Resolute Square

The Four Douchebags of the MAGA Apocalypse

Rick Wilson takes us through the circus-like post-presidency of Donald J. Trump, the weak leadership of Mike Johnson, the political flip-flopping of Chris Sununu, and the alarming embrace of Putinism by J.D. Vance.
Published:April 18, 2024

By Rick Wilson

I’ve written many, many thousands of words on the decline and fall of the old Republican Party, but this weekend, even through a haze of painkillers, its swift plunge into the darkness was notable. The MAGA GOP isn’t just on the edge of the cliff; it’s already in free-fall, dragged down by men like the four figures I’ll highlight today who epitomize just how bad it’s become.

The leaders in question—Donald J. Trump, Mike Johnson, Chris Sununu, and J.D. Vance—aren’t just bad news; they’re the heralds of a Republican apocalypse, twisting the party’s old narrative and legacy into something dark, unrecognizable, dangerously opportunistic, and unabashedly authoritarian.

Donald J. Trump:

The former and forever president of the MAGAverse and eternal chaos agent, Trump has turned his post-presidency era into a circus of absurd legal dramas and endless rantings on TruthSocial that sound more like a dictator in exile (my take on Gabriel García Márquez would call the novel “The Douchebag In His Labyrinth”) than a former leader of the free world.

The endless complaints, the threats to the judges and their families, the blast furnace of lies never stops, slows down, or relents. I realized today that when this trial begins, we’ll be seeing Trump‘s mendacity at its highest pitch for not days but months.

His daily storm of Truth Social, legal paranoia, playing the martyr card, and general poor-pitiful-me excuses are to keep the base foaming at the mouth, a play now par for the Trumpian course. For all that, the man’s a maestro manipulating his base, turning every courtroom drama into a fundraising opportunity, public spectacle, and dinner-theater drama that it’s all a conspiracy to deny him his throne in 2024.

The silence from the GOP? Deafening. They’re too scared to whisper even a hint of dissent lest they face the wrath of Trump’s still terrifyingly surly base. My coronation of Trump has been clear for nearly a decade now, but it’s important to believe me when I tell you it can, in fact, get worse. He can, in fact, become even more intolerable, insufferable, and insane.

“Speaker” Mike Johnson:

Mike Johnson, the most temporary of House Speakers is a weak and pathetic man, which should come as little shock to anyone watching him for the last few months as he struggled to manage the decline of the House Republican caucus into its current chaotic form.
Johnson Has been trapped in a losing battle with Marjorie, Taylor, Greene, and the rest of the chaos caucus, and on Friday, took a desperate trip down to Washington DC to Donald Trump‘s abundant ass.

Johnson's ostensible reason for the visit was to promote election integrity, claiming that the central problem in American political life is illegal noncitizen voting. Of course, it’s already illegal in every state and under federal law. It’s a solution in search of a problem. Noted experts across the political spectrum have all confirmed that it is a problem so small as to be undetectable by the most sensitive scientific instruments.

And yet there he was, looking as if he’d escaped his cookie-making tree to stare lovingly at Donald Trump, the caudillo of his party, as Trump bleated on about varied imagined outrages that momentarily caught his interest.

The fundamental unseriousness of Johnson had been on display for months, but when he left Maralago, stories broke that the Republican agenda for its brief return to Washington was a week of trying to Showboat bills about appliances.

Yes, appliances.

Johnson is petrified. Marjorie Taylor Greene will ask him if he put a Ukraine spending bill on the floor or if he accepts he has already passed the Senate version. This man makes weak speakers look like titans of American political power.

Greene has nothing over him except the threat of the recall vote, which she is unlikely to win. She only gets to fire that gun once before her colleagues turn on her, given that she has a declining percentage of a panicky Republican caucus willing to follow her over the cliff in her performative political terrorism.

