The Conscience of Ann Coulter

The Conscience of Ann Coulter

Give her credit: Ann Coulter is a woman of strong convictions. Those convictions may be wrongheaded, bizarre, and even bigoted, but she knows what she believes and is willing to hold Donald Trump accountable. Unless he builds the wall (and not just some candy-ass fence) she's done with him—ready to turn on him with the white hot bitterness of the true believer who suddenly awakes to betrayal.

It's easy to mock Coulter, who wrote a book titled In Trump We Trust, for ever thinking she could trust Trump (and I will probably go on doing so), but at least something mattered to her. Unlike the cultists for whom Trump can do no wrong, and who will not hold him to any of his promises as long as he fights the right enemies, Coulter's politics have a very clear standard. "We have been betrayed over and over and over with presidents promising to do something about immigration," she explained to the New York Times's Frank Bruni. "If he played us for suckers, oh, you will not see rage like you have seen."

Trump does seem worried. After a few days pretending that he hadn't really been rolled on the border wall (Congress allocated only $1.6 billion of the $25 billion he had requested in the budget passed last month), Trump has ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric, killed the deal to regularize the status of so-called "dreamers," lashed out at Mexico, and authorized sending the National Guard to patrol the border.

The GOP Surrenders to Trump

The GOP Surrenders to Trump

My latest in the New York Daily News:

It is not Donald Trump's fault that the State of the Union has devolved into a reality television spectacle, with equal parts puffery and pep rally.

What Trump has done, however, has been to turn it into a full-fledged alternative reality experience in which we get to imagine that he might actually be a uniter, a statesman and an empathetic human being. He is, of course, none of those things, but for a while last week both partisans and pundits could indulge their fantasies.

The occasion did, however, serve to highlight a genuine reality in Washington D.C.: the surrender of the GOP to Trump and its willingness to serve as his political praetorian guard.

Rituals of sycophantic abasement by the GOP have by now become almost routine, as we saw with the fawning praise heaped on the President at the celebration following the passage of the tax cut bill.

But last week had a different feel to it. We saw was the GOP's full-blooded embrace of the Trump presidency and of Trump himself, including his attempts to obstruct and derail the investigation into his conduct.

Ruth, Meet Gracie

Ruth, Meet Gracie

My latest in the Weekly Standard:

I wish Ruth Marcus had come to the birthday party Wednesday night.

Not that I know her that well, but I’ve always found her pleasant, decent, and smart. We’ve exchanged green room pleasantries and apparently last week during a joint appearance, I introduced her to the term “pornstache” (in a discussion of John Bolton’s facial hair).

A few weeks ago, Marcus created a stir with her column headlined: “I would’ve aborted a fetus with Down syndrome. Women need that right.” A mother of two, Marcus wrote that she was old enough to be tested for Down syndrome after the 15thweek of her pregnancy. “I can say without hesitation,” she wrote, “that, tragic as I would have felt, and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.”

I would have liked to have taken Ms. Marcus to Gracie Jagler’s 21st birthday party.

Gracie had her hair done for the event and a limousine brought her to the local Elks Club lodge for the gathering of families and friends. Coincidentally, her birthday fell on World Down Syndrome Day, which was appropriate since Gracie was born with an extra chromosome.

National Review.... Reviews "How the Right Lost Its Mind"

National Review.... Reviews "How the Right Lost Its Mind"

From the November 13, 2017 edition.

By Guy Benson

For years, Charlie Sykes sat atop the totem pole of Wisconsin’s extraordinarily influential talk-radio universe. He and his fellow righty talkers played an integral role in reshaping the Badger State’s politics from progressive blue to reformist red, serving as indispensable allies to the political figures who ushered in this improbable transformation — Governor Scott Walker, House speaker Paul Ryan, former RNC chairman and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and Senator Ron Johnson the most prominent among them. Electoral victories brought real results, with Sykes serving on the front lines to defend and buttress the Walker administration on a string of paradigm-shifting reforms. Most notable was the controversial, and ultimately successful, budget overhaul that whipped Wisconsin’s organized Left into a frenzy, culminating in a powerful rebuke to them by voters in 2012’s failed recall election — an outcome in which Sykes & Co. had a significant hand.

