The Trumpist trumpets of blame

Ramesh Ponnuru:
Sean Hannity knows who will be responsible if Hillary Clinton wins the election.

It won’t be the Republicans who nominated a candidate whom polls have consistently shown most voters consider unqualified to be president. It won’t be Donald Trump himself, who spent the weeks after his convention arguing with the family of a dead soldier and has barely built a campaign organization. No, Hannity believes the fault will lie with another conservative media figure, Jonah Goldberg.

In a series of obsessive tweets -- Hannity seems to have some of the same social-media habits as his candidate -- the Fox News host has said that Goldberg has chosen to “sabotage” Trump and thus must “OWN” the Clinton presidency that may result. (He has tweeted similarly against other conservative Trump critics, such as Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal.)

While disagreement about Trump, whom Goldberg opposes, is the occasion of this dispute, it is only secondarily about the candidate. What it is mainly about is what the conservative media is for.

Hannity sees no problem with being openly for Trump. Neither does Goldberg: He has had rooting interests in elections, too, and readers and viewers know it. The difference is that Goldberg, a friend and National Review colleague of mine, does not see his role as revving up voters to pick Republican candidates. If he disagrees with a Republican candidate on an issue, or thinks he is making a strategic mistake, he says so.


Hannity doesn’t make that kind of admission against interest. He is, instead, part of the Republican campaign machinery. He even advises Trump behind the scenes.

For Hannity, conservative media figures who do not act the way he does are falling down on the job. The accusation of “sabotage” assumes that Goldberg is not supposed to do anything that hurts Trump’s chances. If this is right, then it wouldn’t be enough if Goldberg said that after thinking about it some more, he will reluctantly back Trump over Hillary Clinton. Goldberg would also have to stop pointing out that Trump keeps treating the United States and Vladimir Putin’s Russia as morally equivalent, and stop opining that this is morally grotesque.
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If Trump loses the election narrowly, it will be plausible to say that criticism by the conservative media Goldbergs contributed to the defeat. But it will also be plausible to attribute the defeat to Trump’s failure to run many ads, his disdain for get-out-the-vote mechanics, and his weakness among nonwhites.
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Trump is a candidate with many faults that people like Hannity are willing to overlook.  He seems oblivious to the fact that the guy he has chosen to back has alienated voters of many stripes, yet he wants to blame the people he and Trump have insulted for his loss.

Most people in sales know this is a losing argument.  It is like a car company blaming reluctant buyers for not buying their crappy product rather than dealing with the real problems that cause the reluctance.

As Neil Stevens points out:
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Time will tell if appearing on Putin's state TV network or attacking Ted Cruz will give Trump a path to victory.

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