Four years ago, I called the GOP “The Thelma and Louise Party” because its primary voters were determined to nominate a presidential candidate who couldn’t possibly win the general election. The weirdest thing about Romney’s doomed candidacy was the support he received from people like Ann Coulter, who had spent years vehemently denouncing such transparent RINOs. This year, Coulter supports another RINO who can’t win — Donald Trump. Now, Sarah Palin has endorsed this sure loser. Coulter and Palin have thus become the Thelma and Louise of the Republican Party. Will GOP voters let them drive their party off the cliff?
Why would these erstwhile scourges of RINOs everywhere endorse a candidate who bills himself as an outsider determined shake up the Republican establishment, yet is so desperate to win the Iowa caucuses that he pathetically panders to the state’s ethanol lobby? Even Rush Limbaugh, who has been supportive of Trump, has pointed out that his position on this issue exposes him as a cynical fraud: “He’s clearly making himself out to be anti-establishment, yet he joins them here. And then he dumped on Cruz for being opposed to ethanol. To go after Cruz on that basis, is the way the Democrats and the media would go after him.”
Coulter and Palin, like the suicidal heroines of Ridley Scott’s iconic film, are susceptible to histrionic humbug. To extend the metaphor, Trump is the corollary to “JD,” the sociopathic grifter who “has his way” with Thelma and leaves the two women broke and desperate. Unfortunately, Palin and Coulter have real influence. In fact, it’s likely that their opinions will carry more weight with primary voters than those expressed by the conclave of conservative intellectuals who have patiently explained in print why Trump’s candidacy is antithetical to conservatism and dangerous to a nation that needs genuine leadership.
Ann Coulter, liberal propaganda notwithstanding, is no lightweight. She is a lawyer, a best-selling author, a mainstay of talk radio, a virtuoso performer on the talking heads circuit, and writes widely read op-ed columns. Like Louise, however, Coulter is becoming increasingly paranoid. Her latest book, Adios America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole, purportedly inspired Trump’s moronic plan to solve the nation’s illegal immigration issue. And, in a recent column, she claims that Trump is the victim of a sinister conspiracy involving an unholy alliance between conservative and liberal media.
When she was at the top of her game, Coulter would have realized that the latter are pulling their punches until the general election, which they correctly believe Trump will lose to Hillary Clinton. Regardless of Trump’s delusions of grandeur, as exemplified by his recent boast, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” his prospects of winning the general election are remarkably weak. As Nate Silver writes, “Donald Trump Is Really Unpopular with General Election Voters.” Unlike Ronald Reagan, with whom his gulls routinely compare him, “Most Americans just really don’t like the guy.”
How does Sarah Barracuda fit into all this? Well, if Coulter equals Louise and Trump is JD, Palin is obviously Thelma — a woman whose judgment has been impaired by an abusive relationship. When in 2008 John McCain chose her to be his running mate, the political establishment and the media promptly gang-raped her. They attacked her family, cooked up the phony “troopergate” scandal — the investigation of which was conducted by Obama campaign operatives — was compared by the New York Times to the Reese Witherspoon character in Legally Blonde, and became a staple of Saturday Night Live “comedy” (as again we saw two nights ago).
She was even attacked by self-important conservative pundits like Peggy Noonan who wrote, “The Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics.” The cumulative effect of these outrages, combined with the perfidy of the McCain campaign and the Republican establishment, has left its mark on Palin. So, it is little wonder that she has been taken in by JD … er … Trump. Or perhaps she hasn’t been taken in at all. Maybe her endorsement of Trump is the revenge of a lady with a lot of bruises and a long memory. Either way, as with Coulter’s support, Palin’s endorsement will produce votes for Trump.
This means that, when these two go flying over the edge toward oblivion, they’ll take the GOP with them. Many of Trump’s supporters will respond to that assertion with a resounding, “GOOD!” This is just plain dumb. The GOP establishment has been a problem, obviously, but who can be stupid enough to think this can be fixed by handing the presidency to Hillary Clinton? And, if you actually think that Trump can win the general election, you need to pull your head out of your personality cult. The objective data clearly show that, as bad a candidate as Hillary Clinton is, she’s more popular among the general electorate than “the Donald.”
As Nate Silver puts it in the piece quoted above, “We’ve got an unpopular set of presidential candidates this year … but Trump is the most unpopular of all. Hillary Clinton, whose favorability ratings are notoriously poor, has a 42 percent favorable rating against a 50 percent unfavorable rating, for a net of -8 points. Those are bad numbers, but nowhere near as bad as Trump’s.” And it will get worse. If Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, the media will stop pulling their punches. By the time they finish tearing him limb from limb, he’ll be lucky to stagger across the finish line with as many states as Barry Goldwater won in 1964.
The Iowa caucus is drawing nigh and the primaries will begin shortly thereafter. How many of you Trump supporters are really willing to go for a spin with Thelma and Louise?