It’s jarring, therefore, to watch Sykes promote his new book, How the Right Lost Its Mind, as a celebrated guest on MSNBC. It’s the same cable-news network whose hosts’ exquisitely gloomy election-night reactions to Walker’s recall triumph were a source of schadenfreude-filled delight to many conservatives, Sykes very much included. Following a rather abrupt retirement, which might look to some observers like a self-imposed exile, the polite, bespectacled commentator is now off the radio dial in Wisconsin. His new on-air home is alongside Rachel Maddow and friends. In some conservative circles, ostensibly conservative pundits whose bread is disproportionately buttered by criticizing Republicans from the left are often derided for making a living by being useful to liberals. You know the formulation the liberals use: “Even Conservative X says . . .”

But given Sykes’s years of unassailable service to the conservative cause in a critical battleground state, it feels deeply unfair to cast him as someone eager to be useful to the Left. Just the opposite: He devoted his long-running daily radio program to being a pestering, relentless, effective thorn in liberals’ side. Wisconsin Democrats have the battle scars to prove it. So, to borrow from the title of another post-election book, what happened?

Is Donald Trump's Presidency Becoming... Normal?

Is Donald Trump's Presidency Becoming... Normal?

Even though Donald Trump’s poll number continue to be abysmal, there is something of an anti-anti-Trump backlash underway in GOP circles. Never-Trump conservatives have never been a particularly robust group and their numbers seem to be dwindling by the day. But now they are taking friendly fire.  Even the venerable Trump skeptic David Brooks suggests in The New York Times that Trump critcs have not only gone too far in their opposition, but actually seem to “be getting dumber.”

While Brooks appears to be reacting to the Michael Woolf’s journalistically-challenged best seller, he is echoing a growing refrain on the right: If you ignore Trump’s tweets and other erratic utterances, his presidency is really not all that bad. (Brooks wrote just days before Trump referred to African countries as “shitholes.”)

The argument from Brooks and other Trump rationalizers s actually quite plausible: under Trump the GOP has been able to pass sweeping tax reform, eliminate the individual mandate, roll back the regulatory state, and install conservative judges throughout the federal judiciary, including, most notably, the Supreme Court.  The stock market continues to soar, unemployment is down, and the excommunication of Steve Bannon could mark a turn toward a more normal presidency, with rational and prudent center-right figures now steering the policy ship.

Some Tips for Retirement in the Age of Trump

Some Tips for Retirement in the Age of Trump

My gratuitous advice in Sunday's New York Times:

Milwaukee — When I retired from daily broadcasting in late 2016, I knew I had to make some serious resolutions. I no longer had to set the alarm for 4:15 a.m., but I didn’t want to sleep so late that I spent the morning walking around the house in a robe. (Trust me, that’ll happen sooner than you think.)

I also knew that I needed to continue to speak out about the bizarre fever that seemed to have gripped my fellow conservatives who had embraced Donald Trump.

Originally, my plan was to sit in a rocking chair, and after a few weeks to start rocking. But the election wrecked those plans, making retirement in the Era of Trump a complicated affair.

I started thinking about that this past week, when Orrin Hatch, the seven-term Republican senator from Utah, announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election this year. He joins two Republican colleagues, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, in announcing retirement. Word is that Steve Bannon is also likely to have a lot more free time on his hands soon, especially since the billionaire Mercer family has cut off his funding, one of the few things that has kept him relevant.

So even though they didn’t ask, I’m going to offer some pointers.

Read the whole thing here:

What the Trump-Bannon Crackup Means.. and Doesn't Mean

What the Trump-Bannon Crackup Means.. and Doesn't Mean

My latest in Sunday's New York Daily News:

The increasingly nasty breakup between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon could mark the first genuine rupture in the Trumpist ranks, but so far the civil war on the right has been decidedly one-sided.

Bannon has been abandoned by many of his populist-nationalist media allies, who scurried to establish their fealty to the regime. Perhaps worse for Bannon, he has alienated his dark money patrons, the Mercers, a breach that may cost him his job at Breitbart.

In his romantic self-regard, Bannon is likely to think of himself as the Robespierre of this Trumpian revolution, who was ultimately destroyed by the forces he helped release. But Bannon is reaping what he has sowed.

