Making Trumpism Coherent

As far as #NeverTrump institutions on the right go, the most powerful would have to be The Wall Street Journal. Few people outside of right leaning political wonkiness read the National Review or The Weekly Standard. But the venerable WSJ is read by all sorts of business and other establishment types, giving that paper real heft to make their views known.  And they’ve been engaged in full blown warfare against Trump all year.  The hatred and bile towards Trump that drips from the Wall Street Journal editorial page is unprecedented. I’ve read their site online for years and just cannot recall this sort of attack against anyone on the left ever.  Maybe someone can correct me, but like with so many other things this Presidential year, we’re on new ground.

But there is one person on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board that is not simply interested in bombing Trump rallies then machine gunning any survivors.  This person wants to really understand what’s going on with the people who support Trump, and that person is former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.  Unlike her WSJ compatriots, Noonan has approached the rise of Trump with humility.  What did we miss?  How did things get this bad?  What we can do to fix it?  All good questions that the Republican establishment should have been asking for the past year instead of plotting various Jeb!/Cruz/Romney/French (David) coup d’etat’s.

Noonan asks again in this piece, A Party Divided, and None Too Soon.

The Beltway intelligentsia of the conservative movement continues to be upset about Mr. Trump’s coming nomination and claim they’d support him but they have to be able to sleep at night. They slept well enough through two unwon wars, the great recession, and the refusal of Republican and Democratic administrations to stop illegal immigration. In a typically evenhanded piece in National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru writes of conservative infighting. Most back Mr. Trump, but others, “especially among conservative writers, activists, and think-tankers,” vow they’ll never vote for him. “This debate splits people who have heretofore been friends with similar views on almost all issues, and who on each side have reasonable arguments to hand. It is therefore being conducted in a spirit of mutual rage, bitterness, and contempt.”

This tracks with my observations as well.  It’s less the political positions that separate the Trump/anti-Trump forces so much as where each person sits on the Red Pill/Blue Pill Conservative divide.  But make no mistake, there are political positions involved as well.  I’ve discussed the economic nationalism agenda that Trump brings before, but there hasn’t been much discussion of it as a movement other than in Alt Right circles.  That’s a territory that a Peggy Noonan would never venture into, but as an important member of the establishment, she knows people.

So she introduces the blog, Journal of American Greatness.  As Noonan gives their own description for themselves from their website:

Where they stand: “We support Trumpism, defined as secure borders, economic nationalism, interests-based foreign policy, and above all judging every government action through a single lens: does this help or harm Americans? For now, the principal vehicle of Trumpism is Trump.”

That is a description describes Trumpism as both conservative, and not conservative in the Bush/Ryan worldview. My suspicion is that these mystery bloggers are known writers and think tankers in the conservative intelligentsia, but obviously they can’t go public because, that’s a career death sentence.  Can you imagine a researcher at the Cato Institute or at The Weekly Standard coming out for Trump?  Maybe that’s why the Wall Street Journal didn’t allow a link to its site in Noonan’s original column in the WSJ.  They are certainly not going to encourage these kind of shenanigans.

But these are serious people, since they are capturing the eyes of Noonan, and some of them are probably names we would recognize.  Even noted anti-Trumper Jonah Goldberg referenced in a column an online discussion he had with one of the bloggers at the Journal of American Greatness.  Could there be a rapprochement between the two different sides of the Republican Civil War?

And then, the Journal of American Greatness shut down and deleted all of their posts.

Why did they do it?  It’s not hard to guess.   They were afraid of being doxxed and having their livelihoods destroyed.

And now, suddenly, they’re back; as JAG Recovered; returned with all of the previously deleted posts.  With the new website, they make clear how seriously they take their anonymity.

No, literally—who are you guys?

None of your damned business.

Why won’t you tell us?

Because the times are so corrupt that simply stating certain truths is enough to make one unemployable for life.

That’s a bit dramatic, isn’t it?

Ask Brendan Eich.

 

So they do have a point. But the long and short of Trumpism is that it’s simply Paleoconservatism, which got the boot from establishment conservatism when Pat Buchanan dissented on the Iraq War.  Turns, out, that’s what the Republican voter wanted all along, or else the Republican voter needed to see how bad things could really get before they would consider Paleoconservatism.

Well apparently we’re at that point.

But is it too late?  Probably so.  When people who want to write about such things are frightened of losing their jobs and livelihood merely for discussing issues like trade and immigration, then you’ve gone pretty far down the well.  There won’t be any big donors or institutions funding this, its people who are afraid of being outed and losing everything, and they will be attacked by forces of both the right and left.  Still, I’m glad that at least some people are trying.  Keep your heads low guys!

