There’s a lot of talk these days about Trump Derangement Syndrome — the media’s incessant inability to talk about anything but Trump, their determination to paint every action Trump takes as simultaneously idiotic and malevolent, their utter unwillingness to report on anything remotely resembling positive news for Trump. But the truth is that the media and the Left don’t suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome — they merely suffer from Republican Derangement Syndrome. That’s the broader classification under which Bush Derangement Syndrome and Trump Derangement Syndrome fall. It’s not just Trump they hate — it’s Republicans generally.
That’s perfectly obvious from the treatment of Vice President Mike Pence by the Left. Pence has been castigated as a theocratic madman, a “holy terror,” in the words of New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, who asked, “Are you sure you want to get rid of Donald Trump?” Then there are authors Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner, who argue in their new book The Shadow President that Pence is “the most successful Christian supremacist in American history.” It’s become a meme on the Left that should Pence accede to the presidency, he would immediately impose The Handmaid’s Tale.
And that should be unsurprising. The same Left castigated John McCain as a radical, Mitt Romney as a racist, sexist, bigot homophobe. No matter which Republican follows Trump, we can be sure that the Left will dishonestly look back to the glory days of Trump, when Republicans were “truly moderate.”
All of which is why Trump is president in the first place. Republicans looked at Joe Biden suggesting Mitt Romney — Mitt Freaking Romney! — wanted to put black people back in chains, and figured that no matter who they nominated, they’d be castigated as the worst people on earth. They figured they might as well nominate a guy who wouldn’t take such attacks sitting down — they might as well get behind a counterpuncher. And nobody was better at counterpunching during the campaign — above and below the belt — than Trump.
Republican Derangement Syndrome is also why large portions of Trump’s base will never abandon him: many Republicans rightly believe that criticism of Trump isn’t good faith shock at his aberrant behavior, but the latest convenient excuse for ripping on a powerful Republican. Get rid of Trump, the logic goes, and they’ll just do this to Pence — and at least Trump fights back.
So, if the Left truly wants Republicans to “come around to reason,” they’d better first name a few Republicans they think are reasonable — and those Republicans had better not be Jennifer Rubin and Ana Navarro and David Frum. Otherwise, Republicans are likely to say, rightly, that the name at the top of the ticket doesn’t seem to matter very much to Democrats, so why exactly ought they take Democratic complaints seriously in the first place? If Nikki Haley is George W. Bush is Donald Trump, why not just stick with the dude that won the White House in the first place?