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Never Trump Zealots Struggle to Cope With Biden Train Wreck

When all you want to do is destroy one man, but the grenade goes off in your hand.

A famous quote attributed to a German World War I staff officer may best fit the mood of the fierce cadre of Never Trump proponents following President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance on June 27. Referring to the military burden imposed by an alliance with the crumbling Austria-Hungary empire, the officer lamented that “we are shackled to a corpse.”

It’s a political admission Adam Kinzinger and friends dearly do not want to make today.

“Biden lost the debate, but I’m still voting for him,” reads the headline to Kinzinger’s piece in the anti-Trump publication The Bulwark the day after the Atlanta debacle. Kinzinger was under no illusions about how horrible the man he publicly endorsed in the lead-up to the debate had performed. “Biden’s open-mouthed, confused look was not helpful,” the former Republican congressman from Illinois noted. “Biden needed to prove that he was energetic and sharp enough to continue to lead the country for four years, and he failed that test.”

Yet the self-described “principled” conservative still can’t see his way to abandoning the establishment flag-bearer.

“I still plan to vote for Biden,” Kinzinger declared. “I endorsed him because of his character and his commitment to America’s enduring values – values that Trump has not only never shared, but finds incomprehensible and hateful. Nothing about Biden’s performance in the debate negated my reasons for voting for him.”

Stout words, but they came with an immediate concession: “But I’m concerned that others may have reached a different conclusion.”

Never Trump Grief Cycle

This is the conundrum facing the anti-Trump stalwarts. They are tethered to a ruling political establishment that, for the moment, is cemented around the Biden White House. With Biden stating he has no plans to drop out of the race, there simply is no other avenue available for those determined to defeat Trump at all costs.

There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. All could be found within the anti-Trumper universe after Biden’s debate fiasco. While denial and depression abound in Kinzinger’s post-debate response, other Never Trump voices remained stuck in a familiar stage – anger.

Trump “is a rapist. He is a convicted felon. He is a liar. He has tried to overthrow our government. He is a narcissistic sociopath and I will take an old man with a cold over a narcissist sociopath with a dictator kink anyway,” Lincoln Project Chief of Staff Ryan Wiggins told MSNBC in a blistering diatribe highlighted by the Never Trump group in an X post.

Other irate Never Trumpers aren’t sold on sticking with the 81-year-old Biden.

GettyImages-2159610042 Joe Biden

Joe Biden (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“I’d still vote for Biden over a corrupt, unhinged rapist, pantological liar, and wannabe dictator Trump, but we have to acknowledge the reality that Biden can’t win the general election,” the Republicans Against Trump X account exclaimed.

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, star of the Russia-gate campaign against Trump, went from cocky before the debate to despairing in the immediate aftermath to expressing a renewed devotion to Biden once he had time to cool down.

“It’s demeaning that Biden has to debate Trump, a convicted felon, sexual predator, and fraudster with severely declining mental health,” Vindman posted on X during the afternoon of June 27. “If Americans were to vote tomorrow Biden would lose. I hope Biden can recover, not sure he can,” Vindman sighed in a mournful post that evening. Then he slept on it. “Personally, I’m not ready to abandon the man who has been one of the strongest presidents of my lifetime because of one weak debate performance,” he chirped on June 28. “We always knew this would be a challenge, and I fully believe he can and will defeat Donald Trump.”

David Frum Ain’t Just a River in Egypt

Trump-loathing political commentator David Frum found his way to the acceptance stage of Biden grief with ease.

“Biden has been tested in years of national elections; his strengths and weaknesses are known. The alternatives are untested, and who knows how they would actually perform?” Frum wrote July 2 for The Atlantic. Is that more denial – or bargaining?

Kinzinger authored a Substack pre-debate analysis that reveals the astonishing extent to which Never Trumpers failed to see the Biden catastrophe coming.

“I think Trump has miscalculated,” Kinzinger opined. “Yes, he has murmured a few things about Biden’s competence but everyone knows that Trump has been trying to smear Biden as a man in cognitive decline. This has been going on since the 2020 election. Biden may move less briskly, but I don’t think he’s in decline mentally. (I can’t say the same for Trump.)”

“But even if Biden struggles a bit, remember that Trump says the president can’t ‘put two sentences together,’” he continued. “Then consider the word salad that shoots out of Trump’s mouth every time he speaks. Finally, ask yourself – Which one will string two sentences together?”

Kinzinger’s question has been answered to his total dismay. As a result, he and his fellow Never Trumpers now find themselves shackled to a political corpse. And they are the ones who applied the handcuffs.

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