The Real Tucker Carlson Question

The Real Tucker Carlson Question

I am all in favor of favor of having a statute of limitations for dumb things we’ve said, written, or posted in the past, especially in our callow and stupid youth. But I’m not sure even a generous amnesty for past dumbf***ery would cover Tucker Carlson, whose performance of bravura awfulness took place in 2006.

We’re not talking about a night of binge drinking bad liquor at St. George’s. His serial insults, slurs, and bad takes on Bubba the Love Sponge’s show, were made when Tucker was a grown man, an established professional, and the host of a cable television show.

So the outrage mobs were martialed with the goal of getting him fired from his job as a Fox News host. In turn, the outrage mobs, rallied to his defense after Carlson refused to apologize and defiantly accused his critics of trying to censor his unpopular ideas.

“The left’s main goal, in case you haven’t noticed is controlling what you think,” he said in his defensive monologue. “In order to do that, they have to control the information that you receive.” Fox News is, at least for now, standing behind their top-rated host. And, indeed, the source of the embarrassing audio is the bounty-hunting Media Matters for America, which quite explicitly does want to shut down Tucker Carlson by having his show cancelled and the host fired. There’s nothing covert or secret about their motives or their agenda.

So, the usual tribes are rallied for our latest ritualized Two Minutes Hate; imprecations are hurled, boycotts threatened, postures struck. And in a few days we will likely forget about it. We’ve been to this play before.

Given all that, it’s probably a very bad idea to weigh in on this. But I’d still like to make a quite modest point, if you can bear with me.

Two things can be true at the same time: (1) MMFA does not want to debate ideas with Tucker Carlson, they want to destroy him and (2) What Carlson said was appalling and vile.

It is also possible to think that (1) Carlson ought not to be fired, (2) he ought to be held accountable and apologize, and (3) and (3) conservative shouldn’t die on this hill.

Why Scott Walker Should Veto the Lame Duck Bills

Why Scott Walker Should Veto the Lame Duck Bills

From The Atlantic:

The Wisconsin GOP’s lame-duck power play was not the death of democracy. But it was bad enough: petty, vindictive, and self-destructive. It was, as the saying goes, worse than a crime. It was a blunder.

And for what?

In its arrogant insularity, the Wisconsin GOP became a national symbol of win-at-all-costs, norms-be-damned politics. Cut through the overwrought rhetoric and what did the Republican legislators actually accomplish? Not really a whole lot; certainly not enough to justify the political damage they’ve inflicted on themselves. They have managed to energize the progressive base, expose themselves as sore losers, and undermine crucial democratic norms. And in return … they got extraordinarily little.

What We Remember Too Late

What We Remember Too Late

From The Weekly Standard:

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.— Leslie Poles Hartley

Perhaps it is simply human nature that our appreciation often comes too late. Every generation is born ungrateful and our memories are selective and shaded by our own self-regard. But it was the singular misfortune of the Greatest Generation to be succeeded by that most self-absorbed of generations, the Baby Boomers, my own generation.

In his poignant memory of George H.W. Bush, Andy Ferguson notes that “he was our last president to have been born before World War 2, and the last to have lived through it, and to have nobly served in it.”

Bush’s story, of course, was an extraordinary tale of honor, courage, and heroism, back when there was nothing hokey or ironic about those values:

Six months before he graduated from Phillips Academy, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. “I could hardly wait to get out of school and enlist,” he wrote years later. 

At 18, a handsome and strapping young man, Mr. Bush did enlist, as a seaman second class in the Navy’s flight training program. Soon he was flying combat missions in the Pacific. In September 1944, on a bombing run from the aircraft carrier San Jacinto, his plane was hit near the island of Chichi Jima by antiaircraft guns. He looked out and saw the wings on fire. 

“I headed the plane out to sea and put on the throttle so as we could get away from the land as much as possible,” he told his parents in a letter. “I turned the plane up in an attitude so as to take the pressure off the back hatch so the boys could get out. After that I straightened up and started to get out myself.” 

