A Tale of Two Shitheels
The battle of the God-Botherers! But only one has the courage of his conniptions.
This weekend I got email newsletters from two of my least favorite writers: Erick Erickson (guy who shoots copies of the New York Times when he’s mad; rightwing, ham-faced) and David French (professional NeverTrumper; rightwing, po-faced). The (superficial and formal) differences and the (fundamental) similarities are interesting.
Both employ a comparative model to chide a segment of their fellow conservatives, starting by denouncing some alleged liberal malfeasance (presumably to get the readers on their side), then turning on some conservative faction whom they claim are doing something bad like what the liberals are doing and are thus, unlike the authors, hypocrites.
Erickson’s email is on its face the more ridiculous because he’s an obvious Republican operative as well as a rage-queen who, in addition to shooting newspapers, called David Souter a “goat fucking child molester,” proposed solving America’s gun problem by giving everyone a gun, and is at the hysterical forefront of every fake cancelculture controversy that comes along. So the idea that any group of rightwingers is more anything than he is defies credulity.
French might seem less ridiculous in this respect because he has established himself as a Never-Trumper by saying bad things about Trump and occasionally even about other MAGA politicians — though, as we will see, that doesn’t mean he won’t vote for them. (Erickson was technically an anti-Trump Republican before the 2016 election but immediately turned all the way to MAGA red when Trump won.)
Erickson’s letter is headlined “Is It A Sin to Vote For That Party?” The definite pronoun is his set-up for the switcheroo, but when you actually read the thing you find Erickson actually, literally does think a vote for Democrats is a vote for the sin of murder:
… from President Biden to the “Reverend” Raphael Warnock to the Speaker of the House — all who wear their supposed Christianity on their sleeves — they are pretty adamant that life begins at some point about which they are uncertain and they cannot be guided by their faith in making a decision on when a child can live or die.
In case context doesn’t make it clear, Erickson puts the quotes around “Reverend” not because there’s any dispute about Warnock’s ordination, but because Warnock is pro-choice and Erickson thinks displacing a zygote is murder and thus Warnock is automatically defrocked in the eyes of his pal God. Also, here’s Erickson’s reaction to Stacey Abrams’ perfectly reasonable portrayal of abortion as an economic as well as a moral issue:
…if you cannot afford groceries so you cannot afford a baby, why must abortion end at birth? A child three weeks removed from the womb is just as helpless and dependent and even more costly compared to a child three minutes from being removed from the womb.
The “three minutes from being removed from the womb” bit is typical rightwing “late-term abortion” blood libel. Also, the Democratic Party defends trans kids from the growing attacks from the right or, in Erickson’s words “has become comfortable with genital mutilation… I’m hard pressed to think a Christian in good conscience can vote for a party whose leadership advocates such barbarism.”
So what could be the point of comparison with this devilry for conservatives, who as we know adore fetuses and would happily beat some straightness into trans and gay kids as Jesus intended? Well, Erickson heard about the Michael Flynn nuts who called for God to kill a bunch of conservative wets like Brian Kemp, and takes the opportunity to play sensible moderate: “If you can only call out the other side,” he intones, “you aren’t being a Christian voice, but a partisan voice.”
Why does Erickson bother? Given his tireless party shilling and that Kemp, one of the guys on whom the Flynnskis cast a death spell, is running for governor as a Republican, my guess is he got a call from the Georgia GOP asking his help to put the kibosh on this potentially vote-draining phenomenon. I mean, it’s Erick Erickson — it’s not like he has any principles but Republican victory.
As mentioned, David French might seem to have the moral high ground here because unlike Erickson, who only tut-tuts Trump when he doesn’t forward enough of his carnival take to the Republican Party, French actual criticizes the old fraud frequently. But his other-hander is at least as much of a sham and is in some ways worse.
French calls it “Against the Demolition of the American Spirit,” and starts by talking about how the 1619 Project is bogus — which is an article of faith for all conservatives, and I mean “article of faith” in two ways: First, because, as I’ve said before, that argument doesn’t have to be defended with facts and conservatives never do (typically, French talks about how “a group of America’s leading historians” said there were “serious errors” in the Project, but he fails to list any such errors); and second, because it’s a dog whistle for conservatives both within and without the NeverTrump camp, so they’ll maybe pay attention to him.
