By David Frum, July 13, 2021
About the author: David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy(2020). In 2001 and 2002, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
“I became worse.” That’s how double impeachment changed him, Donald Trump told a conservative audience in Dallas last weekend, without a trace of a smile.
This was not Trump the insult comic talking. This was the deepest Trump self. And this one time, he told the truth.
Something has changed for Trump and his movement since January 2021. You can measure the difference by looking back at the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Trump made three statements about those events over four days. He was visibly reluctant to speak negatively of the far-right groups. He praised “fine people on both sides” and spread the blame for “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
Trump’s evasions triggered a national uproar. As Joe Biden complained in an essay for The Atlantic at the time:
Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.–Joe Biden