Donald Trump’s Inexcusable Loyalists Deserve To Be Betrayed As He Chooses His Cabinet

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Donald Trump loyalists betrayed conservatism by supporting the president-elect during the campaign; if they are now betrayed by Trump and frozen out of his administration it will be sweet justice

As Donald Trump’s cabinet takes shape, some of those who sacrificed the most reputationally and ideologically to get on board the Trump train are angry that the president-elect is giving consideration to other people who refused to campaign with him, even those who may not have voted for him.

Sarah Palin (who, to be fair, didn’t have much of a reputation to sacrifice) has now belatedly rediscovered her commitment to small government after apparently finding out that there will be no place for her in the Trump administration. In response to this slight, Palin took to the newspapers accusing Donald Trump of promoting “crony capitalism” for offering incentives to business to keep production in the United States.

That’s not quite what she was saying a month ago when she was praising and supporting Trump, and it is slightly jarring to see her pivot effortlessly back to Tea Party talking points having previously embraced Trump so strongly.

But nothing has made the Trump loyalists as angry as the gnawing possibility that Donald Trump might pick Mitt Romney to be his Secretary of State over his dedicated henchman Rudy Giuliani, one of the only people to publicly defend Trump after the leaked ‘p*ssygate’ recordings made the news. Why should Rudy be overlooked, the thinking goes, when he did everything for Trump while Mitt Romney looked on distastefully from the sidelines?

The Trump loyalists deserve absolutely no sympathy in this regard – though Jonah Goldberg does an excellent job of summarising their predicament in this week’s G-file:

Consider the following thought experiment. A very rich guy makes you an offer: “If you eat this bowl of sh**, I will grant you a wish.” You think about it for a minute or two, and then you grab a wooden spoon and start to dig in, when the rich guy says, “Hold on. You’ve got to do it publicly.”

Well, you figure, “What’s the difference? Once I get my wish it will be worth it.” So, you head on over to a television studio with your plastic bib and your spoon, and you tuck into the steaming bowl like Mikey in the old Life cereal commercials.

Then the rich guy says, “Sorry, one more thing: I can only give you a coupon for your wish. But, I promise to honor it once I get the job of genie. Just keep eating.”

What to do? You’ve already acquired a reputation for coprophagia and no one else is offering wish-coupons, so you stick it out. Besides, you’re not alone. A bunch of other folks have been promised similar coupons and you’ve formed a tightknit group. You spend a lot of time talking about how smart you are for agreeing to this arrangement. You fantasize about what you’ll do with your wishes and how sorry the naysayers will be.

Then, the rich guy gets the job of genie. Woo-hoo!

Naturally, you want to redeem your coupon. But all of a sudden, the rich guy starts playing coy. He’s honoring the coupon for some people, but not you. That would be fine — one coupon at a time and all. But then you learn that the genie-elect is giving out coupons to people who didn’t partake of the fecal feast. Uh oh.

And then you see news reports that the big man is not only giving out wishes to people who never earned a coupon, but he’s considering granting a wish to the foremost guy who criticized the big man and tried to keep him from being able to grant wishes at all!

Okay, this getting belabored. But you get the point. If Trump remains the loyalist, Gingrich, Huckabee et al. have golden tickets. The last thing they want is Willie Wonka Trump letting just anybody into the chocolate factory.

This blog finds it very hard to generate sympathy for those big-name American conservatives who so comprehensively sold out their own ideology and their own party to Donald Trump.

If the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin now find themselves betrayed and left out of the Trump administration they helped to inflict on America, it is still nothing compared to the betrayal of conservatism that they committed by throwing the principles of freedom and small government out the window to worship at the feet of a thin-skinned, constitutionally illiterate big government authoritarian.

May their time in the wilderness be long and full of regrets.

 

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The American Right’s Guilty Conscience

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The more self-aware parts of the American conservative movement are coming to realise their part in creating the monster that is Donald Trump. Good. But with Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party complete, the genie cannot be put back in the bottle.

Slowly but surely, realisation is dawning among parts of the American Right that they might, just might, be partly responsible for feeding the national anger and distrust of elites which has given us Donald Trump, Presidential Nominee Edition.

Politico Magazine has a great extended feature on well-known Wisconsin conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes, in which the respected political figure essentially admits that Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP was only possible thanks to the work of the relentless Republican Party media outrage generation machine.

From the article:

Charlie Sykes’ conscience is nagging him.

Since last year, the most influential political talk show host in Wisconsin has found out just how hard it is to be a #NeverTrump conservative on right-wing radio. Ever since Sykes began denouncing Donald Trump on the air—which he does just about every time he talks about the presidential election—he’s strained his relationships with the listeners of his daily radio show.

