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Bush, McCain, Romney, then Trump… and the Next GOP Leader will be Even More Demonized

The current uproar regarding the riots at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, and the effect comments by President Donald Trump may have had on that unrest, is just the latest focal point in an almost-five-year effort by the Left to denigrate and diabolize the president. While many conservatives take issue with some of Trump’s rhetoric that preceded the aggression, and may in fact consider much of it irresponsible, most of us recognize that those who engaged in the violence in Washington D.C. are ultimately responsible for their actions. Individual responsibility is a fundamental tenet of conservatism. Meanwhile Democrats, their media, and other leftists are doing everything they can to associate not only President Trump, but everyone who supported and voted for him, with the carnage at the Capitol. As Trump has pointed out repeatedly over the last several years, “They’re not after me, they’re after you.”  

Not only is the president’s assessment accurate, we should expect the Left to continue with that approach when another Republican backfills Trump as the party’s leader. Whoever that brave man or woman may be, they will be thoroughly and relentlessly vilified as the Left attempts to destroy their actual target: anyone who disagrees with them. The Left’s vitriol for Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular, won’t end when Donald Trump’s influence recedes; quite the contrary. The emergence of that wrath may take time to gel, and perhaps even lessen temporarily as that void is filled. But it will return with a vengeance, and we should expect that hatred to intensify. Why? Because they will assess, somewhat accurately, that their efforts regarding Trump were successful. They will deem – if it worked with Trump, let’s do it again.

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We could go back and examine the treatment of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush for comparisons, but we only need to consider events in this century to illustrate the tactics of our friends on the other side of the aisle. In reality, President Trump is just the villain-du-jour, having filled the shoes of other recent GOP leaders. They pretend now that their disagreements with folks like George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were those of friendly rivals, and count on conservatives to have amnesia. They would have us think that they were civil and respectful in their treatment of those men, but they weren’t. They were vicious then as well, the only difference with Trump is that he didn’t just sit back and take it like Bush, McCain and Romney; Trump counter-punched, and did so effectively for the most part.

It’s easy to forget now, twelve years after his departure from office, but President George W. Bush was despised and mistreated by the Left in a similar way to that of President Trump. Bush was constantly depicted as an idiot, as they chose to ignore his Ivy League education, just like Trump. Bush was labeled a racist while they simultaneously dismissed critical achievements with minorities (such as saving millions of lives from AIDS in Africa), just like Trump. We got a familiar taste of their Bush-hatred when Ellen DeGeneres was spotted fraternizing with the former president at a football game in 2019, and the Left lost their collective minds at Ellen’s astonishingly bad judgment, but that hatred never got back to the early-2000s level. It couldn’t… they were too busy hating on President Trump.

As Bush went into retirement and passed the torch, John McCain was next in line to be brutally attacked. Presently, they would have us believe they were downright smitten with John McCain back then. After McCain’s death in August 2018, he was praised by the Left as being considerate, reasonable, and open to compromise. But we must not forget reality: John McCain was absolutely pummeled when running as the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Then-candidate Barack Obama, the same man the Left now depicts as being the epitome of civility, theorized on the campaign trail McCain was in fact a disgusting racist who held the belief that Obama “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” Like Bush and Trump, McCain was also unintelligent, they told us, due primarily to being so decrepit, even though McCain at the time was several years younger than President-Elect Joe Biden is now.  They were relentless in their attacks on John McCain, not to mention his running mate Sarah Palin, and they dusted off the same playbook for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Newly-arriving visitors from outer space might conclude Democrats were always as besotted with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, as they appear to be currently, but they would be wrong.  Romney was actually accused of being a murderer during his presidential run by a pro-Obama PAC. He was also implied to be a misogynist due to his stance on “women’s health,” as well as being unfoundedly called a tax-cheat on the Senate floor by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). And of course, no Republican in the 21st-century can run for any office without being accused of racism, as then Vice-President Joe Biden famously promised a gathering of mostly African-Americans, “Mitt Romney’s gonna put y’all back in chains!”

It doesn’t matter who the person is, any Republican leader will be relentlessly battered by Democrats and other leftists with willing assistance from the mainstream media (aka the Communication Department of the Democratic Party). President Trump wasn’t the first to suffer such abuse, and he certainly won’t be the last. One aspect of future assaults which remains unclear is whether or not the Left can ratchet up their smears. Once you’ve unloaded on Republicans with terms such as racist, misogynist, and xenophobe, is it even possible to up the ante?

So, what happens next? Donald Trump will be 78 during the next election cycle, and has in fact suffered what some would argue is irreversible political damage this month, much of it self-inflicted. Assuming Trump moves on, who will the Left set their sights on next? Some consider former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to be a Republican front-runner, and if nominated in 2024 would be only the second woman and racial minority to ever have top billing on a major party ticket. Would that dampen the Left’s enthusiasm in their battering of Haley, or even slow them down? Hell, no. Well-qualified, racial minority senators such as Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) might have a chance as well, and we’ve already seen the lengths to which the Left will go in disparaging the two of them. Indeed, the identity of President Trump’s successor is irrelevant, as are the actual facts that might pertain to that individual. The Republicans could bring on the second coming of Abraham Lincoln himself, and Democrats would portray him as being an ignorant redneck with an inferior education; and a racist, of course.  In only a few short years, we’ll hear leftist pundits lamenting for the good ole’ days of civility like we had with President Trump, as they work away at their cartoonish portrayal of that next brave soul to step forward and lead the Republican Party.

PF Whalen

PF Whalen is a conservative blogger at His work has appeared in multiple publications, including Human Events, the Western Journal, and American Thinker. Follow him on Parler @PFWhalen