Then French gets to his meat; if you think those who say America was founded on slavery take part in the “Demolition of the American Spirit,” then you should say the same of “far right” conservatives, some of whom he names, including the Caesarist Michael Anton, the Putin apologist Sohrab Ahmari, and the anti-democracy bully-boy John Daniel Davidson (who people like me would simply call fascists, but French, interestingly, never does), because they slag America as “irredeemably woke” and some of them, like French’s good buddy Rod Dreher (a tell there, ain’t it?), abandon America altogether for an authoritarian state more in keeping with their neuroses.
And they’re just wrong, French says — look, “religious freedom is enjoying a decade-long winning streak at the Supreme Court” and “decades of patient and courageous pro-life advocacy and democratic participation resulted in reversing Roe….”
French can’t see why the hard-liners aren’t satisfied by that, but I bet you can — and if you can’t, the penny should drop with his next paragraph :
Where are we on addressing American racism? Of course we’ve got very far to go. One of the most humbling experiences of my life was realizing both how little I knew about America’s past and failing to understand the full extent of the challenges of the present. As I’ve written many times, one does not address all the consequences of 345 years of violent oppression (from slavery to Jim Crow) in the 58 years of contentious change since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But we also can’t deny progress…
LOL who’s “we,” David? Try to imagine, say, the out racist Rod Dreher reading this kumbaya shit and approving of it!
What French is describing is not nearly what these people want. They want straight white male hegemony under a rightwing strongman. They’re not content with overturning Roe, because women in all 50 states are not (yet) being jailed for abortion. They’re not content with “religious freedom” because they want a state religion. And they’re certainly not content with “progress” on “addressing American racism” because, for them, progress would be normalizing it.
French’s comparison not only gives the rightwingers he’s criticizing far too much credit, it also distorts the threat of the “far left” to the point of absurdity:
Just as the radical left can point to very real and substantial American sins, so can the radical right point to profound problems in contemporary America. The repression and intolerance of the radical left is a real problem, on campus and off. Americans are stressed and anxious. Deaths of despair are a national crisis. American marriage and birth rates are declining.
But does the right have the answer?...
Hang on. By “repression and intolerance” what does French mean? Political or legal repression and intolerance? Are cops in Berkeley hauling people in for wrong pronouns? No — we have to assume he means cancelculture, which is bullshit, and in any event doesn’t compare to the actual speech laws (that is, “laws” as in “government instruments that criminalize contrary actions”) being passed in conservative Valhallas like Florida and, thanks to French’s co-religionists, spreading nationwide.
Also, what’s the ideological provenance of those other “profound problems in contemporary America” to which “the radical right point”? “Americans are stressed and anxious”? “Deaths of despair are a national crisis”? Are Mr. and Mrs. America reading the American Prospect, going “what’s the use,” and jumping off a bridge? Well, if French can’t be bothered to tell us why the 1619 Project is wrong, I guess it’d be foolish to expect an explanation of this gibberish, which seems like a leftover from the days when French was not so assiduously playing the conciliator and instead screamed about liberal satanism and such like.
And, to add a dollop of cream to the jest, French’s latest for The Atlantic:
Herschel Walker and the Plight of the True Conservative Voter
There’s no good option for conservative voters in Georgia this election.
Ha ha by now you know what’s coming, right? Yes, Walker’s a massive hypocrite and buffoon and, French admits, “every voter should presume that Walker, if he wins, will do exactly what Trump demands” — which you’d think, if French means any part of his anti-Trump act, would be a deal-breaker, right?
So thoughtful, patriotic conservatives should swallow hard, forsake the policy victories they hope for with a Republican Congress, and either stay home or vote Democratic, right?
If that’s the argument, someone needs to tell the Democratic Party what’s at stake. Because right now, it’s making an unsustainable demand of Republican voters: You sacrifice the policies that you believe are best for our nation and its people; we sacrifice nothing.
There’s your principled conservatism right there! The Democrats could have jettisoned the evil monster Rev. Warnock (“He was one of 49 Democratic senators who voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act”) and nominated instead, say, an anti-abortion Republican — maybe Patricia Heaton; you libs like actors, right — then we could talk! We might have even accepted it if that candidate supported expanded health care benefits and voting rights (ha ha just kidding). But alas:
…don’t be surprised if some voters still bite the bullet and vote for policy over character. In my view, that’s a potentially catastrophic mistake (character should never be optional), but it’s a mistake made all the more likely and understandable when the opposing party wants to take your vote — and give you nothing in return.
Erickson is an untalented, unimaginative party functionary, a vicious clown, and a piece of shit, but I have to give him the edge over this pious fraud. At least when Erickson’s trying to con me, I know he’s not conning himself.
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