Hillary, still struggling, will serve as the great unifier of the GOP.
Walking around Queens on Tuesday, I ran into a group of profane, tattooed bikers. Needless to say, these guys aren’t registered Republicans. But all their banter was decidedly anti-Hillary and enthusiastically pro-Trump. “She is a two-faced bitch,” one said. Another man said, “I have never voted Republican. But I like Trump. He speaks the way we speak.” Still another said his mother, a long-time Democrat, voted for Bernie Sanders as an “anti-Hillary vote” but that she would vote for Trump in the general election.
I sat near the group as the Indiana results appeared on a television screen. They were delighted at the news that Trump had slammed the door shut on Cruz, who announced shortly thereafter his departure from the race, and they hooted with delight at Hillary’s defeat. “F–k you, Hillary,” shouted a man with tattoos running up in his arm. “Eat s–t.”
The prognosticators who said that Trump would disappear without a trace now prognosticate that he can’t beat Hillary. Sifting through the exit polls, they could still see, despite the egg on their faces, “bad news” for Trump in the Indiana results. One cable gabber was talking excitedly about all the disaffected Republicans who told exit pollsters that they wouldn’t vote for Trump in the general election. Right. Never mind that he won the state by double digits and that the latest poll shows Trump beating Hillary, and this before Trump has even “started in on her,” as he likes to say. Hillary will serve as the great unifier of the GOP, as Republicans bitter at Trump wake up to the alternative of four years under her.
Trump, sounding conciliatory and even a bit subdued, gave a speech on Tuesday night that started with praise for Bobby Knight, who represents the kind of independent that Trump will so easily poach from the Democrats. The famed former Indiana University basketball coach made it clear during the Indiana campaign that he dislikes both Democrats and Republicans but that he supported Trump as a leader. Like the guys I overheard talking in Queens, Knight responded not so much to Trump’s policies as to his decisive personality. The Democrats are kidding themselves if they think the union halls and bars of America don’t contain many such Trump sympathizers. The more Hillary plays the feminist card, the more likely she is to lose Teamster types. As one of the bikers put it, no one wants a feminist as “commander in chief.”
Just look at the frosty reception the Clintons received recently in West Virginia, long a Democratic enclave. Bill Clinton, who once knew how to triangulate the backwoods, got shouted down there, amidst news that one West Virginia mayor had declared his city off limits to the Clintons. Hillary’s promise to bankrupt coal mines and cashier coal miners will reverberate for months to come. Trump incorporated it into his Tuesday night remarks, vowing to keep “coal miners” working under his administration. After mocking Hillary’s environmentalism, he took a shot at her secularism. “We’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” he said.
Whatever votes he loses in the effete salons of Washington he will gain on the streets of America. Never has the “conservative establishment” appeared more feckless and pitifully self-important. While holding their nerdy debates about this or that “Trump gaffe” and hyperventilating over his imperviousness to their tut-tutting, these pundits missed the biggest political story in years. “Conservative” columnist David Brooks, who is beyond parody at this point, has vowed to reeducate the misguided masses. “I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata—in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own,” he wrote recently. He is going to leap “across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country” and save Trump voters from themselves. How? By coming up with a “national story” more convincing than Trump’s and by discovering a “new definition of masculinity.” He informs us that “everywhere you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal” and that the “traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore.”
Really? It seemed to work pretty well for Trump. As I sat next to those Trump supporters in Queens, Karl Rove’s stricken face appeared on the screen. One of them barked at the TV, “It is great to see these guys peeing their pants.”