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.
She 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.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Maybe 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.