Two men on the plane died in the attack. Mr. Bush hit his head bailing out, he said, but landed safely in the ocean. He floated on a raft for hours, “violently sick to my stomach,” until a submarine rescued him. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross. 

But in 1992, when he was struggling for his political life, nobody wanted to talk about it anymore. World War II had ended 47 years earlier, old news told by old men. As Ferguson recalls, the word came down from the campaign’s high command

Bush’s speechwriters and the surrogates campaigning for him were not to touch on the war, or make reference to his service as the youngest Navy pilot of his generation, on the grounds that such loose talk could only remind voters that he was 68 and Bill Clinton wasn’t. The focus groups had rendered their judgment, and there was no point arguing… 

It was not that it was too late, but rather that it was too early—we were not yet done celebrating the awesomeness of the boomers or humbled enough to properly honor Bush’s generation. That would only come later.

A Speech in Search of a Candidate

A Speech in Search of a Candidate

From the Weekly Standard:

Nashua, New Hampshire

Good morning, my name is [TBD]. I’m here today to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

After four years, we can no longer be under any illusions about Donald Trump’s character, competence, or values. Ignorant and indifferent to our history, and unappreciative of our laws and cultural legacy, Donald Trump has ripped at the fabric of our democratic culture. He cannot insult, bluster, lie, or tweet America to greatness; instead, he has left us divided and isolated.

It is time to make America Good Again.

I’m under no illusions about how difficult this task will be and I cannot promise you today that I will succeed in this campaign, but what I can promise is an alternative for Republicans of good will, members of the coalition of the decent, who want an alternative to the corruption and cruelty of this president.

I stand here today because I love my country too much to stand by and let this president continue to tear it apart and debase its values.

We desperately need to change the arc of our politics, but this cannot happen if the Republican party does not change its direction.

Americans deserve a president who won’t lie to them, embarrass them, or divide them for political advantage.

Donald Trump’s Anti-Semitism Problem—And Ours

Donald Trump’s Anti-Semitism Problem—And Ours

From the Weekly Standard;

Near the end of his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump laid out his theory of a vast globalist conspiracy. “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors,” Trump said.

“It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” Trump continued. “We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends, and her donors.”

Time magazine called this his “Grand Unified Campaign Conspiracy Theory” that drew upon “conspiracy theories that have been nurtured for years by far-right-wing outlets like InfoWars, which has been a home for 9/11 “truthers,” and unfounded claims about the Bilderberg Group and the World Economic Forum.”

Jewish groups, who recognized the echoes in Trump’s language, were alarmed. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, quickly tweeted out that Trump “should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur #antisemitism. Let’s keep hate out of campaign.” The ADL had also expressed concern when Trump retweeted an image of a “corrupt” Hillary Clinton and a Star of David: 

We’ve been troubled by the anti-Semites and racists during this political season, and we’ve seen a number of so-called Trump supporters peddling some of the worst stereotypes all through this year. And it’s been concerning that [Donald Trump] hasn’t spoken out forcefully against these people. It is outrageous to think that the candidate is sourcing material from some of the worst elements in our society.

Trump, of course, is not alone in trafficking in language that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic. Louis Farrakhan continues to compare Jews to termites; BDS activists on campus continue to demonize Israel, and in Great Britain, the Labour Party is headed by the notoriously anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn.

But, in the wake of the worst mass murder of Jews in American history, it was inevitable that questions about Trump’s relationship with anti-Semitism would be revived. Trump’s defenders bristle at such charges, noting that Trump’s own daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish and that he is a staunch friend of Israel.

And yet….

Trumpism (if not Trump himself) has clearly given oxygen to some of the ugliest impulses among us. Anti-Jewish narratives grow and thrive in environments rife with conspiracy theories and no one has done more than the current president to bring them into the mainstream of our political discourse.