 

 

A Dictatorship of the Punditariat

I honestly thought the #NeverTrump guys had already hit rock bottom.  I didn’t see how much further down they had to go in making themselves look foolish and idiotic. I figured this post was the last I would ever write on the die hard #NeverTrumps.

I was wrong.David French

The editor of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, whose record of inaccuracy on political predictions over the past year is probably unmatched in modern punditry, revealed this week that his long search for a Great Write Hope is fellow pundit David French, a writer at National Review.  If there is a better example of how insular the pundit class has become I couldn’t imagine what it would be.  The pundits, gazing around at the political field, decide to dispense with the actual voters and select one of their own.

The genesis of an Acela Corridor campaign is the utter failure of the chattering classes to understand the rise of Donald Trump or…well anything that’s happened in the past year. And yet they continue to insist that they’re the best and brightest and know what they’re doing.  Of course their Acela Putsch is doomed to failure.  The world will never be ready for Punditocracy.  The few hundred votes that they represent are insignificant, but the fact that they can command TV news time brings attention to them way out of their importance.

Meanwhile, they’ve had years, generations even, of being taken seriously.  But who is going to take them seriously now; ever?

#NeverTrumpers and the Drive for Irrelevancy

As crazy as National Review has gotten over the past few months, I’ll still occasionally follow a link to it to see the current grim state of Acela Corridor conservatism. This week, Jonah Goldberg doesn’t disappoint, staking out a position as the last Japanese soldier hold out on a remote island in the DC suburbs, living out his version of never give up, never surrender.

I honestly believe that a President Trump would do enormous, perhaps fatal, damage to the conservative movement as we know it. I also believe that without the conservative movement, this country is toast. But I further believe that Hillary Clinton would do obvious and enormous damage to the country. That’s why I’m not voting for either of them. That’s why this election sucks. But I don’t write in the voting booth. I don’t get paid to offer my opinions at the ballot box. And I don’t work for the G-d damn GOP.

It’s a snooty drawing room politics.  If Goldberg believes that the country is toast without the conservative movement (an arguable point I concede) then prepare the toast.  Why Romney, McCain, Dole or Bush(s) didn’t do fatal damage to the conservative movement is never explained, although I could argue that each of those Republican Presidents and candidate wannabes collectively did enough damage to the conservative movement that by the time you get to Trump, the collective knife wounds were already enough to put the patient into a medically induced coma.  Trump didn’t do anything.  He just grabbed the mic while no one was using it.

The idea that a President Trump would kill the conservative movement is, as I’ve argued elsewhere; ludicrous.  Political position-wise, Trump is a moderate Republican in the Romney mode.  How Trump kills conservatism, while Romney, the author of Romneycare, who wouldn’t criticize Obamacare, didn’t; is left unexplained.  And it will always be left unexplained since it upends the argument that Trump poses some particular danger to conservatism that the Republican Party didn’t already inflict on it.

What Goldberg and the other #NeverTrumpers don’t get is that William F. Buckley’s dictum, to support the most electable conservative candidate, is a sliding scale, not a scientific constant.  Demographics, the media, and academia have all worked their magic each and every election cycle to make conservatism in general more and more irrelevant.  Sadly the reaction of Goldberg and the #NeverTrump movement is to double down on that irrelevancy.

Goldberg and the other #NeverTrump survivors are perfectly happy to lose elections as long as the ideology remains intact.  But the ideology never remains intact.  What is conservatism now, which apparently means unlimited trade and unlimited borders, has no relation to the conservatism of most of the 20th Century.  When did mass immigration of Muslims become a conservative issue? But that appears to be Paul Ryan’s major sticking point with Trump.  We are heading towards a vanishing point where “Conservatism,” as Goldberg and others define it, becomes a rarified ideology like Libertarianism, which has no mass support, and no hope of changing actual real politics.  It’s like politics as Fantasy Football; fun to play maybe, but no relation to actual football and totally irrelevant to what’s happening on the field.

 

The Slow Death of Conservatism

It’s more with sadness than with anger that I note the passing of movement conservatism.  It had a good run boys!  But alas, it was sabotaged from within and without both the conservative movement and the Republican Party, the allegedly titular “conservative” political party, which had been running a pretty successful shell game with conservatives; at least until recently.  “Hey just elect us and tax cuts, balanced budgets, strong on defense, rinse and repeat…”  So Conservatives dutifully voted Republican.  And they did a pretty good job at it too.  The Congress hasn’t been this Republican since before the Great Depression. And just look at all the conservative initiatives that have made it through Congress…

Oh yeah.