But Green alone isn’t Johnson’s only excuse. He recognizes where Trump and the majority of his caucus are with Russia: either in its pocket or in love with its dictator. No matter how many Ukrainians die in the night as Russian missiles rained down on them, Mike Johnson will block Ukraine aid. No matter how much TV capers and giggles. Johnson is another one of their pets; he’ll hold the line for Putin.

If Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush could rise from the grave right now and see what Mike Johnson is doing in the name of the Republican party as the inheritor of the old Soviet Union’s nightmare behavior, they’d strike him down in a moment.

Chris Sununu:

Ah, Sununu (R-Chickenshit Junction, NH).

Behind closed doors, he’s all fire and brimstone against Trump, tearing into the man’s character like a late-night comic on a roll. He endorsed Nikki Haley, laying out passionate public attacks on Donald Trump.

But this weekend, when ABC switched the cameras on during an interview with George Stephanopoulos, it was a different story. He hit bottom this weekend and started to dig aggressively, promising to endorse Trump even if the former President is indicted for his crimes.

Suddenly, he’s Trump’s man, toeing the party line with the grace of a tightrope walker who knows the net below has been slashed. When pressed by the media, Sununu morphs, presenting a façade that Trump might somehow, in some bizarro universe, be a better President than Biden. It’s political theater at its most grotesque, with Sununu playing the lead role in a tragedy of his own making.

This isn’t simply Sununu protecting his political viability or ensuring his future. Both those aspects of his life are over; they ended the second he endorsed Haley. This is the kind of gravitational pull of partisan loyalty that Trump has relied on over and over, breaking better men and women to his will.

Sununu understands exactly who Trump is, but his political ambition is a character defect that won’t allow him to put country over party. It won’t allow him to conceive of a world where political courage would be superior to the craven, low, repugnant display of absolute moral cowardice he put on this weekend.

J.D. Vance:

Lastly, the intellectual turncoat, Putin-symp, and beard model J.D. Vance.

Here’s a man who once penned a poignant tale of Rust Belt woes, only to pivot to being Putin’s prime apologist in the Senate. Vance’s transformation is a stark portrayal of the GOP’s ideological bankruptcy.

Vance is not a dumb man. In fact, Vance's brilliance makes his embrace of Putinism and Russian expansionism so deeply offensive.

Vince, a product of every gift the meritocracy could give him, last week wrote one of the most disingenuous and profoundly dishonest pieces I’ve seen, even from an era in which trumpet revels in disingenuousness and dishonesty. Vance’s New York Times op-ed was a series of blazing lies and brazen deceptions about American aid to Ukraine, all in service to stopping anything that would slow Putin's military advance in a country he has illegally invaded.

Jamie Vance is the future of the Republican party, coded with elite degrees and military service and driven by a grotesque authoritarian statist ideology allied to Putin’s Russia. He knows how to sit in a room in Manhattan, Aspen, or Silicon Valley and speak to fellow members of that meritocracy in their language, style, and cadence. He’s the product of investment banking and shed his white rural roots to be perfectly comfortable with McKinsey, Bain, and Goldman.

He’s swapped his ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ for a ‘Kremlin’s Anthem,’ pushing narratives that are identical to the clownish excess and crude japeery of Russian propaganda. Sitting pretty with his elite degrees and military creds, Vance knows precisely what he’s doing, making his betrayal tragic and downright sinister.

And yet, they’re the future.

Together, these low men embody an abandoned American ideal: a collection of moral bankrupts who’ve traded in their moral compasses for a shot at power, proving they’re willing to sell out the country’s future for a moment in the authoritarian sun. The Republican Party, once a bastion of conservative principles, is now a playground for these demagogues, where the rules are rewritten daily by the highest bidder, and the stakes are nothing less than the soul of America itself.

This is the MAGA GOP, a party so far gone that even when Trump has left the building, the echo of his madness will resonate, thanks to his legion of enablers and imitators, all too eager to dance on the democracy’s grave.

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