Do you have one or two ungrateful bores in your family who left you with a foul taste in your mouth after the Thanksgiving feast? This week, the two dullest conversationalists at the dinner table picked up and stormed out because they didn’t like the way some of the food was prepared.
Never Trump neocons Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes were lionized by MSNBC and CNN, the two cable channels whose mission it is to destroy conservatism, after announcing their departure from their very occasional Fox News gigs.
Which of them will land at CNN and which at MSNBC? That’s the only question; no one believes those channels won’t be their final destinations, where they will join Biden endorsers Bill Kristol, George Will and other self-styled conservatives who somehow reached the conclusion that venues that give racist riot-monger Al Sharpton and sex fiend Andrew Cuomo’s brother their own shows are more honorable journalistic entities than the home of Laura Ingraham and Brit Hume.
Those who develop and promote the ideas and principles that form the foundation of conservative public policy have always realized that in politics you return home with less than a full loaf. The late, great William F. Buckley, Jr. believed that conservatives should back “the most right, viable candidate who could win.”
But when such a politician attains power, he is bound to disappoint in some ways. George H.W. Bush broke his “Read My Lips: No New Taxes” pledge and appointed David Souter, who ended up being one of the most liberal justices on the Supreme Court (thank you, John Sununu); but conservatives appreciated Bush’s appointment of Clarence Thomas to the highest court in the land, his most consequential legacy; and most applauded him for his Gulf War victory.
That president’s son, Bush 43, enraged those seeking to rein in government by adding a whole new edifice to the Medicare entitlement program, currently on a steady course toward insolvency, but that didn’t preclude the right’s gratitude for his tax cuts, his appointment of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and rallying the nation after 9/11 more compellingly than any other president could have.
Many on the right were frustrated with Donald Trump’s vulgarity, his blustery exaggerations, and would even agree with Goldberg’s description of him as “a thin-skinned narcissist” with “no tolerance for criticism.” Some blame him for assembling the crowds on Jan. 6, from which came the mob of lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, despite Trump’s admonition for all to remain peaceful.
But they weigh those defects and shortcomings against Trump’s policies and appointments – massive tax and regulatory relief that set the economy booming; three Supreme Court appointments that saved the nation from decades of left-wing judicial activism that would have shredded the Constitution; the rebuilding of our defenses and a whole-of-government awakening to China as a long-term enemy, both militarily and economically; and placing a dream team of principled conservatives like Mike Pompeo, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, and Bill Barr in the highest-level positions.
The Republican Party has been energized both intellectually and electorally by Trump’s successful policies, nearly gaining majorities in both the House and Senate last year. Yet Goldberg and Hayes peddle the notion that Trumpism is leading it to doom. Their Dispatch website recently featured an interview with likely 2024 GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie, in which the website’s questioners accused House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of being “okay with the nuts … He’s empowered the nuts … [he’s] just being dragged along by the nuts.” (Presumably no double entendre intended.)
These supposedly “nuts” Republicans are leading in the polls like crazy. Independents by a margin of 41% to 31% want the GOP to regain control of the House of Representatives. The party is on track for a stellar performance next year – incredible as it seems, absent any help from Goldberg and Hayes’ elitist brains.
Incidentally, it’s worth remembering how often Ronald Reagan was called a nut – by Republicans – both for embracing voodoo economics and being hellbent on launching a nuclear war upon the Soviet Union.
More salient, Trump, for all his flaws, is a GOP candidate who found a way to win the presidency, could get blue collar votes, and could electrify the Republican base. John McCain couldn’t. Mitt Romney can’t. Jeb Bush couldn’t and won’t be able to. Ditto Never Trump favorite John Kasich, Christie, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Huckabee.
It is terrifying to contemplate, but the last time a Republican presidential nominee won the popular vote was 2004, and that was largely because of the unusual circumstances of 9/11 and the global war on terror. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1988, when George H.W. Bush won with 53.4%, a far cry from Ronald Reagan’s nearly 59% four years before.
To give an idea of how long ago November 1988 was, the Beach Boys had the No. 1 song in America with “Kokomo,” movie audiences had just been introduced to Julia Roberts and Matt Damon in “Mystic Pizza,” and Johnny Carson was three and a half years away from retiring from the Tonight Show.
Perhaps Nikki Haley or Marco Rubio or Tim Scott can execute a successful game plan, but if one of them does it will likely entail borrowing a page or two from the Trump playbook, imitating to some extent the toughness and panache that got ordinary Americans excited about Trump. Or it may be that only Don Jr. can fully excite MAGA World. In any event, you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, however loud and ugly his squawking.
The real threat from Jan. 6th comes from the left
Goldberg and Hayes used Tucker Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” documentary series as the excuse to exit Fox, announcing that “with the release of “Patriot Purge,” we felt we could no longer ‘do right as we see it’ and remain at Fox News” because “This dangerous nonsense was the last straw.”
But even some of the furthest-left Democrats in Congress, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have bemoaned the treatment of those charged for storming the Capitol, some of whom were both held without bond and placed in long-term solitary confinement, questionable treatment that “Patriot Purge” highlights. Meanwhile there are scores of examples of violent criminals around the country who are freed, with little or no bond, to hurt or kill more victims, as we just saw in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
“The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Carlson’s documentary ominously quotes White House press secretary Jen Psaki in reference to Jan. 6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Jan. 6 Committee, whose two sole Republican members are both notorious political foes of Trump’s, makes it clear that Democrats are intent on defaming Trump supporters as domestic terrorists as a means of perpetuating the left’s political power.
“Jan. 6 was a honey pot,” one interviewee in the series says. “They’re gonna use this event for every bit of political persecution they can milk out of it.” Isn’t that the most dangerous aspect of what happened that day: how the left is intent on exploiting it to further restrict our constitutional liberties and exert more governmental control over Americans’ lives? Why would conservatives object to Fox News alerting its viewers to this strategy of the Democratic Party? And why would any informed American consider the likes of Chewbacca Man trespassing on the Senate floor to be more dangerous to this country than the forces of the left?
It’s not a bad bet that what really gets under Goldberg and Hayes’ skins is that Carlson compares the Democrats’ reaction to Jan. 6 to George W. Bush’s reaction to 9/11. That “was the first war on terror,” Carlson says. “Now it’s happening again.”
No question that is quite the stretch, and it shortchanges the Bush administration’s successful efforts over many years in preventing another 9/11. But how about recognizing that, as with politicians, the hosts of conservative opinion programs are bound to disappoint us with their defects? Shouldn’t we still, this Thanksgiving week, be thankful for the great many good things Carlson does in the name of American freedom with his powerful 8 p.m. pulpit, not to mention Fox’s other opinion program hosts?
An accurate gauge of whether something is good for economic liberty, social well-being, and U.S. national security is how much the hosts of MSNBC and CNN don’t like it, and they loved seeing the two Turkey-Cons fly the coop from Fox.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board