For the last year, he imagined that he could control, shape and use Donald Trump as an empty vessel to fill with his poisonous worldview (he even at one point described him as an "imperfect vessel" for the political upheaval he had long been envisioning). Like so many others on the right, Steve Bannon thought he could ride the tiger. Instead, he and his allies have become the latest road kill in this shambolic presidency.

A Short History of Trump's Birtherism (And How The GOP Reacted)

A Short History of Trump's Birtherism (And How The GOP Reacted)

From: "How The Right Lost Its Mind"

For many on the Right, the ur-conspiracy theory of the Obama presidency was the notion that Obama had not been born in the United States and was therefore not constitutionally eligible to be president. An entire cottage industry of “birthers” sprang up, complete with elaborate attempts to document the “evidence” that Obama was, in fact, a secret Kenyan. Arguably, Donald Trump launched his successful presidential bid by seizing upon the issue, which he milked for the maximum amount of publicity. Trump would eventually disavow birtherism in the final months of the 2016 campaign, while attempting to blame its origins (falsely) on his rival Hillary Clinton. But for five years, Trump had questioned Obama’s birthplace.

In March 2011, Trump appeared on the Laura Ingraham Show to declare: "He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me -- and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be -- that where it says 'religion,' it might have 'Muslim.' And if you're a Muslim, you don't change your religion, by the way." On CNN, he escalated his rhetoric, saying that “if he wasn’t born in this country, he shouldn’t be the president of the United States.” After Obama produced the certificate in April 2011, Trump briefly acknowledged his legitimacy, but quickly seemed to recant, saying “a lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate.”

To be sure, some conservatives with megaphones denounced the birthers. Early on, talk show host Michael Medved called the movement’s leaders “crazy, nutburger, demagogue, money-hungry, exploitative, irresponsible, filthy conservative imposters” who had become “the worst enemy of the conservative movement.” Birtherism, he said, “makes us look weird. It makes us look crazy. It makes us look demented. It makes us look sick, troubled, and not suitable for civilized company.”

But despite repeated attempts to debunk the theory, many leading Republicans either stayed silent or refused to forcefully denounce the theories that were springing up. One reason for their reluctance was that “birtherism” was not fringe notion in the GOP. A Public Policy Poll in February of 2011 found that birthers had become a majority among likely Republican primary voters --  51% said they did not think Barack Obama was born in the United States. Less than a third of GOP voters -- 28 percent – said they firmly believed that he was born here, while 21 percent weren’t sure.

The GOP Knew What It Was Getting

The GOP Knew What It Was Getting

My latest, in the New York Review of Books:

“Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities,” the former presidential nominee told the audience. “The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”

He reminded the audience that Trump was “an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.”

He laid out the clear and present danger posed by Trump. “He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”

Beyond Trump’s unfitness for office was his coarsening effect on the culture. “Now, imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does. Would you welcome that? Haven’t we seen before what happens when people in prominent positions fail the basic responsibility of honorable conduct? We have. And it always injures our families and our country.”

At stake was the future of our democracy, the former nominee said, citing John Adams. “Remember, democracy never lasts long; it soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

That was March 3, 2016, and the speaker was Mitt Romney. As extraordinary as his indictment was, it had little discernible effect on Trump’s march toward the Republican nomination. But the speech underlines a central reality of our politics: the GOP knew what it was embracing; it was all there and Republicans were warned. They may have been deluded, but they were not uninformed.

Like so many of his fellow Republicans, Romney would eventually make his peace with Trump, even entertaining over a dinner of frogs’ legs the possibility of becoming his secretary of state. Nearly a year after Trump’s election, congressional Republicans and the president find themselves locked in a relationship of morbid co-dependency, but it is not one based on misunderstanding. There was no mystery, no hidden knowledge, about who or what Donald Trump was, or what it would mean to invest him with the royal purple of the presidency. Republicans gave it to him knowingly.

When Did The GOP Learn to Love Deficits?

When Did The GOP Learn to Love Deficits?

My latest from the Los Angeles Times: 

Not that long ago, Rep. Paul Ryan was freaked out about the national debt.

The “red tidal wave of debt,” he told Sean Hannity back in 2012, would trigger what he called the “most predictable economic crisis we have ever had in this country.” Debt would mean nothing less than the “end of the American dream.”

In 2012, the debt stood at $15 trillion, and the exploding costs of entitlements, Ryan said, meant that “by the time my grandkids are raising their grandkids, we are taking 80 cents out of every dollar just to pay for this federal government at that time.”

