Conservative Trump critics, allies go to the mattresses

Republican family feud — or is it war?
And why is this blog too long?

The Squire of Stately Blaska Manor enjoys nothing so much as a no-holds-barred blood feud. On this Independence Day, we’ve got a good one going. Conservatives find themselves in an all-out war between the families.

That capo regime of philosophers, Peter Clemenza, put it best: “That’s alright — this thing’s gotta happen every five years or so — 10 years — helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been 10 years since the last one.” (Or, perhaps, since Reagan.)

As the Godfather said, it was Trump all along. The great disrupter. As the mid-term elections approach, the Don’s family is settling all accounts. They are sending the Never-Trumpers to the mattresses. Nothing personal. It’s strictly business, Sonny.


American Spectator sent a message wrapping the fishes with its June 29 hit piece, “The Collapse of the Never-Trump Conservatives.” Written by one Emerald Robinson, it drew first blood. Her enemies list targets these high-ranking Never Trumpers: 

Jennifer Rubin and George Will and Michael Gerson at the Washington Post; Bret Stephens [formerly] at the Wall Street Journal; David Brooks and Ross Douthat at the New York Times; Steve Hayes at Weekly Standard, Jonah Goldberg and David French at National Review; Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg; and Erick Erickson at RedState.

One could list some Wisconsin personalities, as well: Charlie Sykes, Brian Fraley, Christian Schneider, Jerry Bader, and (yes) David Blaska. The silk-stocking lawyer Michael Grebe,  a former state GOP chairman and campaign treasurer for Scott Walker, refused to go to convention in 2016 rather than crown Trump as the nominee. Former Gov. Scott McCallum, the same. For a time, Paul Ryan and our Ms. Vicki McKenna were suspicious of Trump. Wisconsin was the last state to spurn Trump in the primaries, after all.

The Badger connection

The American Spectator is not the first to make its bones on Never Trumpers. Here in Wisconsin, Conservative Digest don Robert Dohnal has declared all-out war against  RINOs and “Judas Goats.”

One of the Spectator’s targets — Jonah Goldberg — is firing back in National Review. Its founder, Wm F. Buckley, set the bar high for public feuds. Goldberg:

[The Spectators’] gloating, smarmy, gleeful thesis is that the Never Trumpers are dead or dying. She means this mostly figuratively but she does go out of her way to indulge in some unfortunate literalism in the case of Charles Krauthammer.

The American Spectator/National Review feud is deliciously catty.
Robinson on Goldberg: “pseudo-scholarly piffle.”
Goldberg back on Robinson: “bilious piffle.”

Even so, advantage: the Spectator’s Robinson. She scores the Never Trump contingent for elitism:

… a kind of cultural “capture” that occurs when conservatives live in blue districts and big cities too long. They become, in other words, clueless RINOS. … Deriding Trump is an act of class solidarity, visible evidence of refinement and proof that you live nowhere near a Wal-Mart.


It’s the Georgetown/Nakoma cocktail circuit syndrome. One does wish to be invited to the best parties. It is why David Brooks gets to bloviate on PBS and Ann Coulter does not. The Spectator’s Robinson adds:

The second reason is more obvious: many of these people are paid to be openly hostile to Trump’s agenda. The free trade absolutists at AEI and Cato are on salary to oppose any protectionist trade policies.

That’s unfair. Robinson is making the same mistake Democrats make when they infer that Scott Walker would be a John Nichols leftie if not for the Koch Brothers. Robinson continues:

There is also a low-testosterone [ shades of Jeb Bush! ], dilettantish strain of conservatism that has over-developed in the “mainstream” media to create such sterile hybrids [ Badda bing! Badda boom! ] as Michael Gerson and George Will and David Brooks. Nothing sunk these so-called wise men lower in the estimation of their fellow conservatives than their blithe indifference to the Clintons’ gangsterism. 

