I was reading this piece by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in The New Republic about the final downfall of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and was struck by how much these descriptions of him could be our own predicament with the Orange Menace in Mar-A-Lago:
[Johnson] is something quite unusual among politicians, or indeed among everyone: a man who has never seriously believed in anything all his life apart from self-advancement and self-gratification. In 2016, Johnson betrayed David Cameron, the prime minister, by coming out in support of [Brexit] in the referendum on British membership of the European Union and then playing a prominent and maybe decisive part in the campaign. And yet the right-wing, Europhobic, but intelligent columnist Dominic Lawson has said what everyone knows: “Johnson was never in favor of Brexit, until he found it necessary to further his ambition to become Conservative leader.”
What that meant in turn was that Johnson’s relationship with the Tories, and certainly with the Europhobic M.P.s, was always transactional. From the beginning they could see for themselves what he was like. They were prepared to support him as long as he was useful in their desire to “Take back control,” the Leave slogan in 2016, and “Get Brexit done,” the slogan in 2019. With both referendum and election won, Johnson had served his purpose and was disposable. A succession of people who worked for him had already resigned in despair. One of them was Lord Geidt, the name of whose position, “ethics advisor to Boris Johnson,” put one in mind of what Oliver St. John Gogarty called the Royal Irish Academy: a treble contradiction in terms.
Now Johnson leaves behind a poisoned political landscape. Whatever one’s view of Brexit, the way it “got done” showed—to the delight of Johnson’s claque of cheerleaders like Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph—a contempt for parliamentary government and the rule of law. Johnson purged the Conservative Party of many of its best people and appointed a government of mediocrities reminiscent of the “Who? Who?” Cabinet of 1852, so called because as the list of unfamiliar names was read out to the aged, deaf Duke of Wellington, he kept saying, “Who?”
We are now faced with a gruesome leadership contest between some of the most unimpressive and unappealing men and women in public life for a long time. Whoever wins will have a thankless task. Johnson has taken his party’s polling figures down with the collapse of his own approval ratings. The Labour opposition, under the far from scintillating leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, is not quite on a high, but as of the moment the next election—whenever it comes—is likely to fulfill an old saw of British politics: that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them.
My guess is that once the Republicans are done with Trump, he, too, will be tossed away like the trash he is. But the wreckage he leaves behind will endure because of his Supreme Court picks and his influence on the up-and-coming crop of GOP candidates as soulless and calculating as Trump has been.
You can read the rest here.