Ryan, who was then House Budget Committee chairman and soon to be the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, warned that the debt crisis would be catastrophic to the American way of life, leading to a massive rise in interest rates and — eventually — “bitter austerity” measures including “cuts to current seniors” and “cuts to the safety net.”

He also said the crisis was imminent: “All the experts are telling us we have about two to three years, is the time frame they tell us.”

That was five years ago. Ryan is now speaker of the House, and the national debt now exceeds $20 trillion. But he’s pushing ahead with tax cuts that are likely to increase that figure by trillions more. And that’s only part of the story.

Hugh Hewitt And The GOP's Captive Minds

Hugh Hewitt And The GOP's Captive Minds

I find much to admire about Hugh Hewitt, who has managed to resist many of the temptations to blather and bombast to which so many of his talk radio colleagues have succumbed. 

But Hewitt has also carved out a niche as a reliable rationalizer of Trumpism. His talents in that direction were on display last weekend as he manfully tried to make the case that, despite appearances, there was no civil war in the GOP (and shouldn't be one, since everything is going so swimmingly.) In Hewitt's rosy world, there was "only a series of skirmishes on the fringes of the party and among its chattering Manhattan-Beltway class estranged from President Trump." 

The Never Trump movement has become a long-running version of “Saturday Night Live’s” “More Cowbell” skit. It seems every column, editorial, television appearance, panel participation and probably every trip to Safeway must include a Never Trumper’s own version of Cato the Elder’s “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam” — “Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed.” Admiring lookers-on then respond via tweet or Facebook post: “Well done! But it could use more cowbell.” And so more cowbell we get.

Hewitt  betrays a small note of defensiveness, even as he claims the mantle of substance and seriousness in contrast to the nabobs nattering on about things like Russia, the rule of law, attacks on democratic norms and what not.

How The Right Lost Its Mind And Charlie Sykes Lost His Faith In The GOP

My interview with WPR's To The Best of Our Knowledge:

"Charlie Sykes spent more than two decades hosting a popular conservative talk-radio show. He railed against the Clintons and Obama. He helped push Paul Ryan and Scott Walker onto the national stage. And today he’s a Trump critic who's profoundly disillusioned with the Republican Party. He explains why in a book called “How the Right Lost Its Mind.”"

Listen here:

A Guide For Perplexed Conservatives In The Age of Trump

A Guide For Perplexed Conservatives In The Age of Trump

Published at NBC News Think: 

How are we going to survive this thing?

These are (to put it mildly) tough times to be a conservative, especially one who is skeptical of Donald Trump. While there will be some real policy victories — the judiciary for example — conservatives have watched these past nine months as conservativism has been tarnished by a politics of cruelty, insult, and erratic tweet storms. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

So far, only a handful of elected Republicans have been willing to speak out — Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, John McCain and Bob Corker come to mind — but we are going to have to hear more from contrarian conservatives if the movement has any hope of salvaging its brand, and its soul.

Being a contrarian comes rather naturally to me (maybe it’s genetics), and I suppose this current dissatisfaction takes me full circle. Back in the 1970s, I became a “recovering Liberal,” when I looked around me and decided I no longer wanted to be a part of what that movement had become. My decision came slowly, but it was ultimately liberating to break free from tribal politics and its tendentious talking points.

So this feels familiar to me. If the conservative movement wishes to be defined by the nativist, authoritarian, post-truth culture of Trump-Bannon-Drudge-Hannity-Palin, then I’m out.

So what does that mean?

The American Conservative: Exorcising the Conservative Media

The American Conservative: Exorcising the Conservative Media

Really great discussion of 'How The Lost Its Mind" in the American Conservative:

A long time ago (two years, actually), there was a sort of person we referred to as a “full-spectrum conservative.” Full-spectrum conservatives supported traditional morals, free enterprise, and a strong public investment in national security. For this group, 2016 was not a good year.

Trumpian populists effectively set fire to the proverbial three-legged stool. The full-spectrum conservatives of yesteryear were faced with a choice: move quickly or else find yourself on the ground. Many moved. Some took the fall. And few took the latter course quite so spectacularly as Charles Sykes, the radio host whose March 2016 interview with Donald Trump helped send the real estate tycoon spiraling into a dramatic primary loss in his home state of Wisconsin. Sykes won that battle, but he and his associates went on to lose the war. Now he’s compiled his thoughts on conservatism’s decline into a new book, How the Right Lost Its Mind.