As we found out this weekend, the resurgence of nativism and fearmongering over foreign invaders, bankrolled by Jewish financiers, can summon unspeakable darkness.


The Derangement of the American Mind

The Derangement of the American Mind

From The Weekly Standard:

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this will all get worse.

The discovery of (as of now) 12 explosive devices—or at least devices that look like bombs—sent to prominent Democrats ought to have been a moment for bipartisan reflection about the toxicity of our political culture. But this is 2018, and it has served only to accelerate our downward spiral of incivility, boorishness, and crazy talk.

In the last few days, the ongoing derangement of the American mind has been on full and lavish display, as some on the right embraced the bizarre conspiracy theory that suspected bombs may have been a “false flag,” planted by Democrats. ( Let’s blow up Soros to own the cons!) Now that police have arrested a suspect, Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Fla., and seized his van covered with bumper stickers and decals supporting Donald Trump, don’t expect those who adopted that theory to change their minds much beyond “Meh, he was clearly just a crazy person” or “Look at his criminal record!”

President Trump himself quickly pivoted to blaming the media (but not himself), and will continue to denounce his opponents as “evil,” and as “enemies of the people,” who “hate” America.

At the same time, in their zeal to place the blame solely on Trump, many on the left are insisting that they bear absolutely no blame for the boiling undercurrent of violence in our political culture. It has become an arch-heresy to even suggest that “both sides” bear some responsibility for this moment.

The result, of course, is familiar: an across-the-board refusal to engage in meaningful self-examination; a refusal to acknowledge the failures in your own tribe, while insisting relentlessly on the malignancy of the other tribe—its hatred, violence, and apparently bottomless capacity for deception and trickery.

So this will get worse. We live in combustible times and the president is the arsonist in chief. But he’s not alone.

Debating the Once and Future Conservatism

Debating the Once and Future Conservatism

From the Weekly Standard:

It is with mixed feelings that I report that New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait vastly prefers Max Boot’s book on conservatism to mine.

As it happens I also like Boot’s book (actually quite a bit), but I think Chait is fundamentally wrong in his view of conservatism.

For the last several years, Chait has been arguing that the rise of Donald Trump is proof that conservatism was always and everywhere thoroughly racist, morally bankrupt, and populated with hypocrites and authoritarians.

This is, ironically enough, the mirror image of the argument made by those on the right who also insist that we should regard Trumpism as a logical, consistent, and organic outgrowth of conservatism. That is, of course the view from the (Sean) Hannitized right, which insists that conservative opposition to Trump is a form of apostasy.

On the left, Chait is part of a chorus making what amounts to an equivalent case. “Donald Trump Was the Inevitable Result of Republicanism,” declared the headline of a predictable Charles P. Pierce piece in Esquire. Some progressive critics denounce even the most consistent Trump critics for being “complicit” in Trump’s rise, because conservatism itself created the conditions of his rise. ‘You built this,” is a nagging refrain on social media. “No absolution for the right.”

Merely opposing Trumpism is not sufficient; in this view, the price of redemption is sackcloth and ashes. Chait sees Boot’s new book, The Corrosion of Conservatism as a powerful affirmation of that position

Elizabeth Warren's Epic Fail

Elizabeth Warren's Epic Fail

From The Weekly Standard:

Donald Trump’s most obvious superpower is his lack of shame, which permits him to do things that ordinary politicians would never dare or survive. But perhaps his real gift is his ability to cause his opponents to beclown themselves.

So today, baited by Trump’s gibes, Elizabeth Warren rushes headlong into self-parody with a lavish rollout of a DNA test that suggests that she may be (checks notes) 1/1,024 thNative American. The DNA test, notable for its imprecision, suggests that Warren may have a Native American ancestor somewhere “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.” (Which reminds me that I have an ancestry report around here somewhere suggesting that in addition to my Russian Jewish ancestors, I am also descended from Scottish kings.)