Mark Steyn wrote a sobering piece about just this thing, The World They Made. I highly recommend it.  Steyn riffs of a Rush Limbaugh monologue about an article from The Week which detailed an eerily prescient article by an old Pat Buchanan advisor who predicted the rise of Donald Trump, or at least Trumpism.  It’s unclear if he had a specific person in mind. But the author, Sam Francis wrote in 1996:

“…the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives.” 

Pretty good guess for a 20 year old prediction, and as I noted last July after Trump announced, the signature item of note from his agenda was nationalism, specifically a kind of put-America-first old fashioned economic nationalism. That’s finally taken root to the extent that, as Steyn notes:

“Rush’s view is that “nationalism and populism have overtaken conservatism in terms of appeal” – ie, that there are insufficient takers for conservatism. It comes to something when the nation’s Number One conservative talk-show host is putting it that way, but you can see what he’s getting at.”

And in the still not getting it department comes The National Review.  I have a lot of affection for the National Review.  It was one of the first conservative publications I stumbled across in college, and I’ve read and occasionally subscribed to it since then.  But the spasmodic reaction to Trump over the past 6 months makes me wonder how I can have a better understanding of the conservative movement, and what the attraction of economic nationalism is then “Professional” conservatives who are supposed to be well inculcated into the movement.  How could they not see this coming?

 

Now the magazine has gone into full scale attack mode against Donald Trump, featuring a special issue dedicated to attacking Trump.  The charge of course is that Trump is not a real conservative, which is surprising considering how many moderates the magazine has endorsed for President because “we want to win.”  This time, to Conservative Inc and GOP Inc, losing looks like the far preferable option.

I’ve never seen anything like this.  History will record this as a major battle in the Republican Civil War, but there may not be any winners in this war.

At least on the Right.

 

Interesting Reads on the Republican Civil War

The Republican Civil War still rages on. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg inspired his very own hashtag, #NROrevolt, after this article:

No Movement That Embraces Trump Can Call Itself Conservative

Goldberg doesn’t go after Trump, he goes after his own readers who are on the Trump Bandwagon; hence the hashtag and ongoing twitter war.

Goldberg made some points, but the blog The Conservative Treehouse made some pretty deft responses:

An Open Letter to Jonah Goldberg-RE: The GOP And Donald Trump

I don’t know who blogger Sundance is, but he or she made some good points.  I would urge Jonah to read it, if he has internet access in whatever undisclosed location he’s at.

As a columnist, I rather like Jonah Goldberg, he’s a witty writer and is the author of probably one of the top 20 must reads of modern conservatism, Liberal Fascism.  However he is strictly a Blue Pill Conservative.  He doesn’t get it.

However there is a chance that someday Goldberg will choose the red pill.  I can’t say the same for Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens. Stephens took on the Trumpocalypse right out of the gate in this piece:

The Donald and the Demagogues

This is how Stephens opens up on the very first line, “If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.”

And then he proceeds to get nasty. Stephen’s article even got the Rush Limbaugh treatment.  Limbaugh read aloud excerpts from Stephen’s article; apparently in disbelief that one conservative was rounding up dissenters and burning them at the stake. Although far more vicious, Stephen’s article inspired far less reaction than Goldberg’s ( sorry Bret, no hashtag for you) since if you’re a Donald Trump fan, you’ve probably regarded the Wall Street Journal editorial positions as in the enemy camp for a long time.

Old establishment hands still seem to think that Trump will flame out long before the candidates start racking up delegates, and by the time we get to the convention, all will be forgiven and everyone will fall back in line with the generic Republican candidate to defeat the generic Democratic candidate.

Only I’m not so sure.  What’s going on within the Republican Party is unprecedented in my lifetime, and yes, I’m including the Tea Party revolt and Perot’s Reform Party.  We may be seeing a replay of the fall of the Whig Party.

 

Interesting Post Election Reads

The post election whining has begun!  Here are a couple of coulda-woulda-shoulda articles that caught my eye.

First, the Wall Street Journal continues its never ending crusade for open ended amnesty.  Amnesty now, amnesty tomorrow, and Amnesty forever!      ¡Estimados Republicanos!

But wait!  National Review has a rebuttal.  Polling shows that only 7% of Hispanics were turned off by the immigration position of Republicans.  Instead, they mostly hated everything else the party stands for:  Why Hispanics Don’t Vote for Republicans

Here is another NR article that doubles down on Heather MacDonald’s article, only with more polling data:  Now What?  Immigration Edition

Some People didn’t take the election news so well:  Obama has the “same goals” as Al-Qaida

Why Obama won:  Obama’s Edge: The Ground Game That Could Put Him Over the Top

Why Romney lost:  The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA

This article posits that since the number of white voters fell from 2008 to 2012, that white voters stayed home.  I think it’s more likely that they just got old and died.   The Case of the Missing White Voters

In the “Heh” Department:

Blue States voted heavily for Obama…

Vote was astronomical for Obama in some Philadelphia wards

Castro and Saddam Hussein should be so lucky to get vote totals like these!

