Another one just like the other one
How long can anyone keep falling for the Conservatives With Good Taste act?
I’ve been at this a long time and sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m, you know, getting through.
On the one hand, there are lots of areas in which I really think the American People are starting to get it. My most optimistic belief now is that, despite all the chest-beating by conservatives and breast-beating by liberals (hm, never thought of those two usages comparatively before!), Trump’s following is really small. On most of the issues (with some depressing exceptions like immigration) voters don’t like his positions. And as for their attitude toward the man himself — more important than their attitude toward his policies, since his policies are meaningless — surveys keep showing they want him tried legally for January 6 and kept off the ballot. (In the latest such poll, they say his verkakte immunity-for-insurrection claim is in fact verkakte.)
Not sure I can get them to end qualified immunity for cops or tax exemptions for churches or other items on my wish list (though they do want universal health care — still!) but, you know what, as the boomers die off, the Reagan-Clinton bullshit paradigm seems to be dying with them, and good riddance all around.
The bigger problem is the guys with the bullhorns, the muezzins of MOR politics — I refer to the prestige press and their credulousness about or or complicity with every rightwing con game that comes down the pike. I have some fun with them in my Received Opinion sketches, but goddamn, sometimes their thick-headed BothSiderism makes me sick.
Maybe you heard in the news the other day that National Review was asking Their Fellow Conservatives not to vote for Donald Trump — at least not yet. Sample headlines:
“‘It’s Not Too Late’: National Review Begs Republicans to Stop ‘Grotesquely Selfish’ Trump” – Mediaite
“Conservative Publication Begs Voters to Abandon Donald Trump” – Newsweek
“‘It’s Not Too Late’: National Review Editorial Urges Republicans To Reject Trump And His ‘Radioactive Persona’” – Forbes
Shit, The Lead with Jake Tapper was pimping it! Can’t get much more prestige than that! And down the line you’ll certainly be hearing all the other bobbleheads going “well even National Review, that venerable conservative magazine, blah blah blah blah.”
Some leftish venues are pushing the National Review story, too. I can understand it — it appears to show division and discontent in the conservative movement, and thus reenforces the idea of Trump as a uniquely disastrous political force, unacceptable to left and right.
But the thing is, National Review, like all the other Charlie-the-Tuna Conservatives-With-Good-Taste, is full of shit. They’ll take Trump in a pinch, and probably without a pinch. And we know because they’ve done it before.
Some of you will remember, during the run-up to Trump’s first nomination, National Review’s “Against Trump” issue with its fulsome denunciations of this boorish arriviste trying to snatch the nomination from conservative made men like Jeb Bush. When he became the GOP candidate, though, they flipped in a hurry, and when he won we got shit like this:
The “Against Trump” issue had many “Conservatives Against Trump” signatories — for example, William Kristol. The Commentary editor said then, “Isn’t Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn’t the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?”
Where stands Kristol now? In a series of tweets the weekend after the election, Kristol sighed, “Best and most hopeful case for Trump: His presidency will be like that of the president closest to him in the alphabet — Truman.… When Truman became president, was widely considered unprepared. Was blunt, coarse, profane, thin-skinned, not formally well-educated.” Also, like Trump, he was a failed haberdasher!
Etc. Long story short, National Review cleaved to Tubby for four years — as chronicled in too many of my columns to cite here — and in 2020 went to the mat for him; the low point was NR editor Rich Lowry pleading for Trump as “the only middle finger available” against people Lowry and his readers hated [pushes in nose, pushes out lower lip].
Since then and the Unfortunateness of 1/6/21, National Review columns have typically tsk-tsked Trump, and so does the new column all the kids are cooing over. But it’s all a ruse to make themselves look responsible and adult and non-insurrectionist.
After dissing the ex-president for “serious offenses against our constitutional order” and explaining to what few Republican voters are paying attention that Haley and DeSantis are better choices — “if elected, more likely to deliver — free from the wild drama of a second Trump term — conservative results,” National Review on-the-other-hands with a vengeance:
In his first term, Trump notched some important conservative wins and even forged some creative victories (think the Abraham Accords). He’d be an enormous improvement over Joe Biden on many policy questions.
So it’s not an existential threat at all — merely “the guy sicced a mob on the Electoral College so he could be dictator, but you have to weigh the pluses and minuses — he’s no Joe Biden!”
Look, guys, it’s not complicated. Just a few weeks ago, after Trump talked about his “vermin” opponents and how he’d be a dictator on day one of his second term, exactly zero National Review authors were telling us these was disqualifying sentiments for a presidential candidate to publicly express — while several of them told us that it wasn’t so bad actually. Because at the end of the day, Trump gives them exactly what they want — a chance for their donors to enrich themselves, and a distraction to keep the rubes from catching on and murdering them — and that’s worth a little, or even a lot of, humiliation.
Again, I have real if qualified faith in the American people; it’s the chattering class dipshits who look at weasels like the editors of National Review (and David French, and Ross Douthat, and on and on) and think, “now here’s someone whose opinion I can respect” that I’d like to shoot into outer space.