Democrats Are Fighting Dumb Instead of Fighting Hard

Democrats Are Fighting Dumb Instead of Fighting Hard

From The Weekly Standard:

It’s still early, and the news and politics cycles move quickly, but there are at least five signs that the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has encouraged some Democrats and their allies to double down on political malpractice.

1) Cutting Off Their Nose. Even before the final vote, two outside groups pulled their support for two Democrats in tight races who had expressed support for Kavanaugh. Move and the deep-pocketed super PAC Priorities USA announced they were ex-communicating Senator Joe Manchin and Tennessee Democratic hopeful Phil Bredesen. The practical effects of bailing on the two Senate races may be limited, since neither group had actually been spending much money in either state, but the impulse to put ideological purity over the practical politics of winning back the Senate was striking.

The odds continue to strongly favor the GOP maintaining control of the upper house, (the SwingSeat model gives Republicans a 75.7 percent chance of holding the Senate) but if the Democrats lose in West Virginia and Tennessee, their chances for winning control drop to near zero.

2) Avenatti-ism. It turns out that elevating a celebrity porn star’s lawyer to media/political influence is not a sound strategy after all. Worse may be coming.

Observers across the political spectrum marveled at the damage that Michael Avenatti did last week to the Democrats’ efforts to derail Kavanaugh, when he came forward with lurid allegations that the judge may have been involved in gang rapes. The story fell apart almost immediately, but the political impact was real.

The Unbearable Silliness of the Academic Left

The Unbearable Silliness of the Academic Left

From The Weekly Standard:

Somehow it is fitting that the most extraordinary academic hoax of our time would deal with dog parks, dildos, Hooters, masturbation, fat shaming, and a feminist Mein Kampf.

In a prank that is alternately hilarious, appalling, and disturbing, three puckish academics managed to place no fewer than seven “shoddy, absurd, unethical” articles in “respectable” academic journals that trafficked in the growing field of grievance studies—a field that includes gender and queer studies, critical race theory and a variety of post-modern constructivist theories now fashionable in the humanities and social sciences. If nothing else, they demonstrated that academic leftism is a target ripe for ridicule as well as outrage.

As they note in their paper, “ Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship,” the seven fake papers were the “tip of the iceberg” of sophistry in the hyper-ideological swamps of academia.

Indeed, they would surely have gotten more fake pieces published if their article about “dog park culture” had not attracted so much attention for its obvious risibility. The “dog park” article, was published with some fanfare in the journal Gender, Place, and Culture, was titled “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon,” and argued that “dog parks are rape-condoning spaces and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against “the oppressed dog.” The study claimed that the observation of the dogs would provide “insight into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone.” One peer reviewer gushed: “This is a wonderful paper—incredibly innovative, rich in analysis, and extremely well-written and organized given the incredibly diverse literature sets and theoretical questions brought into conversation.” The authors note that the journal honored the article about dog parks and rape as “one of twelve leading pieces in feminist geography as a part of the journal’s 25th anniversary celebration.”

The absurdity of the paper was first highlighted by the twitter account known as @RealPeerReview, which exposes a wide range of junk scholarship (if you don’t follow it, you really ought to.) When the Wall Street Journal and others began sniffing around to ascertain the authorship of the piece, however, the gig was up and the three hoaxers decided to come clean. They admitted that they were also behind the “nutty and inhumane” idea to make white male students sit on the floor as a form of reparations, a paper that explored why straight men “rarely anally self-penetrate using sex toys,” and had even gotten a paper accepted in a feminist journal that was actually a chapter from Mein Kampf, “with fashionable buzzwords switched in.”

In addition to the seven papers that were accepted, they had another three accepted but not published; another seven were “still in play,” and only six had been rejected by peer reviewers.

