The hero's welcome that greeted Donald Trump at this past weekend's CPAC gathering in Maryland -- despite the fact that he tried to subvert the 2020 presidential election while inciting a riot at the Capitol -- should be a cause for concern over what it will take for his fans to abandon him.
That is the opinion of former U.S. Naval War College professor and conservative Tom Nichols, writing for the Atlantic.
Trump's appearance allowed him to give a two-hour speech that recycled his usual laundry list of grievances and included him darkly suggesting to the crowd "I am your retribution," which led Nichols to sum up the speech as a "litany of lunacy."
"Much of it was hallucinatory," he said. "Amusing as it is to listen to President von Munchausen and his many 'sir' stories, Trump is the former commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces and the current front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024. He is as dangerous as ever to our democracy and to our national security."
Nichols added that he wants "...to turn attention from Trump’s evident emotional issues to consider a more unsettling question: How, in 2023, after all we know about this man and his attacks on our government and our Constitution, do we engage the people who heard that speech and support Donald Trump’s candidacy?"
He went on to explain that part of the problem has been the timidity of the press to question hardcore fans of the former president to explain themselves instead of falling back on explaining the disconnect with reality with convenient excuses of "economic anxiety."
"Media, flummoxed by having a sociopathic narcissist in the Oval Office, treated Trump like a normal political leader, and soon we all—even me—became accustomed to the fact that the president of the United States routinely sounded like the guy at the end of the bar who makes you decide to take your drink over to a table or a booth," he admitted. "When Joe Biden won, I hoped that this strange fever gripping so many Americans would finally pass. But the fever did not break, not even after January 6, 2021, and the many hearings that showed Trump’s responsibility for the events of that black day."
Now there is the Trump CPAC speech and the response to it is a warning that the Trump fever has not broken.
"We’ve all cataloged this kind of Trumpian weirdness many times, and I still feel pity for the fact-checkers who try to keep up with him. But I wonder if there is any point. By now it should be clear that the people listening to Trump don’t care about facts, or even about policy or politics. They enjoy the show, and they want it back on TV for another four years," he wrote before bluntly stating, "And this is a problem not with Trump but with the voters."
"There was a time when we forced people out of public life for offenses far less than Donald Trump’s violent and seditious corruption. We were a better country for it, and returning to that better time starts with media outlets holding elected Republicans to account for Trump’s statements—but also with each of us refusing to accept rationalizations and equivocation from even our friends and family," he continued before darkly warning, "The stakes are even clearer and steeper now; we cannot fail this test again."
You can read more here.