文 | ROSS DOUTHAT (纽约时报)

The Twilight of the Anti-Trump Idols


Throughout the Trump presidency and especially in the Covid era, there was a quest for figures that could be held up as embodiments of everything that Trump’s opposition wanted to restore: reason, technical competence, idealism. Over time these figures took on the character of familiar dramatic archetypes — the Good Republican, the Heroic Whistleblower, the Beleaguered Expert, the Tough Blue State Governor, the Wise and Sophisticated Europeans.

对于这些角色来说,拜登时代的第一个月比较难熬。有些人的形象变得比以前更加光辉:如果米特·罗姆尼(Mitt Romney)以前是好共和党人,那他现在几乎是最好的共和党人。但是在其他地方,我们看到的被奉为偶像的反特朗普主义典型人物不但容易犯错还失败,不但不完美还腐败。

The first month of the Biden era has been a hard time for these characters. A few have come through more burnished than before: If Mitt Romney was a Good Republican before, now he’s pretty much the Best. But elsewhere we’re seeing archetypes of anti-Trumpism exposed as idols, not just fallible but failing, not just imperfect but corrupt.

例如,你可能已经注意到,强悍的蓝州州长安德鲁·科莫(Andrew Cuomo)这个早该崩塌的英雄故事终于崩塌了,他的大流行新闻发布会引发了媒体大献殷勤的报道——这其中包括深夜节目的主持人宣称自己很欣赏“科莫恋者”(cuomosexuals),还有州长本人的CNN主持人弟弟的报道。他们报道州长——在大流行尚未结束之时——写了一本关于“新冠病毒大流行中的领导力教训”的书。

You may have noticed, for instance, the long-overdue collapse of the heroic story around Andrew Cuomo, the Tough Blue State Governor par excellence, whose pandemic news conferences inspired such fawning media coverage — from late-night hosts who declared themselves admiring “cuomosexuals,” from his own CNN-host brother — that the governor wrote a book about “leadership lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic” while the pandemic was still going on.

为了让英雄故事顺理成章,科莫和白思豪(Bill de Blasio)一起搞砸了纽约初期防疫的事情在电视的追捧中被抹去。州长将有较强潜在传染性的患者送回疗养院的事情被报道,但并没有破坏科莫的声誉,这在多为右翼的媒体报道中引发轰动。而在据称科莫掩盖疗养院死亡人数的报道中,科莫霸凌、凶恶的一面突然变得十分显眼——不过,这被描绘成一个深陷困境的国家所需要的严肃。

For the sake of the heroic story, the fact that Cuomo and Bill de Blasio jointly botched New York’s initial response to the coronavirus was airbrushed out of the televised hagiography. The fact that the governor shipped potentially contagious patients back to nursing homes was reported on but didn’t dent Cuomo’s reputation, becoming a cause célèbre mostly in the right-wing press. And the bullying, berating side of Cuomo that’s suddenly front-and-center in stories about his alleged cover-up of nursing-home death numbers — well, that was portrayed as the seriousness a reeling country needed.

更完整的科莫故事直到现在才得以确立。同时,林肯计划(Lincoln Project)的好共和党人们也经历了光环消失的时刻,这群共和党战略家致力于利用他们的技能推翻唐纳德·特朗普。他们先是开始关于拯救共和国的宣讲,欣然接受抵抗派的钱财用于制作他们的宣传广告——好吧,现在事实证明,他们的创始人中有一个被指控性骚扰,不健康的工作场所文化和为其领导人寻求“可以传给后代的财富”的使命,就像寻求特朗普的失败一样坚持不懈。

Only now is the more complete Cuomo story taking hold. Meanwhile, a similar deglamorization has arrived for the Good Republicans at the Lincoln Project, the collection of Republican strategists dedicated to using their skills to bring down Donald Trump. They started with a sermon about saving the Republic, lapped up Resistance lucre for their ad campaigns, and now — well, it now turns out they had an accused sexual harasser among their founders, a toxic workplace culture and a mission that sought “generational wealth” for its leaders as assiduously as it sought Trump’s defeat.


Finally, the wheel has also turned for the Wise and Sophisticated Europeans, whose governments were once portrayed as having vanquished the pandemic with Science, while Trump’s America was a failed state where the coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.


That trans-Atlantic contrast diminished when Europe experienced its own autumnal wave, but now, in the race to vaccinate, the whole narrative has been reversed. America’s vaccine program looks far better than Europe’s catastrophic non-rollout, and the only major European country doing really well is Britain, which rather famously Brexited out of the Continent’s technocratic utopia not so long ago.

反特朗普偶像的没落是一个值得总结教训的时刻,主要在两个方面。首先,它提醒我们,特朗普时代的媒体失败问题并不始于、也不终于保守派泡泡。正如我的同事弗兰克·布鲁尼(Frank Bruni)上个月所写的那样,特朗普的过分糟糕常常成为掩盖其他人罪恶和愚事的工具。但是我们应该对更深层次的东西进行更细致的审查:与科莫有关的问题一直都显而易见,与林肯计划有关的问题常常也是,而且美国和欧洲对新冠病毒的应对从来都是半斤对八两,这也是清晰可见的。然而,反特朗普主义经常在媒体上制造一致的叙事,庆贺他们自己不是福克斯新闻的马屁精。

This twilight for the anti-Trump idols should be a teachable moment in two ways. First, it’s a reminder that the problem of media failure in the Trump era does not begin and end with the conservative bubble. As my colleague Frank Bruni wrote last month, Trump’s outsize awfulness often worked as a “concealer” over sins and follies not his own. But there should have been more scrutiny for what lay underneath: The issues with Cuomo were always apparent, the issues with the Lincoln Project somewhat so, and the fact that America and Europe were never so very far apart in their Covid response was discernible as well. Yet anti-Trumpism frequently produced narrative conformity in media outlets that congratulated themselves on not being like those sycophants at Fox.

我上周在拉什·林博(Rush Limbaugh)逝世时写道,保守派媒体的成功通常对保守主义来说是个坏消息。不过,你也可以说,保守派媒体撤退到了梦想中的宫殿,这让一部分主流兼自由派媒体变蠢了——在审视自己的叙事、质疑自己的偶像上,或对于可能证明右派是正确的报道,在承认其重要性上变得迟钝。

I wrote last week, at Rush Limbaugh’s passing, about how the success of the conservative media has often been bad news for conservatism. One can also say, though, that the conservative media’s retreat into a dream palace has made portions of the mainstream-cum-liberal media stupider — slow to scrutinize their own narratives, question their own icons, or acknowledge the importance of stories that might vindicate the right.


But the other thing to recognize here is that the press was not wrong to desire heroic leaders or institutions that Got the Pandemic Right. The attempt to wish those leaders and institutions into being is a media failure, but the fact that the media looked for them is not.


In the failure to find them, and in the substitution of figures who ended up exposed as corrupt or just incompetent, we can see once again the importance of thinking about how we got Trump in the first place.


Our society’s sickness may be particularly acute in Trump worship, but the affliction is more general. The stink of failure hangs over the liberal and cosmopolitan as well the populist and provincial, the “cuomosexual” parts of the media as well the conservative. And as we hopefully approach the end of this particular emergency, it’s not only Trump’s enablers but a much wider range of leaders and authorities who should feel shame at the stark and shocking number of the dead.