Brett Kavanaugh and the Uses of Anger

Brett Kavanaugh and the Uses of Anger

From The Weekly Standard:

“Anger [is] a short madness: for it is equally devoid of self-control, regardless of decorum, forgetful of kinship, obstinately engrossed in whatever it begins to do, deaf to reason and advice . . . and very like a falling rock which breaks itself to pieces upon the very thing which it crushes.”


Because we are required to disagree angrily about everything, we now find ourselves in a debate over the proper uses and display of anger.

Opponents of Brett Kavanaugh saw his performance last Thursday as an unhinged, petulant tantrum, while his supporters saw a display of wholly-justified, righteous anger, when he denounced what he called “this grotesque character assassination.”

His fury was on full display as he asserted his innocence and lashed out at the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee and “left-wing opposition groups.”

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus. 

The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades.

He is surely right about that last part, because this confirmation fight seems likely to leave a cloud over the nation’s highest court for a generation or more. His testimony has already been immortalized by Saturday Night Live.

In the short run it seems to have been effective. Kavanaugh’s philippic, followed by Lindsey Graham’s en fuego eruption, succeeded in rallying conservatives to his cause and may wind up securing his confirmation.

But by any measure, his harangue was atypical for both the judge and the venue. Judicial nominees generally do not interrupt and bait members of the United States Senate, nor do they indulge in partisan conspiracy theories in public settings.

Excerpt: Updated How The Right Lost Its Mind

Excerpt: Updated How The Right Lost Its Mind

From the Weekly Standard:

Late on the afternoon of October 7, 2016, I texted an old friend, fellow Wisconsinite Reince Priebus. The Access Hollywood videotape had just been released, showing the GOP presidential nominee describing his approach to seducing and perhaps assaulting women. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them,” Donald Trump said on the tape. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

In the course of his campaign, Trump had insulted POWs, women, disabled reporters, members of minority groups, and his opponents without derailing his candidacy. But this felt like it might be different, and events were moving quickly.

Trump was due to visit Wisconsin the next day for a rally with Speaker Paul Ryan, their first joint appearance of the campaign. Relations between Trump and Ryan had been fraught, with the speaker accusing his party’s nominee of “textbook racism” while Trump derided the speaker as “our very weak and ineffective leader.” The Wisconsin event was the culmination of Priebus’s peacemaking efforts. Like other members of the GOP mainstream, Priebus had been a Trump skeptic, but as chairman of the Republican National Committee he had embraced Trump’s candidacy with apparent enthusiasm. He was also one of Ryan’s best friends, so the joint event would be a symbol of his efforts to normalize Trump’s candidacy and rally the disparate wings of the GOP behind the erratic billionaire.

But now all of Priebus’s friends and colleagues from Wisconsin would have to stand on stage with their pussy-grabbing nominee. It would be the photo-op from hell, a month before the general election.

Despite our deepening political differences, Reince and I had kept in touch throughout the campaign. At lunch in Milwaukee in September, we had talked about our lives after the election. He wanted to stay on as RNC chair to pick up the pieces before returning to law or perhaps a cable television deal. I told him that I was writing a book; he said we should stay in touch because, unlike Trump’s campaign staffers, he had never signed a nondisclosure agreement.

So that afternoon when the tape was released, I texted Priebus. He wasn’t going to allow Trump to drop a bomb on Wisconsin Republicans, was he?

Priebus responded quickly: “I am the guy trying to fix this!” he texted. “I am in tears over this.”

Democrats Behaving Badly

Democrats Behaving Badly

From the Weekly Standard:

For some reason, I find myself thinking a lot about Paul Wellstone’s funeral lately. A popular and outspoken liberal Democrat, the Minnesota senator died tragically in a plane crash just weeks before the 2002 election. Not surprisingly, emotions ran high, culminating in a nationally televised funeral that morphed into a raucous political pep rally.