Sykes’ many arguments with listeners over Donald Trump’s serial outrages have exposed in much of his audience a vein of thinking—racist, anti-constitutional, maybe even fascistic—that has shaken Sykes. It has left him questioning whether he and his colleagues in the conservative media played a role in paving the way for Trump’s surprising and unprecedented rise.

Hats off to Sykes for actually challenging his listeners and exhorting them not to swallow uncritically any morsel of Clinton-related scandal from the fringe web while rejecting any attempt at objectivity or fact-checking. Many a lesser talk radio host or other media personality (cough, Sean Hannity) have seen which way the Donald Trump hurricane is blowing and meekly fallen in line with his campaign, never subjecting Trump to criticism even when it is richly deserved.

The feature continues, describing a caller to Sykes’ radio show who wanted to deport Muslim American citizens, in flagrant violation of the Constitution which conservatives claim to hold so dear:

“Were these people that we actually thought were our allies?” he asks.

Sykes remains confident that Trump will lose badly in November, and he is equally fearful that Trump will drag longtime Republicans, like Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, down with him. This has Sykes thinking about the long-term future of the party and what might have precipitated its looming collapse. He wonders: Did “the faux outrage machine” of Breitbart.com and other right-wing outlets foment the noxious opinions that Trump has stoked so effectively on the trail?

“When I would deny that there was a significant racist component in some of the politics on our side, it was because the people I hung out with were certainly not,” Sykes says. “When suddenly, this rock is turned over, there is this—‘Oh shit, did I not see that?’

And then:

He wants to figure out why, in his opinion, things went so wrong for the conservative movement. One problem, he thinks, is his fellow talk-radio hosts.

“Talk radio made itself relevant by beating up on other Republicans, vilifying other Republicans,” he says. “It fed this faux outrage machine that raised expectations unrealistically”—for instance, asking why Congress didn’t repeal Obamacare, though Obama’s veto pen made it mathematically impossible. Later, he would tell Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy that talk radio’s attack on mainstream-media bias has backfired, because its listeners now dismiss legitimate media fact-checking as untrustworthy.

Sykes warns his listeners to step outside the “alternative reality bubble” of Breitbart.com and other right-wing websites. Part of his audience thinks he’s sold out, he complains, because he won’t parrot dubious claims they’ve read on such sites. “A lot of the conservative talk shows around the country embrace almost whatever comes over the transom,” he says.

Slow hand clap.

This blog has been waiting for some time now for the penny to drop, for thinking American conservatives to realise that the hysterical and unseemly way in which the Republican Party carried out its opposition to the Obama agenda might possibly have some unintended negative consequences.

Because it turns out that treating every single centre-leftish or centrist policy to emanate from the Obama White House as though it were an existential threat to the republic and relentlessly exploiting wedge social issues and persisting with the same failed policies which deliver great benefits to the wealthy, educated elites while leaving the struggling middle class high and dry works really well, right up until the moment where it suddenly stops working at all.

Here’s what that approach actually is good for:

  1. Making ordinary decent citizens with limited political engagement very afraid, often unnecessarily, and
  2. Getting them to donate vast amounts of money to assorted conservative / Tea Party political organisations which exist primarily to enrich those who are part of the Ponzi scheme, with very little of the money actually going on to reach conservative candidates or campaigns

The American right-wing outrage machine has been absolutely magnificent at making people angry and then monetising the hell out of that anger. But it has been lousy at speaking to the issues and problems which weigh on the minds of America’s squeezed middle.

Too often, conservative leaders have been happy to nod along while right wing noisemakers prophesied the abolition of the Second Amendment or the sudden imposition of “socialism”, because it worked. Because it reliably delivered scores of votes to Republican candidates on election day. Right up until the moment it stopped working because a new populist candidate emerged who promised action, not just talk, to defeat these inflated or imagined threats.

Donald Trump isn’t some bizarre and unprecedented phenomenon to afflict the Republican Party. These are the people who earnestly and with a straight face asked Americans to make Sarah Palin the Vice President back in 2008. Their flirtation with ignorance and craziness has a long and dismal history, and only now is bearing full fruit in the form of Trump.

It’s great that some of the more self-aware leaders of the American conservative movement are now quietly realising, with shame, the part which they either intentionally or unwittingly played in unleashing Donald Trump on America. For while Trump’s supporters certainly include more than their fair share of racists, xenophobes and other assorted imbeciles, the vast majority are good and decent people – primarily conservatives who have been consistently let down by a Republican Party which pretended to talk their language but which never governed in their interests.

