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Politics : A Real American President: Ron DeSantis
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From: Joachim K11/18/2022 5:22:35 PM
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‘Et tu, Conrad?’ Even the ever-loyal Lord Black has turned on Donald Trump

With every vulgarity or indecency, Black rushed to defend his friend. He now joins a legion of Republicans who no longer think Trump a winner.

By Andrew Cohen

Fri., Nov. 18, 2022

For years, Donald Trump has had no more devoted disciple than Conrad Black. In a full-throated roar across columns, interviews and the 256 pages of a literary valentine, Black has expressed an enduring admiration and unshakable affection for Trump — before, during and after his presidency.

It’s uncanny, really. His fealty is quaint, courtly and even old-fashioned in this age of infidelity.

So, if you are Black’s “loyal friend,” “rather generous” and “always cordial,” a “raconteur” and “a good listener” who “never speaks over people” at a dinner party, it matters. If you were “extremely supportive” and “offered evidence” when Black was on trial for fraud and later in jail, it really matters.

For the last eight years or so — notably from the time Trump declared his candidacy in 2015, over the four years of his presidency and the two years since, Black has used his megaphone to defend Trump, excuse him and forgive him. Always.

With every cruelty, vulgarity and indecency Trump visited upon someone or something, with every illustration or allegation of self-enrichment, impropriety or criminality, Black would rush to the ramparts. Black could see the “stable genius” that Trump himself declared but most Americans did not see, even as Trump runs for president once again. ( He announced his candidacy Tuesday.)

There was Black, for example, claiming Trump did nothing wrong on Jan. 6, 2021, because he urged his supporters “ to demonstrate peacefully” as they marched on the Capitol. Prosecutors may disagree.

Trump could always rely on Black to mobilize his celebrity and deploy his arsenal of “rotund phrases,” as Black’s wife, Barbara Amiel, describes his use of language.

Sure, admits Black, Trump has had “ stylistic infelicities” and “vagaries,” as if he were your dotty uncle. And yes, his friend possessed a few harmless eccentricities, such as degrading women, insulting war heroes, trading in casual antisemitism and courting the Proud Boys. But this was Trump being Trump, a man of “foibles” and “fallibilities,” whom Black sees as “ a candidate” for Mount Rushmore.

“There is plenty of room to dislike or disagree with Donald Trump, but he is an astonishing political phenomenon,” Black says. All reasonable, wouldn’t you agree? As Black maintained to The New Yorker in 2020, “I am not whitewashing this guy.”

But if you disagree with Black on Trump, watch out. Black energetically lashes out at skeptical journalists. This is the danger of crossing Lord Black of Crossharbour.

Of course, becoming apologist-in-chief for the twice-impeached Trump had nothing to do with the pardon Trump gave Black in 2019. Which had nothing to do with the encomium (“A President Like No Other”) that Black published in 2018. Of course not.

Black was so besotted it clouded his judgment. He predicted big victories for Republicans in the elections of 2018, 2020 and 2022. (In 2019, Black predicted a historic Trump 2020 landslide like those enjoyed by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and FDR in 1936.)

All of which is context for the Great Renunciation. Days after this month’s midterm elections, Black did the unthinkable: he broke with Trump. No longer was Trump presumptive president, as Black predicted — now he was past president.

In a betrayal for the ages, Black has turned on Trump. He has knifed him and thrown him under the chariot. Gazing at the assassin holding the ink-stained dagger, a bloodied Trump must have thought: “Et tu, Conrad?”

In his “updated assessment” for the National Post, Black graciously allows for “my mistaken prediction” that after the midterm elections Trump “will take even greater control than ever of the Republican Party.”

Black says he believes in “the utility of confession,” though this does not appear to mean apologizing for championing Trump as he peddled the canard of the “stolen” 2020 presidential election — and pushed hundreds of lawmakers to embrace the lie. Curiously, Black doesn’t say he was wrong about Trump as president, or even as a human being.

Suddenly, Black joins a legion of Republicans who no longer think Trump is a winner. They’re abandoning him. It’s an exquisite, head-spinning reversal. Now the future is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom Black anoints “a worthy continuator of the best aspects of the Trump legacy.”

So, the romance is over. Lord Black — obligations met, debts paid, book published, pardon conferred — has found a better prospect. Loyalty has its limits.

Andrew Cohen is a journalist, a professor at Carleton University and author of “Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made History.”
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