Some of the speeches took on a harsh partisan tone and the crowd booed Trent Lott, then the Senate Republican leader, when he entered the arena at the University of Minnesota for the service. Afterward, some of the organizers apologized for the tone of the event, but the damage had been done. Democrats assumed that former Vice Presidential Walter Mondale would be able to ride the tide of emotion and hold Wellstone’s seat, but Mondale wound up losing to Republican Norm Coleman (who would, in turn, lose to comedian Al Franken six years later). Many observers blamed the backlash to the funeral at least in part for his defeat.

Which brings us to the latest iteration of over-the-top political theatricality—last week’s hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Democrats are understandably concerned about the nomination, but the histrionics of senators Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, and even a few who are not running for president, suggest that he Democrats have a deeper problem: Demagoguery is a helluva drug and some Democrats apparently cannot help themselves from over-reaching, even it undermines their case.

That may not be decisive in the upcoming midterms, but it poses a longer-term problem for the party, especially in 2020. And it seems awfully familiar to those of us who watched what has happened to Republicans and conservatives over the last decade.

The Oddity of That Anonymous NYT Op-Ed

The Oddity of That Anonymous NYT Op-Ed

From the Weekly Standard:

There are lots of ways to leave a lousy job. In 2011, a young man named Adam, a shift duty manager of a Taco Bell in New York, was required to work on July 4, despite having worked 22 straight days. Fed up, he climbed up to the sign outside the restaurant and published a brief, but pointed op-ed, in giant letters:

“I QUIT – ADAM. F--- YOU.”

It was a stylish and clean break. But, apparently, this sort of thing is a lost art form, at least in the higher reaches of government.

Washington is consumed, as its wont, with the anonymous op ed in The New York Times by a “senior official in the Trump Administration,” announcing that he is part of a “quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first.” Unlike the Taco Bell manager, the official apparently intends to stick around as part of a group of people who “are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

The reaction to this sensation is, of course, sensational, with the president’s own reaction described as “volcanic.” An already paranoid and dysfunctional White House is now consumed with multiple mole hunts, as Trump himself descends to opera bouffe by demanding that the Times turn the anonymous official “over to government at once!”

A more likely scenario is that the author will be exposed and forced out of government and onto cable television in the very near future. At that point, we will be able to come to some sort of a judgment about his or her motivations in penning this extraordinary, and very odd, essay.

Some clarification here: the piece is odd, but not wrong. The author’s description of Trump’s character is precise and the characterization of Trump’s erratic style of governing is familiar. The author also seems to grasp the gravamen of our political crisis: 

The Catholic Church Isn't Immune to Tribalism

The Catholic Church Isn't Immune to Tribalism

From the Weekly Standard:

Two weeks ago the satirical website The Babylon Bee posted a parody in which the pope says that he will address the sex abuse scandal after he’s finished talking about climate change

The head of the Roman Catholic Church claimed he is deeply concerned with the tragic report, but is “just too swamped” with work fighting climate change, criticizing capitalism, and advocating for other issues of social justice to talk about the repulsive report at the moment.

But parody can no longer keep up with the pace of reality.

This week, Chicago’s Cardinal Blasé Cupich, channeled the Bee, when he told a local television station that “the Pope has a bigger agenda," than responding to charges by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that he knew about incidents of sexual abuse. "He's got to get on with other things,” Cardinal Cupich said, “of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We're not going to go down a rabbit hole on this."

The rabbit hole, of course, is the decades-long molestation of thousands of children and the church’s role in enabling and covering up the crimes. More specifically, the cardinal was referring to allegations that Pope Francis knew that former Washington Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick had preyed on seminarians and had been admonished by the pope’s predecessor.

The Rot at the Top

The Rot at the Top

From the Weekly Standard:

Republicans have bet their future on the proposition that character does not matter, or at least not the character of Donald Trump.

So, perhaps too late, they are discovering that having a president who is a chronic liar is both morally and politically problematic. As a New Yorker, Trump is surely familiar with the hoary adage that “the fish rots from the head down.” As president, he has turned it into a governing principle.