Unfortunately Trumpism cannot be easily put back in the bottle now it has been released. First, it must be defeated in November, however unappealing the thought of giving the Washington establishment four more years in charge may be. And then the rebuilding of American conservatism must start – a difficult feat since so many of its most intelligent and respected figures have sullied themselves by bending the knee to Donald Trump (a fact which the Politico article discusses at length).

Great electoral rewards await the first party to grapple with the core question of how to reconcile the imperatives of globalisation with the need to equip citizens with the skills and services needed to prosper in a modern economy which can no longer promise a high standard of living for mass unskilled labour. Republicans have the harder job here – the conservative emphasis on self-sufficiency and a small state requires inventive solutions, whereas the Democrats can wave their hands and simply promise a new government program. It’s a difficult issue for conservatives, one which this blog is still struggling to work through.

This is the challenge now facing American conservatives. The culture wars are not insignificant, and there are battles to be fought – some of which this blog sympathises with (political correctness, free speech, religious freedom) and others less so. But no longer will it be enough for Republican politicians to stoke anger about these issues while failing to meaningfully tackle them, or to ignore the economic interests of the American working and lower middle class – doing so will only open the door to another Trump-style populist insurgency.

From this Politico Magazine article, it seems as though at least one prominent conservative talk radio host is starting to get it. Hopefully others will follow.

But the renewal of American conservatism cannot begin yet – first we must hit rock bottom.

 

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John McCain, The Man Who Gave Us Sarah Palin, Criticises Brexit

The man who wanted to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the American presidency has something to tell us about Brexit

Following swift on the heels of former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton’s welcome words of support for Brexit and the campaign for Britain to reclaim our democracy, Senator John McCain comes charging in to defend the status quo.

From the Times (+):

It is a few weeks before we get Barack Obama’s intervention in the EU referendum debate, but today we get a foretaste of America’s view of Brexit.

John McCain, the US senator defeated by Obama in 2008, has issued a blunt warning after meeting MPs on the Commons defence select committee that the “need for a strong and united Europe is greater than ever”.

Warning that Britain and the US are “confronting the most diverse and complex array of crises since the end of World War II”, McCain claims that “British membership in the EU is a vital contributor to the security and prosperity of Europe and the United States”.

He insists it is a decision for the British people, but notes that “whatever the outcome of the referendum on EU membership, it will send a strong message to Vladimir Putin”.

At least McCain does little to disguise that his view of Brexit is coloured almost entirely by his view of the American national interest, rather than what might be best for America’s strongest and closest ally, or for democracy in general – so in that regard he is slightly better than President Obama, who presumes to lecture the British people on what is best for them.

The Times – which seems to have deliberately ignored Ambassador Bolton’s contradictory intervention in the debate yesterday – goes on to suggest that Brexit supporters might have a difficult time dismissing a decorated war veteran like John McCain, as though a person’s military exploits from close to half a century ago have a direct bearing on their judgement about another country’s internal affairs.

Nonsense. If John McCain’s judgement is a factor at all here, then the failed presidential candidate who selected Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate hasn’t a leg to stand on.

Let’s recall Senator John McCain’s finest hour:

The person I’m about to introduce to you was a union member and is married to a union member, and understands the problems, the hopes and the values of working people; knows what it’s like to worry about mortgage payments and health care, the cost of gasoline and groceries. A standout high school point guard; a concerned citizen who became a member of the PTA; then a city council member, and then a mayor; and now a governor who beat the long odds to win a tough election on a message of reform and public integrity. And, I am especially proud to say in the week we celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage, a devoted wife and a mother of five.

She’s not — she’s not from these parts and she’s not from Washington. But when you get to know her, you’re going to be as impressed as I am. She’s got the grit, integrity, good sense and fierce devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today. She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what’s right, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her to sit down. She’s fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats, and anyone who puts their interests before the interests of the people she swore an oath to serve.

She’s exactly who I need, she’s exactly who this country needs, to help me fight — to help me fight the same old Washington politics of me-first and country second.

My friends and fellow Americans, I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States — Gov. Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

And this is the person whose advice we should be fawning over when it comes to global security, the future of our democracy and our right to self-determination here in Britain?

We have enough politicians and high profile public figures with calamitous judgement and weak powers of prognostication here in Britain, without importing any more uninformed voices from overseas.

I think you can sit out this round, Senator.

 

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Sarah Palin Loses It

The headline seemed too implausible, too sensationalist to be true, but you can’t make stuff like this up – Sarah Palin called on people to “bomb Obamacare” as her political action committee released their latest anti health reform advertisement:

Palin rails against Obamacare in her usual eloquent, measured tones.
Palin rails against Obamacare in her usual eloquent, measured tones.

