One Rogue: A Waywards Tory

Boris Johnson's striking reversal.

As I said last night on Twitter, there is nothing inevitable about Trump's slow-rolling coup attempts and while I don't think we need to give into despair over it, neither should we discount it. It's fine — good, in my view, and perhaps even necessary — to laugh at the flailing, fumbling, bumbling actions of his legal team but we should not laugh it off, because at the end of the day what he can pull off will equal what he can get away with, and what he even dares to attempt will be constrained by what he thinks he can get away with. Underestimating him allows to get away with more, but damaging his image — puncturing his Strong Man mystique — allows him to get away with less, and signals to his potential backers and allies that they should not take the risk of aiding and abetting a doomed attempt at grasping and holding onto power.

Many people on Twitter have pointed to Turkey's President Erdogan finally giving in and congratulating Joe Biden on his victory as a sign that this same mystique is deflating, that he has lost some of his tough guy Street Cred with the dictator crowd.

I tend to agree, but the crack in Trump's wall of support that interests me most so far today is from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who tweeted the following:

I would not be wished to be seen accusing a Tory of anything like sincerity, but there are a few key things about this statement that I take to be especially significant. The issues that Johnson highlights — the climate, democracy, and the pandemic — are areas in which Trump is weak (or even antagonistic) but cornerstones of the Democratic pitch. The phrase "building back better" references a slogan from Joe Biden's campaign and now his transition efforts. The website leads to Biden's transition page.

In short, Johnson's tweet reflects a full confidence in Biden's victory and signals a willingness to work with him on his priorities, perhaps even before Trump's GSA approves the official start of the transitional phase. It's a statement that would be hard for Boris Johnson to walk back in the event of a reversal from Trump. He did not even hedge the way some domestic conservatives have in referring to Joe Biden's victory or elect position as being "apparent".

It is possible and even likely that this public gesture and its doubling down was made to smooth over the diplomatic damage of having released an initial congratulatory tweet that had graphical artifacts indicating that they had written a note of congratulation for Donald Trump and then clumsily and incompletely painted over it to create a not-quite-blank canvas for the message congratulating the President-elect and Vice President-elect, leaving a fraction of the old message available like a palimpsest in an ancient codex manuscript.

That initial message did also reference climate change, but didn't contain the telling phrase "building back better". I don't expect this gaffe, embarrassing as it may have been at the time, to give Joe Biden and Kamala Harris any special leverage over the direction of the much-touted "Special Relationship" in the future, but it's telling to see evidence that a staunch Trump ally had so completely backed his horse that they didn't have any kind of fall-back message ready to go in the event that Trump lost, and yet has now reversed course so completely.

To put it shortly and simply, I take this as a sign that Trump's friendliest cronies overseas see his downfall as inevitable and the ascension of Joe Biden in January of 2021 as a fait accompli, a done deal.

I find that heartening, and I hope that you do, too, even as our nation’s top diplomat signals his complicity in ignoring the will of the people:

Author’s Note:

As of this writing, I am still in “Twitter Jail” and unable to tweet or post links to my profile. If you the readers could please post a link to this post to help get it circulating in the wild, I would be much obliged.

Thank you for all the support and well-wishes (and subscriptions) you have sent me in this time!