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The Giuliani Meltdown

I have not followed the post-election vote counting controversies closely. My general stance has been that President Trump has the right to challenge in court what he believes to be dodgy voting results. I would not be surprised if there was voting fraud somewhere in this big country. If Team Trump can produce meaningful evidence, then we have to take it seriously, no matter how much that ticks off Democrats.

Yesterday’s presser by Rudy was an embarrassment, and not just because his hair dye melted down his face. A conservative friend said Rudy went full “Claude Robichaux.” Claude Robichaux is the conspiracy-minded old gent in A Confederacy of Dunces who believes that there’s a “communiss” behind every bush. More significantly, Trump’s attorney Sydney Powell alleged a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy to steal the election by nabbing millions of votes from Donald Trump.

If you didn’t see Tucker Carlson’s segment on this last night, you need to watch it. He reports that he asked Powell to come on the show and present evidence of this conspiracy. Said he would give her the whole hour. She refused, and told him to quit bothering her. Tucker, who is well-sourced in the White House, said that members of Trump’s circle told him that Powell has given them no evidence either.

When you’ve lost Tucker Carlson, that’s a pretty good sign that the b.s. has to stop. Trump has only won one of the 31 election-related legal challenges he has filed, and that have been settled in court. At this point, they’re just throwing whatever they can at the wall to see what sticks. Peggy Noonan:

Responsible Republican leaders ought to congeal and address the fact that what rough faith and trust we have in the system is being damaged. Which means our ability to proceed as a healthy democracy is being damaged.

There is no realistic route to victory for the president, only to confusion and chaos and undermining. He is not going to find the votes in recounts to win the election. Dominion, the voting-machine company under attack, has not been credibly charged with doing anything wrong. As the Journal said this week in an editorial, “Strong claims need strong proof, not rumors and innuendo on Twitter. ”

Trump lost. One may regret it, but there it is. It would have been more shocking had Trump won, given how badly he has governed, and campaigned. The Republican Party, however, did amazingly well on Election Night. Now is the time to put this Trump thing behind us, and get busy creating an effective opposition. Trump is going to carry on for ages trying to delegitimize the new president, because his ego cannot bear to accept that he lost this race. There is no need for conservatives to play along with this charade. The Democrats are going to try to do serious damage to the things many of us care about. Conservatives need strong fighters, ready to punch back hard. This Trump psychodrama only makes it harder for them to do their jobs.

Tucker Carlson is right: if the Trump team can come up with hard evidence for its extraordinary claims, then by all means let’s hear them, and see the evidence. But if it can’t or won’t provide that, it should shut up and accept reality. In Live Not By Lies, I write about Hannah Arendt’s claim that a society in which large numbers of people prefer to believe bizarre things absent evidence, because it suits their emotional needs, as a sign of a pre-totalitarian society. I talk about the Left and its crazy beliefs about the founding of America (e.g., The 1619 Project). But we are seeing the same kind of thing on the Right with this post-election psychodrama. Trump failed. It’s not the end of the world. The next four years are going to be hard for us conservatives because a liberal Democrat sits in the White House.

But to pretend that he did not fail, that he was stabbed in the back by conspirators, even in the absence of evidence — that’s dangerous stuff. Conservatives who don’t live in reality are going to end up losing. This year, the Democrats underperformed in part because the radicals who are disproportionately influential in party circles convinced themselves that “Defund The Police” was a popular idea. They refused to see how it looked to people outside the epistemic bubble, and it cost them. Similarly, conservatives who are full-tilt MAGA conspiratorialists on the election need to understand what persisting in this belief stands to do to their cause, and to the country.

Again, when you’ve lost Tucker, you’re in deep trouble. In that segment, Carlson laid into the news media for its Russian conspiracy obsessions, and its other foibles. But in the end, he invited Trump’s lawyer on to offer the evidence that the election was stolen from the president by a conspiracy — and she repeatedly declined to make the case. He told her to put up or shut up — and she told him to get lost.

That speaks for itself.

UPDATE: A reader just sent in this short response Sidney Powell offered on Fox to Tucker’s criticism:

UPDATE.2:John Hinderaker at the conservative blog Powerline, says that Trump lawyers confused data from Michigan and Minnesota in one of their legal filings:

Evidently a researcher, either Mr. Ramsland or someone working for him, was working with a database and confused “MI” for Minnesota with “MI” for Michigan. (The postal code for Minnesota is MN, while Michigan is MI, so one can see how this might happen.) So the affidavit, which addresses “anomalies and red flags” in Michigan, is based largely, and mistakenly, on data from Minnesota.

This is a catastrophic error, the kind of thing that causes a legal position to crash and burn. Trump’s lawyers are fighting an uphill battle, to put it mildly, and confusing Michigan with Minnesota will at best make the hill steeper. Credibility once lost is hard to regain. Possibly Trump’s lawyers have already discovered this appalling error, and have undertaken to correct it. But the Ramsland Affidavit was filed in Georgia just yesterday.

Team Trump’s chief legal analyst, attorney Lionel Hutz, is trying to process this information:

UPDATE.3: Whoa! Listen to this whole thing:

I accuse — correctly! — many on the Left of having made a religion of politics, but this MAGA zealot definitely has done so.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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