The 2+ minute long video is available to view on YouTube here:

 

I comprehensively “refudiated” Sarah Palin’s “death panel” claims on this blog a year ago, as did every other sentient person on the internet, so there is no need to cover this old territory. So where to start with this latest deliberately provocative outburst by the half-term governor from Alaska?

Perhaps with the fact that the GOP-led House of Representatives has now voted 40 times to repeal ObamaCare, each time in the full knowledge that the repeal would never pass the Democratic-held Senate, let alone be signed by President Obama.

Or maybe the fact that Obamacare (or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to use the correct title) is President Obama’s signature domestic legislative accomplishment, he campaigned on a platform of health reform in 2008 and won re-election by a significant popular and electoral college majority in 2012 after having brought it to fruition.

Nor has the “grassroots tsunami” against the bill, invoked by Senator Rand Paul, materialised in any meaningful way. Polls continue to show the American public divided in support of the word Obamacare itself (a testimony to Republican misinformation and scare tactics), but broadly supportive of the various measures contained within the bill.

And so apparently the only recourse left to Palin and her legion of fact-averse followers is to dust off the violent, revolutionary rhetoric as though Obama were King George reincarnate.

I make no apology for always assuming the worst about Sarah Palin’s motives, so my theory for this bizarre use of phrasing in her appeal for a popular revolt against Obamacare is that she deliberately used the word “bomb” in the knowledge that the fiftieth anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was fast approaching, hoping to get a rise out of offended liberals who would then accuse her of race-baiting or racial insensitivity, allowing her to play her patented Palin Persecution Card and receive even more unearned air time.

If you think that this is a harsh accusation to level against someone, recall that Palin has accused the president of the United States of “palling around with terrorists”, treason and a litany of other crimes and misdemeanors. Accusing Palin of being a sneaky, calculating, insensitive charlatan is pretty mild by comparison.

First we had this...
First we had this…

First we had the gun sights over Democratic-held congressional districts that Sarah Palin’s PAC was targeting in the 2010 midterms. Looking at this action in isolation, I can understand and forgive; showing literal targets over parts of the map that Republicans want to target politically does not seem unreasonable or violent to me, and I felt that the left-wing furore and attempts to link the imagery to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona were craven and opportunistic.

But there is no comparable popular imagery relating to a bomb. We don’t talk about bombing a goal that we want to accomplish in the way that we might talk about targeting a goal or an aspiration. The word “bomb” has connotations only of violence and terrorism.

Sarah Palin, of course, does not wish for any literal bombs to be detonated in opposition to Obamacare, and would doubtless be horrified and appalled if one of her supporters were to read her words too literally and actually start blowing things up. But she is quite happy to use a charged, loaded word – a word associated only with war and terrorism – in relation to the US healthcare debate, to ensure that her fading political voice gains more prominence.

It doesn’t make Palin a terrorist supporter. But it does reveal her to be a shrewd, conniving, opportunistic and (still) dangerous political presence, willing to say and do almost anything to demonstrate her opposition to President Obama’s policies and legislative accomplishments.

Which, of course, we all already knew.

Somebody Stop Bill Kristol

Apparently not content with having helped to inflict Sarah Palin on an unsuspecting, unprepared world back in 2008, unabashed neo-conservative Bill Kristol is now actively cheerleading for Palin to run for the US Senate in 2014, in the hopes that she can defeat incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Begich.

Kristol says:

I think the way Palin would possibly resurrect herself, if that’s the right word or rehabilitate herself, I guess is a better way of putting it — run for Senate in Alaska in 2014. I’m not urging that. I’m just saying, if I were her adviser, I would say, take on the incumbent, you have to win a primary, then you have to beat an incumbent Democrat, it’s not easy. But if she did that, suddenly, imagine that, Sarah Palin, freshman Senator in 2015 in Washington, having beaten an incumbent, that’d be pretty interesting.

Interesting? Really? How anyone with as little intellectual firepower as Sarah Palin occupying a seat in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body (TM) could be seen as “pretty interesting” is almost unfathomable. Awful, certainly, but not interesting in any way. Even otherwise intelligent and sane Republicans, such as Marco Rubio or Rand Paul, are set dead against the idea of compromise or governance of any kind. How would adding another entity with similar views (ObamaCare = worst thing ever, immigration reform must be stopped, let’s cut taxes but raise spending on defense and benefits for old people who vote) but no brain to justify them help matters at all?

Someone needs to get Dick Morris to predict a landslide Palin victory in a potential Senate contest with Mark Begich so I can sleep easier at night again.