They arrived like the cavalry, bugles blowing, flags flying.
“Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics,” began a December op-ed in the New York Times announcing the formation of the Lincoln Project. “As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character.”
The Lincoln Project is a super PAC of Republican patriots taking a stand against a failed Republican president. In January their first video dropped, a pickaxe aimed at Trump’s evangelical base, cutting between fawning evangelical leaders — “To say no to President Trump would be saying no to God!” — with a greatest hits reel of Trumpian crudities and cruelties.
Since then the commercials arrive regularly, whistling in like artillery shells. They are quick, often appearing within a few hours of whatever outrage they are reacting to. They are blunt, not shying away from spotlighting Trump’s mental and physical decline. The latest, “Whispers,” released Tuesday, is murmured in Trump’s ear, fanning his despair and paranoia.
“Why do you think you’re losing, Donald?” a woman purrs. “It’s because you have a loyalty problem.”
In early May, “Mourning in America,” a twist on Ronald Reagan’s cheery phrase, was delivered into Trump’s head with laser-guided-bomb precision. The Lincoln Project spent $400,000 placing spots on Fox in the Washington, D.C., area with the intent to catch Trump’s attention. It worked. The president bit, hard, thrashing about like a hooked carp.
“Their so-called Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe,” Trump tweeted in the wee hours, driving millions to the video.
I esteem the Lincoln Project for its point-blank broadsides unloosed while too many Democrats are still fumbling to load their muskets. I’m relieved that not every Republican is rolling like a puppy at Trump’s feet, and had to know: How did this happen?
“The founders were running on parallel paths for the past several years,” said Jennifer Horn, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a Lincoln Project co-founder. “Last fall our paths merged. We came together. We knew he had to be defeated.’”
Some suggest Lincoln Project commercials are futile — that if Trump supporters haven’t yet grasped the true nature of this bumbling traitor, they never will.
“I don’t think his core 30% is going to be persuaded,” Horn said. “But he didn’t win the electoral college with just 30%. Our audience are disenchanted Republicans, right-leaning independents. ... People who care deeply about the future of our country.”
Truth can’t be said too loudly or too often.
“Donald Trump is weak,” Horn said. “His greatest flaw is that he’s weak in every way. He’s weak in the face of strength. That’s the story. We just learned that he has been briefed that Russia is paying bounties on the lives of American soldiers. Donald Trump has offended the very idea of America.”
The cracks are widening.
“His evangelical support is starting to slip,” Horn said. “Trump is no faith leader. His leadership is not based in any sort of faith experience.”
But his opposition is. Horn is one of 10 children, with five of her own.
“Growing up in the Catholic Church, I grew up in a strong tradition of pro-life,” she said. “Donald Trump has no sense at all of what the Christian concept of respecting life is. Everything he ever says about faith and the Bible is completely to serve his ability to hold onto political power.”
This is a job for Republicans.
“Because we are Republicans, we know the voters we’re talking to,” Horn said. “We know how they think. We know where their hearts are. The fact that we are Republicans and former Republicans trying to take down an incumbent president gives us a tremendous amount of credibility. This is not politics as usual. This is trying to build a coalition of the decent.”
A coalition of the decent. Sign me up. You are free to join too. Go to the Lincoln Project website, watch their videos and share your favorites on social media. Or, better yet, give them money — I did — to support their work as November looms.
If it helps save America from four more years of toxic incompetence, it’ll be money well spent.