If nothing else, the book is a triumph for this reason alone: though he clearly views Donald Trump’s election as a catastrophe (both for conservatism and for America), Sykes manages to discourse on the problem for 274 pages without allowing the Mogul to hog the spotlight. It’s refreshing to find a discussion of right-wing politics that doesn’t veer into yet another attempt to chart the murky waters of Trump’s fevered brain. Instead, Sykes wants to understand how the party of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley could have degenerated to the point where a frivolous attention-seeker ducked out of a Democratic Party fundraiser just in time to take the GOP on a cosmic joyride.

Here’s the core of Sykes’ answer: Right-wing media created a fever swamp of misinformation, fanaticism, and resentment, which ultimately derailed the party and American politics.

How I Was Excommunicated

How I Was Excommunicated

(Excerpted from “How the Right Lost Its Mind” pp. 211-213) 

The demand that conservatives drop their objections and conform was also taken up by the grassroots.

In Wisconsin, even after I stepped down from my daily radio show, there were calls for pogroms against conservatives (like me) who might dissent from the new regime. The publisher of the Wisconsin Conservative Digest, for instance, sent out a blast email excoriating conservatives who had not backed Trump, calling them “Judas goats,” suggesting that activists retaliate against them after the election.  This was curious, because just months earlier (in August 2016) the same publisher had sent out a similar mass email calling on the GOP to repudiate Trump. “If the top leaders, not the old timers of the party stand up and disavow him and tell him to get out let pence (sic) carry the mail we could at least stop the rest of the bleeding,” he wrote onAugust 15. Within weeks, he had decided to back Trump and began castigating dissidents.

After the election, he ratcheted up the recriminations, which were aimed not merely at me (I was about to go off the air,) but other hosts and conservative activists who had been critical of the new president.

ICYMI: Conservatism Betrayed

ICYMI: Conservatism Betrayed

The Washington Times Book Review: 

How the Right Lost Its Mind” is an important work. Any serious-minded citizen, no matter of what political persuasion, will benefit from reading it and carefully contemplating the powerful message of its thoughtful, solidly conservative author.

A highly principled conservative of the William F. Buckley Jr./Ronald Reagan mold, Charles J. Sykes is the author of eight other acclaimed conservative books and was a well-known Wisconsin conservative radio talk-show host.

Many will remember when an especially ill-prepared Donald Trump called into “The Charlie Sykes Show” days before the Wisconsin primary and how during that 17-minute interview Mr. Sykes respectfully but grippingly dismembered him regarding his fitness for the presidency and his elusive and anything but conservative positions on important issues. That the Wisconsin primary became a Ted Cruz routing of Donald Trump was in no small measure because of the challenging questioning Mr. Sykes and other leading conservative talk radio hosts in that state had raised about the Trump candidacy.

“How the Right Lost Its Mind” will be labeled as anti-Trump. It’s that, to be sure — but it is so very much more than merely that. Above all, this is the story of the betrayal of the conservative cause by many prominent persons who had been considered, and disingenuously still claim to be, principled conservatives.

The author neither minces words nor pulls punches as he mourns over how some of the right’s “leading voices turned from gatekeepers to cheerleaders and from thought leaders to sycophantic propagandists” and how “a movement based on ideas devolved into a new tribalism that valued neither principle nor truth.”

The Washington Post Reviews "How The Right Lost Its Mind"

The Washington Post Reviews "How The Right Lost Its Mind"

After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, Republican Party honchos released a 100-page report, nicknamed the “autopsy,” trying to figure out where the GOP went wrong. It’s the kind of thing you do when you lose.

But how about when you win and kind of wish you hadn’t? “In victory,” Charles J. Sykes writes of the latest presidential race, “conservatives will need something very different — an exorcism of the forces that have possessed and, ultimately, distorted conservatism.”

Instead of examining a corpse, today the GOP must battle its demons.