I’m on board with the hit on Brooks. No coincidence that all three New York Times in-house conservatives — Brooks, Stephens, and Douthat — are anti-Trump. The grey lady is absolutely wigged out by the man. And the Clintons ARE gangsters. Lock Her Up!

Identity politics on the right?

Which takes us to the most troubling of Robinson’s tommy gunning: 

The greatest disconnect is religious and cultural: the Republican Party is overwhelmingly Caucasian and Christian and traditional on social issues, while its pundits skew Jewish and agnostic and libertarian.

Laura IngrahamShe names Goldberg, Brooks, and Krauthammer, if you get her drift. The eternal Jew! Always Trumper Laura Ingraham wears an in-your-face crucifix. Old Bill Buckley was famously pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic. R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor of American Spectator, remains one.

We come now to the crux of Robinson’s case:

Many people mistook their policy positions for principles, and Trump has made them look foolish. What do they stand for now? 

The Squire would answer, they stand on principle. We would reverse Ms. Robinson’s formula. We would retort that many Always Trumpers mistook their principles for policy positions. We are appalled by the Facebook friends who vow the blood oath that they will never betray Donald Trump. Omertà on his sins. Blank check for all future depredations.

That is not accountability. That is not conservative.

The white lab coats here at the Policy Werkes love most of Trump’s policy positions: Neil Gorsuch, tax cuts, race-blind admission policies, making NATO members pay their fair share, killing ISIS, support for police, border security (but not The Wall). We’ll even go along with lobbing a few tariff firebombs to send a message. (Donald Trump says hello.)

We just cannot get past the coarsening of our civic culture. Denigrating a woman’s appearance, mocking a disabled reporter, questioning a POW’s heroism. Who is persuaded? What is proven? 

The mainstream news media and academia ARE corrupt. But petty insults, fake news and character assassination (like the stupid canard that Nixon pardoned John McCain for treason) hurt rather than help. Robinson’s naked appeal to anti-Semitism is part and parcel of the Trump effect. 

Abe Vigoda

Can you get me off the hook? For old times’ sake?

Blaska’s Bottom LineMaybe we were wrong and Robinson/Dohnal correct. Thank God Trump won and Hillary lost.

Even so, we’ll be supporting Someone Else in two years. Someone with Trump’s policies and Bill Buckley’s manners and vocabulary, if such a candidate be.

We almost voted for Mike Pence, not that that gets me off the hook, for old time’s sake.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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40 Responses to Conservative Trump critics, allies go to the mattresses

  1. mlvrstdt says:

    Nice job today.Merry

    Liked by 1 person

  2. AnonyBob says:

    Interesting post, Dave. I have a few quibbles, but overall a good read.
    Know thy enemy (or at least, the opposition).


  3. madisonexpat says:

    “We cannot spare this man. He fights.”
    And wins.
    He’s had a phenomenal rookie year.


    • AnonyBob says:

      You guys should critique the GOP more often! Makes for good reading.
      Sprocket, we agree! The GOP establishment for years has exploited the base for their votes by rousing them over social issues like abortion or The Gays, yet only delivering for the real base, the heavy donor elites. (The recent tax “reform” is just more of the same.) GOP voters should be pissed. Unfortunately, they reacted by voting for destruction.
      We part company with your “punch them in the face” rhetoric.


    • AnonyBob says:

      Yay trade wars! Yay sleazy graft and corruption! Yay hate and fear! USA!USA!


      • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

        *Yay victimhood.
        *Yay identity politics.
        *Yay fewer EVIL White people.
        *Yay more, More MORE high quality/quantity free SH!T,
        *Yay everything is a FREE Human Right.
        *Yay no more private property.
        *Yay open borders.
        *Yay abolish ICE.
        *Yay unlimited illegal immigration for democrat votes.
        *Yay $20/hour minimum wage whether you work or not.
        *Yay no more personal responsibility because it’s raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacist!

        And we make the RICH pay for it…YAY we make the RICH pay for it ALL!