The consequence is that Republicans now face a midterm election that is likely to turn less on tax cuts than on the miasma of sleaze and corruption that surrounds them.

Until now, Republicans have been able to comfort themselves by pointing to policy wins, a strong economy, and a political culture in which nothing matters. And maybe nothing does. But this feels like a turning point of sorts. This week was the worst of Donald Trump’s presidency. But it seems likely there will be worse still.

The Unbearable Lightness of Falwell the Lesser

From the Weekly Standard

“No man who says, 'I'm as good as you,' believes it. He would not say it if he did.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

One of the inestimable blessings of social media is that one does not have to be a student at Liberty University to have the benefit of the historical or moral insights of the institution’s president.

On a regular basis, Jerry Falwell Jr. dispenses his evangelical wisdom to his tens of thousands of Twitter followers, and provides an invaluable guide to the moral and political shapeshifting among evangelical leaders as they struggle to rationalize their support for Trumpism.

Even in an era of marked by exquisite self-humiliations, Falwell has distinguished himself. Along with his wife, Falwell Jr. famously posed for a thumbs-up picture with Donald Trump in front of a wall of Trump memorabilia—including a cover of Playboy magazine featuring a younger Trump with a provocatively posed model. 

Read the rest here:


We Are All Trapped in Trump's Reality TV Show

We Are All Trapped in Trump's Reality TV Show

From the Weekly Standard:

With apologies to Dorothy Parker: What fresh hell is this?

Even in a presidency that has become a series of bizarre moments, this week seems to mark a milestone of sorts. On Tuesday, a White House briefing about Omarosa Manigault Newman was interrupted, if only briefly, by a question about ISIS, an actual war we are fighting in the real world. But it quickly reverted back to the reality-star-turned-White-House-aide’s latest allegations and the president’s tweets about her—because we all live in Trump’s World now.

The New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg described Omarosa, the “reality show villain who campaigned for Donald Trump and followed him into the White House,” as “an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump’s orbit. What separates her from them is that she might be capable of a sliver of shame.”

Goldberg ought to have stopped at “grifter.”

The Price of GOP Surrender

The Price of GOP Surrender


Political parties do not lose their souls or their identities all at once. Usually, it is a gradual process of compromises that make sense in the moment, but which have a cumulative effect — like a frog being gradually boiled.

There are obvious reasons why Republicans have been so unwilling to stand up to President Donald Trump: political tribalism, transactionalism, anti-anti-Trumpism and, yes, timidity. While expressing dismay in private, GOP officials know that the Republican base remains solidly behind Trump. In a hyper-partisan environment, standing on principle can be dangerous for your political health.

But the price of the GOP’s bargain with Trump, however, has continued to rise. Republicans in Congress now not only have to swallow Trump’s erratic narcissism, but also his assaults on the very core principles that supposedly define their politics: fiscal conservatism, free trade, the global world order, our allies, truth and the rule of law.

Conservatism in Eclipse in the Age of Trump

Conservatism in Eclipse in the Age of Trump

From The Guardian:

As Donald Trump extends his control over the Republican Party, American conservativism has entered a pseudo-Orwellian stage where weakness is strength, appeasement is toughness, lies are truth, and America First means Blame America First.

Last week’s fiasco in Helsinki, where the president openly sided with Vladimir Putin over his own country’s intelligence agencies, was not a one off for this president, but rather an exclamation point on what has happened to the American Right.

As an outspoken conservative for the last four decades, the experience has been vertiginous. On one issue after another -- from Russia and free trade to corruption, and the rule of law -- Republicans have adjusted their principles to conform with Trumpism, which often means with Trump’s latest glandular impulse.

I came of age watching Ronald Reagan call on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” as he reasserted America’s role as leader of the free world. Last week we saw Trump insult our allies, undermine our friends, and truckle to the Russian autocrat.