Even as the blue model of governance collapses all around them…

Philadelphia’s school commission borrows $300 million to pay its bills

And the Chicago way continues to show it’s a model for the nation… for politicians!

Jesse Jackson Jr. Wins Reelection From Mayo Clinic

Jesse Jackson Jr. wins even though he has been out of sight since June bouncing from addiction treatment centers to the Mayo Clinic.  Now that’s a politician!

But he does have time to make a plea deal with the Feds:  Jesse Jackson Jr.in Plea Deal Talks With Feds

I would say that’s a Congressional district that’s lost the ability to complain about the political system without the rest of us smirking!

I commented on another bloggers website why the Republicans were such sore losers.

One of my favorite columnists, The wittiest doomsayer in the Anglosphere, Mark Steyn, explains that we’re screwed, but at least he does it well:  Reality doesn’t need to win Electoral College

Looking for an escape plan from Obama tax hikes?  ‘Super-Earth’ Alien Planet May Be Habitable for Life

Although I imagine the trip will take many election cycles.

Anyway, this twitter message sums up how I feel about the election!

Policing the Racists

The political blogosphere was both atwitter and Twitter over the firing of John Derbyshire from National Review this weekend.  Not for nothing though.  Derbyshire posted a column last Thursday on the Taki’s Magazine website called, “The Talk: Nonblack version.”  Due to the Trayvon Martin shooting hysteria, much has been made of The Talk in the national media.  The Talk, as defined by the New York Times (where I go to find out what being black in America is like) is, “the one that has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with what it means to be a black teenager in a country with a history of regarding young black men as a threat. The talk about standing up straight, dressing the part, keeping your hands in sight at all times and never, ever letting your anger get the best of you.

That’s not bad advice for anyone, particularly when dealing with law enforcement, but that sort of talking to is totally unlike Derbyshire’s version; which consists of “guidance” to his children.  A sample of such advice consists of:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can go to the website, but I think you get the idea, but the one that particularly bothered me was this:

Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black.

By the most standard definitions of racism, that’s racist.

On the face of it, Derbyshire was probably conflating IQ with intelligence, a mistake that is its own whole area of social commentary.  Although the IQ/Intelligence topic is worth reviewing, it’s not necessary to read Derbyshire’s mean spiritedness in this piece.  This wasn’t meant as a joke or parody, Derbyshire was being serious.  In probably the only bit of actual reporting ever done by the website Think Progress, they actually contacted Derbyshire to check if he meant it as some kind of parody.  Rather than taking the opportunity to back off of his harsh column, he double downed on it, “I’d call it social commentary.”  More to the point, Derbyshire wasn’t hiding from the accusation of being a racist, he admitted it.

Given that, I would say National Review had no choice.  NR editor Rich Lowery posted a comment disavowing Derbyshire’s piece Friday night and by Saturday posted another comment letting him go from the magazine staff.  Lowery gave a pretty clear eyed reason:

“His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways.”

This wasn’t about political correctness, but about letting one writer’s racism contaminate the reputation of the National Review, and by extension, the conservative movement.  I think National Review did the right thing in letting Derbyshire go. One of the ways that William F. Buckley, founder of the magazine and probably the godfather of modern American conservatism, helped make conservatism a legitimate force in American politics again was by pushing out the conspiracy nuts and other cranks that contributed nothing to the movement but bad press.

Without Buckley and his cleaning up of conservatism, there would have been no Reagan, and Obama’s current (public) views would now be considered center right.

The left had a field day with Derbyshire’s appearance at CPAC. How much more of that crap does the right need to allow? It’s not as though the right controls the message, the left does since they control the media.   That’s why the left not only doesn’t need, but just doesn’t’ police their own.  They are immune from the kookiness of their fringe nuts.  It’s why the media will drumbeat their coverage of Republican birthers, even though birtherism originated with the pro-Hillary Democrats.  Meanwhile, during the Bush administration more than half of Democrats believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 attacks, but since they also control the media, it never taints them.

Unfair or not, it’s the way it is so it falls on the right to be diligent in making sure that we police our racists and conspiracy theorists.  So Derbyshire can continue to write what he wants, where he wants, but just not under the banner of the National Review.

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