        The Gotch


        • Batman says:

          That was an epic smackdown Gotch!
          Me thinks bobo is experiencing the first signs of a migraine right about now.


        • Gary L. Kriewald says:

          A couple you overlooked:
          Yay no more sexist pronouns!
          Yay no more single gender restrooms!


        • AnonyBob says:

          Batty: pfft. You wish.


        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:


          ‘Fraid I have to side with @AnonyBob on this one.

          Why? You’s.0
          need gray matter in order to have a migraine and, welp, youse get the picture.

          The Gotch


      • richard lesiak says:

        “Trade wars are good and easy to win.” A trumpism that will follow the gop for years.


  4. Sprocket says:

    One Republican primary voter captured it perfectly. He said it wasn’t so much that they loved Donald Trump, it’s that they hated the Republican establishment. Who can blame them? They’ve be lied to, taken for granted and treated with condescension by the party for decades. Despite numerous warnings that the base was no longer in a mood to take what they’re given and like it, the RNC thought they were going to shove one of their pre-selected candidates down their throats. That didn’t play so well.

    An entertaining counterpoint to this is that the same thing played out on the Democratic side in same election. However the party of #Resist was more than happy to let their betters decide who their nominee would be. The irony being that if they hadn’t shrugged off the DNC shanking Bernie, we might not be looking at President Trump.

    Never Trumpers are simply a rear guard action fought by people who are either ideologically wedded to world that doesn’t exist anymore or who see their power diminished by the changes Trump embodies. These people had a comfortable little world that was working well for them and desired to continue mouthing platitudes and cashing checks. There was a tacit agreement with the Democrats that maintaining the political kabuki was in everyone’s best interests. Trump and his supporters ruined that for them and for that they will be eternally bitter and vengeful.

    As for the coarsening of political discourse… Good. If nothing else the derangement Trump has unleashed on the left has exposed them for what they are. Is it any surprise the feebles in the Republican establishment went and hid rather than confront these psychos? I don’t want someone who will go along to get along. I want someone who will grab them by the collar and punch them in the face.


    • madisonexpat says:

      Punch? Nah. President Trump can do it with a tweet.


    • Gary L. Kriewald says:

      “The party of #Resist was more than happy to let their betters decide who their nominee would be.” How true. I remember how back in the summer of ’16 how all the Bernie signs on the lawns in my near-eastside neighborhood were replaced (almost literally overnight) by Hillary signs when she became the nominee. BAAAAAH! BAAAAH!


  5. Batman says:

    Excellent analysis as usual Sprocket.
    I believe his “punch them in the face” line is rhetorical bobo.


    • Cornelius Gotchberg says:


      “I believe his ‘punch them in the face’ line is rhetorical bobo.”

      Lefty’s losing it across the spectrum & have been since 11/08/2016

      To wit:

      The perp’s Black so he can’t be raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacist!

      The Gotch


      • richard lesiak says:

        none of you yellow-bellied trumpsters have the balls to assault anyone who isn’t a woman or disabled. Of course; the people who called Obama a monkey couldn’t be RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIST. Said he was not born in the United States couldn’t be RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIST. Called Mrs. Obama a slut for wearing a sleeveless dress couldn’t be RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIST. That would be like me saying that gotch is a DUMBASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.


        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          @richard lesiak;

          Youse have proven unequivocally and without a doubt that youse are an exemplary DUMBASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

          The Gotch


  6. dad29 says:

    Someone with Trump’s policies and Bill Buckley’s manners and vocabulary, if such a candidate be.

    Good luck with that. There are plenty of NOT-rude, NOT-crude, Pubbies. One who could be President?

    I loved Cruz. But I seriously doubt that Cruz could have pulled off what Trump has–and I doubt that Cruz would even THINK about some of the things Trump has pulled off.