Sykes, a conservative true believer and former talk-radio host in Wisconsin, earned the wrath of Donald Trump’s supporters when he criticized the Republican front-runner early in the race, calling him “a cartoon version of every leftist/media negative stereotype of the reactionary, nativist, misogynist right.” On the radio and on social media, Sykes was branded “a sellout, a traitor, a Judas,” he recalls, for not boarding the Trump Train. In “How the Right Lost Its Mind,” Sykes has written a sort of “What Happened” for conservatives. The culprits are not James Comey, Vladi­mir Putin or a reality television  opponent, but the return of “crackpotism” on the right; the fecklessness of conservative media, political and religious figures; and the rise of a distorted worldview in which Trump’s overwhelming character flaws mattered little to a base that behaved as though civilization was in play in his election.

What The GOP Is Becoming

What The GOP Is Becoming

For the GOP, especially its Trumpist wing, the moment is piled high with irony. The primary victory of Roy Moore in Alabama over the candidate for the U.S. Senate seat backed by President Trump suggests that that not even Trump himself can control the forces that he unleashed.

Moore’s win is an acid flashback to 2010, when GOP voters in Senate primaries nominated Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell in Delaware and the unelectable Sharron Angle in Nevada, who announced a 2018 campaign in March. Republicans had hoped that they had exorcised those characters after that debacle. But years of stoking a sense of perpetual outrage has created a new political dynamic that has given us Roy Moore, a perfect stew of extremism, ignorance and intolerance.

Commentary Magazine Reviews 'How The Right Lost Its Mind"

From Commentary Magazine, a lengthy, thoughtful review:

Late last year Charles J. Sykes published an op-ed in the New York Times called “Where the Right Went Wrong.” Sykes wrote that he was giving up his talk-radio show in Wisconsin after nearly 25 years: “My reasons are personal,” he said, but the rise of Donald Trump “has made my decision easier.” Not that the presidential campaign had lacked a certain personal angle for Sykes, a sharp Trump critic. “Conservatives I had known and worked with for more than two decades organized boycotts of my show,” he wrote. On social media, “I found myself called a ‘cuckservative,’ a favorite gibe of white nationalists; and someone Photoshopped my face into a gas chamber.”

The op-ed was a signal moment in the aftermath of Trump’s election. For years, Sykes had been a conservative stalwart, helping to make Wisconsin a wellspring of conservative thought and action. (He has also written for Commentary.) He had championed the political careers of conservative Republicans including Representative Paul Ryan, Governor Scott Walker, and Senator Ron Johnson, and he had backed conservative reforms such as reining in public-sector unions and widening school choice. Yet here he was in the Times, declaring: “The conservative media is broken and the conservative movement deeply compromised.” Conservatism’s “moral failure” in a time of ugly tribalism, he said, “lies at the heart of the conservative movement even in its moment of apparent electoral triumph.”

The story of that moral failure demanded a fuller accounting than the spate of op-eds, columns, and articles produced by disillusioned conservatives following Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party. Now we have it with Sykes’s How the Right Lost Its Mind, a dissection of conservatism’s 2016 collapse but also a canny historical analysis. Sykes closes by suggesting how “contrarian conservatives” can work to restore the movement to sanity, but after reading this portrait of cynical acquiescence, collaboration, and opportunism, they would need a strong stomach to undertake such a mission.

Read the whole thing here: 

A Starred Review From the Library Journal


From the October 1, 2017 issue:

"What happened to the Republican Party? That's the knotty question Sykes (A Nation of Victims) cuts into in this, despite its inflammatory title, stark, honest, and unflinching look at the steps that moved the right to the fractious party it is today, argued from a voice within the camp.

"Sykes is not rejecting conservatism but providing a contrarian voice to the state of affairs as embodied by the support for and election of President Donald Trump through ideological bubbles and a vocal conservative media. Was the act emblematic of the modern conservative's ideals, or a fluke, out of line with the principles of Republicanism? Where does the "alt-right" end and conservatism begin? And, more pressing than the identity crisis of a political party, what kind of world is being shaped by the politics of this evolution and blurred lines?

"Sykes concludes with advice to conservatives for how to recover their values and suggestions for how to exorcize the party from its problems. Exceedingly readable, Sykes's voice comes across as clearly as if over the airwaves. VERDICT: Highly recommended. Sykes provides a valuable contribution to the arguments happening in the GOP about the party's future and priorities. --Laurel Tacoma, Fairfax County, P.L., VA"