Trumpers" are Republican operatives and pundits who mis-read the room. They assumed, as did most of us, that if Trump were the nominee, he would go down in flames and take the party with him. Then he won the nomination. Once that happened, they had two choices, either grovel back to Trump on their hands and knees and try to attach themselves to him like a Remora (also known as "going full Lindsey) and hope he won't be too petty and spiteful (ha!) or stay the course hoping to be proven right in the general election. Once Trump won the general, they were pretty much in permanent exile from the party (or at least until 2024) so their next move was to wave the "never-Trump banner and try to sucker centrist Democrats into welcoming them into the Dem's oversized tent. Hence the Lincoln Project.
I turned to Stevens’s book because I thought it might supply an answer, since it’s billed as an examination of conscience, in which the author takes responsibility for various moral compromises that led to Trump’s rise. But the book only deepens the mystery, because “It Was All a Lie” doesn’t give you any sense of why its author spent his entire adult life (Stevens is in his 60s) in the service of a party whose supporters he mostly depicts as rotten frauds and hypocrites and racists, just as bad as liberals always suspected, if not worse.
Stevens would probably reply that he was led astray by the fact that the Republicans he tried to get elected, from Tom Ridge to George W. Bush to Mitt Romney, were good and decent public servants who tried to rescue conservatism from its own worst impulses.
And one could imagine a more interesting version of this book that leaned into this narrative, portraying an American right torn between its better angels and its devils, and Trump’s rise as a defeat in a battle that could have easily gone another away.
But Stevens is so determined to emphasize his party’s total depravity that his only answer to the hard question of why Republicans swung from Romney’s technocratic decency to Trump’s know-nothing flamboyance is that Trumpism was the beating heart of conservatism all along
“What does a center-right party in America stand for?” Stevens asks, in the closest thing to an ideological statement his book contains. “Once this was easy to answer: fiscal sanity, free trade, being strong on Russia, personal responsibility, the Constitution.”