  7. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Initially, Trump held a morbid fascination for me, but gradually I became genuinely fascinated by him not as another politician (albeit an unorthodox one) but as a cultural phenomenon. Sad as it is, much of his personality–including the “uncivil” rhetoric–was shaped by his time as a cultural icon with a brand uniquely his own. I too would like to see him replaced by a Republican with similar policies but with the manners, wit, and eloquence of Wm. Buckley, but it ain’t gonna happen. If you accept that DT is a product of popular culture–so much of which resembles a cross between an open sewer and a circus freak show–his bombast and vulgarity are not just unfortunate personal mannerisms; they’re carefully honed skills that gained him immense cultural currency long before he entered politics. He was smart enough to know that what draws viewers to trash TV is what could also draw them into the voting booth. In short, popular culture, through Donald Trump, is now consuming politics just as it’s consumed nearly every other facet of American life. And after Trump, there’s no turning back; popular culture is a tsunami that ravages all in its path–politics, and political discourse, are merely its latest victims. If you think Trump is merely an aberration and that after his time in office, politics will become “normal” again, you underestimate the appetite of the insatiable maw that is popular culture. I’d be less surprised to see the typewriter make a comeback.


    • Batman says:

      Trump is divinely ordained


    • Sprocket says:

      The problem is that when you are speaking of civility you are speaking of norms of social behavior. In this context the norms of behavior of the power elites in Washington DC, that is to say cancer. Trump’s success in the face of palpable loathing from the Washington establishment and media is due in some part to the fact he doesn’t care about the proper way to do things.

      I believe this is why Trump is in the White House. Trump is an effect, not a cause. There is a large part of the country that sees Washington as their enemy. Trump is hated by press corps, the federal bureaucracy and the leadership of both political parties. That is all the endorsement many people needed. They saw in him someone would stick this thumb in the eye of everything they hate.

      I am beginning to think I underestimated Trump. When he was first elected, I though the best we could hope for is that he would tear through Washington like a chimpanzee on bath salts. But after watching him for a year and a half, I have to wonder if he’s simply incredibly lucky or incredibly clever.


  8. coolkevs says:

    And now the civility from the other side has claimed Scott Pruitt. And that kid who got roughed up for wearing a MAGA hat. And Sarah Sanders. And Bondi. And screeds from NeverTrumper Rubin that Sanders should expect to be harassed when she’s out and about. Dave, do you agree with calls from George Will to vote Democrat this November – that’s a bit uncivil (and unhelpful to his supposed Republican party). Most of the incivility is coming from the other side and quite frankly I am tired of it. We lived through Wisconsin’s “uprising” – you think Walker’s calm demeanor would have lasted on a national level? I’m tired of the taunts of the AnonyBob’s of the world – I want them to lose and lose some more to go on top of what they have already lost (Hillary, Walker,Supreme Court) to people like me from the quiet majority that is going to include more and more African Americans because they actually like the coarsening culture that Trump embodies more than Professor O (is that an uncivil name calling somebody a professor???). And WalkAway is a growing movement founded by a gay hairdresser from New York, don’t ya know?


  9. richard lesiak says:

    What a great day. Got up had a cup of joe with Morning Joe and off to work. After work came the highs and the lows. Alex Jones said that the Dem’s were going to start a civil war on 7/4/18. Wrong again big AL. A high. Then Shine-ola from faux news got a WH job. A low. trump announced he was trying to hire 40 immigrants under H-2B. A few jobs at Mar-a-lago. A high. Pruitt, the most corrupt politician since the court of Louis XIV, quit. A super high. Extra points because the gop swamp level dropped one foot. Then the super dooper all time greatest high. A pride of lions in South Africa ATE 3 rhino poachers that broke into a protected reserve. Ate them alive. They found shoes, one skull, their rifles with silencers, wire cutters for getting through the fence and part of one hip bone. They interviewed one of the lions and she said….”BURP”.


  10. madisonexpat says:

    You must be a ton of fun at parties.


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