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Trumpish Mottramism

The man who lives in the house behind you is trying to do just that (Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

One of the best coinages I’ve ever heard is “Mottramism,” coined by the Canadian Catholic Mark Cameron during the priest sexual abuse scandal, when a certain kind of Catholic fell all over himself trying to come up with innocent explanations for why Pope John Paul II hesitated to take action against abusers and the bishops that enabled them. Cameron explained it like this:

I would like to propose a name for this phenomenon of inveterate support for any and all Papal actions, imputing to him wisdom and spiritual insight beyond all the Saints and Popes of past ages: Mottramism.

This takes its name, of course, from Rex Mottram, Julia Flyte’s husband in Brideshead Revisited. At one point, Rex decides to convert to Catholicism in order to have a proper Church wedding with Julia. But the sincerity of his conversion becomes suspect when he is willing to agree with any absurdity proposed in the name of Catholic authority, and shows no intellectual curiosity into its truth or falsehood. As his Jesuit instructor, Father Mowbray describes his catechetical progress:

“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’”

This useful term should now be deployed to describe supporters of Donald Trump who continue in their docility towards the Great Man despite that fact that he sells them out.

I don’t have a strong opinion about DACA, but surely the fact that Trump has reached a deal with the Democrats to keep the so-called “Dreamers” in the country qualifies as a massive betrayal of Trump’s base. From the NYT:

In remarks to reporters as he left the White House on Thursday, Mr. Trump said, “We’re working on a plan for DACA,” referring to protections for immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Mr. Trump’s comments contradicted his own Twitter posts early Thursday morning when he said, “no deal was made last night on DACA.”

Even if Mr. Trump and Democratic leaders agree to support legislation to protect the young undocumented immigrants, any proposal would need the support of Republicans, who control the House and Senate.

On Thursday morning, the president said that there would need to be a larger deal on securing the United States’ border in order to complete any agreement on protections for the immigrants. Democrats said the Wednesday dinner agreement did not include funding for the border wall between the United States and Mexico — a top priority of the Trump administration — drawing immediate criticism from some within the president’s own party. Mr. Trump confirmed that on Thursday as well, saying, “The wall will come later.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader of New York, and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader of California, issued a joint statement on Thursday saying there was no “final deal.”

“President Trump’s tweets are not inconsistent with the agreement reached last night,” Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said. “As we said last night, there was no final deal, but there was agreement” that Mr. Trump would support a law for DACA protections.

“What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible,” the Democratic leaders said. “While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the president made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it.”

There will never be a Wall. You know that, right? Breitbart seems to know it. They’re calling him “Amnesty Don”. And this:



So Ann Coulter is not a Mottramist. On the other hand:


Is that true? It will be fascinating to find out. If so, then we will know that Trumpism is nothing more than a shallow cult of personality.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how this cat’s modified Mottramism plays out. “Yes, he failed, BUT IT’S NOT HIS FAULT!”:



I guess Trump is actually winning, but most of us are too sinful to see it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pipTwjwrQYQ]

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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